The prose of Zhu Ziqing
Zhu Ziqing was a Chinese academic who developed a reputation first as a poet and later as an essayist in the 1920's and 1930's. His works are still read widely in China and are considered important enough to be included in the curriculum of secondary schools and universities in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Despite his enduring reputation among his countrymen, he is little known abroad and Western scholarly works on modern Chinese literature scarcely mention him. This
... ention him. This thesis examines Zhu Ziqing's prose, since it is his essays which are the basis of his reputation. His short stories are examined first, as the precursors to his essays, with which they have much in common. The essays are presented in categories according to their subject matter, and representative works from each category are examined in detail. It becomes clear that the most noticeable characteristic of Zhu Ziqing's writings is their autobiographical nature. He is at his best when writing about things with which he is intimately acquainted, and his attempts to grapple with wider social issues tend to be inconclusive. Zhu Ziqing is known principally as a lyric essayist, a "painter of pictures with words." The scenes which he describes are often marked by his presence, linked by the autobiographical thread which runs through all his work. Concerned as they are with painting delightful scenes rather than making any profound statements, lyric essays are not calculated to offend anyone's ideological sensibilities. This, combined with the inconclusive nature of Zhu Ziqing's attempts at weightier social pronouncements, accounts for the availability of his works on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. One may concede that Zhu Ziqing is but a minor planet in the Chinese literary firmament. Nevertheless, his short stories and essays are Interesting as examples of prose which was highly regarded by the author's contemporaries in the early days of modern Chinese vernacular literature.