FENG XUEFENG, A.K.A. FENG HSUE-FENG (1903—1976) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

FENG XUEFENG, A.K.A. FENG HSUE-FENG (1903—1976). Poet, literary theoretician, fiction writer, and member of the Lakeside Poetry Society. Born in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, Feng Xuefeng was a student at the Hangzhou Number One Teachers’ College when he joined the Morning Light Society, a literary organization founded by Zhu Ziqing and others, and began writing modern poetry. In 1925, Feng went to Beijing to study Japanese at Beijing University. Two years later, he joined the Communist Party and subsequently became a founding member of the Left-wing Association of Chinese Writers and served as its party secretary. In 1934, Feng participated in the Communist Red Army’s Long March, and two years later he was sent to Shanghai to help run the underground party branch office. During the famous debate of the late 1920s between national literature and defense literature, Feng stood firmly on Lu Xun’s side. He was critical of those within the Left-wing Association who declared that Lu Xun’s national literature was outdated and thus had become an obstacle for the advancement of revolutionary literature. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Feng was a leading critical voice in left-wing literary circles. After 1949, he held many important positions including president and editor-in-chief of the People’s Literature Press and vice president of the Chinese Writers’ Association. From 1954 to 1976, when he died of lung cancer, Feng suffered from a series of political persecutions and spent many years in prison.

Feng was a prolific writer with many talents. Among his works are poems, lyrical essays, parables, fiction, a screenplay, and a large number of critical and theoretical works on modern Chinese literature, including critiques of Lu Xun. His poems written in the early 1920s during the Lakeside years convey an uplifting, bright outlook on life and love, filled with youthful enthusiasm and a palpable drive. His later poems written in 1941 while in prison express the strong convictions of a Communist revolutionary. He was the first person to write modern parables. Most noteworthy is his theoretical and critical work in which he lay foundations for socialist literary criticism. See also CIVIL WAR.