Zhu Xiang

Name in Chinese
朱湘
Name in Wade-Giles
Chu Hsiang
Related People

Biography in English

Chu Hsiang (1904-5 December 1933), poet, was noted for his use of a variety of traditional and Western forms in writing Chinese vernacular poetry.

Born into a family of twelve children in T'aihu, Anhwei, Chu Hsiang was the youngest of five boys. His father, Chu Yen-hsi, was a salt tao-t'ai. Both his father and his mother died while he was very young, leaving him to be brought up by an elder brother. This brother seems to have regarded Chu as an unwelcome encumbrance and to have mistreated him throughout his boyhood. At the age of six, Chu began classical studies with a private tutor. Although he was not an exceptional student, by the time he was 11 he had mastered the rudiments of the classical curriculum and was trying his hand at original composition. His brother, however, saw no point in Chu's continuing a traditional education, which the abolition of the examination system had rendered unnecessary, and enrolled Chu in a so-called modern school. Thereafter, Chu's boyhood schooling was highly irregular, including a period spent studying engineering in a vocational school and taking English courses at night. In 1922, at the age of 18, he enrolled in Tsinghua College.

Chu Hsiang had become seriously interested in literature while still a schoolboy. His one sustained interest had been the reading of novels. He was particularly taken with historical tales and eagerly devoured translations of Scott and Stevenson. He also read widely in Chinese fiction and came to regard Hung-lou-meng [Dream of the Red Chamber) as the greatest of all Chinese novels. When he turned 18, however, he gave up fiction entirely and vowed to read nothing but poetry. On entering Tsinghua, Chu took up with the new literature movement, then in its heyday. Soon he was drawn into the circle of Wen I-to, Hsu Chih-mo (qq.v.), and Liu Meng-wei, poets of the "Crescent School," who were concerned with defining new forms and rhythms for a poetry which was the only thing, they held, that could liberate and adequately express the new spirit of the Chinese people under the republic. Chu's early efforts appeared in Wen-i tsa-chih [literature magazine], Hsiao-shuo yueh pao [fiction monthly], and the literary supplement of the Ch'en-pao. In 1925 his first collection of 26 poems, Hsia-t'ien [summer], was published with the editorial advice of Wen I-to. The poems range from two to fifty-two lines and reveal the exquisite craftsmanship that was to become the hallmark of Chu's style. In the preface Chu explained his title as meaning the end of adolescence and the beginning of adult life, in this case a life of art. In 1926 Chu, together with Wen, Hsu, Liu, and other Crescent poets, established the poetry journal Shih-chien [poetry weekly], which they edited at regular meetings in Wen's home. Shih-chien lasted only two months (April-May), but proved to be highly influential, largely because of the high caliber of its contributors. In 1927 Chu's second volume of poems, Ts'ao-mang chi [grasses and flowers], appeared and was well received. Notable among its contents was the 900-line "Wang-chiao," the dramatic retelling of an ancient legend about a Chinese beauty forced into marriage with a barbarian king. With the publication of Ts'ao-mang chi, Chu's reputation as a poetic craftsman was firmly established. Contemporary criticism afforded him a place beside Hsu, Wen, and Kuo Mo-jo (q.v.) as a leading writer of vernacular poetry.

Following his graduation from Tsinghua in 1928, Chu, like many Peking students, went abroad to study. Enrolling first at Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he studied Western literature, Chu soon transferred to the University of Chicago, where until 1930 he studied French and German and especially German fiction. While at Chicago, Chu translated a number of Chinese poems and published them in Phoenix, a student literary journal. He also undertook a translation of Chin-ku ch'i-kuan [stories new and old], a famous collection of 40 vernacular tales dating from the early seventeenth century. Chu's sojourn in the United States was marred by frequent clashes with his American teachers, some of whom he thought harbored racial prejudice against him. One of his favorite recreations was to challenge such teachers to tou-chih [battles of wit] and then scathingly to reveal their errors and inadequacies.

From the autumn of 1930 to the summer of 1932, Chu served as chairman of the Western languages department of Anhwei University at Anking. Here his manner grew markedly eccentric, and, while popular with his students, he was drawn into frequent disputes with the university administration, often over trivial matters or wholly imaginary slights. As a result he was forced to resign his post. Embittered by this experience, Chu refused to continue teaching as a profession. Thereafter, he was often dependent on the assistance of friends for the support of himself and his family. Equally unsuccessful were his attempts to publish new work. Chu even attempted to solicit testimonials as if he had never written or published a word, but to no avail. The collapse of Chu's career as a teacher and a man of letters, combined with his constant sense of persecution, came to a climax on the night of 4 December 1933, when he vanished overboard from a Yangtze steamer. In 1934, a posthumous collection of his later poetry, Shih-men chi [stone gate], was published, as was a collection of essays and literary criticisms, Chung-shu chi [letters from the heart]. Also in 1934 his widow, Liu Ni-chun, published Hai-wai chi Ni-chün [letters from abroad], a collection of Chu's letters written to her while he was in the United States. A second volume of essays, Yung-yen chi [last words], appeared in 1936.

