Poetry / China


Liao Zixin*


The 1980s saw the dawning of a golden age in Macanese literature, which has continued to flourish since, particularly in the poetic genre. A series of modem women writers has emerged which have caught the public eye. Their thematic repertoire and artistic skills clearly outstrip those of their male contemporaries, and they have fashioned a specific brand of 'women's writing'.

The precise connotations of the term 'women's writing' are still a matter of debate in literary circles. Broadly speaking, there are two definitions - one broad and one narrow. Considering the matter in more detail, however, each of these umbrella definitions covers a variety of ideas.

In the broader sense, then, 'women's writing' is considered by some to be simply the product of women writers; others think that 'women's writing' may include work by women or by men, provided it is written with a female conscience.

Within the narrower definition of the concept there is also room for differences of opinion: the following three definitions of 'women's writing' are the principal ones.

The first maintains that work by women writers reflects female conscience and the sensibility of the female soul only if the writer, looking at the world from a woman's perspective, promotes awareness of women and portrays female experience, emphasising the fate of women to illustrate the circumstances of female existence.

The second asserts that women writers are those whose works are a mouthpiece for the feminist cause.

The third advocates a more stratified definition of the concept of 'women's writing'. By pooling the corpus of writing included in both the broad and narrow definitions, as some writers recommend, a contrast is seen between the narrower definition which indicates the characteristic sensitivities of women writers who concentrate on women's lives and women's issues and the broader definition which focusses on a wider spectrum of issues concerned with life in out society. This is surely further a measure of the considerable power of the concept of 'women's writing'.

Amongst the ranks of modem writers in Macao, not one male writer has carried out a thorough and objective investigation into women's issues in Macao, though women's issues may have been addressed incidentally, limited to simple description or statements of fact. The main objective of this article is not to analyse women's lives in Macanese society. However, starting from the time of the May Fourth Movement in China, the Macanese literary world has consistently throughout history produced women writers. Some of the women writers who appeared during the 1980s formed a distinctive band of women writers whose work was clearly female in style. They focused on love, marriage and domestic issues from a woman's point of view and explored human life. This exploration was not limited to female existence, but also included problems encountered in the male world, albeit perceived through the filter of a woman's outlook and psychology, applying a specifically female touch. Their writing offers a glitteringly vivid portrayal of women in Macao. For the purposes of the discussion in this article, the term 'women's writing' in Macao' embraces the entire artistic output of both Macanese and Chinese women writers permanently living in Macao.

Admittedly, 'women's writing' is a literary concept which is still evolving. It is our belief that in the Macanese literary world, the term 'women's writing' will come to develop still richer and fuller connotations. For instance, the label may come to include the discussions of women's issues in Macao which have been led led by male writers and thus the portrayal of Macanese womanhood as sculpted by male hands. Perhaps the creative work of women will mature of its own accord as they ponder its nature, endowing the female literary world in Macao with a duality akin to Zhang Kangkang's· "two worlds", taking it one step further along the road to more seasoned 'women's writing' which can assume its rightful position in the ranks of world class 'women's writing'.


Before attempting a complete and in-depth investigation of women's writing in Macao', we are obliged first to equip ourselves with an overview of Macanese history, in particular the origins of Macanese culture. We need to know about the environment in which 'women's writing in Macao' evolved, in order to facilitate a more scientific and historical comprehension of its unique creative characteristics.

Macao was gradually annexed by Portugal in the early sixteenth century, and this situation has now lasted more than four hundred years. Long before China had opened up its doors and windows to the outside world, colonialists had punched through a first opening into China at the peninsula and the two nearby islands which make up Macao. This was the first place where Westerners and Chinese lived together. Macanese people were the first Chinese to come into contact with Western culture. In Macao, Chinese temples can be seen alongside Christian churches; there are simple and crude Chinese dwellings as well as the grand mansion residences of the Portuguese and other Westerners: there are traditional Portuguese-style city squares and boulevards as well as typical Chinese alleys. A variety of cultural symbols blend together in the territory's sixty square kilometres.

It cannot be denied that the Portuguese colonialists brought to Macao much industry which was advanced for the time, such as printing, furnaces, a munitions factory, a fireworks factory and a match factory. They also brought maize, peanuts, tomatoes, cos lettuce, cabbage, agar, cassava, papayas, lychees, persimmons, pineapples and other fruits and vegetables. They also introduced bananas and cinchona, increasing the variety of produce available in Macao. Naturally this trade enabled a substantial degree of cultural exchange: for instance, the Portuguese took with them back to Europe a large amount of Chinese tea, ceramics, silks and ivories, just as they had brought snuff and other items back from Brazil. However, the one thing which lent Macao a truly cosmopolitan air, bridging East and West, was the combination of Asian and European architectural styles in the Western streets and Chinese alleys. The clustering together of both styles is what emerged as characteristically local Macanese culture.

From the historical documents relating to the architectural planning of the city, the influence of Portuguese culture on Macao is clear. The most striking and tangible cultural legacy is the phenomenon of city planning. European architectural styles began to appear in Macao from the sixteenth century onwards in the form of religious buildings. In the seventeenth century, the Portuguese authorities consolidated their occupation of Macao by adding city walls, a fortress, cannon posts and fortifications. The addition of these structures extended throughout the territory: all the planning was geared towards defending the colony in case of attack from outside. Yet by the end of the seventeenth century almost all had been demolished to enable the colonialists to expand their territory again. The spate of building which took place during this period gradually eroded the hitherto segregated pattern of Chinese and Portuguese residence, and all the European buildings were redesigned in a newer style. Moreover, in addition to religious and official buildings, the planning now included residential architecture. In the nineteenth century, the architectural structure of the city changed again, when traditional styles were combined with more innovative characteristics, and there appeared combined groups of commercial and residential buildings which were constructed in geometrical patterns.

The rows of European buildings are testament to the actual influence of Portuguese cultural 'hardware' on Macao. In terms of cultural 'software', linguistic sources best illustrate the mutual influence of the Chinese and Portuguese cultures. A number of Portuguese words passed into Macanese dialect (given here in pinyin pronunciation), such as galifen· (Port.: caril ; or: curry powder), guanshi· (Port.: mandarim; or: government official), ximi· (Port.: sagu ; or: sago), and fangbao· (Port.: pão; or: bread). Examples of words which made the transition in the opposite direction from Chinese into Portuguese are: chá (Guang.: cha; · or: tea) and cate (Guang.: kati [pinyin: jin]; · or: catty).

Macao was also the springboard from which the Portuguese spread Christianity into China, and was the base camp of Portuguese Christianity in Asia as a whole. At the time, Portugal had the sanction of the Pope to propagate the Christian cause in the countries lining the sea route to Asia. In the countries and regions they occupied, Macao included, they established a number of religious colleges. The thirty or so colleges with religious foundations which are found dotted around Macao today are mostly a direct result of this period of influence, though naturally this is no indication of the number of Christian believers there were in Macao. In fact, the number of Chinese Christians in Macao was limited. The Chinese population of Macao could be divided into Confucianists, Daoists and Buddhists, and all the temples were dedicated either individually or collectively to these three religions. People worshipped the Chinese sea goddess Tianhou· and the Guanyin· Boddhisattva, going to the temple to pay their respects to the Buddha in the traditional way. Seen purely from a religious perspective, this may seem to indicate considerable religious freedom and diversity. In fact, although each year is marked by many Christian and religious festivals, they are richly saturated with an atmosphere of traditional China. Even today there are festivals to celebrate ghosts and the birth of spirits. Local culture is deeply ingrained on the Macanese peninsula: with solid foundations which several hundred years of assault by Western culture were unable to rattle.

The guiding philosophy by which people live is Confucian doctrine. Macanese people are particularly respectful of the Confucian principle of ren (compassion).

Macanese people aim to practise ren'ai· (compassionate kindness) and zhongshu· (sincere forgiveness). They place an emphasis on human sensibilities, upholding straightforward honesty and sincerity. Some scholars consider Portuguese and Macanese people to be alike in this respect. In his work Portuguese and Chinese People, · Pan Riming· analyses Chinese and Western people in a psychological perspective, concluding that Portuguese people are relatively disinclined to metaphysics, being more disposed to emotional and lyrical expression, which is what draws them closer to Chinese people. Other similarities between Chinese and Portuguese people include a love of the natural world, a fondness for the past, idealisation of the country idyll, an indifferent attitude towards politics, an attitude towards social behaviour conditioned by inadequate legal safeguards and selfishness on the part of those in authority and the relentless pursuit of moral self-improvement. Pan Riming stresses that in terms of natural human instincts, there is no difference between Chinese people and Portuguese people. However, scholarly discussions of the Portuguese have often overlooked the differences between the Portuguese of continental Portugal and the Portuguese of Macao.

The Portuguese population of Macao comprises a number of people born in Macao and brought up locally, including people of mixed Chinese and Portuguese ethnic origin. This group is viewed in contrasting ways. They have low social status in the eyes of the continental Portuguese, while in Macao they enjoy privileged social status as the offspring of the ruling colonialists and live a carefree life immune to censure, often gaining access to elevated positions and high salaries in the Government despite ignorance and incompetence. They are prone to act outrageously, impervious to public opinion, and tend to wield their power heavy-handedly but with absolute impunity. Contradictory tendencies to be self-deprecating but arrogant compete within them, which dilemma has meant that this group of Macanese Portuguese approach life with a philosophy not entirely compatible with that of the Portuguese of continental Portugal. What emerges in Macanese Portuguese people is a culture without roots. Influenced by the way of life in Macao, and fully integrated into local society, they have undoubtedly assimilated to some degree into Chinese culture. Yet they are largely excluded from the wider Chinese world. The nature of the relationship between colonialist and colony in this instance renders Portuguese culture helpless even to influence, let alone dominate the culture of Macanese society.

Although Portuguese people are conservative by nature, in Portugal's history of foreign aggression, political or religious need often meant that the colonial rulers often acted the role of liberators in countries which oppressed women. For instance, in the period when India was under Portuguese power, Portugal promoted the spread of Christianity by providing legal protection which specifically targeted the inferior status of women in India at that time and safeguarded women's rights. The hand they had in improving the status of women in colonial territories, albeit with the ulterior motive of satisfying the demands of maintaining control can be considered a kind of compensation for their aggression. As the area of Chinese territory which was first to be forced open by colonialists, Macao was in fact influenced by various forms of Western ideology. In 1903 the educator Chen Zibao· took the lead in opening a college in Macao which accepted both male and female students. This move preceded by nineteen years the promulgation in mainland China of the New Educational System Decree· which extended the right to education to both sexes alike.

It is not the case, then, that Macanese women were the victims of the worst oppression in women's history. They were emancipated earlier than women in mainland China, and benefited directly from progressive Western ideas. In the Snow Society, · a poetry group established at the beginning of the twentieth century, the male members congratulated two women members for cutting their hair to demonstrate the innovative style of their poetry. Liang Yanming, · the leader of the Society, wrote in a poem called On the intention of the beautiful women at Jiahuan Temple to change their clothes: · "They have Western hairstyles, the men stare at them again and again. You laugh at the boorishness of it." Clearly, this enlightened thinking on the part of the female population of Macao was considered extreme for the beginning of the twentieth century.

Despite the relatively early provision of education for women in Macao, its effects were not widespread. Access to education was still available only to ladies from affluent households. Later on, in the 1930s and 1940s, children from some ordinary families were able to attend schools, but these were for the main part women's colleges with religious foundations; co-educational schools were still few and far between. At this time, the effective status of women in Macao was still low. Women were prevented from going out to work. For instance, the two women members of the Snow Society mentioned before, were both engaged in the teaching profession. Writing and publishing were considered professions in those days. It was more common for women to stay at home and observe sancong side, · (the 'three obediences') of a woman to her father before marrying, to her husband while married and to her son after her husband's death, and side· (the 'four virtues') of morality, proper speech, modesty and diligence. These were the traditional responsibilities Chinese women had to fulfil. Only a small number of educated women could ever show an interest in social affairs or participate in social activities.

