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An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

The Persecution of Writers 1954

Mar 20, 2017 © Ulrich Theobald

In the field of literature, the year 1954 saw the purge of Hu Feng 胡风 (Zhang Gufei 张谷非, 1902-1985), member of the editorial staff of the journal Renmin wenxue 人民文学. He criticized the requirement for writers to study Marxism, the conditions of workers, peasants, and soldiers, ideological reform, and to serve politics in general. For him, these points were just a narrow source of inspiration. Along with him, several other writers were persecuted as counterrevolutionaries. Another victim in the literary scene was Yu Pingbo 俞平伯 (1900-1990), a professor whose study of the 18th-century romance Hongloumeng 紅樓夢 "Dream of the Red Chamber", used to criticize the "old society", but did not make sufficient use of the theory of historical materialism. Critique originated in a literary newspaper and soon found its way into a nationwide condemnation campaign. In late 1954 a large number of social scientists were purged, among the renowned historians, philosophers and writers like Feng Youlan 馮友蘭 (1895-1990), Fan Wenlan 范文澜 (1893-1969), Luo Ergang 罗尔纲 (1901-1997), Mao Dun, Ding Ling 丁玲 (1904-1986), He Qifang 何其芳 (1912-1977) or Ai Qing 艾青 (1910-1996). The interest in traditional literature, particularly the great novels and poetry, rose after that year, and many of them were republished.