Shen Manling, PhD Candidate, Department of Chinese Literature, National Chung Hsing University
In 2010/Chen Yuhong: 365 Degree Perspective, Chen Yuhong uses a year of journal diary entries to capture a wide variety of personal reflections on life. In short daily passages Chen records her feelings towards her friends, relatives and pets, as well as her own understanding and awareness of the books she reads. Her passion for life consists in a kind of intimate and unhurried merging of thought and feeling. Elegantly written, the diary makes clear how Chen looks for beauty in daily life.
The diary can be seen as an opportunity to read about and obtain a window on the way of life of a poetess. The diary format allows the reader to understand Chen Yuhong through extracts from her daily life – or perhaps to grasp life’s themes and meaning from Chen Yuhong’s perspective. The book also shows her background in foreign literature and records her reading habits, which center on modern Western poetry. Moreover, Chen has penetrating views on both Taiwanese current affairs and international news; she cares about what is happening in the world and pays close attention to ecological and environmental issues – she often writes about plants and animals, exhibiting a post-humanist sensibility. The diary also logs her interactions with Taiwanese writers and artists, including Yan Ailin, Xi Murong, Grace Tong, and Lung Yingtai. It gives a glimpse into what writers and artists do to unwind.
The diary subtly portrays how a mother relates to her children and what it means to be a daughter. Chen Yuhong is married to Stanley Yen, former chairman of the Landis Hotel and CEO of the Grand Hotel, and current chairman of the Alliance Cultural Foundation. Chen has written a poem to her husband – Moving (2000) – in which she catalogs the everyday household objects that they have used through the years. She writes of what they have both experienced after so many years together and how they still hope to hold on to each other and treasure each other in the years to come. It is a commonplace but sincere account of the emotional life of a well-to-do married couple.