Fact in Fiction
1920s China and Ba Jin’s Family
Kristin Stapleton



Ba Jin’s Fiction and Twentieth-Century Chinese History

When student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, turned unexpectedly violent, the incident created a political crisis in China. Chinese across the country vented deep frustration at the failure of the young Chinese Republic (not yet a decade old) to change Chinese society and improve China’s status in the world. In the years before 1919, intellectuals had begun urging the creation of a “New Culture” to replace traditional values. The May Fourth incident and the publicity surrounding it put the question of the need for fundamental social reform on the national agenda. In the years that followed, reformers advocated (and sometimes tested) diverse solutions to the evils they saw in Chinese life. Many agreed that the patriarchal extended family—the basic unit of Chinese society—lay at the root of the problem, along with the value system that supported it.

An affluent teenager in Chengdu, capital city of the populous interior province of Sichuan, was among those stirred by this spirit of reform in the 1920s. Later, under the pen name Ba Jin, he wrote three novels—Family, Spring, and Autumn—that so vividly dramatized both the evils of the old culture and the 1920s thirst for reform that their storylines became a key element of popular understandings of China’s New Culture movement. These novels, known as the Turbulent Stream trilogy, continue to influence how the May Fourth/New Culture era is remembered.1

In 1977, Ba Jin wrote that Family, the first and most famous of the Turbulent Stream novels, had “played out its historical role” and perhaps should best be forgotten. Ten years earlier, at the beginning of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, all of Ba Jin’s writings had been declared “poisonous weeds” not fit to be read by true revolutionaries.2

But Family and its sequels continue to be read. The 1956 movie based on Family can be found in video stores across China and viewed on the Internet. Two TV miniseries based on the trilogy have been produced, in 1988 and 2007. The English translation of Family is frequently assigned in courses on modern Chinese history in the United States. Since they were first published between 1931 and 1940, the novels have appealed strongly to youthful readers who feel ensnared in a social world where they have little control over their lives. The plots center on the suffering Ba Jin considered common in patriarchal families. Over the course of the trilogy, the Gao family, well off and rigidly hierarchical, gradually falls apart as the young generation rebels against the oppression, corruption, and hypocrisy of the elders.

Because of its popularity, the Turbulent Stream trilogy has played a major role in shaping how China’s history in the first few decades of the twentieth century has been understood, both in China and abroad. The novels are set in the early 1920s, just after the May Fourth incident, when students publicly protested China’s national weakness and more and more people began to blame Chinese culture for that weakness. In particular, the moral principles that were supposed to govern Chinese family life—a system of beliefs and rituals often referred to in English as “Confucianism”3—came under attack. One of Ba Jin’s teachers, Wu Yu, became a leader of the New Culture movement that criticized Chinese tradition in the years around 1919. Wu Yu claimed that the moral rules requiring that the young defer to the old had created generations of weak, subservient people. Children raised in this style, he argued, were easily manipulated as adults by authoritarian rulers who pictured the nation as a large family and claimed the role of national patriarch.4 Ba Jin’s Turbulent Stream, and particularly the story of Juexin—the eldest son in the younger generation of the Gao family, who is crushed by the expectations of his grandfather—expressed that idea in the most emotional of terms. The trilogy thus became an important part of the New Culture movement’s attack on old Chinese culture and Confucian values. Family and its sequels became a key manifesto for the new May Fourth generation of political and social activists.

The novels in the trilogy are all set in Ba Jin’s hometown, Chengdu. Many aspects of life in that large, inland city are described to some extent throughout the novels. But Ba Jin did not set out to offer his readers a realistic portrait of a particular city. He wanted the Gao family to be seen as representative of a type of patriarchal family common across China. By limiting his focus to interactions among members of the family, he highlighted the familial power structure sustained by Confucian thought that could be so damaging to the lives of all members of the family, but particularly to the young and weak.

