Ding Ling

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Ding Ling
Ding Ling
Born Jiang Bingzhi
(1904-10-12)12 October 1904
Linli, Hunan, China
Died 4 March 1986(1986-03-04) (aged 81)
Occupation Writer
Language Chinese
Notable works Miss Sophia's Diary
The Sun Shines over the Sanggan River
Spouse Hu Yepin
Feng Da
Chen Ming
Children Hu Xiaopin

Ding Ling (Chinese: 丁玲; pinyin: Dīng Líng; October 12, 1904 – March 4, 1986), formerly romanized as Ting Ling, was the pen name of Jiang Bingzhi (simplified Chinese: 蒋冰之; traditional Chinese: 蔣冰之; pinyin: Jiǎng Bīngzhī), also known as Bin Zhi (彬芷 Bīn Zhǐ), one of the most celebrated 20th-century Chinese authors.[1] She was awarded the Soviet Union's Stalin second prize for Literature in 1951.

Early life

File:Hu Yepin and Ding Ling.jpg
Ding Ling and husband Hu Yepin in 1926

Ding Ling was born into a gentry family in Linli, Hunan province. Her father died when Ding was three. Ding Ling's mother, who raised her children alone while becoming an educator, was Ding's role model, and she would later write an unfinished novel, titled Mother, which described her mother's experiences. Following her mother's example, Ding Ling became an activist at an early age.[2] Ding Ling fled to Shanghai in 1920 in repudiation of traditional Chinese family practices by refusing to marry her cousin who had been chosen to become her husband. She rejected the commonly accepted view that parents as the source of the child's body are its owners, and she ardently asserted that she owned and controlled her own body.

Ding Ling was influenced by progressive teachers at the People's Girls School, and by her association with modern writers such as Shen Congwen and the left-wing poet Hu Yepin, whom she married in 1925. She began writing stories around this time, most famously Miss Sophia's Diary, published in 1927, in which a young woman describes her unhappiness with her life and confused romantic and sexual feelings. In 1931, Hu Yepin was executed in Shanghai by the Kuomintang government for his association with the Communists. In March 1932 she joined the Chinese Communist Party, and almost all of her fiction after this time was in support of its goals.[3] She was active in the League of Left-Wing Writers.

Political persecution

File:Ding Ling 3.jpg
Ding Ling, 1930s

Active in the Communist revolutionary cause, she was placed under house arrest in Shanghai by the Guomindang for a three-year period from 1933 to 1936. She escaped, and made her way to the Communist base of Yan'an. There she became one of the most influential figures in Yan'an cultural circles, serving as director of the Chinese Literature and Arts Association and editing a newspaper literary supplement.

Ding Ling struggled with the idea that revolutionary needs, defined by the party, should come before art. She objected to the gender standards at work in Yan'an. In 1942 she wrote an article in a party newspaper questioning the party's commitment to change popular attitudes towards women. She satirized male double standards concerning women, saying they were ridiculed if they focused on household duties, but also became the target of gossip and rumors if they remained unmarried and worked in the public sphere. She also criticized male cadres use of divorce provisions to rid themselves of unwanted wives. Her article was condemned by Mao Zedong and the party leadership, and she was forced to retract her views and undergo a public self-confession.

Her main work in these years was the novel The Sun Shines Over Sanggan River, which she completed in 1948. It followed the complex results of land reform on a rural village. It was awarded the Stalin prize for Literature in 1951, and is considered one of the best examples of socialist-realist fiction. It did not, however, address gender issues.

Always a political activist, in 1957 she was denounced as a "rightist", purged from the party, and her fiction and essays were banned. She spent five years in jail during the Cultural Revolution and was sentenced to do manual labor on a farm for twelve years before being "rehabilitated" in 1978.

In her introduction to Miss Sophie's Diary And Other Stories, Ding Ling explains her indebtedness to the writers of other cultures:

I can say that if I have not been influenced by Western literature I would probably not have been able to write fiction, or at any rate not the kind of fiction in this collection. It is obvious that my earliest stories followed the path of Western realism... A little later, as the Chinese revolution developed, my fiction changed with the needs of the age and of the Chinese people... Literature ought to join minds together... turning ignorance into mutual understanding. Time, place and institutions cannot separate it from the friends it wins... And in 1957, a time of spiritual suffering for me, I found consolation in reading much Latin American and African literature.

Later years

A few years before her death, she was allowed to travel to the United States where she was a guest at the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. She died in Beijing in 1986.

She authored more than three hundred works. After her "rehabilitation" many of her previously banned books such as her novel The Sun Shines Over The Sanggan River were republished and translated into numerous languages. Some of her short works, spanning a fifty-year period, are collected in I Myself Am A Woman: Selected Writings Of Ding Ling.



  • Zai hei’an zhong [In the Darkness]. 1928.
  • Zisha riji [Diary of a Suicide]. 1928.
  • Yige nüren [A Woman]. 1928.
  • Shujia zhong [During the Summer Holidays]. 1928.
  • Awei guniang [The Girl Awei]. 1928.
  • Shui [Water]. 1930.
  • Yehui [Night Meeting]. 1930.
  • Zai yiyuan zhong [In the Hospital]. 1941.
  • Ding Ling wenji [Works of Ding Ling], Hunan Renmin Chubanshe. 6 vols. 1982.
  • Ding Ling xuanji [Selected Works of Ding Ling], Sichuan Renmin Chubanshe. 3 vols. 1984.


