Chen Yingzhen (1938– ) By Tsu, Jing
Chen Yingzhen is a prolific writer and influential cultural critic from Taiwan. Born Chen Yongshan in Miaoli County, Chen started to publish fiction in 1959 while majoring in English at Tamkang College. From 1963, his works began to appear in Modern Literature. His earlier works, published between 1959 and 1965, are often melancholic and autobiographical. In 1967, Chen published an essay criticizing modernist works for prioritizing form over content and called, instead, for a literature with a high social consciousness. In 1968, he was apprehended by the Taiwanese Garrison Command and charged with promulgating Communism. He was imprisoned for seven years.
Following his release in 1975 he converted to a realist standpoint and wrote works with moralistic and socialist overtones. He advocated a China-leaning nationalist writing in the Nativist Literary Debate in 1977–1978. He was arrested again shortly before the Formosa (or Kaohsiung) Incident. From 1967 to 1982, he published several stories in Literature Quarterly (Wenxue jikan). His works from this period tackled the problem of the capitalist economic exploitation of the Third World. In 1983 and 1984, Chen published several political stories to highlight the incompatibility between socialist ideals and the increasingly materialistic orientation of society.