Qian Zhongshu

Qian Zhongshu or Ch'ien Chung-shu, 1910–98, Chinese writer and scholar, grad. Tsinghua Univ., Beijing (1933). After attending Oxford and the Sorbonne, he returned (1939) to China and taught at several institutions of higher education including his alma mater and also worked in the foreign languages division of the National Library, Nanjing. During the Cultural Revolution he and his wife were sent to the countryside for “reeducation” and he worked as a janitor. Afterward he returned to scholarly pursuits and was vice president (1982–93) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, where he served as an adviser until his death. Qian's most famous and popular work is his sole novel, Weicheng (1947; tr. Fortress Besieged, 2004). Set in the 1930s, it is the tale of a feckless Chinese teacher's life, loves, and dreadful marriage. He also wrote a book of short stories (1946; tr. with essays from 1941 as Humans, Beasts, and Ghosts: Stories and Essays, 2011). Seven additional essays on art and literature were translated as Patchwork (2014). His scholarly work culminated in the notes and short essays on literary history, poetics, and related subjects in Guanzhui bian (4 vol., 1979; selections tr. as Limited Views: Essays on Ideas and Letters, 1998). Among his untranslated works are Tanyilu [reflections on appreciation] (1948, rev. ed. 1983) and Songshi xuanzhu [selected and annotated Sung poetry] (1958).

His wife, Yang Jiang, 1911–2016, b. Yang Jikang, was a writer, translator, and scholar known for her fiction, memoirs, plays, and essays. Her most famous translation is the definitive Chinese version of Cervantes' Don Quixote. Gan xiao liu ji (1981; tr. Six Chapters from My Life “Downunder,” 1984) details her life as an agricultural worker during the Cultural Revolution.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Asian Literature: Biographies