Shen Congwen with wife Zhang Zhaohe
28 December 1902|
|Died||10 May 1988
|Alma mater||Peking University|
Shen Congwen (December 28, 1902 – May 10, 1988), formerly romanized as Shen Ts'ung-wen, was one of the greatest modern Chinese writers on a par with Lu Xun. He was known for combining the vernacular style with classical Chinese writing techniques. He was to have been awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, had he not suddenly died that year.
He was born Shen Yuehuan (沈岳煥) on December 28, 1902 in Fenghuang County, Hunan Province. He died on May 10, 1988 in Beijing. He is described as "a novelist, short-story writer, lyricist and passionate champion of literary and intellectual independence". Although almost entirely unknown to Western readers, Shen's oeuvre, much of it imbued with the folklore and customs of his native western Hunan, has been compared to that of William Faulkner".
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2012)|
Shen was initially trained for a career in the military. As a soldier in the Chinese army, he observed border fighting and the lives of the Miao tribesmen, which later became the subject matter of his early short fiction stories. He began writing fiction in 1922 and wrote almost continually until 1949. He taught Chinese literature at various universities during the Second Sino-Japanese War out of monetary necessity.
Originally an apolitical writer, he suffered a breakdown after the Communist Revolution in 1949 and the subsequent restrictions on writing. He recovered by 1955, but he never again published another work of fiction. He was given a staffing post at the Palace Museum at the Forbidden City in Beijing, about which he wrote a non-fiction work in 1957. Afterwards, he also published a famous study of Chinese costume and dress.
Changhe (長河, “The Long River”), written during the Sino-Japanese War, is generally considered the best of his long fiction. Chundeng Ji (春燈集, “Lamp of Spring”) and Heifeng Ji (Chinese: 黑鳳集; literally "Black Phoenix") are his most important collections of short stories.
Border Town (Chinese: 邊城; pinyin: Bian Cheng), a pastoral ode to love, is considered his masterwork[by whom?]. This novel has been translated into nine different languages[which?]. It is possible to visit his former residence in Fenghuang county.
- Jeffrey C. Kinkley, ed. (2004). Selected Stories of Shen Congwen. Chinese University Press. p. xiv. ISBN 9789629961107.
- Gargan, Edward A. (13 May 1988). "Shen Congwen, 85, a Champion of Freedom for Writers in China". New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2009.