Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010
GU HUA (1942— )
GU HUA (1942— ). Fiction writer. Born in a small village in Hunan Province, Gu Hua is noted for stories interwoven with traditional folklores and ballads that nurtured him as a child. Many of his works, including Furong zhen (A Small Town Called Hibiscus), have been adapted into movies and operas.
During his early career, Gu came under the influence of the rigid ideological restrictions on literature and art under Mao Zedong and these political doctrines put limits on Gu’s artistic talent. Most of his works published between 1962 and 1977 were written with an eye to the political message. As a child of poor peasants, he took the task of propagating the policies of the Communist Party seriously. He wrote about class struggle and sang the praises of the progressive forces represented by the Chinese Communist Party and the working class it led. He strove to portray life as bright and full of hope and to create a new kind of hero who could be a shining example for his readers. After 1978, as China was undergoing fundamental changes, Gu abandoned the old way of writing and turned to the memories of his childhood for inspiration. The result was a series of stories set against the background of rural Hunan, a land with which he was intimately familiar.
Gu’s main works were published between 1979 and 1982, including Pa man qingteng de xiaowu (Log Cabin Overgrown with Creepers), a story of forest workers and their divergent attitudes toward life, Futu shan (Mount Futu), about a demobilized soldier who returns to his native village in the midst of a famine caused by misguided economic policies, and Furong zhen (A Small Town Called Hibiscus), a love story unfolding in four political campaigns waged one after another after 1949. These works have refreshingly real characters whose world is defined by local dialects, local customs, and local histories as well as human emotions. A writer with a strong sense of social mission, Gu seeks to reflect reality and to portray characters whose lives intersect with China’s major social and political changes. See also SOCIALIST REALISM; CULTURAL REVOLUTION.