Wang Meng


Wang Meng
b. 1934, Beijing
Writer, editor, minister
The editor of People’s Literature from 1983 to 1986 (see literary periodicals) and the Minister of Culture from 1986 to 1989, Wang Meng was central to the formation of a ‘middlebrow’ (neither too didactic nor purely entertaining) literature. His writing promotes a positive outlook and is constantly up to date, using stylistic experiments drawn from changing literary trends. Although Wang still employs the standardized literary language of the 1950s, his verbosity creates a sense of playfulness. These satirical elements are accentuated through the adoption of Beijing dialect in his publications of the late 1980s.
Wang’s post-Mao writing takes on the thematic interests first announced in his 1956 novella The Young Newcomer in the Organization Department (Zuzhibu lailege nianqingren): to critique the bureaucracy and rejuvenate the Party. This ambiguous political allegiance was not tolerated and resulted in Wang’s removal from the Beijing literary circle in 1957. After seventeen years of exile in Xinjiang (1962–79), he returned to Beijing and immediately resumed his form of constructive social criticism in a series of short stories, including ‘Kite Streamer’ (Fengzheng piaodai, 1980) and ‘The Song of the Spring’ (Chun zhi sheng, 1980), which received attention for their new stylistic technique and especially for their psychological realism. Wang’s early work is concerned with concrete social interaction and relations, but he began to experiment with more abstract ideas and themes in the mid 1980s. The Man with Moveable Parts (Huadong bianxingren, 1985), for example, is an existential exploration in response to the ‘cultural exploration movement’. The 1990s saw Wang switching to popular genres, in order to appear more approachable and less didactic: Adventures of a Soccer Star (Qiuxing qiyu ji, 1988) and Murder 3322 (Ansha 3322, 1994) are two examples of his effort to respond to changes in consumer taste.
See also: Humanistic Spirit, ‘Spirit of the Humanities’
Xu, Zidong (1997). Dangdai xiaoshuo yuedubiji [Notes on Contemporary Novels]. Shanghai: Huadong shifan daxue chubanshe.
HE DONGHUI

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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