1930s Zhang Henshui
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Zhang Henshui (1895 – 1967)
Was a highly prolific, popular Chinese novelist, real name Zhang Xinyuan. He published more than 100 novels in his 50 years of fiction writing. Born and raised in in Nanchang, Zhang moved to Qianshan, Anhui, his ancestral home, at the age of 16, after his father's death. Keen in classical vernacular (baihua) literature since youth, he began composing in the vein of zhanghui xiaoshuo, novels written in vernacular style using classical Chinese poetry as chapter headings. He joined the press in 1918 as an editor and took up novel writing as a hobby. The first of his novels being serialized was "A Pining Song for the Southern Country". After departing for Beijing in 1919 to work as a newspaper editor, his first major long work, "An Unofficial History of Beijing", was serialized between 1924 and 1929. It was a huge success and established him as the pre-eminent popular novelist of his generation. His masterpieces "A Family of Distinction" and "Fate in Tears and Laughter" were much more perspicaciously planned than his earlier books. At the height of his popularity he concurrently worked on six novels on serialization, in between his career as a pressman and editor.The fourth of his major works, Eighty-One Dreams, was published in 1941. This work, perhaps the most representative of his 40-odd novels set during the War of Resistance against Japan, uses parables and dream sequences to satirize the corrupt bureaucracy. Suffering a stroke in 1949, Zhang temporarily lost the ability to walk, but continued to write.
It is estimated that throughout his life Zhang wrote a total of some 30 million Chinese characters in over 110 novels. His works emphasize realistic dialogue, often interposing people from different social strata and were thus hugely popular amongst the Chinese public from 1920s to 1940s. He died of a brain hemorrhage in 1967 in Beijing.
Huang Yao wrote in his article [Journey with Zhang Henshui], that he was sick and rested in Hankou for for about a month before he and Zhang Henshui (his colleague from Xin Wen Bao) and boarded Minsheng's Ship and shared a cabin, taking about 10 days to reach Chongqing...