Biography in English

Ting Ling (c.1902-), novelist and short story writer who gained fame during the 1920's. She was known for her vivid descriptions of rebellious youth. Her later career centered on the Chinese Communist party, which she joined in 1933. She was an early critic of Mao Tse-tung's decrees on art, but received a Stalin prize for literature in 1951. In 1957 she was expelled from the Chinese Communist party as a rightist. The Chiang family into which Ting Ling was born was in many ways typical of the declining gentry of the late Ch'ing period. Ting Ling's father was a sheng-yuan degree holder who had studied political economy in Japan. He was a liberal and generous man, traits which Ting Ling inherited, but impractical in managing his affairs. As a result, when he died about 1911, Ting Ling, her younger brother, and her mother were left in somewhat straitened circumstances. Fortunately for the family, Ting Ling's mother, an intelligent and strong-willed women with a healthy physique and a cool disregard for the conventional reticences of widowhood, was able to cope with the immediate crisis by depositing Ting Ling and her younger brother with her family at Changteh. She then took a step which in its day was remarkable for both a widow and a woman of the "advanced" age of 30—she left for Changsha and the Provincial First Girls' Normal School to prepare herself for the teaching profession. Ting Ling's long and moving story, "Mu-ch'in" [mother], completed in 1933, retells the story of her mother's extraordinary courage and resourcefulness.

While her mother was at Changsha, Ting Ling was growing up at Changteh in the house of her cousins, the Yü's. When her mother returned several years later, she established two elementary schools in Changteh, one for boys and one for girls, and it was at the latter that Ting Ling started her formal education. It was also during this period that her younger brother died, a great blow to both her and her mother. In 1917 Ting Ling was sent to the Provincial Second Girls' Normal School at Taoyuan, where she stayed for two years. Taoyuan was anjmportant city, and "new ideas" such as the independence of women and the equality of the sexes, which were virtually unheard of in Changteh, were openly studied and debated. Ting Ling took to these liberating ideas passionately, and when, in 1919, the May Fourth Movement gave them coherent expression and a measure of public approval, she ran away from Taoyuan to a coeducational school at Changsha. Ting Ling's rebellion shocked even her liberal-minded mother and let to a rupture between them that lasted several years. At Changsha, Ting Ling was involved for two years with the work-study program. By 1921, however, even the provincial capital seemed stale; and so, with a close friend, Wang Chien-hung, Ting Ling at last made her way to China's greatest metropolis, Shanghai. At this stage Ting Ling was still a student, and she probably still contemplated a career similar to her mother's. Accordingly, upon arrival at Shanghai she enrolled in the P'ingmin nü-hsiao [people's school for girls], which had been founded by Ch'en Tu-hsiu (q.v.). Ting Ling now led a wholly "emancipated" existence and seems to have spent little time on her school work. She studied her schoolfellows closely, however, as her subsequent writings demonstrate, and for a time became deeply absorbed with anarchism, which was then much in vogue among young intellectuals. For all these varied activities and interests, Ting Ling's first sojourn in Shanghai did not last long. After a few months she and her friend Wang Chienhung left for Nanking, where the two led a carefree but impecunious existence. Ting Ling's wanderings finally terminated when she and her friend became reconciled with their families, and thereafter Ting Ling's mother provided her with a small allowance. The summer of 1923 found Ting Ling and Wang Chien-hung once again in Shanghai and enrolled at Shanghai University, which had been recently founded by Yü Yu-jen (q.v.) and others. Ting Ling enrolled in the department of literature, but, as usual, spent most of her time in extracurricular affairs. She retained an interest in anarchism, but seems not to have been politically minded. She was described by a contemporary as a "romantic liberal" who valued freedom and individuality above all else and who showed a distaste for Communist propaganda and agitation despite her friendship with some Communist party members. Shanghai University at this time was noted both for its left-wing faculty, which included Ch'ü Ch'iu-pai, Yün Tai-ying, Li Ta, and Teng Chung-hsia (qq.v.), and for the freedom with which faculty and students fraternized. Wang Chien-hung became the fiancee of Ch'ü Ch'iu-pai, and Ting Ling spent much time with Ch'u's younger brother. However, in early 1924, when Wang and Ch'ü were married, Ting Ling left Shanghai for Peking.

