Lan Jianchun, Associate Professor, Department of Taiwanese Literature, Providence University
Lin Shuangbu’s “The Huang Su Chronicle” ran in the Independence Evening Post supplement on July 7, 1983, later appearing in Lin’s short-story collection Golden Tree in the Bamboo Grove, issued by Avanguard Publishing. That collection and two others, College Student Zhuang Nan’an and The Little Trumpeter, constitute Lin Shuangbu’s most important 1980s’ works of political fiction.
In telling the tale of Huang Su, a country girl, and her dramatic experiences in the 228 Incident, “The Huang Su Chronicle” harshly condemns the White Terror period’s authoritarian KMT government, the story a distinct political critique. Lin Shuangbu purposefully depicts a historical incident’s traumatic effects on the lives of his characters; consequently, the narrative mood and Huang Su’s psychological state before and after are entirely different. With her wedding day approaching, Huang Su and her mother go out to purchase items for her dowry, the young woman’s heart filled with joy. But calamity suddenly turns Huang Su’s happiness to sorrow, completely hollowing out her inner world. Afterwards, the only words she is heard to utter are “I don’t want to be executed.” Repeated again and again, the phrase is an intense manifestation of post-traumatic stress.
Lin Shuangbu focuses on several different points in time – a spring morning in 1947, the beginning of 1948, and the summer of 1967 – echoing “chronicle” in the work’s title. The narrative pace quickens as the story progresses, like a film-clip gradually picking up speed as it moves ahead. In the beginning the writer creates an unhurried, serene atmosphere, but then the raucous and terrifying sounds of fighting and gunfire suddenly erupt on all sides, shattering the tranquility. From this point on Huang Su’s world begins to change in ways she can’t understand. The prison interrogation and the interrogator’s maliciousness and are the straws that break the camel’s back, and Huang Su’s psychological defenses crumble – finally all she can do is babble “I don’t want to be executed.” At the story’s end Huang Su numbly walks along a railroad track towards an onrushing train, insignificant and powerless in the face of unstoppable historical events.
The incident has caused Huang Su to lose her youth, her parents, and the happy married life she once dreamed of, the disapproving looks given to her by her elder brother and his wife and village neighbors adding insult to injury. The story highlights the individual’s unimportance and helplessness beneath the vast shadow of history. What’s perhaps even more important to note is that even if victims of such tragedies do go on living, they will – like Huang Su – become walking corpses, stripped of their spirits, their beliefs, and their inner lives.
Lin Shuangbu (1950- ) was born Huang Yande, but changed his name to Lin Shuangbu in 1995. He has written under a number of different pennames. The writer holds a master’s degree in philosophy from Fu Jen Catholic University, and has served as instructor as Yuanlin Public High School, Chienkuo Technology University, Tainan Theological College and Seminary, and National Chung Hsing University. In 1997 he left his teaching posts to devote himself to social movements. After the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in 2000 he served as director of the Pingdong County Bureau of Education and principal of Manzhou Junior High School in Pingdong County. He currently acts as convener for the Association for the Promotion of a Referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, an anti-nuke organization. Lin is a recipient of the Lai He Literary Award, the Wu Chuo-liu Literary Award, the Chinese Literature and Arts Association Award, the Chinese Literature and Arts’ Medal and other prestigious literary prizes.
Lin Shuangbu began writing in junior high school under the penname “Blue Bamboo,” turning out a large volume of lyrical poetry, essays, and fiction. As a student at Fu Jen Catholic University he published Mountain Road Home (1970), Death of the Class Meeting (1970), and Li Bai Drinks Up (1973). Influenced by 1979’s “Kaohsiung Incident,” 1 he changed his name to Lin Shuangbu in 1980. At that point the writer’s style underwent a radical transformation as he turned his gaze to Taiwan’s farming villages. His realist “Taiwan Farm Village People” series is highly critical of the powers that be, particularly political forces intervening in schools. Works in the series include College Student Zhuang Nan’an (1985) and The Little Trumpeter (1986).
After ending his teaching career, Lin Shuangbu began his “Peace and Quiet” series, publishing Loud Calm and Quiet (1995) and Calmly and Quietly Thinking of Him (1996). In 1997 he began writing about Taiwan independence supporters living abroad, short stories collected in Calm and Quiet Taiwanese (2000), a series of six volumes.
From the lyrical “Blue Bamboo” to a critic of injustice, Lin Shuangbu truly reflect the deep influence of 1980s’ social movements and the Kaohsiung Incident on Taiwanese literature.
This excerpt is taken from the Encyclopedia of Taiwan; for the entire Chinese article, please visit: http://nrch.culture.tw/twpedia.aspx?id=7653
|Work(English)：||The Huang Su Chronicle|
|Anthology：||Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series（《台灣文學英譯叢刊》）|
|Author：||Lin Shuangbu (Lin Shuang-pu)|
|Literary Genre：||Short Story|
|Publisher：||Forum for the Study of World Literatures in Chinese, University of California, Santa Barbara|
|Ordering information for original work(Link)：||http://www.books.com.tw/products/0010233989|
Ordering information for original work(Note)：
|The “book.com.tw” Internet Bookstore|
|Ordering information for translation(Link)：||http://www.eastasian.ucsb.edu/taiwancenter/publications/ets|
|Ordering information for translation(Note)：|