Ba Jin’s strong commitment to social change contributed to the emotional intensity of his novels. In regard to the history of the May Fourth era, though, the trilogy conceals as much as it reveals. To really understand the turbulent social dynamics dramatized in Family and its sequels, we must look beyond the novels themselves and into the historical record. This book does just that—looks at the history behind Ba Jin’s fiction. It carefully examines the social setting that inspired Ba Jin’s fiction: Chengdu during the May Fourth era. For those who have not read Ba Jin’s fiction, Chengdu’s 1920s history is worth exploring for its own sake and for the comparisons that can be drawn to the experiences of eastern Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. All across the world, the 1920s was a decade of considerable technological, social, and cultural change, but none of the changes occurred uniformly and evenly across the globe. The case of Chengdu presented here illustrates the complexity of the reactions to some of these changes—including calls for democracy and women’s liberation, the arrival of new institutions such as Western-style schools and hospitals, growing militarization, and economic instability—in a large provincial town in inland China, complexity that Ba Jin left out of his trilogy. Thus, this book reconnects the issues dramatized in Ba Jin’s novels to the real city that inspired his fictional one. By a close examination of the historical record, it presents a more complete portrait of that city, paying attention not only to landowners like the Gao family of the trilogy but to many others who made up the urban community. For those familiar with the novels or their film versions and for those studying them, this detailed portrait permits deeper appreciation of both Ba Jin’s achievements and the limitations of his work as history.

When he finished Autumn in 1940, Ba Jin planned to write a fourth volume in the series, to be titled “Qun,” which can be translated as “the group” or “the collective” or “the masses.” Ba Jin may have intended “Qun” as his response to critics of the first three novels who pointed out that the members of the Gao family had been depicted in too much isolation from their surroundings—the city they lived in, the landlord system that supported their lifestyle, and a young and fractured republic buffeted by global events.

Ba Jin never wrote “Qun,” however. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by the Communist Party in 1949, he threw himself into the spirit of “New China” and composed essays about socialist heroes emerging from the ranks of the workers and peasants. In 1952 and 1953 he spent months with Chinese troops in northern Korea chronicling what in China is called the War to Resist American Imperialism and Aid Korea. Throughout the 1950s, he also revised his earlier novels—especially Family—simplifying the grammar and subtly altering the political stance of the book to conform better to the Communist understanding of history.

Especially since “Qun” was never written, readers of Family and the trilogy as a whole get a very partial view of the community within which the story is set. This is unfortunate. As many scholars have pointed out, the iconoclasm of May Fourth writers led them to misrepresent Chinese history and culture—overemphasizing China’s “backwardness” to justify their schemes to transform Chinese life.5 This radical rejection of China’s past reached its peak during the Cultural Revolution of 1966–1976, when Turbulent Stream itself was banned as not revolutionary enough and Ba Jin was forced to condemn it and his other writings.

Since the late 1970s, citizens of the PRC have been able to read Turbulent Stream again, and Family is again a popular novel among the young. But times have changed, and no one in China has experienced life as Ba Jin describes it in the trilogy. Industrialization has changed the nature of Chinese cities, as have the many campaigns launched by the Communist Party since 1949. Extended families no longer play mahjong and watch opera performances in their sprawling compounds, sending servants out to collect the rent that allows them to live in luxury. Patriarchs no longer arrange marriages between young people who have never met. Young women no longer fear to cut their hair short.

The danger for today’s readers of Ba Jin’s gripping fiction, whether or not they live in China, is that they may too readily accept Ba Jin’s depiction of “Old China” as historically accurate. They may assume that most people living in China in the 1920s and 1930s experienced family life as did the Gao children of the novels: as isolating, oppressive, deadening, and even deadly. In the trilogy, Ba Jin deliberately exaggerated dark aspects of his childhood to sharpen his indictment of the patriarchal family. And, by having his young heroes and heroines, such as Gao Juehui and Gao Shuying, escape from their (and his) gloomy hometown to a life of freedom in Shanghai, Ba Jin contributed to an emerging conception that a huge cultural gap existed between coastal cities like Shanghai, where foreign influence was strong and innovation flourished, and other parts of China, whose culture was seen as stagnant. This book calls that conception into question.

