Ba Jin, one of China’s foremost writers of the 20th century, passed away in Shanghai on October 17. Ba Jin was known as an anarchist intellectual that attacked the traditional Confucian family orthodoxy as well as capitalists and other scumbags he didn’t like. He was condemned during the Cultural Revolution and eventually “rehabilitated” in 1977. His literary career started in the 1929 with the publication of his first novel, Miewang, but he only became known as one of China’s literary lights with the 1931 publication of the novel Jia 《家》(Family). Post-1977, Ba Jin began to take stock of his own life and past, writing several memoir books, the most famous being Random Thoughts, or 《随想录》 as it’s better known in Chinese. Ba Jin also has been the chief editor of Harvest or 《收获》 literary magazine since 1957, a magazine which focuses on discovering new literary talent. This magazine is still going strong today; you can easily find it in any bookshop or even in some of the magazine and periodical stands on the street.
If your curiosity’s been piqued you can find some basic information about Ba Jin here. This obituary (in Chinese) also covers the main points. The internet abounds with Chinese language resources on Ba JIn, including his kinda official website.
At Amazon you can find some English translations of his works, as well as some books on his role in the intellectual ferment of the May 4th period as well as his role as radical writer, editor and propagator of Chinese anarchist ideas. Some prefaces and chapters from longer works (in Chinese) are available for free, and if you’re inspired to buy some of his books, you can find them online at Joyo or at Dangdang, or at any good bookstore around town.
One of Ba Jin’s most radical ideas, espoused in his Random Thoughts memoir, was for the establishment of a Cultural Revolution museum (
Photo from Xinmin Evening News.