Qiu Maojing, MA student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Most critics consider Yang Qingchu’s literary works landmarks in Taiwanese working-class literature, yet few have revisited his short story “Virgin Boy” (1969), an outstanding early work. The late literary critic Ye Shitao praised the story’s “fresh, weird, comic atmosphere.”
Set in Kaohsiung, “Virgin Boy” is the story of a bar-hostess (“Big Eyes”) and a shy young tailor’s apprentice (“Dimpled Boy”). An omniscient narrator recounts a love affair in which the woman maintains the upper hand, focusing on the psychological state of the young protagonist before and after his sexual awakening. A 1984 film adaptation was written byWu Nianzhen and directed by Cai Yangming. Starring Lu Xiaofen as Big Eyes and Yang Qinghuang as Dimpled Boy, the picture was a box-office success.
Formosa TV’s 1998“Taiwan Writers’ Playhouse” adapted noted works of Taiwanese literature, among which was Yang Qingchu’s “Virgin Boy” (rechristened “In Meinan,” or “The First Stitch”), reaffirming the work’s visual appeal. Directed by Xu Zhonghua and written by Liu Mei,the television production starred Wang Meixue, Chen Guanlin, and Ye Tianlun.Wang Meixuethrilled viewerswith her consummate performanceas Big Eyes, winning nomination for the Golden Bell “Best Actress” award. Ye Tianlun, who played “Lion Nose,” later went on to direct the box-office hits Night Market Hero (2011) and Tua-Tiu-Tiann (2014).
The Taiwanese (Holo) term tsāi-sek-lâm (在室男) – “virgin boy” – translates literally as “a boy in a room,” a euphemism for a male virgin. As the title of Yang Qingchu’s first published work, “virgin boy” symbolized the author’s literary innocence as well. In a classic line from the TV serial, Big Eyes says to A-Cheng (Dimpled Boy), “My body isn’t ‘in the room,’ but my heart is”(“My body isn’t a virgin, but my heart is.”). The sentiment could as wellrefer to Yang Qingchu’s involvement in political activities. Implicated in the 1979 “Kaohsiung Incident,” Yang was imprisoned for four years; after his release he spent many years writing the “Kaohsiung Incident Trilogy,” a work of historical fiction. He is a tireless promoter of the Taiwanese (Holo) language, and has published a comprehensive Taiwanese-Chinese dictionary and related study materials.
Film In Meinan (The First Stitch) Video Clip (Source: Formosa Television Inc.)
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