Ba Jin played a significant role in helping to create a stereotypical “traditional” China that could be attacked by political and social activists of the 1930s and 1940s.6 Readers of the Turbulent Stream trilogy today must keep in mind that the novels were written to serve this specific political role. On the other hand, Ba Jin drew most of what he depicted from Chengdu life, and he was a talented, empathetic writer whose characters appeal to readers worldwide. Conflict between generations within a family is a common theme across cultures. Ba Jin’s work can easily draw us into a deeper experience of life in early twentieth-century China, a fascinating time when conventional wisdom was violently challenged, social institutions collapsed, and new political parties competed to impose their own visions on a country in transition.

As already noted, many details of Ba Jin’s childhood life in Chengdu appear in the novels. If we widen our reading of Family and its sequels to take in more than the tragic family drama, we will see the outlines of an urban community lurking around the edges of the grim household of the Gao patriarch. The goal of this book is to shine a light on the city within which Ba Jin grew up. Doing so allows us to understand how he made selective use of his childhood experiences to craft a powerful indictment of the social order of the time. At the same time, by illuminating Chengdu, we can appreciate the challenges of Chinese urban life in the 1920s from alternative perspectives that are not reflected in the novels, the works of May Fourth writers, or the historical narrative they popularized.

Because Turbulent Stream continues to help form readers’ understanding of pre-1949 China, it deserves periodic reevaluation. Access to more materials and new perspectives allows us to take a fresh look at the Gao family’s world and make the works more comprehensible to new generations of readers. What made the younger people so dependent on the domineering grandfather? How did soldiers come to be fighting in the middle of a city? What job opportunities existed in the local economy of that era? Why would a young lady bring shame to her mother by cutting her hair? By examining the historical record from the formative years of Ba Jin’s youth, the period in which the novels are set, this book sheds light on these and many more such questions about the social and political situation of Chengdu.

As suggested above, an equally important aspect of this study is to highlight the limitations of the trilogy as a history of China in the May Fourth era. The power of great novels to influence later generations’ understanding of historical events should not be underestimated. How many people outside the United States first learned about the American Civil War via Gone with the Wind, either the novel or the film? For those who did, how could they avoid receiving an impression that, as an event, the war’s major legacy was the tragic loss of an elite Southern way of life? Debates about the historical accuracy of fiction set in the United States are common: for instance, the bestseller The Help inspired many conversations among historians and others about how well and/or badly the novel and the film adapted from it depict the lives and perspectives of black female domestic workers in 1960s Mississippi.7

The Turbulent Stream trilogy has certainly shaped many people’s understanding of Chinese culture and twentieth-century Chinese history, most particularly Chinese family dynamics and the history of the New Culture movement. In that sense, the trilogy has played a significant historical role of its own. This book takes a critical—though still appreciative—look at Ba Jin’s interpretations of the society and world in which he grew up. In addition to offering a particularly bleak view of Chinese family life, Ba Jin’s writing slights social history in favor of emotional impact. A telling contrast to Ba Jin’s fiction is that of Li Jieren, who also published a trilogy of novels set in Chengdu in the early twentieth century. His work is much less well known inside and outside China than Turbulent Stream, largely because it lacks the emotional punch that Ba Jin gave his writing. But Li Jieren is a far better social historian; his depiction of life in early twentieth-century Chengdu is more realistic and conveys a better sense of why different characters act as they do, by showing how they are enmeshed in social networks and how their options are constrained by custom and formal law.8

Unlike Li Jieren, Ba Jin left it to others to fill in the historical background necessary for readers to understand the setting within which his characters lived. This book does so. We will have occasion to compare Li Jieren’s perspective on the times with that of Ba Jin. However, most of the book is based on the extensive historical record that exists to document the social, cultural, and political history of early twentieth-century China, especially as it relates to life in Chengdu. As a cultural and political center in western China, Chengdu produced many prominent twentieth-century personalities in addition to Ba Jin, and this book sheds light on their formative experiences. The richness with which the city’s history has been preserved in local archives and other records allows for the creation of an intimate portrait of a city that seemed far from the center of national politics of the day and yet clearly felt the forces of—and also contributed to—the turbulent stream of Chinese history.

