HU LANCHENG (1906—1981)
HU LANCHENG (1906—1981). Prose writer. Known as the man who was once married to the renowned writer Zhang Ailing, Hu Lancheng was a very talented man in his own right. He came to prominence in the 1940s as a political commentator and art and literary connoisseur as well as a “traitor” who worked for the Japanese-controlled puppet government in wartime China. When the war ended, Hu escaped to Japan. In 1974, he went to Taiwan to teach at the University of Chinese Culture and developed a friendship with Zhu Xining and helped nurture the literary aspirations of Zhu’s two daughters, Zhu Tianwen and Zhu Tianxin. Two years later, Hu returned to Japan, where he lived until his death.
Hu’s literary achievement was overshadowed by his reputation as a traditional littérateur who dabbled in everything and was marred by his notoriety as a collaborator with the Japanese and an incorrigible womanizer, an aspect of his life candidly recorded in his confessional memoir, Jinsheng jinshi (This Life, These Times). His memoir details his experiences in politics and romance and contains a chapter on Zhang Ailing, providing valuable material for scholars who study Zhang and her work. In recent years, there has been a reevaluation of Hu’s work. He is now generally considered a writer of refined prose and an erudite man with an unusal intellectual depth and literary sensibility. He has published several collections of prose on a wide range of topics, including Chan shi yizhi hua (Zen Is a Flower), a well-received scholarly work on Zen Buddhism.