ZONG PU, PEN NAME OF FENG ZONGPU (1928— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

ZONG PU, PEN NAME OF FENG ZONGPU (1928— ). Fiction writer and essayist. Born in Beijing, Zong Pu grew up in an academic environment, moving from one university campus to another with her family, which was headed by her famous father, the renowned philosopher Feng Youlan (1895—1990). Although she published stories in the 1940s and 1950s, it is her work from the post-Mao era that has established her reputation as a creative writer.

Among her works are “Hong dou” (Red Beans), published in 1957, about the conflict of love and revolutionary ideals in a missionary school, “Xian shang de meng” (Dream on the Strings), about the chaotic years of the Cultural Revolution, and Sansheng shi (Everlasting Rock), a love story set in the 1960s. Worth special mention are Nan du ji (Going South), about scholars who took divergent roads in the 1930s in Japanese-occupied Beijing, and its sequel, Dong cang ji (Hiding in the East), a novel chronicling the lives of China’s intellectual elites, who are forced to retreat to the southwest during the Sino-Japanese War. Zong’s protagonists are university professors, the group of people she knows intimately. Through the portrayal of their lives, Zong illustrates the spirituality of Chinese intellectuals who maintain moral purity in their pursuit of knowledge, scholarship, and aesthetic perfection. These traditional beliefs and practices give them the strength to survive social upheaval and transcend the chaos and madness of the age. They represent the best of Chinese culture, unbending and resilient in their quiet, unassuming ways. Zong writes in a style of gentle elegance, refined by her training in both Chinese classics and Western literature. The same style also characterizes her essays, the most endearing pieces of which are her sketches of well-known academics, including her distinguished father.