The next section of this introductory chapter presents a biographical sketch of Ba Jin that provides context for the history of the publication and reception of the Turbulent Stream trilogy. The introduction concludes with an initial discussion of major topics that will be discussed throughout the book: patriarchy and the “Confucian” family, militarist politics and Chinese cities, the nature of the revolutions in cultural values and social structure during the early twentieth century, and their effects on Chinese families and on Chinese cities.

Ba Jin and Turbulent Stream

Ba Jin’s life and his best-known works are intertwined with one another and with the history of China’s tumultuous twentieth century: the story of the creation and reception of the Turbulent Stream trilogy shows both how historical events influenced the several incarnations of the trilogy and how the story became a central narrative of cultural change. Ba Jin often insisted that readers should not see his own life reflected in that of Gao Juehui, the protagonist of Family. Yet the outlines of their lives are similar in many ways.9

As a child, Ba Jin was called Li Yaotang; Ba Jin is the pen name he adopted as an adult. Like the fictional Gao Juehui, he grew up in a wealthy family in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. Ba Jin’s father, like Juehui’s father, was the eldest son in his generation and an official in the final years of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). His mother, like Juehui’s mother, died young. Both real-life and fictional fathers died soon after remarrying. Their children grew up in extended families with stern and distant grandfathers, surrounded by many uncles, aunts, cousins, and servants. Ba Jin’s eldest brother, like the fictional Gao Juexin, was expected to carry on the family line and take responsibility for the extended family, under the direction of his grandfather. Like Gao Juehui, Ba Jin left Chengdu and traveled to eastern China as a young man. In the final scene of the novel Family, Juehui makes a dramatic break with his family in the early 1920s as he boards a boat heading for Shanghai. In Ba Jin’s case, the rupture with his family took a long time to gestate—it was announced publicly via the first installments of the novel itself, serialized in a newspaper in Shanghai in 1931–1932.

Why did Ba Jin decide to write a series of novels that condemned the values and behavior of the Chinese social elite—and which were immediately read as autobiographical, given the many parallels between his family and the fictional Gao family? He himself answered that question frequently over the years in the many essays he published about his fiction and career. In 1937, a letter he wrote to his cousin appeared in one of his essay collections. In it he explained: “I wrote the book so that other young people don’t have to ‘spend their days in the prison of family ritual’ [a phrase he had used in his short story “Under the Street Gate”]. . . . Not for revenge but to attack the system.”10 He was disgusted by what he considered the elder generation’s hypocritical appeals to Confucian morality to control people and suppress any protests against its own bad behavior. When Family became a bestseller, he wrote two sequels. The first, Spring, is very similar to Family, except this time a young female protagonist breaks out of the prison of familial convention and coercion. Turbulent Stream is above all an appeal to young people not to accept the lot in life that their elders arrange for them, but to struggle to achieve their dreams and create a more just social order.