Only by the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s did the involvement of women in the social community become at all widespread. In the 1980s, when the Macanese economy really began to soar and the society's industrial structure began gradually to mature, a number of women were active in the workings of social organisations. Consequently, the part women played in society grew more dynamic, and the quality of women's lives increased. Macanese authors and readers had previously been ambivalent towards the value of art in the form of literature, literature not been prominent as a means of artistic expression. So at a time when women were not involved in the workings of society, women's literature had no way of developing, let alone of being meaningful. Nor would one or two women writers alone have been powerful enough to set the wheels of any such development in motion. The only possibility was for spiritual liberation to spread in proportion with material liberation: only then could the incentive for women to write creatively become real. At the same time newspapers and magazines began to diversify. Since the demand for written works for publication had greatly increased, women writers in Macao had an opportunity to break up the virtual monopoly which male writers held in the cultural market place.



The historical background of Macao is socially complex, threaded through with a crisscrossing combination of Chinese and Western cultures. Yet Macanese culture has maintained consistently close links with mainland China, remaining under the influence of the traditional Confucian culture. It is especially true to say that in the twentieth century the pattern of change in Macao has followed that of the mainland. The May Fourth Movement, the War of Resistance against Japan, · the birth of the New China, · the ten years of the Cultural Revolution· and the Open Door policy· of the end of the 1970s all had an effect on Macanese culture. Considering the ideological content of creative writing, it can be said that modem literature in Macao went through the following basic stages: although the May Fourth Movement had some effect on modern literature, poetry continued to be chiefly classical in form. As part of a new trend in art which began during the War of Resistance against Japan period, writers began to experiment with the vernacular baihua· language. From the 1950s until the 1970s, writing was modelled on the 'leftist' literature of the mainland, while the 1980s saw the rise of modern literature, in which 'a hundred flowers blossom'· to this day.

The tiny territory of Macao has been a haven for those seeking refuge from mainland China since the end of the Ming dynasty. At that time, a Buddhist monk and man of letters called Dashan, · who also an ideological opponent of Manchurian Qing rule, came to Macao to take part in the resistance movement against the oppression of Han dissidents. When the anti-Qing Xinhai revolution· failed in the early years of the twentieth century, Sun Zhongshan· used Macao as a base from which to orchestrate his opposition to Yuan Shikai. · During the tangled warfare between warlords at the beginning of the Republican era, the number of refugees coming to Macao increased. During the War of Resistance against the Japanese in the 1930s a number of progressive writers such as Mao Dun, · Zhang Tianyi, · Xia Yan, · Duanmu Hongliang, · Du Ai, · Qin Mu, · Zi Feng, · Yu Feng· and Hua Jia· all either passed through Macao or resided there briefly. All of these had the definite effect of promoting the pursuits of people in the cultural and educational establishment. After Liberation in the mainland, a number of progressive individuals organised the Patriotic Awakening Movement, · calling for openness and democracy. The activities of this movement undoubtedly had a far-reaching effects on the subsequent development of Macao's literary life.

When the revolutionary movement in Portugal in 1976 was successful, the new administration promoted a policy of no longer pursuing colonial interests. This, combined with the constantly growing Chinese influence saw the political status of Chinese people in Macao improve. In the 1980s Chinese people gradually began to participate in the government and administration of the territory of Macao. At the end of the 1970s Macao began to develop quickly in keeping with the mainland's Open Door economic policy. The arts and literature also flourished accordingly. At the 1984 meeting of the Hong Kong and Macao Writers' Forum, · Han Mu, a writer native to both Hong Kong and Macao brought up the question of "[...] how to establish the exact form of Macanese literature." This prompted writers in Macao to pool their common impetus to promote the development of literary creativity. Thus blossomed the spring of Macanese literature. A forum to bring writers together was created with the founding of the Macao Writers' Group· in 1987. This group actively encouraged local literary activities. In addition, the May Poetry Society· was established in 1989.

At the Macao Literary Forum, · organised by the Chinese Society· of the University of Macau· (formerly University of East Asia·) and with the support of people from the "Macao Daily",· local Macanese literature in the form of new poetry, novels, essays and plays was discussed independently for the very first time, and the collected proceedings were published in 1988 by the Macao Cultural Society· and the "Macao Daily" as Collected Essays on Macanese Literature. This was the first publication of essays on Macanese literature. In 1983 the "Macao Daily" started a weekly edition entitled "Jinghai",· the first ever weekly literary supplement in the history of Macao. Later, towards the end of 1989, the periodical "Macao Writings"· emerged as the only literary magazine (published biannually) solely in Chinese.

Macanese literature thrived throughout the 1980s, and in the middle of this decade a rich literary harvest was reaped: novels, essays and poems were published and the corpus of Macanese works swelled.


The proliferation of 'women's writing in Macao' continued, spurred on by the development of the economy and undertakings in the cultural and educational fields in the 1980s. At the same time modern literature in mainland China was exerting considerable influence. By charting the course of the development of the new literature in Macao and the relative prominence of women's writing within it, it is possible to define three distinct historical periods in modern 'women's writing in Macao': early twentieth century, the late 1950s to early 1960s and the 1980s.


The May Fourth Movement had far reaching effects on cultural activities in Macao. The women's liberation movement which was being promoted at that time in mainland China was preceded by sixteen years by educator Chen Zibao's pioneering introduction of mixed sex schools and his drive to grant women and children in Macao access to education. The May Fourth Movement helped considerably in the struggle for the liberation of the individual among educated women.

Zhou Peixian· (known as Yuxue·) and Zhao Liancheng· (known as Bingxue·), two of the principal members of the Snow Society ['xue'· in both writers' assumed names means 'snow'] founded in Macao in the early twentieth century, may be considered the first generation of Macanese women writers of modern literature. Zhao Liancheng was a member of the Macao League· during the time of the Xinhai revolution. With Zhou Peixian, she strove for equality of the sexes and was especially courageous in practising exactly as she preached in her fight as a progressive woman against tradition. One of the founding members of the Snow Society, Liang Yanming, noted in a eulogy which appeared in the 1934 publication Sixth Edition.: "Bingxue and Yuxue cut their hair short in order to break with tradition and publicise the Snow Society's unanimous policy of celebrating by feasting on poetry and to strive for the universal acceptance of women." It is clear that Bingxue and Yuxue flew in the face of convention both with their progressive thinking and with their behaviour.

The Snow Society published several collections of poems and other writings. The monthly periodical "Voice of Poetry"· first appeared in 1916 and continued to appear regularly for several years, but was then forced by financial and other problems to become an occasional serial publication. The poem in the Sixth Edition mentioned above went to press in 1934, which was the last volume of poetry to be published by the Snow Society. This serves to demonstrate the enduring nature of the Society's creative work. The primary concern of the Snow Society was conventional, classical style poetry. Some of the poems lamented the events taking place in the mainland, such as Yu Xue's poignant words in her Two Poems from Taoyuan, · published in 1926 in the Snow Society's second collection of poetry. She writes with a sigh of"[...] looking out at the chaos." Even so, many other poems employed a lyrical style and continued to explore the traditionally effete nature themes of wind, flowers, snow and moon. Even if women were born into affluent families, their field of vision was limited. As a result, the 'women's writing' in the early twentieth century was still devoid of incisive social significance. The activities of the Snow Society purportedly carried on into the 1930s and 1940s.


The second generation of 'Macanese women's writers' emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. Not great in number, most of them were from the ranks of the cultural and educational establishment. Liu Qinghua, · general editor of the publications "Macao Student"· and "Joint Education Bulletin"· and Liu Xianbing· (pseudonym Bao Qing·), a teacher, were both examples of professional women who were able to scrutinise the society they lived in because of their family background. Liu Qinghua's work was mainly concerned with educating young people. These are the sources of most of the subject matter of her essays and novels. Liu Xianbing, however, wrote a number of romantic novels. In contrast to the first generation women writers, the content of their work remained largely in keeping with the norms of their era, and their gaze moved beyond the confines of the natural world. Even so, their output as a whole cannot be said to have had any major influence on the development of Macanese literature. Since work of these women has not been published as a collection and exists in no edited edition and for a number of subjective and objective reasons, this essay does not intend to undertake a detailed critique or analysis of their work.


In the 1980s a sizeable group of some tens of women writers came onto the scene. Even though the first and second generations of women writers in Macao had lacked real distinction and maturity of creative consciousness, and their subject material and technical skill had seemed somewhat naive, the entire body of their work amounts only to a small number of pieces and was never the focus of any significant discussion. On the other hand, the group of 1980s writers organised themselves into groups and their writing played a leading role in the development of Macanese literature. One such group had already started producing creative work in the 1970s, and the craftsmanship of the artists who were its members had already matured by the beginning of the 1980s. Their writing was imbued with a distinctively female consciousness in the form of female self-awareness of the value of women. It explored the status and value of women in the home and in personal relationships. It cannot be denied that the awareness of these women was still rooted in a relatively narrow and self-referential sphere; their focus on and involvement with the outside world was not nearly deep enough.


Given, then, that women were not writing in baihua colloquial Chinese at the beginning of the twentieth century and that the work of women writers in the 1950s and 1960s had no obvious characteristics, it was not until the 1980s that the first circle of women writers formed in Macao, producing novels and other writings which became more and more distinctive and influential. For this reason, the present discussion of the characteristics of 'women's writing in Macao' concentrates largely on the literature of the 1980s.

Looking at all Macao's women writers together, both older and younger, one contrast is striking. The older writers mostly had the opportunity to be educated only to secondary school level, while the latter typically had higher education. They are all employed in various cultural institutions and work as writers only in an amateur capacity. They include: Lin Hui, · Lin Zhongying, · Shen Shangqing, · Yu Wen, Ling Chufeng, · Si Juan, · Yi Ling, Sha Meng, · Ding Lu· and Meng Zi. ·

The 'women's writing' of the May Fourth Movement concentrated on women's yearning for liberation and emancipation, while 'Macanese women's writing' centred more on the demands of women to effect some sort of emotional communication. The emotions in the body of literature these women have created demonstrate the writers' skill in expressing their own emotions, a skill which stems from their need to convey something of themselves. Their writing resonates with the emotions of the readers. One of the intrinsic pursuits in the portrayal of emotions and thinking is to enable the reader to derive spiritual consolation and a feeling of self-worth from literature.


We will limit our survey to three writers: Lin Hui, Lin Zhongying, and Shen Shangqing. These three will not be unfamiliar to frequent readers of the newspaper columns in Macao. Readers know them from the weekly "Lovers of Literature"· column, which has been running since 1987. Their informative writing style and their insightful observations on life experience endear them especially to their readers.

4.1.1. Lin Hui (born in 1939, other pseudonym Ling Ling, · original name Li Yanfang·) started writing in the 1960s and is now a groundbreaking figure amongst the older generation of Macanese literati. In 1963 she published, with a group of young people, an arts journal called "Love Pea",· produced as a mimeograph at the compilers' own expense. It lasted over a year and marked Lin Hui's début in the literary world. In the 1970s she moved from education into journalism and worked as a reporter, one of the first women reporters in Macao. She began to come into contact with all strata of society and all manner of social issues, so her writing came to be primarily concerned with the immediate interests of the lower classes. Works that can be singled out from this time are two columns Casual Writings of a Reporter· (written under the pseudonym Shi Ling·) and Something Worth Talking About· (written under the pseudonym Si Ren·), which described and discussed life in contemporary society and social problems, including numerous portrayals of hardship and oppression amongst the grass roots classes. These were mostly given in novella form, but her artistic skill had yet to become truly refined and her method of representation seemed drab. The anecdotal subject matter which forms the framework of the story also seems monotonous.