In Peking Ting Ling determined to continue her education and enrolled in a school which prepared students for university entrance examinations. She also took private lessons in painting. It was as a student that Ting Ling in the spring of 1925 met Hu Yeh-p'in (q.v.), a young poet who had just been relieved as editor of Min-chung wen-i [popular literature], a not too thriving literary supplement. Ting Ling, according to her later reminiscences, was impressed immediately by Hu's courage, obstinacy, and optimism, all qualities which she regarded as essential in a man. Before long, the two set up a small household in the Western Hills outside Peking.

The couple was poor, but they had abundant leisure in which to read, write, and admire the beauty of nature. It was during this period that Ting Ling began her active literary career. Except for daily chores, she spent most of her time reading in their small library, which consisted of some volumes of Chinese poetry, a few translations of Western novels, and several works in English. The two books which she read and reread were Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Dumas' La Dame aux camelias. She also began to read Hu Yeh-p'in's manuscripts and to offer advice. According to Shen Ts'ung-wen (q.v.), even before Ting Ling herself was a published writer she exhibited keen perception in matters of literary criticism. In the meantime, however, Hu remained without prospects, and without some cash the Western Hills idyll could not continue indefinitely. Accordingly, Ting Ling attempted to find a job, first as a secretary, next as a primary school teacher, and finally as an actress in the Shanghai cinema, but none of these ventures proved successful. As a last resort, Ting Ling decided to try her hand at writing. By now she had read enough modern Chinese literature and had met enough "new" writers to have a certain confidence in her own efforts. The result was her first short story, "Mengk'o," which utilized her own experiences in trying out in the movie business in Shanghai and which was published in the December 1927 issue of Hsiao-shuo yüeh-pao [short story magazine]. Encouraged by the editor of the magazine, Yeh Sheng-t'ao (q.v.), she wrote a second story, "Sha-fei nu-shih te jih-chi" [the diary of Miss Sophie] in which she depicted a willful and sensual girl dying of tuberculosis and explored with unexampled honesty the quickening of her physical appetites. Tsai hei-an-chung [in the darkness], Ting Ling's first collection of stories, was warmly greeted in 1928 by readers and critics alike. In addition to "Meng-k'o" and "Sha-fei nu-shih te jih-chi," the volume contained "Shu-chia-chung" [summer recess], a series of incidents in the lives of several young teachers who are obliged to choose between their careers and their destinies as women, and "A-mao ku-niang," the gloomy account of a young bride's dreams of luxury, disappointment, progressive apathy, and suicide. When first published, "Meng-k'o" and "Sha-fei nu-shih te jih-chi" earned Ting Ling 140 yuan. These stories, written in a fresh and spontaneous style, presented a new type of Chinese heroine — daring, passionate, and independent, gentle and essentially feminine, but bewildered and emotionally unsatisfied. Readers familiar with Ting Ling as a person could not fail to detect autobiographical elements in the fictitious characters of her highly successful early writing. The time was propitious for Ting Ling's success. Hsieh Wan-yiug (q.v.), recuperating from an illness, was lethargic. Yuan-chim had turned her interest to the study of traditional Chinese lyrics. And although Su Hsüehlin (q.v.) and Ch'en Hsüeh-chao still attracted a large number of female readers, their work was not to be compared with Ting Ling's, which had a more general appeal. There was no necessity to pioneer, since a ready market existed for works by women. But while Ting Ling became successful with her stories, Hu Yeh-p'in remained a frustrated poet. Disturbed by this situation, they moved to Shanghai in the spring of 1928, planning to start a magazine of their own in which Hu's work could be published. Together with Shen Ts'ung-wen, they started several unsuccessful ventures (for details, see Hu Yeh-p'in). During this period Ting Ling compiled a second collection of stories, I-ko jen te tan-sheng [birth of an individual] , published in 1929, and wrote a long story, "Wei-hu," published in September 1930. "Wei-hu" concerns a Bolshevik revolutionary who loves a non- Communist girl but eventually has to leave her because of the conflict between love and revolution. The hero, Wei-hu, apparently is a portrayal of Ch'ü Ch'iu-pai in 1923, and many characteristics of the heroine, Li-chia, are reminiscent of the girlish Ting Ling during the days spent in Nanking and Shanghai. It is uncertain, however, to what extent the fictional story is identifiable with life. In 1930 Ting Ling also published I-ko nu-jen [a woman], a collection of six stories on the theme of feminine fascination and coldness.

