GUO MORUO, A.K.A. KUO MO-JO (1892—1978) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

GUO MORUO, A.K.A. KUO MO-JO (1892—1978)
The Dictionary

GUO MORUO, A.K.A. KUO MO-JO (1892—1978). Poet, playwright, and historian. Born in a small town in Sichuan Province, Guo Moruo left home to study medicine in Japan in 1914. Like Lu Xun, he gave up his medical career for literature and politics. He participated in the Northern Expedition (1926—1927) to end the rule of warlords and was involved in the Nanchang Uprising organized by the Communists. When the revolution failed, Guo fled to Japan, where he stayed until the Sino-Japanese War broke out. He returned to China and joined the anti-Japanese resistance. In 1949, he was appointed president of the Academy of Sciences and remained in that post until his death in 1978.

An influential figure in modern Chinese literature, particularly in its early period, Guo was a cofounder of the Creation Society. His poem “Nüshen” (Goddess) reveals signs of divergent influences from Walt Whitman to Rabindranath Tagore. Excessive exuberance marks his lyrical style. Among his dramatic works, Qu Yuan (Qu Yuan), based on the tragic life of the ancient poet, and Cai Wenji (Cai Wenji), based on another historical figure, are his most successful. He was more at home in poetry than in drama. He continued to write in the midst of a busy schedule tending to state affairs after the Communist victory. His reputation, however, was permanently marred by the less than admirable role he played in carrying out Mao Zedong’s cultural policies.

His scholarly achievements, on the other hand, are well recognized. While his Marxist approach is not without its limitations, his research on inscriptions on oracle bones and bronze vessels did yield important discoveries in the understanding of ancient Chinese language, history, and material culture. See also MAY FOURTH MOVEMENT; SPOKEN DRAMA.