Shi Zhecun

Shi Zhecun (simplified Chinese: 施蛰存; traditional Chinese: 施蟄存; pinyin: Shī Zhécún; Wade–Giles: Shih Che-ts'un; December 3, 1905 – November 19, 2003) was a Chinese essayist, poet, short story writer, and translator in Shanghai during the 1930s. He was known for his poetry and essays, but is most known for his modernist short stories exploring the psychological conditions of Shanghai urbanites (see New Sensationists). From the 1940s onwards, he translated western novels into Chinese and worked as a scholar of classical Chinese literature.

Early life and education [ edit ]

Shi Zhecun was born in Zhejiang, but later he moved to Songjiang in Jiangsu following his father who was a teacher. He showed an early interest in poetry and started publishing his works from his youth. He studied English in Shanghai and a little French at Aurora university, which was founded by French Jesuits in 1903. It was there that he met several writers with whom he later founded the journal Xiandai.[1]

Creative work and career [ edit ]

Shi Zhecun was active on the Shanghai literary scene. He edited the journal Les Contemporains (Xiàndài 現代) from 1932 to 1934. It was a monthly literary journal "which published a hundred translations from foreign literature (primarily U.S. and Japanese)". The journal introduced Chinese readers to trends in modern literature and art. It covered foreign and Chinese topics and promoted the works of Shi Zhecun's friends, such as Mu Shiying and Dai Wangshu.

Shi's short stories (about 70) were written between 1928 and 1937. They cover a range of topics, from absurdist ghost stories to gentler pieces on the strains faced by modern couples in Shanghai. His most famous short story is probably "An Evening of Spring Rain" (Meiyu zhi xi 梅雨之夕). His works set in Shanghai frequently deal with the inner lives of the protagonists as they are beset by irrational fears and desires.

After the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, Shi Zhecun moved to Yunnan in 1937. He held university posts and translated novels by Arthur Schnitzler among others. He became a scholar on classical culture and did research on Tang Dynasty poetry and stele inscriptions. In 1947 he returned to Shanghai and began writing essays, and after the Cultural Revolution, his memoirs.[1]

His creative works were long considered politically suspect by the Chinese government because in 1957 he published the essay Talent and Morality and was classified as a rightist and subjected to persecution. From that time and onwards he bid farewell to literary creation and translation and turned to the study of classical literature and tablet inscriptions jobs. But there has been mounting interest since the 1980s due to the influx of modernist thoughts into China. His works have been republished in recent years.

He died on 19 November 2003 in Shanghai.

Awards [ edit ]

  • In view of his contribution to the literary creation and academic research, Shi Zhecun was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Shanghai Literature and Art Award (1993)
  • He also obtained the Asian Chinese Writer Literary Foundation Consolation Award.

References [ edit ]

External sources [ edit ]

Lee, Leo Ou-fan. Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930-1945. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

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