Ba Jin also wrote these novels to express his love for the enthusiasm of youth, which he thought could easily be stifled in the context of a rigid family life but kindled in the company of like-minded friends. In a 1933 essay called “Friends,” Ba Jin credited his own friends with helping him to go on living in moments of despair. Friends, he wrote, are more valuable than family. But brothers can be best friends. Ba Jin’s relationships with his two elder brothers demonstrated this point, and his bonds to Li Yaolin and Li Yaomei provided the model for the close relationship of the three Gao brothers: Juehui, Juemin, and Juexin.11

The place of sisters and women in general in personal relationships seems to have been more of a puzzle to Ba Jin. As subsequent chapters discuss, for the most part he avoided the topic of sex or associated it with debauchery. In his fiction, the male-female relationship never quite attains the emotional comradely ideal that his young male characters sometimes enjoy. For men and women of the same generation there is sometimes the complicated—and often troublesome—element of romance in such relationships, with accompanying infatuation or jealousy or regret or even fear. Ba Jin himself married when he was thirty-nine; his twenty-three-year-old bride Chen Yunzhen (later called Xiao Shan) had written him a fan letter when she was a student, and the two grew to be close friends in the years before their marriage. Perhaps his relationship with Xiao Shan helped him compose the love story of Gao Juexin and the slave girl Cuihuan, which gives Autumn its rather implausible happy ending.

The need to struggle against the oppression and hypocrisy so common in family and social life, the promise of a more just future world, the beautiful enthusiasm of youth, the search for comradeship and love: these are Ba Jin’s themes. As he wrote in his introduction to the trilogy, he aimed to help readers appreciate the turbulent stream of life flowing out of the dark mountainous wastes of Chinese society and creating a new path for itself.

Ba Jin’s inspiration and models as a professional writer were numerous.12 When he was a child, his father took him to performances of Chinese operas and discussed the stories with him. He was an avid reader from a very young age, memorizing poems and studying the Confucian classics as well as enjoying classical Chinese fiction. As a fifteen-year-old, he read an essay called An Appeal to Youth by the Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin, which had been translated into Chinese and distributed by an anarchist society. By his own account, he was tremendously moved by Kropotkin’s call for young people from wealthy families to sacrifice their personal comfort in order to help the poor and create a more just world. Ba Jin was introduced to revolutionary literature and learned about the work of social activists via the many periodicals founded in Beijing and Shanghai in the 1910s, including the famous New Youth magazine.13 He even wrote a passionate letter to the editor of New Youth, Chen Duxiu, pledging to work to overthrow China’s old culture and asking for advice on how best to do it.

Chen Duxiu did not write back; he probably received hundreds of such letters between 1919 and 1921. But Ba Jin found comrades locally. He joined an anarchist group called the Equity Society (Junshe) and served as editor and writer for its journal. Like more famous east-coast Chinese periodicals, the Equity Society’s journal criticized militarists and argued for women’s emancipation. After Ba Jin moved to eastern China in 1923, he continued to read and write essays calling for cultural and social change and explaining the principles of anarchism. He became active in Shanghai literary circles and also began to correspond with Emma Goldman, the American anarchist, then living in exile in Europe.

In 1927, Ba Jin traveled to France, where he attempted to educate himself about the international anarchist movement, working on a translation of Kropotkin’s Ethics: Origin and Development as he studied French and published essays on Chinese politics. He also began his career as a fiction writer. His novella Destruction, set in Shanghai among labor organizers, appeared in print in Shanghai’s most prestigious literary journal while he was still in France. As he was leaving France to return to China in 1928, he read Émile Zola’s series of novels about the extended Rougon-Macquart family during France’s Second Empire. These helped inspire him to take his own family as the topic of his first full-length novel, which grew to become the Turbulent Stream trilogy. Back in Shanghai, he began work on the project. His eldest brother, Li Yaomei, encouraged him in letters from Chengdu, urging him to abandon all fear and reveal the ugly truths of life in families like theirs. The first segment of Family appeared in the literary supplement of Shanghai’s Eastern Times (Shibao) in 1931. The novel was revised and published in book form in 1933.

