League of Left-Wing Writers

The League of Left-Wing Writers (Chinese: 中國左翼作家聯盟; pinyin: Zhōngguó Zuǒyì Zuòjiā Liánméng), commonly abbreviated as the Zuolian in Chinese, was an organization of writers formed in Shanghai, China, on 2 March 1930, at the instigation of the Chinese Communist Party and the influence of the celebrated author Lu Xun. Other prominent members included Ding Ling, Hu Feng, and Mei Zhi.[1] The purpose of the League was to promote socialist realism in support of the Communist Revolution, and it eventually became very influential in Chinese cultural circles. Lu Xun delivered the opening address to the organizational meeting, but he became disillusioned when it quickly became clear that he would have little influence.[2] Other members included leaders of the Sun Society and the Creation Society, and Zhou Yang, who became Mao Zedong's favorite literary figure and after 1949 zealously enforced political orthodoxy. The League articulated theories on the political role of literature that foreshadowed Mao's influential Yan'an Talks on Literature and Art, and engaged in running debates with the "art for art's sake" Crescent Moon Society.[3]

The "Five Martyrs of the Left League", from left: Hu Yepin, Rou Shi, Feng Keng, Yin Fu, Li Weisen (Li Qiushi)

Due to the League's prominent political views, it was quickly banned by the Kuomintang government. On 7 February 1931, the government executed five members of the League: Li Weisen, Hu Yepin, Rou Shi, Yin Fu, and Feng Keng. They are known as the Five Martyrs of the League of Left-Wing Writers.[4]

The League was disbanded voluntarily in 1936. This was mainly in order to encourage authors to unite across political boundaries and face the rapidly increasing threat from Japan.

Five MartyrsEdit

The Five Martyrs of the League of Left-Wing Writers were five Chinese writers associated with the League of Left-Wing Writers – Li Weisen, Hu Yepin, Rou Shi, Yin Fu, and Feng Keng – executed on 7 February 1931 by the Kuomintang in the "White Terror" period that followed the 1927 Shanghai massacre.

Eighteen other communists were executed on the same day, including a pregnant woman.[4]

Some have suggested that the five may have been betrayed by others in the Communist Party, perhaps as a result of a power struggle.[5]


  1. ^ Zhang 张, Xiaofeng 晓风 (12 March 2008). "张晓风:我的父亲母亲" [Zhang Xiaofeng: My father and mother]. Sina (in Chinese). Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  2. ^ Leo Oufan Lee, "Literary Trends: The Road to Revolution 1927-1949," Ch 9 in Fairbank, John King; Feuerwerker, Albert; Twitchett, Denis Crispin (1986). The Cambridge history of China. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521243384.
  3. ^ Spence 1981, plate 61.
  4. ^ a b Wong 1991, p. 100.
  5. ^ Wong 1991, pp. 100, 131.


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