Because he needed money, Hu Yeh-p'in left for Tsinan in the spring of 1930 to take a teaching position, and Ting Ling joined him there a month later. In May, the two had to flee to Shanghai under threat of arrest, for Hu's teachings on proletarian literature had created a stir among his students. Hu soon joined the League of Left-wing Writers (see Chou Shu-jen), but Ting Ling did not take an immediate interest in the league's activities. She believed that a literary career demanded as much devotion as a revolutionary one. She was still trying to remain primarily a writer, although her sympathies were with the revolutionary efforts, as indicated in I-chiu san-ling-nien ch'un Shang-hai [Shanghai, spring 1930], a novelette in two parts written to illustrate how intellectuals discover the meaning of their lives in a mass movement. In November 1930 Ting Ling gave birth to a boy, Hsiao-p'ing, also called Wei-hu after her short story of that name. About this time, Hu Yeh-p'in became a member of the Chinese Communist party and substituted underground party activities for his unsuccessful writing career. Ting Ling became active in the League of Left-wing Writers and served as secretary of the group, but she still entertained anarchist rather than Marxist sentiments. In the course of their dangerous work they seem to have relied too much on the semblance of security offered by the foreign concessions in Shanghai, and Hu especially had many narrow escapes. Finally, on 17 January 1931, Hu was arrested by the Nationalist authorities. Despite all the efforts of Ting Ling and Shen Ts'ung-wen, who even went to seek the help of Shao Li-tzu and Ch'en Li-fu (qq.v.), Hu was executed on 7 February 1931. The desolate Ting Ling took her infant son to Hunan, left him in her mother's care, and returned to Shanghai. The bitterness resulting from Hu Yeh-p'in's death seemed to have led her to cross the borderline between literature and revolution, and a sense of revenge propelled her to serve the cause for which he had given his life. Now Ting Ling became active in the League of Left-wing Writers. Together with Hu Feng (q.v.), she edited the leaguecontrolled magazines Pei-tou [the big dipper], Wen-i hsin-wen [literary news], and Shih-tzu chieh-t'ou [crossroads]. She became a member of the Chinese Communist party, probably in early 1933, reportedly through the introduction of Feng Hsueh-feng, and she also wrote for party journals.

Ting Ling's conversion to Marxism was reflected in her writings. Shui [flood] may be taken as representative of her work during this period. Written in 1931, it was acclaimed by the Communists as a milestone in the development of Chinese proletarian literature. Both in intent and in technique, it may be regarded as a forerunner of socialist-realist fiction in China. Inspired by the flood situation in China in 1931, Ting Ling attempted in this story to show the impact of a flood on the political consciousness of a group of peasants, who, according to the author's contention, embodied the Marxian theme of group heroism.

In May 1933 Ting Ling's Communist activities led to her abduction by Kuomintang underground agents in Shanghai. Her abduction evoked protests from writers and intellectuals outside of China, thus becoming an international incident. Though her life was spared, she was imprisoned for a time, and she then lived on parole in Nanking for about three years. Meanwhile her whereabouts were a mystery and she was thought to be dead, a circumstance which resulted in the publication of collections of her works. Disguised as a Manchurian soldier, Ting Ling managed to escape to Peking and then to Sian, where she stayed for a short time before joining the Communists at Yenan at the end of 1936. She became friendly with Mao Tse-tung, who composed two poems in her honor, and became romantically involved with P'eng Te-huai (q.v.), to whom she reportedly was engaged just before the Sian Incident of December 1936. She was appointed deputy director of the Red Army garrison and was given responsibility for political training. She also lectured on Chinese literature at the Red Army Academy, headed by Lin Piao (q.v.). In 1936 Ting Ling published I-wai chi [the unexpected], a collection of eight stories.