Family was a hit. By 1936 the novel had been printed four times and tens of thousands of copies were in circulation. Ba Jin further revised the text, and a new edition appeared that year, again with strong sales that justified numerous reprintings. One more revised version (the tenth edition) was published in 1937 and again reprinted many times. By this time, Ba Jin was working on a sequel to Family to satisfy the demands of his huge audience of readers. The first chapters of Spring appeared as a serial in 1935–1936. When authorities shut down the newspaper it ran in, Ba Jin put his manuscript aside, then finished it just as the Japanese began their conquest of eastern China in autumn 1937. He stayed in Shanghai’s French Concession as the Japanese took control of the Chinese sectors of Shanghai. After a trip to south and central China in 1938 and 1939, he returned to Shanghai to finish writing the final novel in Turbulent Stream, Autumn. Soon after it was published, the French government surrendered to the Nazis in Europe, and the new Vichy regime began collaborating with the Japanese in Asia. Ba Jin left Shanghai at this time and spent the remaining war years in southwestern China, which remained under the control of the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek. In the wartime capital, Chongqing, Ba Jin’s friend Cao Yu adapted Family for the stage and presented it to enthusiastic crowds.

At war’s end, Ba Jin returned to Shanghai. When the victorious Communists entered that city in 1949, he stayed and worked with the new government as one of the founders of the Shanghai Writers’ Federation. One of his assignments was to chronicle the heroism of the Chinese Volunteer Army fighting American troops in Korea. During the 1950s, he also substantially revised all his fiction, including Turbulent Stream, and the Foreign Languages Press published an English-language version of Family, translated by the Beijing-based American expatriate Sidney Shapiro. Whereas the revisions Ba Jin made to Family in the 1930s were primarily to correct typos and remove repetitive passages, the 1950s revisions were politically motivated—passages critical of the apathy of the urban population were dropped, references to anarchism removed, and the student activists made more resolute than they were in the 1933 edition.14 Ba Jin was also influenced in his revisions to some extent by the script of the play Cao Yu had based on Family.

In the 1950s, film versions of Turbulent Stream were produced in the PRC and in Hong Kong. The 1956 PRC film version of Family was particularly successful. It starred accomplished actor Sun Daolin as the conflicted eldest brother Gao Juexin. Zhang Ruifang played his wife, Ruijue, the character she had portrayed in Cao Yu’s stage production in the 1940s.

By the early 1960s, the fame of Turbulent Stream, greatly assisted by the film versions, had made Ba Jin one of the most prominent writers in the PRC, even though he had published no new novels and very few stories in the 1950s. During the Cultural Revolution, beginning in 1966, the attacks on him were devastating.15 His works were banned in China; he himself was forced to undergo “reeducation” and to criticize himself and his novels for their incorrect political standpoint. He admitted to having written under the influence of his “petty bourgeois” background, expressing far too much sympathy for young intellectuals and ignoring the working masses.

A veteran of the violent political struggles of the 1920s and 1930s, Ba Jin might have taken the Cultural Revolution strife more in stride, except that it claimed a victim in his immediate family. His wife and he had lived together happily in Shanghai in the 1950s, raising a daughter and a son. They all suffered with him when he came under attack. In 1972, his wife died of cancer, denied treatment that might have saved her life. In the early 1980s Ba Jin wrote a powerful essay about her death and his devastation, condemning the Cultural Revolution and the inhumanity it had caused. In the last decades of the twentieth century, cultural critics in China and abroad frequently repeated his call for the creation of a museum to document the crimes of the Cultural Revolution, commemorate its victims, and analyze its causes.16

The Cultural Revolution ended when Chairman Mao died in 1976; within a few years, Ba Jin’s Turbulent Stream was once more popular reading among Chinese youth. The 1956 film Family was among the first pre-1966 films to reappear after Mao’s death, and it was greeted more enthusiastically than it had been when it was first released.17 In 1981 Ba Jin became chairman of the China Writers’ Association, succeeding Mao Dun, one of very few twentieth-century novelists whose fame rivaled his own. A graphic novel version of the Turbulent Stream trilogy appeared in 1982, a television miniseries based on all three novels followed in 1988, and another miniseries, a 21-part television adaptation of Family, aired in 2007.

