Yu Yawen, MA student, Department of East Asian Studies, National Taiwan Normal University
Yu Lihua is one of Taiwan’s foremost female writers of the postwar period. Her unique coming-of-age experiences have served as material for a richly emotional body of diasporic fiction. In addition to themes of migrating, wandering, separation, and search, her depictions of women’s self-realization and growth are also noteworthy. In Yu’s stories these female protagonists often come to dazzling “awakenings,” gaining awareness of their plight and boldly seeking better futures.
“In Liu Village” is just such a work: Cui-e, the story’s protagonist, lives in Liu Village, a Chinese hamlet, in the postwar period. Her husband and son have been away on business in Shanghai for years, leaving Cui-e at home with her daughter and mother-in-law. Life is placid and uneventful until one hot afternoon, when a local Japanese sympathizer rapes Cui-e. News of the incident quickly reaches Cui-e’s harsh-tempered mother-in-law, who angrily attempts to drive Cui-e from home. Only after her husband and daughter intercede does the mother-in-law agree to wait until Cui-e’s husband returns before taking action. Cui-e believes her husband knows that she is not a loose woman. But after he returns they are busy making arrangements for their daughter’s marriage and Cui-e has no chance to broach the subject of the rape. Finally, her husband’s mother informs her son of what has happened. Enraged, Cui-e’s husband decides to end the marriage. But after he calms down and listens to Cui-e’s explanations and entreaties, he allows her to remain in the home, though he will return to Shanghai and the two of them will no longer live as man and wife. The next day a female servant looks everywhere for Cui-e but she has vanished, her disappearance marking the story’s end.
In an interview Yu Lihua stated that Cui-e had drowned herself in a river, but after the story’s publication the writer received letters from readers protesting that Cui-e had done nothing wrong and was underserving of such a fate, whereupon Yu refashioned the ending. At first glance Cui-e appears to be a traditional Chinese woman, burying herself in the roles of wife and mother, but she is aware of and affirms her own existence and desires. From the moment in the back yard when she unbuttons her blouse and asks the township mayor who humiliated her to take her away – and especially from the instant when she realizes she can’t win her husband back and first calls out his name – Cui-e is no longer simply a wife or mother but has become an independent person. The story still doesn’t reveal how Cui-e ends up, for there is no one who can tell her what to do or where to go – only she can answer those questions.
Zhong Zhiwei, PhD student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Yu Lihua (1931- ) was born in Shanghai. Her family moved to Taiwan in 1947 when the KMT Resources Committee sent her father to Taichung to manage a sugar factory. In 1949 Yu tested into National Taiwan University’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literature but transferred to the history department after failing English exams. She graduated in 1953 and went to the US for further study. In 1956 she received an MA in journalism from UCLA. She and her husband traveled to China to visit relatives in 1975, after which she published New Chinese Women (1977) and Who Is in Xishuangbanna? (1978). When the KMT accused her of harboring Communist sympathies, Yu’s works were banned and the writer was placed under house arrest. She regained her freedom in the late 1980s and relocated to the US, where she currently resides.
Yu Lihua began writing and submitting in college. Her early works were published in Xi Ji-an’s Literature Review magazine, bringing her to the attention of critic Xia Zhiqing. A prolific author, Yu writes mostly fiction but also pens essays and news reports. Her best-known works are Return (1963), The Palms, the Palms (1967), The Fu Family Sons and Daughters (1978), Woman Behind the Screen (1998), and Autumn Mountain (2010). Her novel The Palms, the Palms garnered both critical and popular praise. Set in1950s-60s Taipei, the story centers on Mou Tianlei, a young man who has graduated from an American university with a PhD. After landing a job in the US, he returns to Taiwan on vacation, visiting family and meeting with prospective marriage partners, the narrative revealing the despondency of a generation of youth in search of self-affirmation and ethnic identity. In a preface Xia Zhiqing notes that Yu Lihua’s has fully realized her own style in the work, praising her “exquisite descriptions and metaphors and fresh dialogue.” The Palm, the Palms is regarded as a representative work of literature dealing with the experiences of Taiwanese studying abroad.
Yu Lihua is a recipient of America’s Samuel Goldwyn Creative Writing Award (1956) and Taiwan’s New Cement Literary Arts Award (1967). She was later awarded a Fullbright Fellowship (1984-1985), traveling Yugoslavia in a writers’ exchange. In 2006 Vermont’s Centennial College recognized Yu’s literary achievements with an honorary doctorate.
|Work(English)：||In Liu Village|
|Anthology：||Chinese Story From Taiwan:1960~1970（《六十年代台灣小說選》）|
|Author：||Yu Lihua (Yu Li-hua)|
|Translator：||於梨華（Yu Li-hua），夏志清（C. T. Hsia）|
|Publisher：||New York: Columbia University Press|
|Ordering information for original work(Link)：||http://www.books.com.tw/products/0010059690|
Ordering information for original work(Note)：
|The “book.com.tw” Internet Bookstore|
|Ordering information for translation(Link)：||http://cup.columbia.edu/book//9780231513869|
|Ordering information for translation(Note)：|