Ru Zhijuan

Ru Zhijuan (茹志鹃, 30 October 1925 – 7 October 1998) was a Chinese writer.

Born in Shanghai, Ru Zhijuan was three years old when her mother died. Her father left the family, and she was raised by her paternsl grandmother, who worked in a factory. Zhijuan started attending primary school when she was eleven years old, but her grandmother died shortly thereafter, in 1938. Zhijuan was then sent to an orphanage, and attended several boarding schools for short periods, but was forced to leave her studies, after four years, to start working.

In November 1943, at the age of 18, she published her first short story, One Life ( 生活),  in the magazine Shenbao ( 申报). In that same year, in 1943, Zhijuan worked breiefly as a primary school teacher, and later joined the propaganda division of the New Fourth Army, a communist unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China. In the following year, she married the playwright and director Wang Xiaoping, and, in 1947, she joined the Communist Party.

From 1955 to 1960, she worked as the editor of the Monthly for Literature and Art, and continued to publish several short stories. In 1957, her husband was sent to a labour camp, and the couple was branded as ‘rightist’.

Zhijuan’s literary input entered a hiatus during the Cultural Revolution: her work was criticized for lacking political orientation, and it was said that she did not engage with class struggle. In the post-Mao era, however, she resumed her writing. Zhijuan started working as a member of the editorial board of the Shanghai Literature, and worked as a secretary for the Shanghai Writer’s Association.

Ru Zhijuan suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure. She died in Shanghai in 1998. Her daughter Wang Anyi, born in 1954, is a novelist, screenwriter, and short story author.


Short-story collections

  • Lilies and Other Stories (1985, ed. Gladys Yang, several translators)
    • The Path through the Grassland (tr. Yu Fanqin. Original: 草原上的小路, 1979)
    • On the Banks of the Cheng (tr. Gladys Yang. Original: 澄河边上, 1959)
    • The Maternity Home (tr. Tang Sheng. Original: 静静的产院, 1960)
    • A Third Visit to Yanzhuang (tr. Qin Sheng. Original: 三走严庄, 1961)
    • Comradeship (tr. Gladys Yang. Original: 同志之间, 1961)
    • Just a Happy-Go-Lucky Girl (tr. Wen Xue. Original: 阿舒, 1961)
    • Between Two Seas (tr. Zhang Su. Original: 在那东海边上, 1961)
    • A Badly Edited Story (tr. Wang Mingjie. Original: 剪辑错了的故事, 1979)

Several of Zhijuan’s stories have been anthologized:

  • One Half of the Sky: Stories from Contemporary Women Writers of China., ed. R. A. RobertsAngela Knox (1987)
    • Lilies (tr. A. Roberts. Original: 百合花, 1958)
  • The Rose Colored Dinner: New Works by Contemporary Chinese Women Writers,  ed. Nienling Liu (1988)
    • My Son, My Son (tr. Nancy Lee. Original: 儿女情, 1980)
  • Furrows: Peasants, Intellectuals, and the State: Stories and Histories from Modern China, ed. Helen F. Siu (1990)
    • How I Came to Write ‘Lilies on a Comforter (tr. John Balcom. Original: 我写〈百合花〉的经过, 1980)
  • Writing Women in Modern China: The Revolutionary Years, 1936–1976, ed. Amy D. Dooling (200)
    • The Warmth of Spring (tr. Sabina Knight. Original: 春暖时节, 1959)
  • Sowing the Clouds: A Collection of Chinese Short Stories, ed. Libo Zhau, Zhun Li  (1961)
    • A Promise Is Kept (tr. Yu Fanqin. Original: 如愿, 1959)
  • Reading the Modern Chinese Short Story, ed. Theodore Huters (1990)
    • Lilies (tr. Robert E. Hegel. Original: 百合花, 1958)
  • Prize Winning Stories from China, 1978–1979, ed. Xinwu Liu; Meng Wang (1981)
    • A Story Out of Sequence (tr. Tian Fan, John Minford. Original: 剪辑错了的故事, 1979)
  • The New Realism: Writings from China After the Cultural Revolution, ed. Lee Yee (1983)
    • Sons and Successors (tr. Ellen Klempner. Original: 儿女情, 1980)
  • Literature of the People’s Republic of China, ed. Kai-Yu Hsu (1980)
    • The Lilies on a Comforter (tr. Kai-yu Hsu. Original: 百合花, 1958)
  • Magazine: Chinese Literature, April 1962.
    • The Beginning of Tomorrow (tr. Zhang Su. Original: 第二步, 1962)
  • Seven Contemporary Chinese Women Writers, ed. Gladys Yang, several translators (1982)

About her

  • A History of Contemporary Chinese Literature, by Zicheng Hong (2007)
  • Reading the Modern Chinese Short Story, ed. Theodore Huters (1990)
  • Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: The Twentieth Century, 1912-2000, by Lily Xiao Hong Lee (2003)
  • The A to Z of Modern Chinese Literature, by Li-hua Ying (2010)
  • Erkundungen – 16 chinesische Erzähler, ed. Irmtraud Fessen-Henjes, Fritz Gruner, Eva Müller (1986)

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