Yan Yunzhen, MA student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
In Taiwan “teahouse” is aeuphemism for “brothel,” a business that operates hand-in-glove with human traffickers. Interlaced with lively Taiwanese (Holo) dialogue, Wu Jinfa’s 1987 novella tells the story of a young man who falls in with a brothel girl, experiencing both the delights of first love and the dark side of the adult world.
Four teenagers – the first-person narrator, Fulin, A-Wei, and Fatty Luo – are second-year high-school students whose grades put themat the bottom of the class. The boys spend their days skipping school, hunting in the woods, and smoking cigarettes. An aboriginal girl’s debt-ridden parents have sold their daughter to Fulin’s mother, proprietor of the “Spring and Autumn Teahouse.” The girl tries to escape but is captured and beaten by Sanlang, the brothel bouncer. After firstsetting eyes on the young woman, the narratorcan’t get her out of his mind, and even has a wet dream about her. For his part, Fulincan’t bearto see the girl mistreated, so he hides her in a pump station. After the narrator and the girl spend time alone –the young man’s first taste of romance– he can no longer suppress his surging emotions. He steals some cash from his parents and gives it to the girl to use as traveling money so that she can escape from the brothel. His father discovers the theft and beats his son, but the boy doesn’t mind because he believes he’s protecting the girl, preserving her chastity and the purity of their love. Afterwards, the young man stops going into the woods to hunt with his friends, because the girl has taught him that all life is worthy of respect. But his “heroic” naivety is utterly destroyed when the girl is recaptured and raped on the way back to the teahouse. She no longer considers fleeing, telling the young man “I’ve accepted my fate.”
The incident is the narrator’s first encounter with such cruelty: “In the somber twilight, my seventeen year-old world suddenly came crashing down.” The young man hoped to hear the girl say she would never give in to a life of prostitution, only to see her together with teahouse customers. In the end he stands before the young woman and slashes himself with a pair of knives, severing their love and forever abandoning his youthful innocence. From then on heapplies himself at school, studying furiously. “Spring and Autumn Tea House” realistically portrays the heart-rending story of a youth’s first love, and the hard, cold reality that ultimately forces him to confront his weaknesses and grow up.
Dai Huaxuan, Assistant Professor, Department of Taiwanese Literature, Aletheia University
Wu Jinfa (1954- ) is a Hakka from the town of Meinong in the Kaohsiung area. He began writing while a student at National Chung Hsing University’s Department of Sociology. After graduation he served as assistant film director and scriptwriter at Ta Chung Motion Picture Company and Central Pictures Corporation, and editor-in-chief and managing editor for the Taiwan Times and Commons Daily literary supplements. He is a winner of the China Times Literary Award (1979), the Wu Chuo-liu Literary Award (1985), and the Unitas Award for New Novelists (1987).
A filmmaker, Wu Jinfa excels at combining literary creativity with strong visual imagery, imbuing his writing with freshness and charm. Among his best-known works are those that focus on his hometown, such as A Silent River, which has been called a history of the Meinong area. Meinong also serves as backdrop for Wu’s “Youth Trilogy”: “Attic” (1997), “Spring and Autumn Tea House,” and “Fall Chrysanthemum.” Other works such as “Uncle Rat and His Duck,” “The Eternal Drama,” “Brothers,” “Dike,” “Snake,” “A Big Carp,” “Hog,” and “A Goldfish Bushwhacked by an Eel” are also set in Meinong, reflecting changes that have taken place both in the town and in Taiwanese society as a whole.
Trained in sociology, Wu has spent much time in aboriginal villages, expressing concern for Taiwan’s indigenous peoples in works such as “Moonlight River” (1981) and Street of Crying Swallows (1983); moreover, he has edited Sorrowful Mountain Forests (1987), a collection of selected short stories and essays, Willing to Marry an Aboriginal Man (1988), an essay collection, and Aboriginal Dance (1993), a full-length documentary on an indigenous dance troupe. Wu Jinfa’s is a literary realist, exhibiting a strong humanistic spirit. In addition to fiction, poetry, and essays, he also pens political criticism.
|Work(English)：||Spring and Autumn Tea House|
|Anthology：||Spring and Autumn Tea House|
|Author：||Wu Jinfa (Wu Chin-fa)|
|Publisher：||Taipei: Unitas Publishing Co.|
|Ordering information for original work(Link)：||http://www.books.com.tw/products/0010043046|
Ordering information for original work(Note)：
|The “book.com.tw” Internet Bookstore|
|Ordering information for translation(Link)：|
|Ordering information for translation(Note)：||No English Translation|