Editorial introduction: Chen Yingzhen and his time
Chen Yingzhen (1937-) is the foremost writer and thinker on the left in postwar Taiwan. In the past half century, as a novelist, a critic, an editor, a publisher, and a political activist, he has accumulated a body of locally grounded works, addressing wide range of issues at the center of the postcolonial conditions of intellectual life. Among his highly valued writing practices, literary forms are his most powerful mode of expression. His novels and proses go beyond the limits of his often argumentative and penetrating essays to touch the unspeakable experiences of human life and to move and motivate his readers regardless of political tendencies. It is in the articulation of the intimate relation between “literature,” “thought” and “history” that we find Chen’s work making unique contributions.
Although Chen’s works have been widely read in East Asia and the Chinese speaking world, Exiles at home (1986), a collection of his earlier literary works, is the only volume available in English, and L’île verte: nouvelles (2000), in French. Over the past decade, there has been a serious effort to revisit and construct the postwar political and intellectual history via re-reading Chen’s work in the wider contexts of Taiwan, mainland China and East Asia. Research, interviews, workshops, exhibitions, public forums, study groups, teachings, conferences and publications across borders were conducted and organized around Chen’s work and his political activities since 1960s. Against this background, we are producing this special issue, centering on his literary productions, to introduce Chen Yingzhen to the readers of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. We hope more could be done in the future to bring the important works of writers and thinkers in the region to the center of intellectual attentions.
Kuan-Hsing Chen teaches in the Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. His most recent publication is Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization (2010, Duke University Press).