Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes

By Li Yu-Ning | Go to book overview

23
A Young Nurse in Manchuria

Ch'en Hsueh-chao

CH'EN HSUEH-CHAO ( 1906-1991), who recorded the following autobiography, is one of the better-known women writers in modern China. She was born in Hai-ning District, Chekiang Province. Her father, the principal of a local primary school, had been influenced by the new intellectual trends and was opposed to footbinding, so she escaped that painful experience. He died when she was six years old but left instructions that she should receive a modern education, which her brothers grudgingly obeyed. In 1921, she went to Shanghai to study, and by 1927 her success as a writer enabled her to travel to Paris on royalties. There she continued her studies, married a Chinese medical student, and was European correspondent for the well-known newspaper Ta-kung pao. In 1935 she and her husband returned to China, and in 1940, disillusioned with the Nationalist government and favorably impressed by the Communists, moved to Yenan, the Communist capital. Ch'en was attacked during the rectification campaign in 1942 and accused of being a "female chauvinist." After engaging in "productive labor" she was encouraged to join the Communist Party, which, after serious soul searching, she did in 1945.

While in Yenan, Ch'en devoted most of her energies to being cultural and science editor of Liberation Daily and did little creative writing, but following the Japanese defeat she was sent to observe land reform, and after the establishment of the People's Republic she wrote two novels on the subject. In the antirightest campaign of 1957 she was expelled from the party, and she was attacked again

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