However, in the 1980s Lin Hui's writings underwent a drastic change. She moved away from the focus on topics to do with society and daily life and reverted, as it were, to pondering her inner self, which is a primary characteristic of 'women's writing'. The pieces in an anthology of prose writings Seven Stars and in a collection of her own prose A Passionate World· are all minutely detailed descriptions of the emotions of a first person narrator. They refer to social issues, cherish the natural world and depict the workings of relationships. The feelings in these pieces are involved yet sincere, and what emerges is an ideal female psychological existence. Even though Lin Hui's frame of reference had narrowed and underwent a shift from the outer world to concentrate on the expression of the internal being, Lin Hui's writings of the 1980s outshine her earlier writings by far.

4.1.2. In 1985 Lin Zhongying's(born in 1949, original name Tang Meixiao·) work was included in a book of literature for children called The Tree of Love, · which was followed by submissions to two collections of works for children: a book of stories published in 1987 called The Clouds and the Moon· and contributions to a book of prose called Seven Stars published in 1991. In 1994 she published her first book prose, called How Many Times Can Life Make You Laugh? · From the 1970s onwards, Lin Zhongying began to write several columns in newspapers. In the mid 1970s her Star Collection· of writings (written under the pseudonym Yu Wenling·) comprised short pieces of two to three hundred words each, about her reactions to various events and observations. These gave expression to a rounded female conscience and presented a sensitive appreciation of life, couched in clear language. However, her essays and informal pieces in other columns such as Ocean Views· and Waves of Feeling· were lacking in maturity and were insufficiently succinct, frequently offering only rather bland accounts of popular opinion. This is connected with the trend in 1970s Macao to imitate the characteristically left-wing literary style of the mainland.

It was not until the end of the 1970s that Lin Zhongying regained the female perspective on life that she had displayed in Star Collection and brought her female feelings to bear on life and society in Macao. She offered an individualised analysis and portrayal of her experience of being a woman. So the 1980s stories included in The Clouds and the Moon provided searching examinations of marriage, home life and adultery, her female consciousness spilling out in detailed, humorous and witty writing. The condition, essence and fortunes of female existence are all described in depth. In all her prose from the late 1980s, her rounded and intricate writingshowed her understanding of life and betrayed considerable human awareness. This was proof of the maturity of Lin Zhongying's creativity and of her personal integrity and established her as a remarkable prose writer.

4.1.3. Zhou Tong (born in 1949, other pseudonym Shen Shangqing, original name Chen Yanhua·) was writing creatively in the 1970s and produced ten serialised novels, which is the largest output of novels of any female writer from Macao. In 1989 she published a single edition romantic novel called Love in Error, · and has plans to publish other romances. She also produced prose writings under the pseudonym Shen Shangqing, some of which were included in the Seven Stars collection.

The two columns My Weekly Diary· and Diary of a Youngest Daughter, · which she wrote in the mid 1970s, are narrative prose sketches of life. Diary of a Youngest Daughter was subsequently developed further to form the plot for a novel and was established as the basis for the novels and novellas which the writer later concentrated on. For more than ten years Zhou Tong has been working in broadcasting and each day digests reports from all over the world, which has made her subject matter more diverse than other women writers. In her current affairs column Tales from a Western Window· (written under the pseudonym Shen Shi·) she provides a rich assortment of reports, encompassing life and society, economics, politics and religion in many different countries. Combining current affairs from different places with her own observational analysis, she packs her subjectivity into five hundred word nuggets of sensitive and rational critique. This work has been especially welcomed by the hurried readers of today's fast food society.

Zhou Tong's novels concentrate on romantic stories, the traditional subject matter of women writers. Half a Beautiful Woman· describes how a crippled young girl confronts the problems she faces in society and uses her own ability and loving character to win in love. Dazzling Love· tells of a stubborn young girl who has lost in love and becomes trapped by a married man. Once she wakes up to the reality of her situation she searches for sympathy. Innocent Love, · like Love in Error, describes how a loving wife confronts her hitherto faithful husband after a brief moment of unfaithfulness, and discusses the issues raised by the birth of a mixed-race child. In Evening Love, · two elderly lovers who are reunited after a disaster long for companionship in their evening years, but encounter obstacles imposed on them by their children. The odd twists in the plots of these romantic novels are adapted by Zhou Tong from real life. For example, the source material for the novel Half a Beautiful Woman mentioned above comes from the true story of a hunch-backed girl who died during an operation to correct the deformity. The author changed this into the story of a girl's struggle to confront life head-on and forge a better life for herself. This reflects the emotional world of this female writer, a female soul yearning for an ideal life.

Having had an introduction to the lives and a discussion of the works of these three writers who are representative of their generation of Macanese women writers, we will now examine the aspects of their work which characterise it as 'women's writing'.


The unique territory of Macao is filled with a sense of gentleness. Historically, the culture has inherited Confucian ideas of ren'ai· (compassion) and the spirit of kuanshu· (forgiveness), and a straightforward honesty and sincerity in people's dealings with one another has resulted. This atmosphere has filled creative literary works with a sense of tenderness. In the twentieth century women in Macao have enjoyed largely equal status to men in society, and have advanced in economic terms. The double significance of this status is becoming more and more clear. Firstly, women have genuine capitalist freedom and economic independence. Secondly, they adhere to the feudal Chinese domestic tradition which requires women to put home life first. They have to choose family above business when the two come into conflict. So while women in Macao already have the basic prerequisites for personal independence, namely economic self-reliance, it is still male values by which they judge themselves. These are the vestiges of women's traditional view of themselves and of society's evaluation of women: the domain of men is outside the home and that of women inside. The natural instincts of women are the key to the rights to freedom and equality and the general good-naturedness and sincerity of human society: women have a desire to see their home life develop smoothly. The average Macanese woman is apparently satisfied and contented by her lot in life. She does not need to concern herself with the changes in the outside world, and so the primary concerns of 'women's writing in Macao' are personal issues. Women write about marriage and the world within the home in a descriptive and moderate style, rather than adopting a fiercely exhortative tone in their work.

Lin Zhongying's collection of stories The Clouds and the Moon centres its discussion on the condition of female existence. The stories M and N, · Third Wedding Anniversary· and The Young Couple· are written with humour and liveliness. They describe a newly married couple's alternate moments of sweet conjugal bliss and raging argument in intriguing anecdotes, a married couple facing the fact that they have nothing to say to each other after three years of marriage, and the congenial and pleasurable life of a young couple. The story of M and N has a satirical flavour to it. The young couple use a calculator to plan their wedding because they have to work out exactly how much money they will need to borrow to stage an event with all the required trappings and exorbitant expense. Although they want to economise as far as possible, "[...] life without comfort would be as insipid as plain boiled water. They are determined not to spend a lot of money, and it's always possible to do things on the cheap." However, they make their calculations without considering how they are going to repay the money they borrow, so they buy entertainment equipment for their family, all of it top brand goods. In the end they decide to become members of the car-owning classes, so they practise strict budgeting and buy a new car, "[...] and if we do the child rearing a little earlier, we'll have to set aside money each month for the nanny and the milk powder." The hankering of this couple after physical comfort to the point of vanity is not set out explicitly in the language the author uses, nor does she make the slightest hint of criticism. She tells the story in a placid prosaic style full of realistic detail which is itself a manifestation of her gentle conscience, and this in turn reflects M and N's lifestyle. It is left to the reader to decide for him or herself whether this lifestyle is worthy of praise or censure, though in any case the issues are nothing momentous, and the author does not have to resort to frowning to make her point.

In the novel The Love Nightmare, · Lin Zhongying explores the psychology of an aging unmarried woman in a sociological and sexual perspective. She lets this 'individual' protagonist come into contact with 'normal' society, and juxtaposes the two as if unintentionally, with increased dramatic effect. This gentle creative consciousness is frequently seen in middle aged women writers.


During the natural course of her life, a woman passes through the psychological states of daughterhood, wifehood and motherhood. In portraying these traits, women writers of Macao have tended to single out one of these stages for particular emphasis. Given her speciality as a romantic novelist, Zhou Tong· goes in for idealistic descriptions of love. No doubt her view of love is part of the emotional repertoire of daughterhood. Lin Zhongying frequently discusses marriage, home life and the relationship between husband and wife in her novels, which clearly places her work firmly within the wifehood category. Lin Hui, on the other hand, fills her prose with innocent girlish emotion, but what emerges from this is in fact a powerful sense of the emotions of motherhood. Even though she merges portrayals of motherhood and of daughterhood, motherhood wins out in the end, and the image of motherhood in the work is more vivid than that of daughterhood.

In her prose collection A Passionate World, Lin Hui writes with tender romanticism and pure sincerity to give an impression of immature adolescent girl's writing. In The Flower Seller's Call and the Flowerseller, the very first thing she writes is: "In the dream, there was a sudden feeling of being lashed in the face by freezing rain, the faint sound of the wind and the rain in my ears. [Then:] My head on the pillow, I could hear the spring rain's pitter patter, the wind gently rattling the window." This led my thoughts to recall lines of poetry like "Listening all night in my room to the spring rain, then the early morning cry of the apricot blossom seller up the lane." In a few lines of poetry, quite ordinary lines can convey the sound of the flower seller and indeed the presence of the flower seller. Descriptions such as this with poetic wording are one of the hallmarks of young 'women's writing'. However, in the emotions of these young women there is often a strong sense of sincere maternal feeling. In Losing in Love, Taking the Veil· and Love, Happiness and Suffering, · for instance, the problems associated with losing in love are addressed. The joy of being loved and the greatness of giving love are depicted in simple sentences: "Love penetrates what is painful, even though the pain may be great, pain enough to end a person's life." What follows adopts an admonishing, maternal tone: "A heart which does not know how to love or which is reluctant to love is a heart incapable of regret. A heart like this has no place in the feeling world of human beings." It follows from this that those who lose in love should not go through life not allowing themselves to be loved and unwilling to give love themselves.

There can be no doubt that neither natural grace nor imagination are lacking in the pieces contained in A Passionate World, yet echoing the ideals of life and society is one of the characteristics of the work of Lin Hui. However, the sheer force of her maternal love frequently inundates the girlish imaginative style with sincerity, a point which will be discussed in detail later on.

Usually, daughterhood and motherhood are both essential components of what it means to be female, while wifehood is a product of standards which are prescribed by society and culture. Our impressions of wifehood are dependent on the writer's observations and are shaped by the personal experience which she brings to bear on the actual plight of the female characters in the writing. Maybe this is why works with main characters who are wives seem more able to make incisive comments than works with characters who are daughters or mothers. So in terms of ability to captivate and involve the reader, Lin Zhongying's work is superior to that of Lin Hui. Of course, besides revealing the difficulties in women's lives, another important aspect of women writers' work is to show the deeper side of female psychology, the most ideal realisation of which is frequently descriptive writing concerned with love, since from within this we can see the accumulated precipitation of female psychology in contemporary culture. The many romantic novels by Zhou Tong are an illustration of just this point. Her short ten-chapter novels contain main characters who are girls, wives and mothers, but none of them are able to escape the internal world of daughterhood which is the usual focus of romantic novels.

Obviously, the first stage of any woman's life is necessarily that of daughterhood. The role of wifehood comes afterwards, with motherhood last of all. This inevitable sequence seems to predict that the source of success for women writers' work lies in their having a solid grasp of these three stages of womanhood. A woman writer cannot restrict the scope of her vision to any single stage; she needs to understand the whole of womanhood. In almost every definable category of writing, whatever the choice of subject material, Macao's women writers seem to be deficient in precisely this way.


The unburdening of emotion and sentiment is one of the characteristics of 'women's writing'. During the process of creating art in the form of literature, the variety, strengths, weaknesses and expression of emotions are controlled and tempered by the thinking process; the direction the thought takes clearly depends in turn on the writer's own perception. Tracing literature back to its source in this way, we can see that the thinking process which leads to the creation of literature is intimately related to the substance, thinking and ideas which make up the writer's understanding. It is frequently the case in 'women's writing' that the description is centred on emotion. In fact, writing which is heavy on personal psychological emotional experience prevents the sphere of reference in the work from broadening and deepening.

