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Literature Originates From The Land and People

Lin Jui-Ming


Translated by Jenn-Shann Jack Lin


     Literature is a reflection of time, and in the process of creation, it naturally brings out local conditions and social mores.  Land and people are an important source of a writer's vital energy.  Eminent writers of the world, in their writings either implicitly or explicitly, have invariably penned the land and the people that bore them and brought them up, thus unfolding before the reader a dialogue between the individual and his time and space.  Since men cannot cut themselves off from their land and survive, naturally literature cannot break away from its land and people and still exist.

     One of the fundamental characteristics of Taiwan literature is its concern with reality.  After undergoing Japanese colonial rule and postwar developments, Taiwanese writers are deeply rooted in their soil, and have written about the pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy of the people on this land. Resisting powers, defending their villages and native soil, criticizing the dark sides of the old society, and seeking for a just society-all of these have consistently been the important themes of literary expression.  From the veteran writers Lai Ho, Yang Kuei, and Wu Cho-liu to Chung Chao-cheng, Li Chiao, Tung-fang Pai, and Sung Tse-lai . . . the list can go on and on.  These numerous writers have shaped the course for Taiwan literature.  We can clearly point out that the axis of this literature has illustrated the fundamental concept-literature originates from the land and people.  The Taiwanese writers' belief in the "unity of body and land" can be observed clearly enough with but the slightest glance at the history of Taiwan literature.

     Taiwan hsin-wen-hsüeh (the New Taiwan Literature) is now more than seventy years old since its inception in the 1920s.  If that span is subdivided, each period naturally has its own recognizable style characterized by its time.  Common to all, however, is the long-standing problem of conflict and discord with political reality.  This is related to a historical structure in which Taiwan figured as a colony of Japan.  Taiwan literature, therefore, exhibits both aspects of resistance and submission.  On the one hand, few Taiwanese writers ever depended on creative writing for a living.  

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