China celebrates noted writer Ba Jin's 100th birthday

Literary witness to century of turmoil
China's prestigious writer Ba Jin had his 100th birthday celebrated Tuesday in a Shanghai hospital, having survived two world wars and numerous periods of turmoil, revolutions and controversies during the past century.

The country's enthusiasm toward Ba Jin was highlighted Tuesday by the overwhelming columns, newspaper pages and commentaries and special, colorful TV programs in the media, and even a bronze statue was erected for him in Chengdu, his hometown in southwest China's Sichuan province.

Tuesday was Ba Jin's de facto 99th birthday as he was born to a wealthy family on Nov. 25, 1904, but it is the long tradition for Chinese to celebrate their living relatives' centennial birthday at the age of 99.

Statues, paeans, stamps, scrolls full of signatures and grateful messages were the birthday gifts from fans and literature lovers across the country to the bed-ridden writer who has been treated in a Shanghai hospital for Parkinson's disease in the past five years since 1998.

New buildings dedicated to Ba Jin
"Ba Jin is sacred in my mind for writing so many great eminent works," said Xu Xiutang, a master craftsman who carved a statue for the writer's 100th birthday in Yixing city of east China's Jiangsu province. "I'm honored to have an opportunity to make a sculpture for him."

Feng Jicai, also an established writer in China, noted that Ba Jin had become an icon with a democratic spirit which he had developed ever since the May Fourth Movement, a world-famous political and cultural movement against imperialism and feudalism which occurred in China in 1919.

Ba Jin is one of the founders of modern Chinese literature and is prestigious for his prolific output and masterpieces like the trilogy "Family", "Spring" and "Autumn", a series believed to inspire million upon million of Chinese youth in the 1930s and '40s to join the Chinese revolution.

He was re-elected chairman of the Chinese Writer's Association in late 2001, a post he has held for over two decades following 1981.

Ba Jin Century Show
In his early years, Ba Jin traveled extensively in the 1920s, making friends among the established men of letters and started his prolific career after writing his first novel "Destruction" in Paris in 1929.

During his writing career, he produced approximately 15 million Chinese characters in his works, which include, among others, many outstanding novels, short stories, prose and essays.

An honorary member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters, Ba Jin was awarded the 1982 Dante International Prize and the first Fukuoka Special Asian Culture Prize in 1990. He also wonthe title of "Commander of the Legion of Honor" of France in 1983.

With his pen name "Ba Jin" so predominant in literature, the public hardly remember his original name "Li Yaotang."

The distinguished writer of the contemporary world is greatly honored by all the celebrations surrounding his birthday.

People's Daily Online ---