Ai Qing

Ai Qing

Ai Qing: see Ai Ch'ing.
Ai Qing (Simplified Chinese: 艾青; Pinyin: Aì Qīng; Wade-Giles: Ai Ch'ing; March 27, 1910May 5, 1996), is regarded as one of the finest modern Chinese poet, original name Jiang Zheng Han (Simplified Chinese:蒋正涵), styled Jiang Hai Cheng (Simplified Chinese: 蒋海澄), pen name Ling Bi (Simplified Chinese: 林壁)/Ke Ah (Simplified Chinese: 克阿)/E Jia (Simplified Chinese:莪伽).


He was born in Zhejiang province Jinhua county Fantianjiang (贩田蒋) village in eastern China. After entering Hangzhou Xihu Art school in 1928, under the advice of principal Ling Feng Mian (林风眠), he went abroad and studied in Paris the following spring. From 1929-32 while studying in France, besides learning art of Renoir and Van Gogh, the philosophy of Kant and Hegel, he also studied modern poets such as Mayakovsky and was especially influenced by Belgian poet Verhaeren.

After returning to Shanghai, China in May 1932, he joined China Right Wing Artist Association, and was arrested in July for opposing the Kuomintang party. During his imprisonment, Ai Qing translated Verhaeren's poems and wrote his first book "DaAn River--My Babysitter" (《大堰河——我的保姆》), "Reed Flute"(《芦笛》), and "Paris"(《巴黎》). He was finally released in October 1935.

After the start of the Second Sino-Japanese war in 1937, Ai Qing wrote "Snowfall on the grounds of China" (《雪落在中国的土地上》)after arriving at Wuhan to support the war effort. In 1938, he moved to Gui Lin to become the editor of "GuiXi Daily" newspaper. In 1940, he became the dean of the Chinese department at Chongqing YuCai University.

In 1941, he moved to Yanan and joined the Chinese Communist Party in the subsequent year. However in 1957 during the Anti-Rightist Movement, he was suspected of "rightism" and in 1958 exiled to farms in Manchuria and then in 1959 transferred to Xinjiang by the Communist authorities. He was not allowed to publish his works "Return Song"(《归来的歌》) and "Ode to Light"(《光的赞歌》) until he was reinstated in 1979.

He made a second journey to France in 1980, and in 1985 French president François Mitterrand awarded him the title of "Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters".

He is the father of famed Chinese artist and architect Ai Weiwei, who participated in designing the Beijing National Stadium.

Pen Name

In 1933 while tortured and imprisoned by Kuomintang party, when writing his book "DaAn River--My Babysitter", he stopped at "艹" after writing part of his last name Jiang ("蒋"). Due to his bitterness towards KMT leader Jiang Jie Shi ("蔣介石"), he resented sharing the same last name and finished the rest of the word with an X. This happens to be the Chinese character Ai ("艾"), and since the rest of his name Hai Cheng meant Qing ("青" the color blue), he adapted the pen name Ai Qing.


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