Xia Yan

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Xia Yan
Xia Yan.jpg
Xia Yan
Native name 夏衍
Born Shen Naixi
(1900-10-30)October 30, 1900
Yuhang County, Zhejiang
Died February 6, 1995(1995-02-06) (aged 94)
Occupation Playwright, screenwriter, translator
Language Chinese
Nationality Chinese
Education Zhejiang Industrial School
Alma mater Zhejiang University
Period 1935-1995
Genre Drama, novel
Notable works Under the Eaves of Shanghai
The Fascist Bacillus
Spouse Cai Shuxin (m.1930-?)
Children Shen Ning (daughter)
Shen Danhua (son)
Relatives Shen Xueshi (father)
Xu Xiusheng (mother)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Xia.

Xia Yan (Chinese: 夏衍; pinyin: Xià Yǎn; Wade–Giles: Hsia Yen; 30 October 1900 – 6 February 1995) was a Chinese playwright and screenwriter,[1] and China's Deputy Minister of Culture between 1954 and 1965.[2]

Among the dozens of plays and screenplays penned by Xia Yan, the most renowned include Under the Eaves of Shanghai (1937) and The Fascist Bacillus (1944). Today the Xia Yan Film Literature Award is named in his honour.

Personal life[edit]

Xia entered Zhejiang Industrial School (浙江甲種工業學校 , a technical school of Zhejiang University) in 1915, five years before being sent to study in Japan. He was forced to return in 1927,[3] two years after graduating with an engineering degree.

Political career[edit]

On Xia's return in 1927 — expelled by Japanese authorities for his political activity[2] — he joined the Communist Party of China and rose to become a cultural chief in the Shanghai municipality, and then Deputy Minister of Culture in 1954.

In 1961, Xia wrote an essay called "Raise Our Country's Film Art to a New Level". The essay, implicitly critical of the Great Leap Forward, called for greater autonomy for artists and more diversity within Chinese cinema. The implementation of his directives is said to have led to the achievement of a "tremendous diversity" which lasted until the Cultural Revolution.[4]

Xia is credited with introducing Soviet cinema to China,[2] and helped to establish a realist tradition that emphasised active engagement with national issues, leaving a strong legacy that continued into the post-Mao era.[5]

Xia's political career ended in 1965, when he was removed from office and spent eight years in prison during the Cultural Revolution.[2]


  1. ^ "Xia Yan's Early Plays". Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Xiao, Zhiwei. Encyclopedia of Chinese Film. Routledge. p. 375. ISBN 9781134745548. 
  3. ^ "Xia Yan (Chinese author)". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Kuoshu, Harry H. (2002). Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society. SIU Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780809324569. 
  5. ^ Ying, Li-hua (2009). Historical Dictionary of Modern Chinese Literature. Scarecrow Press. p. 215. ISBN 9780810870819.