Yang Fumin, PhD student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
“A diary is a true record of life. A diary is a filter for the mind. A diary is a sorrowful testament for one’s children and grandchildren. A diary is a log of a life.” Excerpted from the author’s preface to “Dear Deceased Wife,” Wu Hsin-jung’s (1907-1960) masterpiece, these lines illustrate Wu’s view of journaling, and summarize the writer’s practice of keeping a daily written record of his life. In an epilogue to The Diary of Wu Hsin-jung, the writer’s s son, Wu Nantun, states that Wu Hsin-jung began keeping a diary as a first-year student in Taiwan Governor-General’s School of Commerce in 1923. Later, when Wu studied in Japan, first at Kanegawa Middle School and then at Tokyo Medical College, the diary was still a major vehicle for recording life experiences. When he was jailed in 1929’s “April 16th Incident” – a mass arrest of communists in Japan – police used the diary Wu carried to identify and apprehend others involved in leftist activities. The document was confiscated and subsequently disappeared, and Wu vowed to never again keep a diary. After returning to his hometown Jiali in the Tainan area in 1932, Wu founded the “Youth Wind Association” and began journaling again in 1933.
The Diary of Wu Hsin-jung begins on September 4, 1933 and ends on March 15, 1967, spanning a total of thirty-three years (the years 1934 and 1956 are missing), from the Japanese colonial era through the postwar restoration period. Prewar entries are written in Chinese and Japanese, and postwar entries are written in Chinese. Contained within are detailed accounts of Wu’s daily life, his reading habits, social relations, and aesthetic interests. In addition to its importance as a spiritual history of a generation of intellectuals, owing to Wu’s multiple careers as writer, philologist, bibliographer, and legislator, the diary is also of great value to students of literature, history, and linguistics.
Diary material is included in The Collected Works of Wu Hsin-jung (1981) compiled by Zhang Liangze, which contains diary excerpts in Volumes 7 (prewar) and 8 (postwar). In 1997 the Tainan County government published Selected Works of Wu Jung-hsin in three volumes; the second volume, Notes, Philology, Diary, and Research Material, edited by Lü Xingchang, also includes diary excerpts. At present, the eleven-volume Diary of Wu Hsin-jung, compiled in 2007-2008 by Zhang Liangze, published by the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, and printed by the Wu San-lien Taiwan Historical Materials Foundation, enjoys a wide readership among scholars. The Academia Sinica Institute of Taiwan History’s “Taiwan Diary Data Base” has posted the complete diary online for the benefit of both academic researchers and average readers.