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Writer | Long Ying-zong

  • Date:2015-09-02
Writer | Long Ying-zong

  • Chinese Name: 龍瑛宗
  • Birth Name: Liu Rong-zong (劉榮宗)
  • Born: Aug. 25, 1911
  • Died: Sept. 26, 1999
  • Birthplace: Hsinchu County (Northern Taiwan)
  • Did you know that…?
  • Among the Taiwanese writers under Japanese colonial rule, Long Ying-zong was considered an exception from those who were from wealthy families. Long's disadvantaged family background shaped his literary aesthetics and sharpened his critical realism.

Long Ying-zong once expressed: "Through the freedom of expression in literature can I ease the pain under colonialism. The more agony in reality, the more fertile my imagination is.” In his lifetime, he was the most productive during the 8 years of war and his debut short story, "A Small Town Planted with Papaya Tree (植有木瓜樹的小鎮),” astonished the Japanese literati and established his status in the literary world of Taiwan.

Born to a Hakka family, Long was educated under Japanese rule and had shown talent in writing since his youth. However, he did not take up writing immediately after finishing school but worked in a bank. It was the successful publication of "A Small Town Planted with Papaya Tree” that led him to become a writer.

Written in Japanese, "A Small Town Planted with Papaya Tree” was well acclaimed and received an honorable mention from a notable Japanese arts magazine. The story illustrates an intellectual's struggles and the bitter epiphany of his life - no matter how hard he tried he could not break the invisible barrier between the upper and lower class in society, thereby he could never be successful. The tragedy reflects Long's inferiority complex as a colonized member of Hakka ancestry.

In Long's following works, he presented the gloomy and frustrated life under Japanese rule, projecting the darkness of mind through his characters. During the time while protest literature dominated Taiwan's literary world, Long's use of critical realism and introspection from the colonized perspective made him a groundbreaker, prompting the development of humanitarianism in nativist literature.

From Long's family background to his style of writing, Long was the unique one among writers of his time. More than a decade after his death, Long still tells the history of the oppressed life under Japanese rule with his legacy.