Yu Dafu By Chan, Cheow-Thia
Best regarded as a member of the vanguard of the ‘New Literature’ movement closely related to the nationalist ‘May Fourth Incident’ in 1919, Yu Dafu was a distinguished figure in the Chinese literary scene of the 1920s and the 1930s, known especially for his explicit depictions of eroticism and sexuality. In 1921, towards the end of his sojourn in Japan, Yu published his first book through the Creation Society [創造社] (1921–1930), a literary organization he co-founded with like-minded friends who subscribed to similar romantic notions about literature. He went on to become a prolific writer of fiction, essays, and classical poetry, an occasional translator, as well as an editor of several literary journals. Contending that ‘all literary works are autobiographies of their authors,’ his prose writings familiarized readers with his creative drive, as well as his peripatetic experiences in China and Japan–countries which provided the settings for most of his fictional works. He spent the last eight years of his life in south-east Asia (1938–1945). From a newspaper editor to becoming a wanted fugitive during the Second World War, his career and life ended with his enigmatic disappearance in Sumatra, Indonesia, soon after Japan had officially surrendered. It is believed that he was killed by the Japanese before their retreat. Yu’s body was never recovered.