MuXin is the pen name of a renowned Chinese diasporan writer and artist currently living in the New York area. MuXin was born in Wuzhen, of South China, into a wealthy aristocratic family with business interests in Shanghai. He was among the last generation to receive a classical education in the literati tradition, but he was also exposed through voluminous reading to the highest achievements of Western art and culture. From 1947 to 1949, MuXin attended Shanghai Institute of the Arts. From 1949 until 1982, when he came to the United States, MuXin lived in China. Although he wrote profusely in that period, all of his earlier manuscripts were confiscated and destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Since 1982, MuXin has published twelve books of fiction, prose, and poetry (in Chinese) and has been contributing to literary columns in Chinese journals and newspapers outside the PRC. Among the Chinese diaspora, MuXin's works have attracted an intense following. Few Chinese writers in modern history have as firm a mastery of the Chinese cultural and linguistic heritage as MuXin does. Innovatively combining fiction, sanwen (a Chinese genre which blends characteristics of the essay, fiction, and poetry), and philosophical reflections, MuXin's writing is both profoundly Chinese and reminiscent of the internalization and unconventionality of Western modern masters. In addition to his literary accomplishments, MuXin is also a well recognized artist whose paintings are preserved, among other places, at Yale University and Harvard University Art Galleries.
MuXin's literary texts reveal a mind freely crossing national boundaries and an "I" dispersing into "others." To MuXin, being in diaspora is not so much a physical condition as it is an aesthetic and intellectual mode. In "Kundera and His Brothers," MuXin introduces two metaphors for the diaspora that are often quoted: "wanderers carrying their roots" (daigen liulang) and "reincarnations in this life" (xianshi lunhui). There is no self-pity in these metaphors. Instead, they are meant to express a joy known to those who appreciate amor fati (love of fate). Not surprisingly, MuXin ends his Kundera essay on a note about Nietzsche and his "eternal recurrence." "Kundera is not lonely," continues MuXin. "Wanderers carrying their roots or travelers in the spiritual realm will encounter their kindred spirits either before them or after them. One globe is indeed enough."
In recent years, MuXin's prose fiction has been translated into English and is beginning to appear in American journals. A selection of MuXin's prose fiction, now translated into English, is now under consideration for publication. Eight more of his books, all in Chinese, will soon be published in Shanghai.
The following is a list of MuXin's twelve books (in Chinese) in print:
Sanwen Yiji (Collected Sanwen: Volume I, 1983). The publication of this collection of prose and fiction started what a critic called "a sudden literary storm."
Qionmeika Suixianglu (Reflections in Jamaica, 1986) is a collection of sketches, haiku lines, and aphorisms. MuXin's reflections impress one as the leisurely product of a profound thinker.
Wensha Muyuan (The Windsor Cemetery Diary, 1988). This collection showcases eighteen short stories of diverse subjects and styles. Many of the stories are set in modern China during the period of political turmoil. Penetrating expositions of China's politicized culture are sometimes presented as dramas and at other time as enigmas.
Xibanya Sankeshu (Tres Cepas, 1988) is a poetic collection which adopts the brand of a Spanish wine as its title. MuXin once remarked: "Fiction is my kin, sanwen is my friend, and poetry is my lover."
Jixing Panduan (Sudden Thoughts, 1988), a collection of essays, correspondences and dialogues, provides penetrating insights into historical and contemporary issues.
Suli Zhi Wang (Traveling in Simple Shoes, 1994) is philosophy in the form of prose poems. With I Ching (The Book of Change) as his muse, MuXin sets off an explosion of ideas, with shockwaves and radiations meant for the modern world.
Balong (Parron, 1998) collects some of the poems MuXin has written in the fifteen years of his stay in the United States. With subjects covering various regions in the world as well as the ancient past and the medieval age, the poet gains his reflexive momentum with which he dashes through the problems of postmodernity and projects poetic images into the future. The collection shows the rhetorical sophistication and power of the later MuXin.
Wo fenfen de qingyu (The Ever Snowing Flakes of my Desire, 1998) is another collection of poems. Effortlessly graceful, the poetry celebrates the body and the earth.
Hui wu zhong (The Correspondence, 1998) is a collection of three hundred poems written in the Chinese diction and style that was used 2,500 years ago. MuXin's correspondence-to borrow a word from Plato and Baudelaire-is with poetry and poets of ancient times. More specifically, the poems are a re-vision and reinvention of Shih Ching (The Book of Poetry) and of various philosophical schools 2,000 years ago.
Malage Jihua (The Málaga Project, 1999) includes two sections. Section I includes several shorter pieces that are warm and intimate in tone. Section II includes more elaborate and grander sanwen narratives. MuXin approaches issues of global significance. He reveals, with critique and understanding, how the Chinese culture has anthropomorphized the natural world. He delves into modern French literature. He ponders the decline of both Eastern and Western cultures since the end of the nineteenth century.
Tongqing zhongduanlu (Sympathy Interrupted, 1999). The inclusions are fictional accounts of real events set in China. The dedication of the books reads: "All ten pieces in this collection are eulogies; those lives I witnessed merely went through the motion of living and none saw fruition."
Yuli zhi yan (The Most Splendid Symposium, 1999). Included in this collection are dialogues and interviews MuXin had with Chinese scholars and reporters between 1981 and 1996.