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Author | Lu Ho-jo

  • Date:2024-04-10

Chinese Name: 呂赫若

Birth Name: Lu Shih-tui (呂石堆)

Born: Aug. 25, 1914

Died: Aug. 26, 1950

Birthplace: Taichung City (Central Taiwan)


Did You Know That…?

Donated by his family to the National Museum of Taiwanese Literature (NMTL) in August 2020, the only surviving manuscript of Lu Ho-jo’s diary is exhibited at NMTL in 2024.



Lu Ho-jo was an active writer from the Japanese rule period to the post-war era in Taiwan. In addition, he was also a vocalist and a playwright. Owing to his aptitude for literature and music, Lu was dubbed “Taiwan’s foremost talent (台灣第一才子).” In 1927, Lu graduated from Tanzi Public Elementary School (潭子公學校) in Taichung. The next year, he enrolled at Taichu Normal School (臺中師範學校), where he was inspired and encouraged by his teachers to engage in literature and music, laying a solid foundation for his artistic career in the future.


In 1935, Lu published his first short story “The Ox Cart (牛車)” in the Japanese magazine “Literary Criticism (文學評論),” receiving attention from the literary scene. “The Ox Cart,” selected in “The Collection of Short Stories about Korea and Taiwan (朝鮮臺灣短篇集─山靈)” in April 1936 and published by a Chinese publishing house in Shanghai, was among the first collection of Taiwanese literary works introduced to China. He later published his works in various literary magazines in Taiwan, becoming one of the important pioneers in Taiwan’s New Literature Movement (臺灣新文學運動).


In addition to writing, Lu was also passionate about music. In 1940, he went to Tokyo, Japan, to study music. During this time, Lu, recommended by his friend Lu Chuang-shien (呂泉生), joined the singing group of Tokyo Takarazuka Theater (東京寶塚劇場) for about one year.


After Lu returned to Taiwan in 1942, he became a reporter for Taiwan Daily News (臺灣日日新報) and Hsing Nan News (興南新聞). Meanwhile, he began his writings on issues like Japanization and the Pacific War, highlighting the difficult position of colonial Taiwan sandwiched between Japan and China.


As World War II came to an end in 1945 following Japan’s surrender, the control over Taiwan shifted to China’s Nationalist government. In the early postwar period, Taiwanese society tried to straighten out old customs and norms of Japanese colonization as it attempted to embrace the new regime. For Taiwanese writers at that time, the change of the political climate and language transition were two sides of the coin. The use of a language represented the expression of a writer’s identity. Hence, in the early days after the war, a wave of enthusiasm for learning Chinese swept over Taiwan, which implied people’s pursuit of ethnic and cultural identity. Among these Chinese learners, there were many writers, including Lu Ho-jo. At the same time, throwing himself into political movements, Lu joined the Three Principles of the People Youth Corps (三民主義青年團).


In 1946, Taiwan Governor-General Chen Yi (陳儀) requested to strengthen the promotion of Mandarin and reduce the use of Japanese, Taiwanese Hokkien, and Hakka. However, the policy that promoted a specific language never affected Lu’s determination to engage in literary writing. Less than half a year after the end of Japanese rule, Lu, who was a Japanese speaker, tried to use Mandarin to write stories, including “The War in Hometown (I): Changing Name (故鄉的戰爭一──改姓名),” “The War in Hometown (II): An Award (故鄉的戰爭二──一個獎),” “Moonlight: Before Restoration (月光光──光復以前),” and “Winter Night (冬夜).” As one of the writers who belonged to the “language transition” generation, Lu was an author who very early on could use Chinese to create his work. 


The abovementioned four works offered a review of Taiwanese people’s colonized experience and a criticism of the chaotic state in Taiwan during the post-war period. Through his writing, Lu presented the strange phenomenon resulting from Japanization and implicitly criticized the implementation of a policy that overemphasizes Mandarin by the Nationalist government. Especially in “Winter Night,” the short story portrays Taiwan’s political corruption in the early days after World War II, which led to socioeconomic decline and serious privation, displaying Lu’s protest against the government and revealing the ethnic tension on the island before the outbreak of the Feb. 28 Incident in 1947.


Deeply disappointed at the Nationalist government as it launched bloody suppression across Taiwan in the Feb. 28 Incident in 1947, Lu gradually became a leftwing author. He served as the chief editor of the leftist Guang Ming Pao (光明報) newspaper, hoping to help push through political and thought reform through the power of mass media. In 1949, Taiwan entered into the period of martial law. During that time, Guang Ming Pao, designated by the government as an underground newspaper of the Communists, was cracked down. Lu was helpless and had no choice but to escape. In 1952, the Counterintelligence Bureau under the Ministry of National Defense speculated that a base of the Chinese Communist Party was hidden in the Luku (鹿窟) mountain area in Shiding Township (石碇鄉, now Shiding District), Taipei County (now New Taipei City). Hence, the bureau sent troops to blockade the area in an attempt to capture the rebels. According to the newly released historical material from Academia Historica in 2020, Lu died from a snakebite in the Luku area on Aug. 26, 1950.