The Seven Stars collection contains those works by Shen Shangqing which are the most thoughtful and the most compelling. She likes to apply a rational style of thought to issues in daily life or society, even international affairs, but this style in no way lacks penetrating insight. However, in comparison with 'women's writing' from the Chinese mainland, the output of Macao's women writers was on the whole the earlier in terms of literary history to show demonstrably similar characteristics in its portrayals of family life and love. Women writers in Macao were restricted by the world in which their own lives took place and their sexual solidarity was celebrated with a widespread outpouring of powerful female emotion. Apart from this, since they had been influenced early on by writers from the mainland, women writers in Macao also found suitable means of expressing female emotion and developed linguistic forms to describe their psychological experience. The writing tended to contain less objective description and be more subjective and lyrical, allowing their feelings to infuse the work with chatty narrative. While their writing is characteristically imbued with the aesthetic beauty associated with inherent gentleness, it lacks the expression of passionate and rebellious spirit and the poetic ambience which can comfort the soul of the reader. The work of Lin Hui and Lin Zhongying is full of instances of this. The fundamental nature of their emotions and the style of their expression were determined by their social environment and experience. This is why there seems to be uniformity in the writing of Macao's women writers: this is an issue which has yet to be formally addressed or evaluated. In contrast, because it has undergone extreme social change and political disturbance, 'women's writing' from the mainland is more able to reflect vivid reality, to show love to be the central pursuit in life, and to depict love and family life in juxtaposition with the tides of social change. In this way, the literature has both the characteristic hallmarks of women's feelings and thoughts and yet at the same time reflects significant contemporary history, defining it as a genre of 'women's writing' with somewhat deeper connotations.

'Women's writing in Macao' seems impoverished in terms of psychological thinking, due perhaps to a lack of social awareness. Macao's women writers are unable to perceive the deeper significance of their lives in society, or if they do, they cannot go on to extract and extrapolate from their perceptions, more often going no further than straightforward statements of emotions and thoughts. This is why one of the principal characteristics of the writing of Macao's senior generation of women authors is the touching use of emotion.


The group of more senior women writers in Macao operate according to a relatively traditional set of ideas about women. They focus on women's personal problems. The unequal status of women in Macanese society and nature of their motivation to produce writing are two factors which have determined that the subject matter of these writers' work be confined to love, marriage and family life, including the conflict between work and the family and problems in intra-marital relationships. Although they may have an awareness of some social issues and transform these into writing fodder, they still lack the authority to gain a firm hold and a broad field of vision on the general spontaneity and unpredictability of real society. The development of the global society and the acceleration of the global economy in the late 1980s has meant that the social environment in which they find themselves has undergone great changes, causing them gradually to emerge from their closed-off inner selves and acquire an awareness of the outside world.

Because of the way society has opened up, there is a strong sense of individualism in the eyes of the younger generation. Besides addressing the traditional topics of love and marriage, they have also showed an interest in examining the values of female existence with a view to smashing open the prison of the inner self. But their overall agenda is similar to the older generation of writers: to develop the artistic world for the benefit of the outside world.


When she was a high school student, Si Juan (born in 1966, original name Huang Shuyuan·) constantly submitted articles to the China Youth· section of the "Overseas Chinese Journal".· Although they were only of school composition quality, she wrote clearly and pleasantly, showing early maturity of thought. A number of them were excellent and occasionally they were of literary quality, such as The Scavenger, · The Beggar· and You, · all of which appeared in 1984. The subject matter of these pieces shows her concern for the social problem of scavengers and beggars, and as such the stories are deeply thought-provoking. When she was in the fourth year of high school, she was already writing a column for the "Overseas Chinese Journal" called First Tunes on the Heartstrings· (written under the pseudonym Hong Zhua·). She kept this up for two years from 1984-1986, writing two pieces five or six hundred words long twice a week. She wrote about life and living, always with perception. In 1987 she wrote another column for the same paper called Three Leaves Green. · By now her work already showed signs of sturdy self-sufficiency as a writer in her era.

Si Juan took part several times in local literary contests, which she invariably won. Among her achievements were winning the novel and prose categories of the Youth Literature Prize· and the novel category of the Poetry, Prose and Novel Creative Writing Prize· organised by the Leal Senado (Municipality) of Macao. The novel The Shadow· which won her this prize was published in mainland China. The novel narrates in detail some ten years in the lives of two older women who came from the mainland to live in Macao and how they both preserve the same 'shadow' in their hearts: Zhong Huai's father, a little-known pianist, was hounded to death in the Cultural Revolution, and so her mother forced her to learn the piano for more than a decade in the hope that she might follow in her father's footsteps and finish the undertaking he began. Because Zhong Huai's Aunt Chen had always been secretly in love with Zhong Huai's father, a fact of which Zhong Huai's mother is aware, she supports this plan. However, Zhong Huai cannot bear to live in the shadow of her father and so there is friction between her and her mother. In Zhong Huai's opinion, she is "[...] in a different world from them, [...]" the older generation. She is not content to devote her whole life to a shadow, because "[...] in today's world, you live for yourself." This "living for yourself" is invariably the goal for modem Macanese youth in their search for an identity and their pursuit of self-affirmation. At the same time, the author has also woven into the plot the two women's dispute over national identity and patriotism. The story concludes with the line: "Does the love pea flower not also resemble this setting sun, so red that blood might come trickling out?" This gives an impression of the different aspirations of the two generations of characters.

In this story, Si Juan has portrayed a daughter who is with an independent critical mind. The self-sacrificing mother and Aunty Chen, however, are figures in a world, now changing, which had hitherto been inhibited by mothers. The author shows a longing in her work to allow the natural instincts of women to develop normally and healthily. For this reason the two generations end up reaching mutual understanding: "The faces of the three women in the room shone with radiant brightness." Hope of this kind is cast in the same mould as the shining lives celebrated in Lin Hui's work and the hopeful lives sought after in Zhou Tong's work. But Si Juan expresses the attitudes of modern women in the 1990s and her variety hope has more currency, setting it quite apart from the idealism of the older generation of writers.

Although Si Juan has a new kind of female awareness, her creative technique follows largely in the same vein as the realistic style of the older generation. However, among the younger generation of women writers there are exponents of a new technique: they are Yi Ling and Sha Meng.


In the Seven Stars collection, work by Yi Ling (born in 1965, original name Zheng Miaoshan·) and Sha Meng (born in 1967, original name Wei Lingxin·) focuses on the use of symbolism with modern imagery. These two women are an emerging force in 'Macanese womens' writing'. Yi Ling's search for a modern style of expression is especially noticeable in her poetry, of which a collection was published in 1989, entitled Flowing Island. · Her youthfully modern consciousness also shows up in her shorter pieces. Her prose piece Love for Writing and Suicidal Conscience· deals with the origins of her love for writing. It is beautifully composed in ci-poem form, but this is set against ideas about suicide: "When this feeling of living drunk and dreaming death began, I fell in love with all things magical, including poetry. Specifically, with the kind of poetry which has suicidal overtones." At the end of the piece there is mention of a satirical poem, about the feeling of being "[...] lacking in athletic spirit [...]" which the poet had while going upstairs in a lift. She seemed to have abandoned life's race to win, and this is why Yi Ling thought that "[...] feelings of death often flood the hearts of city dwellers: this is a sign of failure." However, at the last moment she feels that "[...] a person who actually has the courage to die cannot have an imagination as dead as this. So I know I can not just do away with myself casually. The road ahead is still waiting there for me to go right to the end of it!" In the end, she adopts a respectful attitude in her musings and stimulates her mind with carefully thinking. In fact, she does not have the courage to die and cannot confront the real stimulus: the terror of death.

While it can be said that the state of mind and the general uneasiness of young people today are what stand out in Yi Ling's prose, but that her technical skill is generally no more advanced than traditional realism, Sha Meng, on the other hand, expresses modern thinking entirely with modern techniques. Her prose is written in the style of an experimental novel. The modern thinking which Sha Meng represents feels stifling and unreal, a somewhat self-contained and detached mode of thinking, living life with a long sigh. This is one of the symptoms of the soul's suffering in modern society; it also shows affection for the fragile-spirited in society. Sha Meng intentionally adopts an abstracted, modern tone to echo the empty souls of the spiritual world of modern people. This gives a real feeling of gloom and depression, which is why her literature is effective.

The Woman Has Died· is a successful piece which describes the feeling of numbness which is the modern generation's reaction to society, its surroundings, its neighbours and itself. This numbness amounts to spiritual death. The depression and indifference are felt in the writing. The mechanical way in which the first person narrator gets up, showers and then tried to wake his wife, who cannot be stirred: "I felt for her woman's hand, and found it quite cold. I lifted her eyelids, and she was dead [...] It felt rather exciting to arrange the dead woman's hair, do her make-up and put the covers over her. I left her dead body in the bedroom and went to work. It is truly chilling that indifference between husband and wife can go this far. But the women's sister pressed her eyelids down firmly and a single teardrop trickled out. She caught the raindrop carefully in a small bottle, which she put in her pocket." Not only do modern people have no real feelings, but even their false emotions are miserly. At the end of the story, the first person narrator ends up in court, accused of killing his wife.. But he cannot remember if it was he who killed her, or if she was already dead when he found her. When the murder charge is brought, he is detained for two days and says that it "[...] made [him] very happy, very happy indeed to walk into the cell. It was a beautiful day, [he] thought." The reason for his happiness was that for two days he would not have to go through the motions of his mechanical, uninteresting life; he would not have to go through monotonous trek from home to the office and back home. In fact, surely it was of little consequence to him whether or not his wife was dead?

Sha Meng's contributions to the Seven Stars collection are mostly in this kind of modern prosaic genre; they do not describe the indifference of the inner soul, but write about the people's dithering and daydreaming. There are one or two occasional pieces which satirise political affairs, but even these are stylistically rather abstract, and they contribute an element which contrasts with the imagery and symbolism. In a style similar to the pretty, graceful writing of the older generation, Sha Meng's essays tend to obscure the gloom. However, the way in which 'women's writing in Macao' has traditionally concentrated on realism, Yi Ling's and Sha Meng's writing plays a significantly innovative and creative role.


Despite the obvious differences between the two generations of women writers in Macao, there are areas of similarity: they all promote women's need for self-improvement and self-reliance. This emerging awareness is not something which only the older generation of women writers can comprehend; it is one of the life principles which the younger generation adhere to. In The Story of Miss Aling, · Yi Ling shows her support for female self-improvement. Aling has a very stubborn father, who does not support her in her academic pursuits, since the improvement in social attitudes towards women in the 1980s was only to the extent that such that "[...] it is a virtue for a woman to be talented, but for a woman to be brilliant is regrettable." Because modern woman in the 1980s was not allowed to exist wholly and completely alone, she had to be prepared to cooperate with men in order to support and feed a family. But this point can only be taken so far: 1980s woman had the real concern she would be unable to find a husband. It was, after all, still the traditional concepts which were controlling the conscience of the population at large: women were prevented from being more capable than men, since this would be damaging to men's self-confidence. However, in the story, Aling suffers stoically and finishes her studies at university. She then goes on to study abroad and turns out to be a success story. In the author's opinion: "To struggle for your own future is an honourable pursuit, but you should not seal yourself off. In order to see greater things far in the distance, you have first of all to jump clear of the hindrances of home life."

In Fifteen Years Old· by Shen Shangqing, a girl decides of her own accord to go overseas to study: "Because I cannot foretell the future, rigorous study, independent thought and training with self-discipline are all the more important. A lot of thinking and reading, the accumulation of as much life experience as possible and the ability to draw on a variety of comparisons are what is required to acquire a set of values and to develop a view of the world." Naturally, a mother is bound to hope that her daughter will improve herself and lead a self-sufficient life without having to be dependent on a man or to become simply one of a man's many possessions.

In the eight women writers' contributions which make up the Seven Stars collection, Lin Hui's A Passionate World and Lin Zhongying's How Many Times Can Life Make You Laugh? and even in Zhou Tong's romantic novels, there is a widespread approval of the extent to which women have improved their lot. In her Series of Writings on Men and Women, · Meng Zi also stresses the importance of women's self-improvement and self-possession. She offers the opinion that it would be an undeniable social tragedy for modern women to continue to depend on men to live.


