Zhang Chengzhi


Zhang Chengzhi
b. 1948, Beijing
Writer
Zhang Chengzhi began studying history at Peking University in 1972, and subsequently continued his studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. But the more definitive period for Zhang as a writer was the time he spent in rural Mongolia from 1967 through 1972. In the early 1980s, Zhang began publishing stories about the life of rural Mongolians which were later synthesized into the novel Golden Pastureland (Jin muchang, 1987). The most celebrated of these stories, ‘Black Horse’ (Hei junma, 1982), depicts the cultural gap separating a modernizing Han majority from rural minorities, through the tale of a Han boy raised by a Mongolian woman on the plains who leaves his fiancée to study in the city. In the late 1980s, Zhang turned his attention to the impoverished Sufi Islamic religious minority that represented his own family background. The result was Spiritual History (Xinlingshi, 1990), a controversial, impassioned study of their history and a declaration on their behalf of a spirituality in opposition to Han Chinese culture. Throughout the 1990s Zhang continued to argue against the commercialization of the educated elite and in favour of representing the less fortunate in a series of essays collected in The Barren Road of the Hero (Huangwu yingxiong lu, 1994) and The Pen as a Banner (Yibi wei qi, 1999), among other books.
Liu, Xinmin (2000).
‘Deciphering the Populist Gadfly: Cultural Polemic around Zhang Chengzhi’s “Religious Sublime”’. In Martin Woesler (ed.), The Modern Chinese Literary Essay: Defining the Chinese Self in the 20th Century. Bochum: Bochum University Press, 227–37.
Xu, Jian (2002). ‘Radical Ethnicity and Apocryphal History: Reading the Sublime Object of History in Zhang Chengzhi’s Late Fiction’. positions: east asia cultures critique 10.3 (Winter): 526–46.
Zhang, Chengzhi (1990). ‘The Black Steed’. In Love That Burns on a Summer’s Night. Beijing: Chinese Literature Press, 137–230.
——(2002). ‘Statue of a Dog’. Trans. Andrew
Jones. positions: east asia cultures critique 10.3 (Winter): 511–24.
EDWARD GUNN

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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