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‘The People’s Artist’ and ‚ ‘Great master of Language’
이수진   |   2018. 01. 13 14:56   |  
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(English)

 

 

 

Lao She

 

 

Lao She (1899-1966) is the pen name of the Chinese novelist Shu Qing Chun. He is one of the most acclaimed and popular Chinese writers of the twentieth century and is best known for his novel ‘Rickshaw Boy’ and the play ‘Teahouse(茶館)’. He was born from a impoverished Manch family, and his works are known especially for their vivid use of the Beijing dialect, which will be mentioned later on by the new genre Lao She introduced to the world. His substantial contributions not only as a writer but also as a linguist are still widely recognized today in the fields of modern Chinese literature and teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Although Lao She was born and lived quite a long time in Beijing, and eventually died in Beijing too, he spent a long time working in the western environment. This gave him oppurtunities to learn and discover new languages and cultures which influenced him in his later works and life. 


In 1924, Lao She left for England to teach his native language at London University's SOAS which stands for ‘School of Oriental Studies.’ I would like to call him a pioneer in linguistics, for he was one of the people who had started to teach Chinese out of China for the first time, with his marvelous linguistic knowledge. While he tried to teach Chinese more effectively with his colleagues, it was then he started writing stories. Those stories made him one of the most significant figures of the 20th-centuty Chinese literature.


Dr Cui Yan, a course convener of Chinese 405 in SOAS, said: “We are proud to say that Lao She set up a very solid foundation for our Chinese language teaching today at SOAS in terms of course structures, syllabuses, teaching content and teaching methodologies. We should never forget Lao She and his work, especially when Chinese language and Chinese culture has become more and more popular and attracted more and more people to study it world-wide.” Personally, as a person currently studying Chinese, it it more fascinating to know that this writer had actually contributed greatly in spreading Chinese all over the world.



‘Jing Wei(京味) Novel’

Taste the ordinary life of Beijing people


Lao She mostly wrote stories about the lower classes in Beijing, and his details realistically show the severe problems of the poverty about that time. This resulted in creating a new genre called ‘Jing Wei(京味) Novel’. As you can see from the Chinese characters of this word, ‘Jing Wei Novel’ literally means ‘Beijing’s Taste Novel.’ which actually means that various regions, life and the spoken languages of Beijing realistically appear in this kind of genre. This genre is regarded interesting and easy to read, since the writing is written in a generally popular style and uses various kinds of colloquial style words, which appear to be extremely familiar and realistic to the readers.


Lao She, a Nobel Prize Winner?


When selecting the winner of the Nobel Prize in 1968, Lao She was actually nominated in the final five nominators. It is told that he was ranked the first place in a secret voting. Then, why did this remarkable writer not get the prize, which he was supposed to recieve? According to Kjell Espmark, a member of the Nobel Committee for Literature, Lao She was actually asked whether he would be able get the nobel prize. As a modest writer, he said he was “not qualified” to get the prize. 


At that time, China entered the summit of Culture Revolution, and Lao She also was said to die. Sweden tried to search for the information of Lao She to take an investigation. However, the Chinese government did not give any response, so the authorities of Sweden came to believe that Lao She had died. Lao She’s death has been left as a mystery. His suicide by drowning himself was not like him, considering the characteristics and creations that he had made. However, The committee of Nobel Prize could not help but reassess the other four nominators, and one principle was the winner should be from the east region. So the result of the assessment was that Kawabata Yasunari from Japan won the prize at last.                                                           

 

 

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