Zhang Dinghuang

Zhang Dinghuang ; 1895–1986), also known as Zhang Fengju was a Chinese-American antiquarian, linguist, literary critic, poet, and translator. He was born in Nanchang and an expert in antique manuscripts . Zhang was a supporting but key figure of the rich 20th century Chinese literary movements.

Zhang Dinghuang
1960s Zhang FengJu in Azabu Park, Tokyo - FCCIMG 0171.jpg
Zhang in the 1960s, Tokyo
BornDecember 1895
DiedFebruary 2, 1986
Atlanta, Georgia
Other namesZhang Fengju, Chang Feng-Chu, 张凤举
OccupationAntiquarian, linguist, literary critic, poet, translator
OrganizationMinistry of Education, Republic of China
Notable work
1920-30s - development of modern Chinese language and literary styles
1940-50s - preservation and recovery of cultural antiquities plundered in WWII
Spouse(s)Zhang Huijun 张蕙君
RelativesZhang Dingfan (brother)
Zhang Dinghuang
Simplified Chinese张定璜
Zhang Fengju
Simplified Chinese张凤举

He was a talented multi-linguist who studied in Japan and France, a professor at Beijing University and Sino Franco University, and also was active in the literary scene. After World War II he also was a primary figure to recover a collection of looted antique manuscripts for Taiwan's National Central Library (the literary equivalent of antiques of the Palace Museum).

Early yearsEdit

When 15 years old, he enrolled in the Nanchang Army Survey Academy, following elder brother Zhang Dingfan, an officer in the "Dare to Die" regiment of the Xinhai Revolution. He then attended Kyoto Imperial University. Returning from Japan in 1921, he began his literary and teaching career of the 1920s and 1930s, and activity to develop vernacular Chinese literature.[1]

He taught at Peking Women's College of Education, Peking University, L'Institute des Hautes Études Chinoises of the Sorbonne in the 1930s, and the Sino-French University in Shanghai. He mastered Japanese, French, and English, which would serve him well decades later. In 1937 he married Zhang Huijun .

Zhang authored and translated works in French, Japanese and English. Examples include "Shelley" and "Baudelaire".[2][3] He worked closely with key figures who shaped modern Chinese literature and education today.[4] These included Guo Moruo, Cheng Fangwu, Zhang Ziping, Zheng Boqi , Xu Zuzheng , Shen Yinmo, Lu Xun, and Yu Dafu. All of them participated in the journals Creation Quarterly,[5] Yusi,[6] Contemporary Review, and New Youth. These provided forums for lively and heated discourse on the transition to the vernacular Chinese language; weeklies for short insights or responses, quarterlies for considered and developed ideas. The goal was to bring the written language closer to everyday speech and use subject matter from everyday life.[7][8]

Later years after 1940Edit

In the 1940s, he worked primarily for the Chinese Ministry of Education and National Central Library in the areas of antiquities, education and publications. A lasting achievement was to recover the works of the Rare Book Preservation Society which were looted during World War II. It began with the Yuyuan Road Conferences in 1945–1946 to identify the wartime booty that Japan took. Key members included Jiang Fucong, Ma Xulun, Zheng Zhenduo, and Zhang Fengju. Official Yuyuan Road Ministry conference minutes shows is the lower signature of the first line.

March 23, 1946, the Ministry appointed Zhang Fengju to the Chinese Occupation Mission in Japan as head of the Fourth Section (Education and Culture). He left for Tokyo on April 1 and began discussions with the U.S. Command General Headquarters (GHQ) the next day. Because of his gift in languages and his participation in the original preservation effort,[circular reference] he held substantive meetings with all parties without translators. In two months, over 135,000 volumes were retrieved. By the year's end, they were returned to the National Central Library where they form the core of the rare books collection today. Many other university and museum collections were also retrieved.

After 1949 and with the excesses which followed the Chinese Civil War, his closest friends and associates from the early years were on the mainland. His closest recent associates were in Taiwan. He favored neither side and preferred non-violence. He did not participate in any government activities after 1960 but kept in touch with a network of old friends in Taiwan and the U.S. including Li Shu-hua , Zhu Jiahua , Gu Mengyu , Y. H. Ku, Zhu Shiming , and Shang Zhen. He moved to the U.S. with his wife in 1965 to join his children. He died on February 2, 1986, in Atlanta, Georgia.

His handwritten diaries and reports, now at National Central Library in Taipei, contain details of the recovery looted manuscripts and books from Tokyo.


  1. ^ "5. Feng's Vernacular Fiction", The Chinese Vernacular Story, Harvard University Press, pp. 98–119, 1981, doi:10.4159/harvard.9780674418462.c5, ISBN 9780674418462
  2. ^ Bien, Gloria (2012-12-14). Baudelaire in China: A Study in Literary Reception. ISBN 9781611493900.
  3. ^ 张旭春 (2004). 政治的审美化与审美的政治化 [Political Aestheticization and Aesthetic Politicization]. Duke University Libraries, University of Michigan: 人民出版社. ISBN 7010040907. 9787010040905.
  4. ^ 杨联芬 (2003). 晚清至五四: 中国文学现代性的发生 [Late Qing to May 4th: The Occurrence of Modernity of Chinese Literature]. 北京大学出版社. ISBN 7301065663. 9787301065662.
  5. ^ 咸立强 (2006). 寻找归宿的流浪者/创造社研究/"中国现代文学社团史"研究书系: 创造社研究 [Looking for the Wanderer/Creation Society Research/"Chinese Modern Literature Society History" Research Book Series: Creation Society Research]. 东方出版中心. ISBN 7801864697. OCLC 71775354. 9787801864697.
  6. ^ 在"我"与"世界"之间: 语丝社研究 [Between "I" and "World": The Study of the Language Society]. 东方出版中心. 2006. ISBN 7801864727. 9787801864727.
  7. ^ 北京报刋史话 [Beijing Baoji History. ]. 文化藝術出版社., - Chinese newspapers - 214 pgs. 1992. pp. 93.黄河 (Yellow River).
  8. ^ 宋彬玉, 张傲卉 (1998). 创造社十六家评传 [Creation Society 16 Reviews]. 重庆出版社. p. 357. ISBN 7536640757.