Beginning in the 1970s, Ba Jin was nominated repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, for the Nobel Prize in literature. He received the inaugural Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 1990. He played a significant role in establishing the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature, which opened in Beijing in 1985, and donated his papers and other artifacts to the museum.18 Afflicted by Parkinson’s disease, he spent the last years of his life in a Shanghai hospital, dying at the age of one hundred in October 2005. His death brought renewed attention to his legacy. Much of his work is now available to download from the Internet. Chinese scholars have published dozens of books and hundreds of articles about his life and fiction. The Chinese Ministry of Education identified Family as one of the thirty most significant books for Chinese middle school students to read.19 Ba Jin’s Turbulent Stream flows on.


1. The Chinese titles of Family, Spring, and Autumn are Jia, Chun, and Qiu. A complete synopsis of the trilogy appears in Mao, Pa Chin, chap. 4. Complete English translations of Spring and Autumn have not yet been published.

2. Ba Jin, “Jia chongyin houji,” 610–11.

3. The Chinese term for these rituals and values is lijiao. The topic is treated in Chapter Two.

4. Stapleton, “Generational and Cultural Fissures.” On the argument that multi-generational extended families created passivity and dependency in the young, see also Schwarcz, Chinese Enlightenment, 110–12.

5. On this point, see Fung, Intellectual Foundations of Chinese Modernity, chap. 1.

6. A recent critique of this old image of an oppressive, stagnant, and miserable pre-Communist China may be found in Dikötter, Exotic Commodities.

7. For example, see the critical statement issued by the Association of Black Women Historians, which ends: “The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.” (accessed August 20, 2015).

8. In a letter to Li Jieren’s daughter Li Mei dated November 11, 1981, Ba Jin himself praised Li Jieren’s fiction for bringing alive the Chengdu of his youth. Letter included in an exhibition in Chengdu’s Li Jieren Memorial and Museum. On Li Jieren’s novels of Chengdu, see Ng, Lost Geopoetic Horizon.

9. Lang’s Pa Chin provides an excellent account of Ba Jin’s life in English. Many biographies have appeared in Chinese. Among the most valuable are Chen, Ren’ge de fazhan, and Tan, Zoujin Ba Jin de shijie.

10. Ba Jin, “Guanyu Jia,” 252–65.

11. Olga Lang comments on the theme of friendship in Ba Jin’s work, noting its importance in Chinese literary history. Lang, Pa Chin, 65–67.

12. The influence of the Chinese literary tradition on Ba Jin’s novel Family is the focus of Shaw, “Ba Jin’s Dream.” Lang, Pa Chin, chap. 10, analyzes the influence of European, especially Russian, literature on Ba Jin’s writings.

13. See Chapter Seven for a discussion of the intellectual currents and institutions that influenced the young Ba Jin.

14. Shaw, “Changes in The Family,” Fisac, “Rewriting Modern Chinese Literature,” and Jin Hongyu, Zhongguo xiandai changpian xiaoshuo.

15. Ba Jin had already been attacked briefly in 1958, during the Anti-Rightist movement. See Mao, Pa Chin, 35–37.

16. On Ba Jin’s call for a museum to the Cultural Revolution, see Schwarcz, Place and Memory, 205–6. Ba Jin’s refusal to speak out in support of intellectuals and writers arrested for their involvement in the 1989 political protests in China is criticized by Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, in a 2005 essay written when Ba Jin died, “Ba Jin: The Limp White Flag.”

17. Liu Jingzhi, “Zhang Ruifang, Sun Daolin, yu Ba Jin de Jia.”

18. “Zhongguo xiandai wenxueguan lishi yan’ge,” (accessed August 20, 2015).

19. Li Cunguang, Jia dao du. The Shanghai-based Ba Jin Research Association regularly organizes conferences and publishes scholarly work on Ba Jin. See (accessed August 29, 2015).