Liu Xinwu

b. 1942, Chengdu
Writer
A pioneer of Scar literature, Liu Xinwu is known for his preoccupation with social criticism, particularly the legacies of Mao. He was a middle school teacher for fifteen years in Beijing before he gained overnight fame with the publication of ‘The Class Teacher’ (Banzhuren, 1977). It was the first story to expose the failure of education during the Cultural Revolution as embodied in the hooligan Song Baoqi and the dogmatic Xie Huimin. ‘Save the children’ is the key theme. In a succession of stories from 1978 to 1980, Liu called for: the return of love in The Place of Love’ (Aiqing de weizhi); individuality in ‘Every Leaf’ (Mei yipian luoye); faith in ‘Wake up, Brother!’ (Xinglai ba, didi); and freedom of choice in ‘Black Walls’ (Heiqiang). His novella A Gift (Ruyi), which reveals the damage done to human relations by class struggle through the humane behaviour of an honest servant, is a probing study of human nature which moves beyond political protest.
Liu’s stories on urban problems are more successful. His novella The Overpass (Liti jiaochaqiao) vividly depicts psychological suppression in an unbearably crowded environment. His novel, The Bell Drum Tower (Zhong gu lou), which won the Mao Dun Literary Prize, shows the multifaceted life of ordinary Beijing people, who live in an old-style compound. The novel, The Wind Blows Past (Feng Guo’er) satirizes the philistinism of literary circles through a rivalry over the possession of a manuscript left by a supposedly deceased writer in a plane crash.
See also: Cultural Revolution (education)
LEUNG LAIFONG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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