In the course of the development of 'women's writing in Macao', women have not viewed their own upbringing as having been entirely closed-off from the outside world. They have been consistently influenced by neighbouring areas, namely the literary traditions of mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. 'Women's writing' in these areas is discernibly different, but there are some areas of common ground. They have all played a role in shaping 'women's writing in Macao' at various stages in history. What follows is a comparison to highlight the differences between the 'women's writing' in these three regions. The influence on 'women's writing in Macao' is discussed is discussed in the course of setting up this comparison.


Literature in Macao has developed along similar lines to literature in mainland China, from which it follows that 'women's writing' should also bear the hallmarks of this similarity. The essay The Development of Women's Writing in Macao has already mentioned the influence of the May Fourth Movement on Macanese culture, the historical significance of the visits to Macao of progressive writers who travelled south during the period of the War of Resistance against Japan and the direct influence that writing in mainland China had on 'women's writing in Macao', which is largely attributable to the writing of Bing Xin and Ding Ling· during the 1960s and 1970s.

Lu Xun, the father of the modern era of Chinese literature, exerted the greatest influence of all on Macao's writers. The great majority of early writers read his works. However, Bing Xin's The Philosophy of Love and Ding Ling's character Sha Fei show an even greater similarity to Macanese women writers in terms of aesthetic appreciation and initiated their setting off down the literary road.

In The Philosophy of Love, as in all of Bing Xin's works, a universal cure is applied to save the self and the main character of the story. Bing Xin has her principle female character explore the world of female failure in her capacity as a loving mother, a loving friend and a lover of nature. The most important aspect of Bing Xin's love is that it comes from the heart. Every person's heart conceals love, craves love, but this is a love which can conceal or transform lives which have grown ugly, stifling, dull and desperate over the years. Bing Xin thinks that every person should release the love they hold back inside them, and the method and channel of release is the act of loving itself, in her words "[...] invoking love, fostering love and continuing love by means of love itself."

Clearly, the prevailing ambience which stands out in Bing Xin's work and her characteristic gentleness constitute a point of spiritual contact with other woman writers, all the more given their creative need for emotional unburdening and self-expression. In the process of conveying their intimate feelings, Macao's women writers have found a creative style which fits their own thinking and psychological experience. Of the women writers of Macao, Lin Hui has been most typically influenced by Bing Xin. Lin Hui's work has for a long time shown the emotional traits of being soaked through with constant stream of love and being fanned by the warm breeze of maternal and platonic love.

A total of fifty six works were assembled for the publication of A Passionate World at the end of 1991, the earliest being the column Both Sides of the North Window· she wrote for the "Overseas Chinese Journal" in the mid-1980s. The collection is divided into three sections: Nostalgia and Other Jottings, · Friendship· and People. · The Friendship section covers relationships with lovers, friends and relatives. In the words of Lin Hui, the emotions which exist within friendships and between relatives are of a powerful loving kind. Lin Hui's outlook on life is to embrace the people and things around you with a universal love.

A Passionate World contains several prose pieces of a lyrical nature and other writings which are richly steeped in emotion. Butterfly Dreams· was written in one sleepless night, and was inspired by a heartbreaking incident. At the crack of dawn, while watering the flowers, the writer saw a white butterfly come fluttering by, and wanted to ask it where it went to sleep at night-time, "[...] but was afraid in case the butterfly wanted to ask her the same question. How could she bear to let the butterfly, with all its fondness for flowers, see the sadness like withered flowers in her heart?" Even though the flowers in her heart had withered and fallen, she still picked them up and watered them, because she "[...] could cultivate colourful, fresh flowers on the balcony." She summoned up the confidence to scatter another handful of seeds in the flower garden of her heart. Butterfly Dreams recounts a dream about a butterfly which flies into a world of fresh flowers, the hope being that "[...] many more ordinary butterflies would come to join her because she didn't want to go among the flowers all alone."

Undoubtedly, Lin Hui is a firm believer in sowing the seeds of love in order to construct her love garden, in the hope that everyone should promote and foster love and bask in the warmth of a loving world. Bing Xin's philosophy of using love as means of engendering love is overtly manifest in the story Heart Island, Heart Bridge: · "The heart is an island. For one heart to contact another, it is necessary to construct a bridge [...]. When I look from my island over to yours in the distance, the other island is a beautiful paradise, a frozen snowcovered mountain. I know there is a core of fiercely burning lava raging beneath the ice, so I will build a bridge over to your island." As a result, this initiative to cast out love yields a reaction: "When I lay down the first foundation stone by the shore of my island, you can do the same by your shore." This is an inspiring lyric poem in prose.

Also worthy of mention is the series of nine pieces in A Passionate World grouped under the title People. Specifically, these are descriptions of hardship in the lives of mixed-race Sino-Portuguese women in 1960s Macao, and as such are full of local flavour. This is a topic which has since often been adopted by other writers. Lin Hui pours a sympathetic heart into these stories. In an Epilogue, she explains that her writing is about "[...] the events and feelings a married career-woman goes through in her home life and in society." In fact, Lin Hui's writing belongs to the larger corpus of emotional writing, since the exquisite sense of emotionality in her work is stronger than that of rationality. Even taking her prose writings into account, her speciality lies in the fact that her writing is full of hope that people's lives will be happy. It is typical for her writing to demand emotional intercommunication with the reader. The affection is pure and exaggerated, yet confined to a personal emotional sphere. Even though the writing engages the reader emotionally and captures the reader's affection, the emotion is always part of Lin Hui's own personal psychological experience.


In Ding Ling's The Diary of Madam Sha Fei, · Sha Fei is a significant figure who is knowledgeable about womanhood. She is representative of her era, but at the same time she is a literary character who has had a profound influence on 'women's writing in Macao.' Sha Fei is a manifestation of spiritual loss and hope for new life. Typical of her generation of women, Sha Fei seeks an independent personality despite having sunk to a desperate state. Her search is fascinating, and so is able to stimulate many other women whose emotional spirits are inhibited by conflicting moods. Sha Fei, a woman with self-awareness who is searching for the road to personal development, is undoubtedly a type with whom other women can identify. The literary character of Sha Fei has likewise offered encouragement to women in Macao. When the period of Revolutionary Literature ar rived, however, Ding Ling had no choice but to produce work such as Woman and the Revolution· and The Revolution Brings Love. · These works also had an influence on literature in Macao during the 1960s and 1970s.

The December Third incident which took place in Macao in 1966 saw the people of Macao come into direct conflict with their colonial rulers, and with the support of the Chinese Government they were successful. Consequently, relations between the Chinese population of Macao and mainland China reached a new level of cordiality. So, under the influence of the mainland as it underwent an upsurge of activity in the Cultural Revolution, the wind of leftist thinking suddenly blew through the small territory of Macao. The female conscience of Ding Ling's work, her reflection of women's awareness of themselves and the leadership she offered women in their search for independence on their own terms, as well as her promotion of women's participation in society and in the development of social institutions, all contributed to the far-reaching influence she had on 'women's writing in Macao' during the 1960s and 1970s. The way early Macanese culture had received the works of writers like Lu Xun, Mao Dun and Guo Moruo· are further factors which shaped the development of leftwing writing in Macao at that time. Even so, the writing of Macao during this period cannot be taken as especially representative or influential. With the benefit of hindsight and after the filtering effect of time, Ding Ling's character Sha Fei still dazzles. The painful suffering of women and their tentative, directionless search to develop a personal identity has been given a new lease of life at the hands of a new era of women writers.

The literary career of Lin Zhongying was influenced to an even greater extent by the work of Ding Ling and Bing Xin. The writer's own temperament and aesthetic judgement are inherited, if they can be traced in any way directly, from the Ding Ling's writing. At a time when the writer's thinking had not yet matured and when times were changing fast, it was hard to avoid allowing this influence to determine the outside format of her work, and so it became a straight imitation. Like the newspaper columns mentioned earlier, Ocean Views and Waves of Feeling, and other occasional writings, it lacked both technical skill and maturity. By the mid-1980s when she published the collection of stories The Clouds and the Moon, Lin Zhongying's work had ceased to resemble Ding Ling's work in form; what she borrowed from Ding Ling's world now was a sound understanding of female psychology and descriptive skill, as well as an awareness of womanhood which caused her to reassess her existence and her values. However, in contrast to Ding Ling's search for a solution to the problem of how women might be liberated on the inside and the outside, Lin Zhongying's attitude is by no means inflexible, so it can be said that she has exercised some choice in how she allows herself to be influenced by Ding Ling.

The 1985 novel The Clouds and the Moon consists for the most part of an unsuccessful love story, but it also touches upon the issue of adultery. A dysfunctional family, the feelings of an anxious man and a good-hearted woman are the core elements of the story. An insipid and featureless romance takes place between the male character Zhancai and the female teacher Yuemei. Their love for each other is healthy and natural, but when the female character, who has never been concerned with her family, becomes aware that she may lose financial security, she makes the first move. In Chinese society, no matter what the situation, third parties are always the first target of criticism and censure. If Zhancai and Yuemei were to become a couple, it is possible that they might become a happy family, but Yuemei has misgivings: "If I were not here and you got divorced, it would be your wife's fault. But now, if you divorce, people will say it is because of me." So, the character Yuemei is unable to fly in the face of tradition like the female characters fashioned by Ding Ling; she can only wallow in her own inhibition and has to endure the internal suffering and in the end leaves Zhancai of her own volition. Looking from a realistic perspective, this may be more pertinent to actual Macanese society than daring to go against common customs.

Of course, in the development of every writer's literary career, it is difficult during the maturing stage to avoid emulating a few well known writers during. Once Lin Zhongying had gone through a stage of imitating Ding Ling, she looked around for another model to emulate which better suited her judgement. The Clouds and the Moon is a product of her imitation of Zhang Ailing. In a section in which the characters' individual personalities and internal thinking are examined as the characters discuss literature and art, the reader is keenly aware of the fact that this scene is a model of something else. A similar feeling emanates from the way her symbolism resonates with the circumstances of the plot: "He lifted her head and looked out through the window at a bright moon shining at her. Thick wisps of cloud drifted slowly by and shielded the moon. A moment later, the clouds had gently floated away again, without even saying goodbye. Zhancai looked at the clouds and the moon and thought about Yuemei and himself." This passage has a strong flavour of Zhang Ailing about it, while the figure of Yuemei herself shows traces of Zhang Ailing's compromising femaleness. However, Zhang Ailing's portrayal of women is keen and incisive in comparison to Lin Zhongying's docile writing. Zhang Ailing wrote about women living in the enemy-occupied areas of Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s, while Lin Zhongying's women are set in a Portuguese colony of the 1970s and 1980s. The inner thoughts of women in these different historical backgrounds and their different sets of values are easily observed, and also serve as a pointer to the nature of Zhang Ailing's influence over Lin Zhongying. Yet the female world which Lin Zhongying creates is concerned with different issues from those addressed in the world which Zhang Ailing's women inhabit.

The women characters give a strong sense of being consciously aware of their fight for freedom, their resistance against society and of their independent personalities. They are placed without exception in situations where an individual or a society leads a life of struggle, and the literary effect is thunderous. The environment in which Macanese writers of the 1980s lived meant that they had no need for such struggle in their lives to fight for the liberation of women, even though they did examine the status and value of women in the contexts of family life, relationships and marriage. They have already established a set of docile standards and are incapable of provoking violent or tumultuous struggle. In precisely this way, Yuemei· in The Clouds and the Moon is independently disposed and has the right to love and marry freely but still yields to moral pressure. This is not to say that she is not a women with a liberated conscience; she has a full understanding of modem womanhood. Yet other than the pressure of social mores, her reasons for giving up Zhancai· stem from her self-imposed demands for a perfect marriage. This requirement alone constitutes one difference between women today and women in the past. However, it is only a personal problem of hers and does not lead, as was the case with Sha Fei, to the explosion of a bombshell.

