Translated by Shirley Chang
Lin Beili (1916–?), orginally named Lin Yin, was a poet from
I will write down here the story of a twenty-seven-year-old woman. Readers will probably consider it strange, for the collection which includes this narrative already indicates its nature. But why do I not directly say: “I will write down my own story here”? Let me now explain the reason, which is my motive for writing.
It must have been late June that I received a letter from my friend L! Attached to it was a letter from Ms Huang, an editor with Plowing Publishing Company (Gengyun chubanshe). She asked me to write my life to be published in a collection of women writers’ autobiographies. I instinctively thought, “Say no! How can I write my autobiography? I’ve never written anything and if my story were included in the collection, it would be completely out of place.” But another thought entered my mind with even stronger force: my refusal would greatly disappoint L. He had been so kind to me that I could not bear the thought of letting him down. Indeed, I should not let him down.
Before then I had read many autobiographies and had found most of them unsatisfying. The writers (either men or women) often loved to write about how they struggled, how they conquered difficulties, and how they had made sacrifices to benefit others. What meaningful and practical lives they had led! All the talk of their endeavors and sacrifices were nothing but a beautiful and splendid curtain. My life concerns no struggle,