As a poet, Chu Hsiang was notable for the dexterity with which he adapted a variety of forms, traditional and Western, to the new vernacular poetry. "Wang-chiao," his early masterpiece, was a successful attempt to develop poetry along the lines of the popular ballad, especially the t'an-tz'u [strummed songs], a rhymed narrative having both spoken and sung parts. Chu exploited the irregularity of the ballad stanza to achieve a variety and suppleness of line denied him by the traditional forms with their stereotyped syllabic patterns, but at the same time he relied on recurrent rhyme and an underlying musical rhythm to give his verses shape and coherence. Chu was singularly alive to the tendency of "free verse" to formlessness and was severely critical of even Wen I-to and Hsu Chih-mo for a certain diffuseness of form as well as imprecision of diction. Chu spent considerable time translating Shelley and made an interesting attempt to duplicate the original meters in Chinese. Typically, his later verses were brief lyrics showing the influence of both Chinese and Western technique and characterized by short lines and stanzas and simple direct diction. Chu's gradual alienation from the world reflected itself in poetry which came more and more to treat of the themes of winter, rain, separation, loneliness, and death. His own death at 29 concluded a sad career, but he left a body of poetry and criticism which remained influential.

Biography in Chinese

朱湘 字:子沅

朱湘(19041933.12.5〉,诗人,以擅长用中国传统的和西方的多种形式
创作新诗而著名。

朱湘生在安徽太湖,兄弟姐妹十二人,他是兄弟五人中最幼者,他幼年时父母双亡,由长兄抚养成人,其长兄把他视为累赘,因此他在童年时颇受虐待。
他六岁从塾师读书,他虽非才华出众,但在十一岁时已通读中国古籍,并能提笔作文。当时科举巳废,他的长兄让他停学古籍,进新办学校,此后,他的学习变动很多,一度进职业学校学工程技术,以及进夜校学英语。1922年他十八岁时进清华学堂。

朱湘年幼时即酷爱文学,喜读小说,尤其爱读历史小说以及斯考脱和斯蒂文逊的中译作品。他遍读中国小说,认为红搂梦是中国所有小说中的杰作。他
十八岁时,不再阅读小说,而潜心阅读诗集。朱湘进清华时,正值新文学运动高潮,他被这一运动所吸引,加入了闻一多、徐志摩等“新月派”诗人的行列
他们认为为诗歌需要有新形式和新格律才能充分表达民国时代的新精神。朱湘的早期作品在《文艺杂志》、《小说月报》、《晨报》副刊上发表,1925年
出版的二十五首诗集《夏天》是他的第一部诗集,有闻一多的编者的话。其中的诗歌短者仅两行,长者达五十二行。其诗精心雕琢,是他的特有风格。他在
自序中说,诗集命名《夏天》是表示作为艺术生涯青春期已过,入了成人期的意思o1926年,朱湘和闻、徐等新月派诗人出版了《诗镌》周刊,在闻一多家
中定期会面,编辑此刊。此刊仅出了两个月(4月、5月)但因诗篇作者的才华高超,所以影响很大。1927年,朱湘出版第二本诗集《草莽集》很受欢迎。
其中最引人注意的是九百行的《王娇》,叙述一美女被逼嫁给一粗卤国王的古代传说。《草莽集》奠定了朱湘作为诗入的声誉。近代的评论,把他与徐志摩、
闻一多、郭沫若等同样作为第一流的白话诗作家。

1928年,他在清华毕业后,同许多北京学生一样去外国留学。进威斯康星州阿普尔顿的劳伦斯学院学西方文学,后又转入芝加哥大学学习法文和德文,特别是德国小说。那时,他翻译了一些中国诗篇,刊登在学生办的文学杂志《凤凰》上。他还翻译了《今古奇观》,这是一部收集了十七世纪以来的四十篇白话故事的集子。他在美国时,常与美国教师发生冲突,他认为有些美国教师以种族歧视的态度对待他。她常常用“斗智"的方法对付这种教师,严厉地揭露他们的错误和无知。

1930年秋至1932年夏,朱湘任在安庆的安徽大学西语系主任。他生性孤僻,但他在学生中颇有声望,他常因一些琐事或全属猜疑之见和学校当局发生争吵,结果是被迫辞职。由于此次经历,他不愿再秋执教为职业。此后,他经常依靠朋友的资助维持他和他一家的生计。他曾试图出版新的作品,但未能如愿以偿,他甚至谋求获得推荐书以解脱困境,但也落空。朱湘的教员、;文人生涯落到如此地步,加以精神上经常处于受害之感,于1933年12月4日夜,从一艘长江航船上投水自杀。他的遗作晚期诗集《石门集》以及和文艺评论集《中书集》于1934年出版,他的妻子李霓君也在1934年出版了《海外寄霓君》一书,这是朱湘在美国时寄给他妻子的书信的集子。1936年又出版了他的第二卷散文《永言集》。

朱湘的诗以纤巧知名,他吸收了中西各种传统形式来写白话诗。他的早期杰作《王娇》是很成功的尝试,他使诗歌承袭了大众化的小调,特别是“弹词”这种有韵的道白包括了说白和歌咏两部分。朱湘轻视传统的固定的韵律,探索不规则的民谣节奏,使诗歌的格调多样化而又流畅。但他同时重视诗押韵和具有音乐的节奏,使其所作的诗篇精炼有力。他独树一帜地主张不拘:形式的“自由诗”他甚至对闻一多和徐志摩的诗作结构冗长和措词不切感到非常不满。朱湘曾花了大量时间,想把雪莱的诗歌按其原来的韵律译成中文诗。

他后期的诗作、短小抒情诗,充分反映了受中国和西方诗歌的短小行节和简明措词的技巧和特色的影响。他和现实世界愈离愈远,这在他的诗歌中反映出来,他的诗歌越来越多的主题是冬季、雨天、离别、孤独和死亡。他二十九岁就结束了悲惨的生涯,但他的诗歌和评论却留下了影响。

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