Yan Yunzhen, MA student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
“Sibao” is a plateau overlooking the precipitousLiwu River valley in Taiwan’s majesticTaroko National Park. The area is both the traditional homeland of the indigenous Taroko people and the place where Nationalist veterans were resettled after they had constructed the Central Cross-Island Highway. Sibao has a long, rich history and is famed for the delicious tomatoes grown there. Jiang Xun’s 2007 short story “Young Man Sibao” is the tale of a youth who travels to Sibao, his former girlfriend’s native land.
After university graduation the protagonist begins dating Fumei, a young woman employed in a real-estate agency. Fumei has a sterling performance record with the company because she excels at coming up with clever advertisements. Born and raised inSibao, Fumei loves her homeland, even giving her boyfriend the nickname “Sibao.” The young man’sconversations with Fumeirevealhis intense curiosity abouther background.Deeply in love with the beauty of Fumei’ body – as vital and splendorousas nature itself – the young man is distressed by her life history. Fumei’s father is a war veteran who came to Taiwan with Nationalist forces in 1949. At the time, many of Taiwan’s mountain roadways areas were cleared and constructed by veterans – Fumei’s father took part in building the Central Cross-Island Highway, and settled in Sibao when the work was finished, raising tomatoes for a living.In his forty years in Taiwan Fumei’s father longed to reunite with his wife in China, but was unable to return to herdue to the cross-strait standoff between Nationalists andCommunists. After receiving word of his wife’s death, the old soldier married Fumei’s mother, an indigenous woman ten years his junior. And after Fumei’s father passed away, her mother stayed in Sibao, cultivating tomatoes.
The young man chooses to break up with Fumei because of her background. But he is still highly curious about Sibao, the place where she was born and raised, so he makes a trip there. The beauty and magnificence of the area’s scenery completely awe him – the mountain breeze rustles his shirtsleeves, andthe Liwu River looks like a long, silver ribbon. The young man is further enchanted by of Sibao’s rustic charms – people’s daily lives, a forest elementary school, the tomato fields. Lulled to sleep by the pastoralsplendor, he dreams he’s calling out Fumei – the woman who taught him so much about life – and wakes to find that a tomato has fallen onto his chest.
The story’s protagonist is a young man who has yet to perform military service. Only by seeingSibao himself does he understand the growth stories behind all of theland, achieving awakening in the midst of actual experience. In the end, the youth is like a ripe tomato falling from the vine, becoming one with the earth. What distinguishes “Young Man Sibao” from other short stories are its interwoven descriptions of Fumei and the Sibao landscape, its masterly use of metaphor and symbolism, its emotional sincerity, and its love of nature and the land.
Dai Huaxuan, Assistant Professor, Department of Taiwanese Literature, Aletheia University
Born in China’s Xian City,Jiang Xun (1947- ) came to Taiwan with his family in 1950, settling in Taipei. In childhood Jiang’s creative talents were nurtured by his mother’s storytelling and his father’s love of the classics. Jiang began painting in middle school, and read widely in world classics. He also tried his hand at modern poetry and joined a literary research club. After graduating from Chinese Culture University’s Graduate Institute of Art, in 1972 he went to France for further study at the University of Paris. He returned to Taiwan in 1976 and accepted a post as chief editor of The Lion Art Monthly, devoting the publication to all the arts, including literature, architecture, and theater. In 1981 he was invited to attend the Iowa International Writers’ Workshop. He later served as director of Unitas Publishing Company and taught at a number of universities. He also acted as dean of Tunghai University’s Department of Fine Arts for seven years. Meanwhile, he has continued write and paint, holding a number of exhibitions. A noted art critic, Jiang plans and curates major art shows in Taiwan. In recent years he has devoted himself to promoting art education.
In addition to treatises on aesthetics, Jiang Xun essays account for the bulk of Jiang Xun’s literary output, but he also writes poetry and fiction. Stylistically, his works are varied, sometimes simple and elegant, other times gorgeous and extravagant, the pursuit of “beauty”the common thread running through them all. In 1964 Jiang took first place in a national fiction-writing contest. Received the China Times Recommended Reading Award for Poetry in 1982, the Chung Hsing Literary Arts Award in 1985, and the Golden Bell Award in 1988.Jiang Xun’s poetry collections include Young China (1980), Mother (1982), Affectionately Laughing at Me (1989), Rivers and Mountains as in a Painting (2000), and Tomorrow (2007). His short story collections include Legends (1987), Because of Loneliness (1993), Unrestrained Emotions (2000), Secret Vacation (2006), and New Legends (2009). Essay collections include Love of Praise (1987) and three volumes on Chinese landscape painting: Chance Meeting (1985), Magnanimity– Mountain (1987), and Where Will I Sober Up Tonight? (1990). His epistolaryworks include Letters to Ly’s M – 1999 (1999), and Letters to the Young Artists (2004). Works on aesthetics include The Great Beauty of Heaven and Earth and Handwritten Letters – Annals of the Southern Dynasties (2010), This Life: Awakening of the Corporeal Body, and Young Taiwan (2012).Discourses on aesthetics include Chinese Art History (1990), Pondering Beauty (1998), The Beauty of Angkor Wat (2004), and The Awakening of Beauty (2006), Ten Letters on Sensibility (2009), Dream of the Red Chamber (2013) and Multitudes in the Dust: Minor Characters in “Dream of the Red Chamber”(2014).
|Work(English)：||Young man Sibao|
|Anthology：||The Chinese Pen--Contemporary Chinese literature from Taiwan（《當代台灣文學選譯》）|
|Author：||Jiang Xun (Chiang Hsun)|
|Literary Genre：||Short Story|
|Publisher：||Taipei: Taipei Chinese Center. International P.E.N.|
|Ordering information for original work(Link)：||http://www.books.com.tw/products/0010610753|
Ordering information for original work(Note)：
|The “book.com.tw” Internet Bookstore|
|Ordering information for translation(Link)：|
|Ordering information for translation(Note)：||http://www.taipen.org/the_chinese_pen/current_issue/2007/q2_003.html|