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N arrating the Fate in the Course of History: Views On Biographical Writing

Abstract: As a biography writer, in the past four decades, I have been convinced that the best way to approach history is to study it by revealing details of different people's lives. Therefore, I can represent history under a literary construct, and depict fate under a historical context in return. Each single work brings me a fresh understanding and experience of both biography and history. In late 1980s, when writing Elegy for Literature -The Whole Story of the Injustice of Hu Feng and His Clique, I developed a new perspective towards those intellectuals, and described their different performance under misfortunes out of different characters. In 1990, with the publishing of Shen Congwen and Ding Ling, I accomplished a new approach of life writing, which benefits my writing ofWitnessing the Vicissitudes, by focusing on the internal relations between characters and history. In 1997, I started to translate China Hands (1995) by Peter Rand, which can be seen as an extension of my biographical writing. In 2004, I wrote Cover Stories of China - Selected Stories From "Time", which is a study of people from different ages. In this book, I tried to explore Chinese history, which is concerned and narrated outside China. In my writing, I always emphasize on character and fate, as well as the impact of history on fate.

Key words:life writing; biographee; history; destiny; details

Li Hui was born in Sui County (now renamed as Suizhou City) of Hubei Province in 1956. In 1982, he graduated from Chinese Department of Fudan University, and then worked as a literature and art journalist and literature supplement editor of BeiJing Evening News. In November 1987, he became the editor of the art department of People's Daily. His main focus is on biographical and essay writing, and his master works include A Biography of Xiao Qian, Elegy for Literature -The Whole Story of the Injustice of Hufeng and His Clique, Shen Congwen and Ding Ling, Witnessing the Vicissitudes, Ba Jin of A Century: A Historical Portrait of An Intellectual,Cover Stories of China - Selected Stories From "Time", etc. Among his works, Qiubai's Melancholy won Lu Xun Literature Prize in 1998; CoverStories of China - Selected Stories From "Time" won the Fifth Chinese Literature Media Prize in 2007; Ultimate Sound: Personal Experiences in the 1980s won the Fourteenth Chinese Literature Media Prize in 2014.