After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war, Ting Ling went to the front, first as a secretary attached to the Eighth Route Army, and later as a leader of the Northwestern Front Service Corps. Probably because of her political work, Ting Ling wrote little between 1937 and 1940. Stories written during this period, which include "I-k'o wei-ch'u-t'ang te ch'iang-tan" [an unfired bullet] of 1937 and "Hsin te shin-nien" [new confidence] of 1939, are pedantic and didactic, while a volume of plays on which she collaborated, Hsi-pei chan-ti fu-wu-Vuan hsi-chü-chi [northwestern front service corps plays] of 1938, is readable only as crude propaganda. And yet Ting Ling was not so dogmatic as to idealize the Communist fighters completely. In "Chi-ts'un chih yeh" [a night at Chi village], written shortly after Ting Ling reached the front in 1937, a guerrilla band is described emerging as a group of fallible men bound together by patriotic feeling and a sense of solidarity. Exhausted by her journeys and tours, Ting Ling returned to a village near Yenan in March 1941. However, on being informed that she was needed to edit the literary supplement of the forthcoming Chieh-fang jih-pao [liberation daily], she returned to Yenan where she worked closely with Po Ku (Ch'in Panghsien, q.v.), then editor in chief, and Ai Ssu-ch'i (q.v.). Ting was much taken with the personality of Po Ku, and she soon found herself reading his collection of translations of Russian literature and learning to appreciate Tolstoy and Andriev, the influence of whose novels was discernible in her later writings.

Despite her efforts to conform with Communist doctrine, Ting Ling was unable to restrain herself from expressing dissatisfaction with certain aspects of revolutionary life. In 1941, in a story called "Tsai i-yuan-chung" [in a hospital], she sadly described the bleak poverty of Yenan life, and on 9 March 1942, on the occasion of international woman's day, she lamented the fate of women under the Communist government in an editorial in the literary supplement of the Chieh-fang jih-pao . Following her editorial there appeared in the same paper a series of critical articles by Ai Ch'ing, Hsiao Chun, Wang Shih-wei, and others. Mao Tse-tung immediately called a literary conference, at which he delivered the famous "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Art and Literature." Ting Ling was censured and secretly punished for her criticisms. As the war drew to a close in 1945 she was sent to Kalgan and then to Harbin in connection with propaganda and education activities, and in 1946 she published Ying-hsiung-chuan [stories of heroes] .

Like most Chinese Communist novelists, Ting Ling turned her attention after the war to the peasants' struggle against the richer farmers. T'ai-yang chao-tsai Sang-kan-ho-shang [the sun shines over the Sangkan river], published in 1948, is a novel concerned with this subject. In preparing this work Ting Ling joined the land-reform corps in Chahar for the summer of 1946 and observed the land reform in Hopei for four months in 1947. This novel, which won a Stalin Prize in 1951, tells the story of peasants' struggles against the richer farmers in a village along the Sangkan River.

