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Ye Shengtao - Literature is for Life

Ye Shengtao (28 October 1894 — 16 February 1988) was a prominent author, educator and publisher. He was one of the founders of the Association for Literary Studies, the first literature association during the May Fourth Movement in China.

Throughout his life, he was dedicated to publishing and language education. His strongest advocation was 'Literature is for Life'.

Early Life

Ye was born on 28 October 1894 in Wu county, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. His father worked as a bookkeeper for a landlord and they lived a very modest life. When he was six years old, he entered a mediocre school for primary study. He often followed his father to work. He travelled around the city and experienced the lives of the poor.

In 1907, Ye entered Caoqiao Secondary School. After his graduation, he worked as a primary school teacher, before being dismissed by the school in 1914. Finding himself unemployed, he devoted himself entirely to writing classical Chinese novels, which were published in “Libailiu Magazine” ("Saturday Magazine"), until he found work as the Chinese teacher of a school set up by the Shanghai Commercial Press. At the same time, he became the editor of primary textbooks of the Shanghai Commercial Press in 1915.

Ye had been living in an era of instability, including the 1894 Sino-Japanese War, the Hundred Days Reform, and later the Sphere of Influence. His early life experiences affected his sense of nationalism and contributed to his later career as a journalist and an educator.

Career in Literary Movement

Throughout his life, Ye worked a lot for literary movement. Under the influences of the May Fourth Movement in 1919 (commonly known as the "New Culture Movement"), Ye indulged himself in his literary career. He participated in a student organization called 'Xinchao She' ("New Tide Society" 1919-1920) of the Beijing University, and started publishing fictions, poems, prose, literary criticism and scripts of drama etc. Ye was also an editor in PuShe (1923), a bookstore held by literators at that time. In 1921, Ye, Mao Dun (1896-1981) and Zheng Zhenduo (1898-1958) founded the earliest literary society of the New Literature Movement, the "Wenxue Yanjiu Hui", ("Association for Literary Studies"), advocating realism art but rejecting the principle "Art is for Art's Sake". In 1936, Ye, Mao Dun and Hung Sen established the "Chinese Literature and Art Society". In 1941, he became an editorial committee of the "Teaching for Literature and History". Ye was one of the establishers of the "Literary Alliance for Anti-Japanese Imperialism".

Political Life

Ye was responsible for a number of posts in the authority. Following the Liberation, Ye served as the Vice-director of General Administration of Press and Publication, the President of People Education Publication, and the Vice-minister of Ministry of Education etc. He was also elected as the Committee of the Fifth Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the National Committee of The Fifth Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and the Chairman of China Association for Promoting Democracy.

Ye died in Beijing on 16 February 1988 at the age of 94.

Source: cultural-china.com

Editor: Feng Hui

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