Lin Zhongying displays a preference for lightness of tone in her descriptive writing about women. She portrays their joy and suffering, the choices they make and the battles they fight in their lives at home and at work, showing the pressures they are under and the prices they have to pay as women. It has been said that the most important aspect of the works Lin Zhongying produced in the 1980s when she was beginning to mature was their revelation of the emotional issues touched upon by the female world. One attested instance of this is the novel New Life, · which is included in the second 1990 issue of Macao Collected Writings. ·

The setting of the story of New Life is the March Twenty Ninth incident which was sparked off by the unregulated black market situation in Macao in 1990, in which citizens demonstrated against the Government, demanding a single identification document which official residents of Macao could use. During this incident, tens of thousands of unregistered citizens battled for a temporary residence certificate. In the story, Yincai· is one such person, who is in the end granted an opportunity to lead a new life as a fullyblown Macanese citizen. However, the writer adds an extra dimension to her 'new life': the quest to be rid of the sexual repression of the past. "Her body swelled in the dry heat, and she groped around frantically in the place that summoned her. It was a place which had never functioned effectively before." The maid Yincai releases the sexual desire which she can repress no longer during a power cut at her mistress's house one night. Completely naked, she holds a candle in her hand and goes to knock on the bedroom door of the master of the household [...]. This straightforward treatment of sexual subject matter is something which no writer from Macao, male or female, had attempted before. In the text, Lin Zhongying once again adopts a neutral attitude. She does not pass judgement on Yincai's thinking or behaviour; she addresses the issue of female sexual appetite in a normal, human perspective, and this is a sign of the modern nature and maturity of her awareness of the female sex.

Apart from her short stories and novel, Lin Zhongying's prose writings also include a number of pieces with a strongly feminist slant, and for this reason in Macao's literary circles she is considered a prose writer.

There is a keen sense of womanhood in Lin Zhongying's prose. Even though at times she chooses deliberately to write with a male tone, she cannot quite conceal the natural and unrestrained woman's touch in her style. This is because in her work she always, albeit unconsciously, expresses a female attitude and constructs a world which is entirely female in spirit. In the two pieces The 'Mask' of Woman· (1988) and Bigheads· (1990), the writer's female vision is clearly perceptible and is a sign of the maturity of her female consciousness. She takes the world in with an ingenious perspective. From the 'mask' of make-up which women put on their faces, which is on one level merely make-up, to women's creation of a news series to make the business side of society take them seriously: the values of the modern generation of women are implicit in this. The 'Mask' of Woman and Bigheads are both pertinent to the issue of women's cosmetic appearance, but there is also an original and innovative technical aspect to this: the author has made a thorough analysis of the concept and the essence of both stories and as a result has unmasked one feature of the state of modem woman's existence.

Lin Zhongying has attempted constantly to wriggle out of the category of 'feminist writer.' She has done her best to view the world in a genderless perspective, but her female conscience still shows through quite distinctly. This is perhaps evidence to support the suggestion that the style of woman writers always betrays their female gender. Only an outstanding woman writer is capable of being in control of these feelings and able to develop her self-awareness as a woman so that it becomes applicable in broader society at the same time as exploring the depths of the female psyche.


The older generation of women writers in Macao has, apart from the influence of modern writers from mainland China such as Bing Xin, Ding Ling and Zhang Ailing, always been primarily influenced by traditional Chinese literature. The emotional atmosphere in Lin Hui's and Lin Zhongying's works was only established once they had matured as writers. They create an unconventional and open-minded atmosphere which aims to fuse the rational with the aesthetic. This fusion is one of the characteristics of traditional Chinese prose writing: addressing human and social issues with powerful, rational perception at the same time as using aesthetic judgement to write beautiful language. Both of these can be found in Lin Hui's and Lin Zhongying's work. The rationality side of this equation is manifested in various ways, with the result that the eventual alloy of wisdom and beauty can lead to a variety of different styles of prose writing. Lin Hui and Lin Zhongying each use different methods to achive this fusion.

Lin Hui's prose writing has inherited some of the characteristics of traditional Chinese literature, which tended to be richly and profoundly insightful. The required style was one of drifting refinement. Because this prose was indissolubly linked to natural scenery, the writer often drew on his appreciation of the natural world and expressed his understanding of people and of life in terms of the physical landscape. Lin Hui's prose collection A Passionate World contains several pieces which show that she also adopts an attitude of sublime refinement towards people and life.

The story The Grove by the Beach· is a observation of life set in the mangroves growing wild in a park by the sea. The wild mangroves are bursting with life, and in a few growing seasons overrun the beach. The writer "[...] went silently to witness the power unleashed by the germination of a seed's." The thick, dense greenery attracts white cranes and flocks of birds in an enchanting scene of natural beauty. However, once the grove has engulfed the beach, it upsets the ecological balance of the place. The author's comment on this upset is that: "Events in life are not all inherently perfect in every aspect; the same is true of the changes in the natural world."

If The Grove by the Beach can be accused of lacking originality, then the feelings in Elegy· are an unequivocal testament to the writer's finely-tuned and refined understanding of human life. The "I" and "you" of the story yearn nostalgically for the lush green hills and valleys, the bright purples and reds. "You" wishes his body to be laid to rest there after death, in view of the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, hearing the changing tunes played by the winds, the song of the birds and the chirp of insects, the rushing waterfalls and gushing springs... However, "I" prefers a raging fire which will reduce the body's bones to ashes and smoke, because "I" does not see any reason why the body should clutter up any of the space in the green mountains. Lin Hui's opinion is that "[...] I am a transient visitor in this mortal world, and after I leave, there should be no trace left behind."

Although the romantic desire the 'you' character expresses does not preclude a love for the natural world, the "I" character's choice tallies more with a feeling of wanting to return to nature and resonates more with the placidity usually associated with Chinese culture. Elegy shows clearly that Lin Hui's understanding of her own existence is quite original. She combines the rationality of this understanding with the aesthetic sense which guides her choice of language. The words, syllables and contrasts in the language of Elegy are truly artistic.

Lin Zhongying's prose writing also shows signs of the pursuit of tranquillity found in Zhuangzi's· thinking. Examples of this include Silence, · My Thoughts are Empty· and A Bowl of Tea in Respectful Silence. ·

People who spend their lives in modern cities are further and further removed from the world of nature, seldom hearing the splashing of waterfalls and the trickling of streams. They may possibly also be strangers to the silent, comforting occupation of "[...] sitting alone deep in the bamboo grove, playing the qin and sighing." The most direct way for them to seek out nature and come into contact with the natural world is to get in a car and drive to a nature reserve where they can hear birdsong, smell flowers and see greenery. Of course, even when you are in the middle of the natural world, you will not necessarily feel that you are observing nature and may not have any understanding of the harmonious relationship humans have with nature. Therefore, Zhuangzi's search for a world of silence and tranquillity is even harder for modern people with their noisy lives to obtain. The pursuit of tranquillity requires a resourceful mind.

Lin Zhongying likes the silence of the night, and finds it helps her to shake off the stress and fatigue of the day, to escape the riddle of existence. Even more important is the chance it affords ones thoughts to struggle free of their bonds and restore a sense of priority concerning what is truly important and what is not, to let the dust-covered spirit pass through the filter of silence and become clean again. As she wrote in Silence: "Silence: stillness on the outside and movement within, this is the key to understanding life." Lin Zhongying derives her understanding of human life from a world of tranquillity and searches for herself amidst the chaos of society. In A Bowl of Tea in Respectful Silence, she once again looks to cleanse her spirit through the ritual of drinking tea.

However, looking at the entire corpus of Lin Zhongying's prose writing, the number of works which espouse the thinking of Zhuangzi is not large. In the context of the traditional combination of wisdom and beauty, Lin Zhongying's brand of wisdom is more usually the wisdom of Confucian thought. This entails direct interaction with the world to draw on the experience of life in society and to be inspired to show conscious concern for the affairs of human life. This is simple, unadorned philosophy.

In the collection How Many Times Can Life Make You Laugh?, there are a number of pieces which record the attitudes of women in the older generation towards life. New Middle Age, · The Famous Wife, · Unmotherly Mother, · The Age Secret· and How Many Times Can Life Make You Laugh? are all full of wisdom. The human philosophy is shown by language which is cleverly graceful and full of wit and humour. The message in these stories is this: as the wheels of modern life turn, so the older generation grows more and more uneasy under the heavy burden of life and mental pressure.

Lin Zhongying promotes herself and her generation as the "new middle age". Women members of the "new middle age" have to look after their households, tend to their parents and children while at the same time holding down careers, educating their children and keeping themselves educated, all of which are important responsibilities which cannot be shirked. The pressure of so many burdens means that women of this generation are bound to face the apparent contradiction of seeming to be 'unmotherly mothers', because mothers have changed to resemble fathers. They have to handle the family budget, take an interest in their children's homework and attend parents' meetings on top of going out to work, so that compared to women in households in former times, they have become more stern and worried like men. There is very little about this situation for them to laugh about; it is more a case of grinning and bearing it.

Whatever the reality of the situation, the burdens borne by modern working women cannot easily be removed, even if the author does paint a picture of a world of women who grumble and moan unnecessarily. These pieces do not quite reach the level of traditional rationality mentioned above. Lin Zhongying goes further than superficial description; she applies her female powers of observation to unearthing the human philosophy implicit in them. She writes that "[...] the women of the new middle age [...] are the most able to endure hardship of any people alive. The compensation lies in the fact that when they are exhausted, they can at least feel fully content. Nothing is more enjoyable than the feeling of satisfaction, and the new middle age understand this enjoyment better than anyone. "Even though the "new middle age" suffer, they are the class of women who contribute the most to society and to the home. Only if they are able to understand the satisfaction they gain despite their hardship and appreciate its full value can they sustain their dedication and derive from it the greatest enjoyment life has to offer.

What is it that Lin Zhongying has to say about the changes in their lives and mental states which have cost this generation of women their sense of humour? She is not concerned with the scarcity of laughter, since carefree youth cannot be retained any more than time can be stopped in its tracks, and the loss of the laughter of youth is tragic. On the contrary, what can usefully be deduced from this is how people should stage-manage their changing roles in society and grasp fully their own worth: "There are more people who could be laughing, and laughing wisely. The laughter itself if only superficial, but its significance endures, and that is the valuable thing." Her direct statements about her understanding of life and living are full of wisdom and good sense.

Lin Zhongying's wisdom is perceptible in her constant references to women's personal issues. However, flashes of wisdom enriched by piercing insight also show through when she responds to other social or current issues. Young people with abrasive personalities who are enraged by the way the world is, "[...] make their way in society fervently and thoughtfully, [...]" firm in their convictions. But in The Young Sons Swindle Old Age, · Lin Zhongying offers the opinion that "[...] too much idealism leads to a too high a degree of abstraction, whereby actually cutting the feet to fit the shoes can appear to provide practical help in getting things done and coping with real life." People with strong personal feelings will not usually have any truck with this outlook on life because they find it negative. In fact, Lin Zhongying was of course young herself once, and this is her summary of the experience she gleaned from her own passage through youth. She has come to know calmness of spirit and has learnt the effectiveness of avoiding extreme behaviour. Her use of the phrase "[...] cutting the feet to fit the shoes [...]" is certainly condemnatory, but Lin Zhongying does derive real philosophical sense from it.

Despite the philosophy in her writing, her tone is in no way dry and insipid as pure reasoning usually is. Her critical insight into life and living pours out from a graceful style of writing. She does not make exhaustive use of parallels and comparisons; her writing flows more naturally and freely. The stature of a work of literature is rated according to the quality of the writer's grasp of life. The characteristic blend of rationality and beauty in Lin Zhongying's writing prove that her grasp is of the finest quality is given by.


