Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010
DUANMU HONGLIANG, PEN NAME FOR CAO JINGPING (1912—1996)
DUANMU HONGLIANG, PEN NAME FOR CAO JINGPING (1912—1996). Fiction writer, playwright, and essayist. Born in Liaoning Province in northeast China, Duanmu Hongliang began writing fiction while studying history at Qinghua University in Beijing. Along with Xiao Hong, to whom he was briefly married, Xiao Jun, and other young writers from the Japanese-occupied Manchuria, Duanmu fled his homeland and wandered throughout China during the war years. He joined the Left-wing Association of Chinese Writers and became one of its most prominent voices.
Before 1949, Duanmu wrote mostly fiction. He aimed at capturing the spirit of his homeland by emphasizing its natural beauty and its hardy, earthy people. Duanmu is known for his passion for the land and the poetic language he uses to describe it. The work that best characterizes his art is his first novel, Kerqinqi caoyuan (The Khorchin Grassland), published in 1933. The book relates the rise and fall of a landed family on the eve of the Japanese invasion. Praised for its use of local dialect and its depiction of life in the northeast, the novel garnered admiration from important figures in the community of progressive intellectuals. Other notable works include his first short story, “Cilu hu de youyu” (The Sorrows of the Egret Lake), which depicts life in the northeast under Japanese occupation, “Liming de yanjing” (Eyes of Daybreak), and “Zao chun” (An Early Spring), about simple country folks. After 1949, Duanmu wrote mostly plays and political and literary essays. His most noteworthy accomplishment during the period is a fictionalized biography of Cao Xueqin, author of the most prominent novel in classical Chinese literature, Hong lou meng (A Dream of Red Mansions). Duanmu died as he was working on the third volume. See also SINO-JAPANESE WAR; SPOKEN DRAMA.