Wu Fuhui dies at 82

Professor Wu Fuhui 吳福輝, a leading scholar of modern Chinese literature, passed away on January 15, 2021. He was 82. Wu was born in Shanghai in 1939 and grew up in Liaoning Province. He graduated from Peking University with a degree in Modern Chinese Literature in 1981. Wu’s research redefined the concept of “haipai wenxue” 海派文學 with a focus on the modernist writings by authors active in the 1920s-40s, such as Ye Lingfeng, Liu Na’ou, Mu Shiying, Shi Zhecun, Xu Xu, Wumingshi, and Eileen Chang. In the 1980s, Wu joined Qian Liqun, Wen Rumin, and Wang Chaobing to write and publish the landmark monograph, Three Decades of Modern Chinese Literature 中國現代文學三十年. He was the founding deputy director of the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature. His latest publications includes A Cultural History of Modern Chinese Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2020). David Der-wei Wang wrote an introduction to this book, in which he presents the following overview of Wu’s life and work:

Wu Fuhui belongs to the generation of scholars who went through almost all the ups and downs of New China. He started out being a high school teacher in 1959, and did not enroll in the graduate program of Chinese literature at Peking University until 1978, two years after the end of the Great Cultural Revolution. Despite the lag of educational time, he received the best possible training from scholars such as Wang Yao and Yan Jiayan. Whereas Wang Yao published the first modern Chinese literary history after the founding of the PRC, Yan Jiayan was among the forerunners of “rewriting literary history” in the New Era of the 1980s. In other words, Wu took up where his mentors left off in the enterprise of literary history. In 1987, together with Qian Liqun and Wen Rumin, who later became leading scholars in their own right, Wu Fuhui edited Three Decades of Modern Chinese Literature, a landmark of the revisionist engagement of modern literary history. All along Wu had planned to write a literary history illustrating his own critical viewpoint, and his wish was realized when the Chinese edition of A Cultural History of Modern Chinese Literature came out in 2010. The way in which Wu entered the academic sphere amid political turmoil, working with the key figures of contemporary Chinese literary studies, and becoming an outstanding figure, points to the volatile progress and surprising consequences of literary history in contemporary China. Now with the English translation of his history to be published by Cambridge University Press, Professor Wu Fuhui is finally able to share his insights of and reflections on the twists and turns of modern Chinese history with readers worldwide.

A Cultural History of Modern Chinese Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

The obituary released by the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature:







Mingwei Song <msong2@wellesley.edu>

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