'Women's writing in Taiwan' can be divided by a watershed in the 1920s into an early and a modern period. The present discussion focusses largely on the modern period and makes little mention of the early period. 'Women's writing in Taiwan' became firmly established in the 1950s. Its development since then can be divided into the following four stages: first, a continuation of 'women's writing' such as it had been in mainland China; second, a period which was characterised by a half-and-half mix of reminiscent yearning for the homeland and adaptation to the new surroundings on the island of Taiwan; third, influences from the West and, fourth, the heights of the new feminism.


Broadly speaking, the thinking behind 'women's writing in Taiwan' between the 1950s and the 1970s was unable to shake off the influence of traditional culture. The same was true of 'women's writing in Macao' of the same period. The ways in which works of literature from both territories sang in praise of friendship and maternal love and yearned for the perfect family life were similar. They specialised describing motherhood and daughterhood.

Nie Hualing's· A Small White Flower· is about two high school friends who meet up after a separation of sixteen years. The exquisite description of the feelings resulting from this situation and these characters is of a type commonly found in the work of Macanese women's writers, such as Lin Hui's descriptions of sincere friendship and the intimacy of Lin Zhongying's writing. We can find common features in their prose and in their novels.

For many women writers who moved to Taiwan from the mainland in the 1950s, there was a feeling that they were only passing through. They were strangers in a new place and existed within their family worlds. This way of living has been described as a means of eliminating anxiety; the situation in Macao in the 1980s was similar. In the 1970s tens of thousands of people from the Chinese diaspora in South East Asia came to live in Macao, fleeing from political threat or harassment. They came in search of a stable living environment. In the mid-and late-1970s there was an even larger wave of immigration from mainland China. Both of these groups from outside participated to some extent in the cultural life of Macao and defined a group of non-native writers. Yu Wen (original name Wu Zhenni·) is one writer who attracted interest through the pithy poignancy of her prose and new poetry. An overseas Chinese returning from Indonesia, she settled first in mainland China and then moved to Macao. The feeling that she was a stranger in Macao and the sense of being a temporary visitor have for a long time been visible components in her work. In her contribution to the Seven Stars collection, entitled Farewell, · she writes about her own experience of the transition "[...] from the lush green of spring to the golden yellows of autumn [...]" during the thirty-six week period it took her to produce the final draft of a piece of writing. Even today, she still longs to give up writing temporarily, to "[...] take her books and head for autumn." As a result, she stopped writing numerous columns. She wrote: "The Seven Stars collection allows me to have reminiscences of life as a writer like those of a transient visitor." The writer clearly revels in her status as a transient visitor.

Yu Wen locks up her feelings of alienation in the world of poetry. Her work frequently constructs a personal atmosphere which beautifies human life. They show some of the elegant characteristics of Ming and Qing dynasty essays. Towards the ends of the Ming dynasty, essays were produced in a troubled political climate and an environment of philistine vulgarity. In an attempt to escape this social environment, some literary figures flaunted a leisurely and carefree attitude to their work as a means of registering their opposition. Yu Wen's own life story is more complicated than writers native to Macao. Once she had left the turbulent environment behind her, she looked forward to more peaceful days. This was what brought her to Macao as a stranger, just like the women writers in 1950s Macao had been. Her motivation to write was purely and simply a response to her personal need to air her feelings. She also chose the leisurely and carefree Ming essay style and constructed her own world of pure beauty, characterised by its secluded detachment.

The story In the Rain· in the Seven Stars collection is about a walk through a desolate park during the time of the spring rains. Yu Wen strolls among the white, purple and pink flowers. Despite the wind and the rain, because there are no other people and there is complete silence, "[...] sitting all alone in the rain on a green bench, [she feels] that the lonely park is serene and beautiful."

When Yu Wen remembers the old days, she does not, like many people who travel from abroad, feel homesickness, because her memories of what she has left behind are not happy ones. From a Northern Window· is about the view north from a window in a small town in mainland China. Her impression of the view from this window is of"[...] blood flowing from a wound inflicted with a brick, from a stabwound inflicted with a dagger. The blood-stained snow is bright red like the armbands people used to wear at one time." Wen Yu's unhappy memories stem from the dark shadow cast by the Cultural Revolution. Outside the window in this small town, the sound of the north wind mixes with northern songs. As a result, "From the northern window there is always a wintry feeling even on a sunny winter's day." This is why Yu Wen is drawn to look through the northern window. "The view is of a world full of people surviving in chaos."

Her choice of the leisurely and carefree Ming style is something Yu Wen has in common with women writers in Taiwan, but because of the difference between their personal experiences, namely that Yu Wen lived through the Cultural Revolution while the Taiwanese writers did not, the feelings involved in either party's writing about homesickness are also different. Yu Wen does not like to let her inner personality show. She writes about trees and flowers and the happy times in life, reeling in a deluding state of self-intoxication which more often than not leads to a situation which seems quite unreal. Yet her writing is refined and her stories poignant and there is no lack of creative style. She often uses qu· -verse form, in the style of official decrees. She has used this form to write about the working life of clerks in an office, but there are not necessarily many people who are able to read and understand it.


In the 1960s, the literary world of Taiwan was lashed by successive waves of Western literary influence, resulting in general Westernisation. The knock-on effects of this situation had an effect on the government, the economy and the society of Taiwan at the time. The Nationalist Government of the 1950s had been completely dependent on the United States. With this dependency came American involvement in politics, economy and military affairs, so it was natural also for Western culture to follow. As the 1960s approached, however, Taiwan's peasant economy evolved into an industrial economy, and the concomitant change in social attitudes meant the loss of a stable cultural equilibrium. At this time of unbalance, some of this equilibrium was temporarily restored by culture from abroad. The reflex of this influx in literature was a phenomenon which came to be known as the 'Western wind blowing in the East'. This became the principle writers needed to adhere to to write well. Westernisation took hold in the poetry and novels of the modern school of Taiwanese literature. Taiwanese women novelists from this period include Nie Hualing, Chen Ruoxi· and Ouyang Zi. · The Westernising influence on politics and economics and on society increased to the extent that literature was able only to copy Western modernism and embraced it without criticism. The substance of literature did not adapt to the foreign culture and guard itself against assimilation, so a new kind of literature was forged.

It was not until the 1980s that literature in Macao was hit by wave, albeit not immensely forceful, of Western literary modernism. It was quite different from the writing produced by Taiwanese women writers which bore the hallmarks of modernism. The primary industrial base of Macao in the 1940s and 1950s had been the manufacture of incense, tobacco, matches and fireworks. The industrial development of Macao was not sparked off until the political and economic environment of the world and of the territories surrounding Macao changed in the 1960s. This saw the dynamic development of casinos and lotteries and then a thriving tourism industry. The growth of the textile industry prompted a spate of factory construction in the 1970s, which was followed by the development of the construction and leather industries and other labour-intensive light industry. In the 1980s, the opening up of mainland China and the economic explosion in Hong Kong saw the Macanese economy switch over from light industry to a more business-orientated structure, which relied on the gambling and tourism industries. Meanwhile, at the end of the 1970s the Portuguese colonial Government made a conscious move to introduce Western culture, when modern Western arts swept into Macao along with economic development and social changes. This forced an openness in literature: some writers were dissatisfied with the traditional realism which had clogged up the literary world of Macao for a long time, and so made a conscious effort to introduce modern Western techniques, which are especially noticeable in the poetry of the time. The influence of Westernisation was strongest on a small group of young, innovative writers. They picked and chose from the modern Western techniques and the result was similar to what had happened in 'women's writing in Taiwan' in the 1960s. Some writers became wholly Westernised, and had praise for nothing but Western literature. But the evolution of Macanese society was in no way as extreme as Taiwan's leap from agriculture to industry had been: it was merely the development from light industry to a commercial economy and so did not threaten the cultural situation. The Westernisation of literature took place for artistic reasons, since these writers were consciously looking for a way in which to stimulate and nourish Macanese literature. Also, the degree of Westernisation could not be compared to the Taiwanese 'Western wind blowing in the East', because of the close ties between the literature of Macao and that of mainland China. The relationship which exists between mainland China and Macao, a peninsula joined to it by a narrow isthmus, is as if Macao were the mainland's child wrapped in swaddling bands, nourished by sucking milk through the link. For particular historical reasons, women writers in Macao have inherited the genes of mainland writers like Bing Xin and Ding Ling. Because of delicate political contradictions with mainland China, Taiwan can be seen as an orphan which was weaned early off the mainland literature which fed it. For these reasons, the entirely separate literary output of women writers from Macao and Taiwan has formed two distinct styles. Even their response to modern literary movements has remained distinctly separate.

Yi Ling and Sha Meng praise modernist literature highly because of the literary environment and external influences which shaped their writing. Yi Ling's poetry is often Westernised in form, and some of her critical essays show clearly discernible traces of modern Taiwanese literature. Sha Meng's Westernisation is betrayed more by her prose writing. A detailed analysis of an abstract piece entitled A Pile of Stuff, · which is included in the Seven Stars collection shows that the modern people in her writing are depressed by the lonely wretchedness of modern thinking and the distress it engenders.

Sha Meng pokes fun at herself, calling herself "[...] being devoid of form and conscience, forced into a hole so often that she has already become part of that hole, capable of nothing apart from nodding my head." This is a portrayal of a person who lives in a complex and exhausting modern society. She has not only lost her own individuality and form; her whole thinking has been reduced to a pile of junk. For all the airy expanse of the world, people are reduced to objects in one tiny corner of it, and to an existence with no meaning. But perhaps there "[...] could be one wretched sculptor [...] who would pick up this pile of trash and take it into a studio as art [...] and mould it into a piece of good sculpture." With this happy ending, the author is making a sarcastic dig at art, as seeming to poke fun at modern art in particular. This seems contradictory. The barb which smarts the most is her opinion that: "New works of sculpture can still end up back in that stifling corner, up against the wall. When they are piled on top of one another they begin to take on a different form." This reminds us of people's incurable frailty. No matter how hard they may try to improve matters and sculpt something remarkable, the end result is the no different from what was there at the beginning - an object devoid of form and conscience. Does this show that modern people are constantly looking to lose the self, and spend their time in society dead, alone and empty?

In A Pile of Stuff, Sha Meng employs an extremely abstract symbolic technique to create the impression of an emotional vacuum. She relies on the readers own imagination fill in what her implications leave out. The author's intention and her use of styles borrowed from elsewhere are comparable to the way modernist literature appeared in 'women's writing in Taiwan' in the 1960s. However, Sha Meng concentrates on portraying ideas which are thoroughly modern, more able to resonate with the era than the Taiwanese literature was, except that the effect of the writing still fails to reach a stage where it is untraceable. On the contrary, it leaves scars behind everywhere. Her technical skill is not quite natural; it remains somewhat formal. The creative forms being explored by young writers is proof that Macanese literature is already set to diversify as it develops. There is an active side to the conservatism of the modernist literature. If Macanese writers can only understand it fully and merge it with social reality, then Macanese literature will be a garden of many different flowers and plants, a scene bursting with beauty. The older generation of writers has also begun to try to combine realist and modernist literary techniques.


One notable Taiwanese writer of the 1960s who produced popular novels is Qiong Yao. · She had a marked influence on the output of women writers in Macao in the 1970s.

"Love" is the central theme Qiong Yao's work, but it is not the same as Bing Xin's "[...] philosophy of love [...]." Qiong Yao's "love" lays more emphasis on the emotional feelings of daughters and "love" they entail, while Bing Xin's "love" has wider-reaching connotations, encompassing strong maternal "love" and "love" of nature. She wants to see extensive and general "love" blossoming between all people and within all people and in this vein sets out to rescue the human spirit with her "love", to the extent that it becomes an instrument for social deliverance. Bing Xin's "love" is broad and has deep significance. Qiong Yao uses her powerful imagination and delicate emotions, as well as her solid grounding in classical verse and her naturally beautiful tone to make up a creative style which is moving and inspiring. Implicit within it is a will to "love" and make life more beautiful. The pure emotion which pervades Qiong Yao's work creates a world of incomparable beauty. The themes of "[...] love to the point of distraction [...]" and "[...] the beautification of life [...]" share some common ground with the sentiment of woman writers from Macao. Their motivation as writers was influenced imperceptibly by these works.

