Sun Li and His Fiction
Sun Li (孙犁, 1913- ), Zhao Shuli, Zhou Libo and Liu Qing are called "the four great writers of rural life." Sun Li's "Lotus Creek," published in Yan'anin 1944, received wide acclaim, while he himself has been praised by Mao Zedong as a writer of unique style. Sun Li's major works include the novel Stormy years (three volumes), collection of fiction and proseTales of Baiyangdian and the novella The Story of Tiemuqian. In morerecent times, Sun created a series of prose collections including XiuluJi, Zhanding Ji, ChizeJi, Yuandao Ji, Laohuang Ji, Louxiang Ji, and Wuwei Ji. In 1992 The Collected Works of Sun Li, totaling five volumes, waspublished.
Sun Li's fiction is full of poetic imagery. "Lotus Creek" is Sun Li'sbest-known work. In "Lotus Creek," "In the Reed Marshes," and "Honor," he lovingly creates beautiful and poetic images. Instead of describingthe war directly with all its guns and smoke, the author takes great pains in describing the beautiful Baiyangdian Lake, as a background to theheroine's deep love for her husband, who was then fighting at the front.The story is written in an easy-to-read and fluent style. The expression of feelings is naturally interwoven with the description of scenery andcharacters. Each of Sun Li's works is marked with a strong romanticismand lyricism, in his fiction's distinctive style.
The novel Stormy Years describes the great national revolution ledby the Chinese Communist Party. Similar to his treatment of "LotusCreek," here the author also deals with the subject of warfare indirectly. He reflects the outlook of the times by sketching the characters' dailylives and tracing their changing psychology shaped by the war. The storydescribed in The Story of Tiemuqian is closely connected to theagricultural cooperative movement. The novel deals not so much withthe concrete process of the movement, but emphasizes the characters'fates and spirit, letting readers grasp a sense of the times through thefluctuations of peoples' fortunes and the development of their characters. Sun Li's fiction has three features:
(1) A perfect combination of revo-lutionary realism and romanticism.
(2) A powerful fragrance of the land, reflecting the auth-or's deeplove of his home village. His writing embodies an unending pursuit ofbeauty, through breath-taking scenery and harmonious human relation-ships.
(3) A special deftness at portraying young peasant women. Henot only describes their beauty, but also probes deeply into their delicateand complex inner worlds, and mirrors the changing times through theirchanging fortunes.
Sun Li's works exerted great influence on many young writers at the time. In the 1950s, many young writers in Beijing, Tianjin and Baoding started to emulate Sun Li's style. The most accomplished of these were Liu Shaotang, Cong Weixi, Han Yingshan and Fang Shumin, who formed an influential group labeled the "Hehuadian" or "Baiyangdian" School. Sun Li is regarded as the indubitable leader of this school.