Rupture writers

(Duanlie, 1998–2000)
The Rupture movement was a controversial cultural and artistic declaration representing the iconoclastic literary views of a new generation of Chinese writers in the late 1990s. The principal participants and organizers were the Nanjing-based writers Zhu Wen and Han Dong. Zhu Wen (b. 1967), a 1989 graduate of Southeast University, quit his job in the sciences in 1994 to pursue a fulltime career in literature. He has published several volumes of poetry, stories and novels, including I Love US Dollars (Wo ai meiyuan), Because of Loneliness (Yinwei gudu) and What is Garbage, What is Love? (Shenme shi laji, shenme shi ai). He has also served as screenwriter for several ‘Sixth Generation’ films (see Sixth Generation (film directors)) and made his own directorial debut in 2001 with the powerful film Seafood (Haoxian). Han Dong (b. 1961) is a 1982 graduate of the Philosophy Department of Shandong University. After graduation he taught Marxism at several universities before resigning in 1992.
Highly regarded as a poet and novelist, Han Dong’s body of works includes Our Bodies (Women de shenti) and Lucky Tiger (Jixiang de laohu).
In May 1998 Zhu Wen and Han Dong sent out a questionnaire to several dozen contemporary Chinese writers which marked the origin of the Rupture movement. Fifty-five writers responded to Zhu Wen’s carefully posed questions about such issues as the legitimacy of state-sponsored cultural entities, like the Chinese Writers’ Association system and major national literary awards, as well as questions about the influence of academics, literary critics, foreign sinologists and iconic modern Chinese writers on their work. The startling results included such figures as: 69 per cent who felt that there are no contemporary Chinese writers who have had a profound influence on their work (avant-garde writer Ma Yuan was one of the few Chinese they acknowledged); 98.2 per cent who felt that contemporary Chinese literary criticism has not had any major impact on their work; 81 per cent who felt that the opinions of sinologists were not important or to be valued; 91 per cent who felt that Lu Xun has not served as a guide for contemporary Chinese literature; and 94.6 per cent who do not acknowledge the authority of the Mao Dun and Lu Xun Literary Awards.
The questionnaire and a complete list of the answers given by the fifty-five participating writers were printed in several literary magazines. The outcome represented nothing short of a collective proclamation of a cultural break with tradition—a ‘rupture’ wherein young writers articulated their dissatisfaction with the existing literary structure, which they felt no longer relevant to their life and work. The radical views of the group caused an academic and media controversy, with some critics even labelling the entire movement as nothing but a savvy literary marketing ploy. In March of 1999, Haitian Publishing House published a six-volume Rupture Series edited by Han Dong, whose purpose was to introduce unpublished, fresh literary voices. The series included authors Chu Chen, Wu Chenjun, Gu Qian, He Yi, Jin Haishu and Hai Lihong, all of whom were among the initial participants in the ‘rupture’ questionnaire.
Wang, Jifang (2000). Duanlie: Shijimo de wenxue gushi—ziyou zuojia fangtanlu [Rupture: A Literary Tale from the Fin-de-siècle—Interviews with Independent Writers]. Nanjing: Jiangsu wenyi chubanshe.
MICHAEL BERRY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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