Zhang Naiying Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Xiao Hong (zhow hong) is one of the best writers in modern Chinese literature. She was born Zhang Naiying into a wealthy landowning family in 1911. Her mother died when she was nine; her father, a miser, became the archetype of the cruel oppressor in her fiction, but her grandfather taught her classical poems and the meaning of love. Her childhood, as captured in Tales of Hulan River, was cloistered and troubled but not without moments of joy. Her coming-of-age was adventurous, reflecting the spirit of the new woman in the early twentieth century. To escape an arranged marriage at the age of nineteen, she fled to Harbin and cohabited with a local teacher. After she was expelled from school, she traveled with the teacher to Beijing, only to discover that he already had a wife. Pregnant and destitute, she went back to Harbin alone and was stranded in a hotel. Out of desperation, she wrote to a Harbin newspaper for help. Xiao Jun, a contributor to the paper, came to her rescue.{$S[A]Zhang Naiying;Xiao Hong}

Xiao Hong’s literary career started with her cohabitation with Xiao Jun. In August, 1933, they self-published Bashe, a joint anthology of stories and prose. In 1934 they went to Shandong and stayed there for six months before traveling on to Shanghai. In Shandong, Xiao Jun wrote Village in August, and Xiao Hong wrote The Field of Life and Death. Both novels, first published in Shanghai, became overnight sensations in China. Although both writers chronicled rural life in northeast China during the Japanese occupation, Xiao Jun’s style is masculine and propagandistic, whereas Xiao Hong’s style is feminine and naturalistic. Xiao Hong, particularly, portrays the mute suffering of rural women in the cycle of monotonous life and death. She gradually unfolds the disruptions of that monotony caused by the Japanese invasion and the creation of a meaning in life with increasing anti-Japanese consciousness among the peasants.

In 1935 Xiao Hong wrote Market...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Binji, Luo. “A Brief Biography of Xiao Hong.” Chinese Literature, no. 11 (November, 1980). Gives a short biographical sketch.

Goldblatt, Howard. Hsiao Hung. Boston: Twayne, 1976. Gives a reliable study of Xiao Hong’s life and works. Includes chronology and a selected bibliography.

Ziyun, Li. “Women’s Consciousness and Women’s Writing.” In Engendering China: Women, Culture, and the State, edited by Christina K. Gilmartin. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994. Discusses Xiao Hong in the context of other modern Chinese women writers.