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Shen Congwen at Meridian Gate

by Caz Hensley 2 months ago in celebrities
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Shen Congwen at Meridian Gate

1949 was an important milestone for Shen Congwen: he transferred to his thirty years in the History Museum, and his life was thus divided into two distinct periods: literary creation and cultural relics research. Many years later, Zhang Zhao, Shen Congwen's wife, calmly recalled in her apartment in Chongwenmen, Beijing:

In February and March 1949, Shen Congwen was unhappy and in a mood, mainly because Guo Moruo's Anti-Reactionary Literature published in Hong Kong was copied by Peking University students on large-character posters. He was under a lot of pressure, stimulated, nervous, and didn't think there was much hope. He tried to kill himself with a safety piece, cut the veins in his neck...

But Shen Congwen, in a long unsent letter, said of his feelings at Revolutionary University: "... Listen to LI Weihan's speech said, the country has faced, his face in the world, it is good, what is an individual? Said very well, I so in the learning to serve the people, learning to have a face for the country under the experience, day after day silence survived. He is too small to count!" Four times in a row he spoke of "personal smallness". Shi Shuqing, an old colleague who knew Shen well, recalled that there were knife marks on Shen's neck, but he later said nothing about suicide.

The successive leaders of the History Museum and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage have been full of complex and subtle feelings toward Shen Congwen's "career transition". Yang Wen, an old colleague, said, "There was a section in the museum that was bad for Mr. Shen, and Mr. Shen was depressed. Mr. Shen wants nothing. Mr. Shen wants an office room, but the museum won't talk. I once heard a deputy curator say, 'Shen Congwen, huh, mandarin duck and butterfly! '"

In the memory of Chen Qiao, the former deputy director of the History Museum, several leaders of the history museum regarded Shen Congwen as a "United front object": "Zhang Wenjiao, the first secretary of the museum, arrived in the museum in the early 1950s. He looked down on the old intellectuals and was not too polite to experts like Shen Congwen. He was quick to scold people too harshly. And Zhang often cheats people to tell them about their history."

During those long years, it is difficult to get Shen Congwen's opinion on leadership from his mouth and pen. He is a silent man. It was only in the era of "massive capitalist groups" in 1968 that we read such indignation in Shen Congwen's inspection manuscript: "Whose responsibility is this? I want to be responsible for leading the business. What did he personally learn about antiquities? God only knows! He said that I was not comfortable with the work, and when I made some achievements, he had reason to say that I was a 'white specialist'. What is it that you don t want to directly lead the business, but you are ignorant about the specific business of cultural relics?

On January 8, 1959, Shen Congwen's 58th birthday, he spent a day in the Forbidden City with more than 30 young art students to see silk and ceramics, very tired, he wrote a letter to Brother Yun Six, saying: "I always believe that as long as the work is beneficial to the whole country forward, it is enough. It doesn't hurt to lose or live a lonely life." His biggest exclamation at this point is, "No one knows what I'm trying to do."

Far away from the lively literary world, Shen Congwen, in his loneliness, sometimes said something surprising quietly: "The literary world is too dull." "Ba Jin or Zhang Tianyi, Cao Yu, and other masters are stunned." These words were spoken in 1951 when he was far more sensitive to the literary world than anyone else. On March 12, 1959, he wrote to the sixth brother of the cloud, again talking about his feelings: "Some writers write almost the same, always writing, never see the slightest wonderful place, as Sichuan people say, 'I don't know how to do! '"

At the beginning of the "Cultural Revolution", Shen Congwen did not hide. Facing the posters on the wall, he told Shi Shuqing with great sadness: "Taiwan accuses me of being a reactionary scholar, and the Communist Party says I am an anti-Communist veteran. I have no home to return to. Where should I go?"

To Shen's shock, the person who wrote the big character posters exposed the most was Fan Zeng, whom he had helped. "[Shen] had pustules on his head and was rotten," Fan wrote. Write dirty novels and have dirty parties." Shen used eight words in a large character poster to express his feelings: "Very painful, huge shock."

Huang Nengfu and Chen Juanjuan, who were close to Shen during the Cultural Revolution, said, "At that time, Fan Zeng painted a picture of Qu Yuan. Mr. Shen looked or kindly pointed out some clothing mistakes. Pointing at Mr. Shen, Mr. Fan said, "Your suit is out of date. I am authorized by the central government, you can move aside." I remember it was winter. It was snowing heavily and the road was slippery. Mr. Shen walked for more than an hour to our house. His eyes were red with anger and he talked about Fan Zeng as soon as he entered the door. He said, 'I've never spoken ill of anyone in my life. I'll die if I don't speak today. '" This was the most painful thing for Shen Congwen in his later years, and he never mentioned Fan's name again.

Shen Congwen, Chen Qiao, and Shi Shuqing were put into the cowshed together. After fighting and criticizing, they cleaned the toilet and pulled weeds. Sometimes he would stare at the crowds in Tian 'anmen Square in a daze and then turn to Shi and say, "I'm going to clean the glass above the toilet." Lin Jalan, a frequent visitor, described that Shen, who was near the end of his life, often watched TV alone, sitting for half a day without thinking or desire. Once, Shen Congwen suddenly said to Wang Zengqi and Lin Jalan, "I have nothing to say to the world!"


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Caz Hensley

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