Zhou Tong was one Macanese writer who was particularly adept at producing romantic novels. She had contact early on with Guo Lianghui, · a writer from Taiwan who was producing popular novels slightly earlier than Qiong Yao, and was duly influenced by her. Guo Lianghui published several tens of novels and other prose. The Taibei citizens she created in her books are all figures from the world of corporate enterprise and are mostly over forty. Many of them are ruthless smugglers or fraudsters.

Guo Lianghui uses this tragic style to reveal the tribulations which women face in love, in marriage and in life. Although Zhou Tong admits that she has been influenced by Guo Lianghui's popular novels, she does not use the same style in her own novels. In fact, her work more closely resembles Qiong Yao's novels. She often portrays hope in human life in a way which is similar to the love and beautification propagated by Qiong Yao. Zhou Tong points out in an essay My History as a Novelist: · "I find that in every story I write, whether the scenes are halting or smooth-flowing, happy or sad, they can always be connected with the word 'hope'." In fact, Zhou Tong has drawn on the method of dissecting human life found in Guo Lianghui's work, especially in the portrayal of humanity. We can observe a rich display of humanity from Zhou Tong's work, but she prefers to preserve the happy side and tends to tone down the ugly side. In her choice of literary form and of subject material, Zhou Tong shows the same tendencies as the 1960s Taiwanese women authors of popular novels, but after the application of her own personal literary aesthetics, different aspects of the creative process are highlighted.

To date, she has only published one solo work, called Love in Error, which has the characteristics of a romantic novel with its well-knit structure and lavish plot with engaging twists. The principal male character Li Huaimin· spends an adulterous night with a foreign girl and discovers years later that she bore his child in secret, which has a devastating effect on his happy family life. At the same time, Li's wife's younger sister takes advantage of this pivotal weak moment in the relationship between Li and his wife, her sister, to break them apart and run off with Li. The most remarkable use of subject matter in this story comes when the principal female character You Qin, · a successful businesswoman, develops breast cancer and has to have both her breasts removed, which in her own opinion reduces her to "[...] half a woman." Once this formerly selfconfident, modern woman has lost her female features she starts to feel inferior. She begins to suspect her husband's fidelity and finds out about the illegitimate child, at which point the problems she has to face take on a new dimension of complexity. Her younger sister is injured and the situation develops along many threads. Despite the complexity, Zhou Tong manages to give a successful description of woman's inner psychology.

Of course the onus is on Li Huaimin, who created the problem in the first place, to work out how to banish the threat to his happy family life. Apart from his one adulterous misdemeanour, Li can be considered a quality husband and a good father. So that he can see his wife through her emotional upheavals, in a show of self-sacrifice, he passes up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the form of high-powered engineering job, and moves with his wife to a smaller, quieter location where she can recover. On one occasion, while his wife is out walking, he is tempted once again by his sister-in-law but adheres to his resolve to love only his wife.

Li hopes to save his problems with love, aware deep down that by putting his faith in his love for his family he will in the end save his marriage. However, he makes something of a miscalculation, since the love of one man alone is not enough to save the situation. A happy ending is only possible if everyone pools their love. In Love in Error, evil is represented only by the characters of the sister-in-law and one other minor character; the other characters are all genuinely loving, the most powerful love being that of Limeng, · the illegitimate child. The author makes Limeng into something of a saintly figure, a loving half-breed angel who loves those around him and can reflect the love of others. On account of the love inside him, Limeng finally succeeds in persuading his father to recognise him as a son and is also accepted by You Qin, who in turn forgives her husband his sins.

It is clear that in Love in Error, the salvaging of an endangered marriage and the preservation of happiness in the home by means of the power of love has much in common with the love found in Qiong Yao's writing. Zhou Tong's character Li Huaimin loves his home and loves his wife and children and is prepared to sacrifice his career for their sake. But this love also prevents him from acknowledging his illegitimate son and engenders feelings of extreme selfishness. This makes the character of Li fully convincing. Perhaps we can deduce from this that the love shown us by Zhou Tong has a different starting point from Qiong Yao's love. However, they both lead to the same place eventually - to the idea that love is the universal solution and that a loving world is life's only hope. Both Zhou Tong's and Qiong Yao's novels can be categorised as romantic, and that both writers uphold the principle of traditional love.


The literatures of Hong Kong and Macao have one thing in common, namely that they have been accelerated twice in recent history by progressive writers from mainland China, who had an enduring influence on the production of literature. The contribution of mainland writers to the literature of Hong Kong has been greater than to Macanese literature. In the years after the May Fourth Movement, many literary people would move to and fro between Hong Kong and the mainland. After the War of Resistance against Japan, a large number of writers moved south and produced the first major wave of Hong Kong literature. At the same time, artistic and literary journals proliferated, providing rich spiritual nourishment for the native literature of the territory. In the 1940s after Hong Kong was annexed, literary activity quietened down until the civil war broke out between the Communists and the Nationalists in 1946, when many important figures in the literary world were once again driven south and brought about the second wave of literary activity. After Liberation in the mainland, some writers chose to stay in Hong Kong and effected the development of Hong Kong's literature. By way of contrast, writers who came to Macao only stayed temporarily or passed through. The benefits which reaped by Hong Kong's literature were relatively much greater. The fact that the modern literary history of both Hong Kong and Macao is intimately linked to the mainland China explains the similarity in the early history of the literature of both territories. The subsequent divergence of their political and economic development, however, led also to the divergence of their literary traditions. Indeed, the literature of Macao has been influenced by that of Hong Kong, noticeably more than by Taiwan or mainland China. This essay's comparison of the 'women's writing of Hong Kong' and 'woman's writing in Macao' focusses only on a comparison of cultural and social attitudes.


The initial growth of literature in Hong Kong and Macao had much to do with serialisation in newspapers and periodicals. The Hong Kong press was comparatively well-developed in the 1920s. There were more than thirty newspapers, most of them containing old-fashioned literature, lyrical novels of the 'mandarin ducks and butterflies' school·. Artistic and literary periodicals first appeared in the 1930s and the literary world flourished, opening up the road to a new literary age.

No comparison of the literary scenes of Hong Kong and Macao can fail to mention the issues associated with the sheer numbers of literary periodicals and papers. The Hong Kong press already consisted of more than thirty newspapers in the 1920s, while the situation in Macao was somewhat different. Huang Wenyu, · a cultural figure who worked with the press in the 1940s and moved to Hong Kong until his death in early 1990s, remembers there being only seven Chinese newspapers in Macao: the "Macao Daily",· the "Popular",· the "Livelihood",· the "New Voice",· the "Public"· and the "Sun Daily".· In fact, the total should only be four, since the first three titles were published jointly. The periodical supplements of the "Sun Daily" and the "Public" consisted wholly of reprints of fringe publications from Hong Kong. "The New Voice" literary supplement enjoyed success with serialisations of novels and other works, but its news section was still written in literary style Chinese and so the so-called literature it contained was merely traditional style verse and there was very little popular style prose. Meanwhile in Hong Kong there were already several tens of periodicals and magazines, most of which were run and written by writers in southern China: here already was the beginning of the modern literary period. Even in the early 1940s when the annexation of Hong Kong drove some of the people in Hong Kong's literary scene to Macao to escape danger, literary activities changed and there was something of a literary revival, but after the war, most of the literary force returned to Hong Kong.

In another respect, the literary history of Hong Kong is characterised by the struggle between 'serious' literature and 'popular' literature. 'Popular' romances and cartoon strips have flourished for some time and are not likely to decline. Yi Da, · Meng Jun, · Yi Shu· and Yan Qin· can be taken as representative of the 'popular' novelists who have been prominent since the 1960s. Their novels are set against the backdrop of modern life, with special focus on describing, with a strongly romantic flavour, the turbulence of relationships between young men and women. The romantic novels by the leading lights of this group of writers, Yi Da and Meng Jun, are also 'popular' in Macao where they are widely read. At the end of the 1980s Yi Shu's work The World· appeared, a romantic novel which proposed independence for women - not only economic independence, but also that women should also fight for personal independence. Her work compensated for the way ordinary romantic novels merely fanned the flames of passion while overlooking social reality, and as such it had a modern feel. Although Yi Shu's work can be classified as 'popular literature', it is unconventional. "Even though writing can be pigeonholed into both the 'popular' and the 'serious' genres, these two classifications are not absolute, in fact they are relative. I think that so-called 'popular' literature is definitely real literature, [...]" writes Huang Weiliang. · This view can be seen as a fair assessment of the attitudes to the two types of writing in Hong Kong and Macao, the 'serious' and the 'popular'.

The 1970s and 1980s was the period in which the literature of Hong Kong influenced writing in Macao. In writing her 'popular' romances, Zhou Tong was influenced by Taiwanese writer Guo Lianghui and by Yi Da and Meng Jun of Hong Kong. Besides providing, in the form of their 'popular' novels and cartoon strips, a literary platform current affairs and culture could be discussed, these writers have also had a marked influence on Macao's newspaper columns. In fact, there is a clear difference between the 'women's writing' of the two territories, which is due to two factors.

Firstly, newspaper columns in Hong Kong and Macao are different in form and content. Hong Kong's are rather more socially, commercially and politically orientated, while Macao's are more culturally focussed.

The economy in Macao began to take off at the end of the 1970s, and the commercialisation of society began to take hold, which caused the norms of social conscience to be measured in terms of commercial currency. However, the arts and literature of Macao stood proud like a 'pruned plum tree in winter' and developed along more orthodox literary lines, quite indifferent to the new commercial consciousness. Literary writing in Macao preserved a feeling of orthodoxy in both form and content. We could perhaps conclude that one of the reasons for the problematic development of Macanese literature is the resistance of its creative consciousness to commercialisation and the preservation of Macanese 'literary purity', which is an unstable basis for survival in an industrialised society.

This is quite different from the literary conscience of Macao's neighbour, Hong Kong. In the 1980s Hong Kong was already a highly industrialised society. Besides 'serious' literature, many writers produced work with a thickly commercial flavour and the market was flooded with writing which had no literary basis. As times changed, some Hong Kong writers addressed social and political issues and discussed current affairs. Both types of writing enabled Hong Kong's culture to enjoy a period of wild proliferation.

'Women's writing in Macao' has a strongly literary feel to it. The reasons for this are that the writers' work is motivated by a need to communicate their emotions and that they have consciously retained their identity as producers of literature. Hong Kong's women writers, however, use their writing as a springboard for their own celebrity in society and commercial gain. The advent of the commercial novel is to a large extent the product of the demise of the literary conscience of writers. This can perhaps explain why 'women's writing in Macao' has not produced any commercial or commercialised novels.

The second factor has to do with the calibre of the writers themselves. Most of the principal figures in the older generation of women writers in Macao have not been educated to university level, so their literary skills are self-taught. Apart from a minority of Hong Kong's women writers who are academics as well as artists, many Hong Kong columnists have had a university education or studied abroad and so been directly exposed to Western culture. Access to higher education does not determine the quality of a writer's work, but it is bound to have some influence on the depth of a writer's artistic field of vision and the breadth of the repertoire of references. The form and content of 'women's writing in Hong Kong' is therefore diverse in comparison to the relatively insubstantial and barren literary landscape of Macao. This is naturally a consequence of the difference in sheer numbers of writers in the two territories. The younger generation of women writers in Macao have mostly been educated to university level, but their writing still lacks diversity and their technical skill in combining form and content is still somewhat immature.

Whether one looks at the development of the literary environment in general or at the artistic accomplishment of individual writers, women writers in both Hong Kong and Macao show distinct dissimilarities, which are naturally reflected in their writing.

Translated from the Chinese by: Justin Watkins.

* M. Lit. in Chinese Litterature by the University of Jinan. Author of Seven Stars· (a compilation of works in prose) and Collected Essays on Macanese Literature· (a collection of thesis).

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