After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Ting Ling held a number of official posts. She was a member of the committee on culture and education, director of the Central Research Institute of Literature, and member of the committee for world peace. In 1953 she was a member of the presidium of the Second All-China Congress of Democratic Women, an executive member of the All-China Federation of Democratic Women, and vice chairman of the All-China Association of Literary Workers. She was vice chairman of the executive committee of the Association of Chinese Writers and a delegate from Shantung province to the National People's Congress. In 1951 she was a delegate to the congress of the World Federation of Democratic Women in Budapest. In 1952 she went to Russia to receive the 1951 Stalin Prize for Literature. She was in Moscow again in 1954 to attend the second All-Russia Writers' Congress. Although Ting Ling wrote little fiction after her successful novel of 1948, she continued to produce a number of books in her capacity as a leading writer and party member. These include Fang-Su yin-hsiang [impressions of a visit to the Soviet Union] and Tsai ch 'ien-chin-te tao-ln-shang [on the progressive road], both of 1950; Ou-hsing san-chi [miscellaneous notes on a trip to Europe], of 1952; K'ua-tao hsin-te shih-tai lai [onward to the new age], of 1953; Tao cKunchung ch'ü lo-hu [abide with the masses], and Yen-an-chi [Yenan anthology], both of 1954; Tso-chia Van cKuang-tso [writers on writing], of 1955, in collaboration with Lao She (Shu Ch'ing-ch'un, q.v.) and Chou Li-po; and Wu-nien chi-hua sung, [songs of praise for the five-year plan], of 1956, in collaboration with many others. Her contribution to the latter work deserves special attention, because it contains one chance sentence which sheds much light on Ting Ling: "The five-year plan is too rich for my blood." Ting Ling even in 1956 was experiencing some difficulty in adjusting to the new society.

As early as 1955 Ting Ling was in political trouble once again. When she had been in Moscow at the end of 1954, the case against Hu Feng was already brewing. After Hu Feng's imprisonment, the so-called Ting Ling-Ch'en Ch'i-hsia clique became the target of a purge directed by Chou Yang (q.v.). In August and September 1955 Ting Ling was censured by the party nucleus of the Writers' Association for the alleged crimes of rejecting party guidance, fostering factionalism, and promoting capitalistindividualist thought. The case was not publicized, probably because of her prominence. However, after a long silence during which her "collaborators" freely confessed their "crimes" and Mao Tun publicly attacked her as retaining the ideology of "Miss Sophie," she was reported to have confessed her "errors." Ting Ling was too outspoken a woman to remain quiet for long, and the slogans of the Hundred Flowers campaign were enticing to a discontented writer. During the campaign Ting Ling joined the chorus of dissidence in voicing the demand for freedom of literature from state control. When the Central People's Government reversed its policy in June 1957, Ting Ling became a prime target of party criticism. From June to September the party nucleus of the Writers' Association held 27 meetings to combat the so-called Ting-Ch'en clique, which also included Ch'en Ming, Ting Ling's husband since about 1942, and Feng Hsüeh-feng. As a result, Ting Ling was expelled from the party on January 1958 and was deprived of her rights as an author and a citizen on charges of conspiracy against the party during the Hundred Flowers campaign. She and her "clique" were accused of trying to exonerate themselves from the censure of 1955; of collaborating with Lo Lung-chi, Chang Po-chun (qq.v.), and other "rightists" of the Shanghai Wen-hui-pao ; and of attempting to cause dissension by launching a magazine to rival the Wen-i pao. Ting Ling was also accused of fostering a petit-bourgeois mentality through her writing, and of posing as "a poor tenantpeasant in the literary field" (being oppressed), and in so doing, "setting fire" (inciting dissatisfaction) wherever she went. In 1958 Ting Ling was reported to have been working as a charwoman in the Peking headquarters of the Writers' Association. According to an American journalist, she was in Manchuria in 1959 serving a two-year term of reform through labor. On 10 August 1960, a Jen-min jih-pao dispatch stated that she had written a letter to the Chinese Writers' Association promising to reform and to engage in selfcriticism. Ting Ling was a popular writer for a period of about 30 years. During this time a number of anthologies of her works appeared. These include Ting Ling hsüan-chi [selections from Ting Ling], edited by Yao P'eng-tzu in 1934; a second collection bearing the same title, edited by Hsu Ch'en-ssu and Yeh Wang-yu in 1935; Ting Ling wen-chi [Ting Ling's prose], edited in 1936 by Shao-hou (pseud.); a collection bearing the same title, published over 1948-49; another Ting Ling hsüan-chi, of 1951; and Ting Ling tuan-p'ien hsiao-shuo chi [Ting Ling's short stories], of 1954. Ting, V. K. : see Ting Wen-chiang. Ting Wei-fen T. Ting-ch'eng

Biography in Chinese

All rights reserved@ENP-China