Su Qing, a divorced Chinese woman, rose to fame as a writer from the fallen city of Shanghai in the 1940s. Su wrote about how contemporary Chinese women suffered in marriage, and how many wandered hopelessly due to the devastation of war. She became famous for her simple, direct and realistic writing style. However, her literary success was short-lived, as she was then imprisoned under the Communist government, and not released until the 1980s. Moreover, it was not until the 1990s that she was recognized as an important figure in modern Chinese literature.
This paper explores her historical materials and works published in Shanghai, including 10 Years of Marriage, The Continuation of 10 Years of Marriage, The Beauty on the Wrong Road and Moth in terms of her autobiographical work and realistic style, to better understand the reality of her writing career. This paper also re-examines the roles of Su as a once-defamed female writer, as a sick single mother, and as an author who wrote about the raising of a female consciousness of self-determination, based on the theories of disease writing, gender writing and feminism.
This paper consists of five chapters. The first introduces the aims and structure of the study. The second provides an analysis of the various experiences of Su at three distinctive stages of her life, characterized by her difficult relationship with her father in childhood, which is seen as providing the foundation for the later development of her personal consciousness and literary career; her struggles to survive under Japanese rule and rise to fame as a writer; and her misfortune in later years under the new Chinese regime. The third chapter refers to the medical history of her tuberculosis (TB) based on 10 Years of Marriage, and re-interprets her use of this disease in the writing of the novel from the perspective of Metaphor of Disease. Furthermore, the chapter proceeds to discuss the influence of TB on Su’s life and her role as a mother, as well as how it affected her relationships with her family and society. The fourth chapter observes how contradictory and helpless a modern woman may feel when performing the social roles of daughter and wife, as reflected in the life of Su. It also highlights the transformation of female subjectivity as a result of the changing roles of women, citing the example of Su as a divorced mother regaining her physical autonomy. The fifth chapter then presents the conclusions and limitations of this study.