Bei Dao


Bei Dao
b. 1949, Beijing
Poet
Several times nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature, Bei Dao is best known as a founder of Misty poetry (Menglong shi) and co-founder of the dissident literary magazine Today (Jintian) which appeared during the brief Beijing Spring in late 1978 and early 1979, and was suppressed after the collapse of the movement, but resumed in Europe in 1990 when Bei Dao was in exile.
Bei Dao began writing poetry when he was a sent-down youth in Baiyangding, Hebei, during the Cultural Revolution. As underground literature, his poems were circulated among friends in the countryside. Drastically different from the high-flown propagandistic language of the state discourse, his poems with their original images, structure, and syntax express a powerfully individual voice of bitterness, despair and defiance. Regarded as incomprehensible, his poems (along with those of his fellow poets) were condemned in the 1980s by orthodox critics, but were highly praised by the liberal critics Xie Mian, Sun Shaozhen and Xu Jingya. Bei Dao’s only novella to date is Waves (Bodong, 1974), which deals with the despair of sent-down youth (see xiafang, xiaxiang) and is regarded as a forerunner of post-Mao modernistic fiction.
Bei Dao was active in promoting democracy and human rights. He was in Berlin when the 4 June Massacre occurred. Since then, he has been in exile in several European countries and is currently teaching at the University of California at Davis. His poetry has been translated into many languages.
See also: Tianya
Bei, Dao (1985). Waves: Stories. Ed. Bonnie McDougall and Susette Ternent Cooke. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.
——(1990). The August Sleepwalkers. Trans. Bonnie McDougall. New York: New Directions.
Pan, Yuan and Jie, Pan (1985). ‘The Non-Official Magazine Today and the Younger Generation’s Ideals for a New Literature’. In J.Kinkley (ed.), After Mao: Chinese Literature and Society, 1978–1981. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 193–219.
LEUNG LAIFONG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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