Yu Yawen, MA student, Department of East Asian Studies, National Taiwan Normal University
First published in 1958, The Blue and the Black has been called one of the “four great novels of the war of resistance.” The story begins with the Sino-Japanese War and China’s subsequent victory over invading Japanese forces, then moves on to the Communist-Nationalist civil war and the Nationalist’s government’s relocation to Taiwan. Wang Lan’s long novel – nearly half a million Chinese characters – is both a realistic account of that chaotic period and a moving love story. The book has been translated into a number of languages and adapted to radio, stage, screen, and TV, achieving popularity in Korea, the Philippines, and the West.
Orphaned at an early age, protagonist Zhang Xingya is brought up by an aunt. At fifteen the callow youth meets the beautiful and vivacious Tang Qi, falling in love at first sight. The two are enamored of each other but their romance doesn’t proceed smoothly. After series of accidents and misunderstandings the young lovers grow apart, and Zhang leaves his hometown of Tianjin to join the anti-Japanese resistance. He eventually makes his way to Chongqing, where he enrolls in a university political science department and meets Zheng Meizhuang, his commanding officer’s daughter. The two fall in love and are engaged to marry. After the Japanese are defeated, relations between the Nationalist government and Chinese Communists deteriorate. Zhang leaves the university and works a reporter, rising first to editor and then to senator, becoming a voice of popular anti-Communism, but he and Zheng Meizhuang have philosophical differences. Then Zhang indirectly receives news of Tang Qi, learning that she too took part in the war against Japan and that their estrangement was the result of a misunderstanding. Although Zhang and Tang Qi are drawn to each other, they stay their distance out of respect for Zheng Meizhuang and Zhang’s marriage commitment. After China falls to the Communists, Zhang Xingya and Meizhuang flee to Taiwan, but Zhang accidentally breaks a leg along the way. As a result of Zhang’s infirmity and their ever-growing differences, Meizhuang marries another man. Later, with the help of a third party, Zhang Xingya gets back in touch with Tang Qi, realizing he still loves her best. Although Tang Qi is on her way to do medical work on the China-Myanmar border, she still clearly has feelings for Zhang, promising to reunite with him when she returns.
The story has two main threads: The first is the Nationalist government’s anti-Japanese resistance and the civil war with the Communists, the second Zhang Xingya’s romantic entanglements with Tang Qi and Zheng Meizhuang, the parallel plots filling The Blue and the Black with the glory of human emotion. The war background never makes the book heavy or boring, and readers can witness the great era of human struggle, change, and magnificence through the eyes of the protagonist Zhang Xingya. As for the two colors of the title, the lonely Tang Qi is often regarded as the embodiment of blue, while Zheng Meizhuang, the general’s daughter, represents the black. But “blue” and “black” can also be seen respectively as the light of freedom and the darkness of degradation. Perhaps it is those two forces that drive Zhang Xingya’s choices and bring about the story’s conclusion.
Liu Yuci, PhD candidate, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Wang Lan (1922-2003), penname Guo Zhi, was born in Tianjin in China’s Hebei province. He studied at the Jinghua Academy of Fine Arts, and Yunnan University. During the war of resistance he joined the Three Principles of the People Youth League, engaging in anti-Japanese activities, battlefield experience the writer later incorporated into his fiction. Wang served as reporter, editor, Tianjin city councilman, and national representative. In 1945 he founded the Blue and Red Publishing Company in Chongqing. Wang wrote poetry, essays, and fiction; early publications include the poetry collection Holy Woman, War Horse, Spear (1942), and the short story collections An Eternal Star (1948), and On Taixing Mountain (1944).
After coming to Taiwan, Wang Runhua founded the highly influential Chinese Writers’ & Artists’ Association in conjunction with Zhang Daofan, Chen Jiying and others in 1950. He served as director of the Chinese Writers’ & Artists’ Association, director of the literary monthly Literary World, and deputy director of Taipei Chinese Center, International P.E.N. He also taught at the University of Hawaii and Ohio State University in the United States. In 1954 Red and Black Publishing Company relocated to Yonghe in the greater Taipei area. Major novels written in Taiwan include The Blue and the Black (1958 and Long Night (1960). Wang later threw himself into watercolor painting and Chinese-opera facial-makeup design, publishing the series Chinese Opera Watercolors. He spent final years in the United States.
Wang Lan’s wartime novels depict romance and idealism in a chaotic era. The Blue and the Black, often regarded as an anti-Communist novel, is set against the background of the war of resistance against Japan, the Nationalist-Communist civil war, and the Nationalist government’s relocation to Taiwan. A love story, the work also portrays ordinary people’s hardships, exile, and displacement in a time of great social and political upheaval. The Blue and the Black has been adapted to radio, stage, screen, and TV, achieving popularity in both Asia and the West, a testament to the story’s enduring international appeal in a variety of media. The work also invites us to the reconsider dialogic space between anti-Communist fiction and popular literature, as well as the cultural background that gave rise to those forms.
|Work(English)：||The Blue and the Black|
|Anthology：||The Blue and the Black|
|Publisher：||Taipei: Chinese Materials Center Publications|
|Ordering information for original work(Link)：||http://www.chiuko.com.tw/book.php?book=detail&&bookID=1577|
Ordering information for original work(Note)：
|The “chiuko.com.tw” Internet Bookstore|
|Ordering information for translation(Link)：||http://www.antiqbook.com/books/bookinfo.phtml?o=theshe&bnr=094929|
|Ordering information for translation(Note)：|