  • Meng Ke. 1927.
  • Shafei nüshi riji. February 1928, Xiaoshuo yuebao (short story magazine); as Miss Sophia's Diary, translated by Gary Bjorge, 1981.
  • Weihu. 1930.
  • Muqin. 1930; as Mother, translated by Tani Barlow, 1989.
  • 1930 Chun Shanghai. 1930; as Shanghai, Spring, 1930, translated by Tani Barlow, 1989.
  • Zai yiyuan zhong. 1941; as In the Hospital, translated by Gary Bjorge, 1981.
  • Wo zai Xia cun de shihou. 1941; as When I Was in Xia Village, translated by Gary Bjorge, 1981.
  • Taiyang zhao zai Sanggan he shang. Guanghua shudian. September 1948; as The Sun Shines Over Sanggan River, translated by Gladys Yang and Yang Xianyi, Panda Books, 1984.
  • Du Wanxiang. 1978; as Du Wanxiang, translated by Tani Barlow, 1989.

Further reading

  • Chinese Writers on Writing featuring Ding Ling. Ed. Arthur Sze. (Trinity University Press, 2010).
  • Alber, Charles J. Embracing the Lie: Ding Ling and the Politics of Literature in the PRC. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. 1 copy.
  • Barlow, Tani, "Gender and Identity in Ding Ling's 'Mother.'" Modern Chinese Literature 2, 2 (1986): 123–42.
  • Barlow, Tani, The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism. Durham, Duke University Press, 2004. 1 copy. (contains material on Ding Ling).
  • Bjorge, Gary J. "'Sophia's Diary': An Introduction." Tamkang Review 5, 1 (1974): 97–110.
  • Chang, Jun-mei. Ting Ling, Her Life and Her Work. Taipei: Institute of International Relations, 1978.
  • Dien, Dora Shu-fang. "Ding Ling and 'Miss Sophie's Diary': A Psychobiographical Study of Adolescent Identity Formation." Making Meaning of Narratives: The Narrative Study of Lives 6 Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 221–237.
  • Ding Ling and Her Mother: A Cultural Psychological Study. Huntinton, NY: Nova Science, 2001.
  • Feng, Jin. "The 'Bold Modern Girl': Ding Ling's Early Fiction." In *Feng, The New Woman in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2001, 149–70.
  • "The Revolutionary Age: Ding Ling's Fiction of the Early 1930s." In Feng, The New Woman in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2001, 171–88.
  • "Ding Ling in Yan'an: A New Woman within the Part Structure?" In Feng, The New Woman in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2001, 189–96
  • Feuerwerker, Yi-tsi Mei. Ding Ling's Fiction: Ideology and Narrative in Modern Chinese Literature. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1982.
  • "The Changing Relationship between Literature and Life: Aspects of the Writer's Role in Ding Ling [Ting Ling]." In Merle Goldman, ed. Modern Chinese Literature in the May Fourth Era. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977, 281–307.
  • "Ting Ling's 'When I was in Sha Chuan (Cloud Village)'." Signs, Journal of Women in Culture and Society 2, 1 (1976): 255–79.
  • "The Uses of Literature: Ding Ling in Yan'an." In W. Kubin and R. Wagner, eds., Essays in Contemporary Chinese LIterature and Literary Criticism. Bochum: Brockmeyer, 1981.
  • Huang, Xincun. “Politics, Gender and Literary Writings: A Study of Ding Ling in the Early 1940s.” Journal of Asian Culture 14 (1990): 33–54.
  • Kubin, Wolfgang. "Sexuality and Literature in the People's Republic of China, Problems of the Chinese woman before and after 1949 as seen in Ding Ling's 'Diary of Sophia' (1928) and Xi Rong's story 'An Unexceptional Post' (1962)." In Wolfgang Kubin and Rudolf G. Wagner, eds., Essays in Modern Chinese Literature and Literary Criticism. Bochum: Brockmeyer, 1982, 168–91.
  • Lai, Amy Tak-yee. "Liberation, Confusion, Imprisonment: The Female Self in Ding Ling's 'Diary of Miss Sophie' and Zhang Jie's 'Love Must Not Be Forgotten.'" Comparative Literature and Culture 3 (Sept. 1998): 88–103.
  • Tang, Xiaobing. "Shanghai Spring 1930: Engendering the Revolutionary Body." In Chinese Modernism: The Heroic and the Quotidian. Durham: Duke UP, 2000, 97–130.
  • Wang, Shunzhu. "The Double-Voiced Feminine Discouses in Ding Ling's 'Miss Sophie's Diary' and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God." Tamkang Review 27, 1 (1997): 133–158.
  • Zhang, Jingyuan. "Feminism and Revolution: The Work and Life of Ding Ling." In Joshua Mostow, ed, and Kirk A. Denton, China section, ed., Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literatures. NY: Columbia UP, 2003, 395–400.
  • Zhou Liangpei. Ding Ling zhuan (Biography of Ding Ling). Beijing: Beijing shiyue wenyi, 1993.

See also


  • Reference Guide to World Literature (3rd ed.). St. James Press. 2002. pp. 274–275. ISBN 978-1-55862-490-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ebrey, Patricia. Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge University Press, June 13, 1996. ISBN 0-521-43519-6
  • Solomon, Barbara H., "Other Voices, Other Vistas", A Mentor Book, March 1992
  1. Britannica.com, Ding Ling
  2. Feuerwerker, Yi-Tsi Mei (September 1984). "In Quest of the Writer Ding Ling". Feminist Studies. Feminist Studies, Vol. 10, No. 1. 10 (1): 65–83. doi:10.2307/3177896. JSTOR 3177896. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Alber, Charles J. (2004). Embracing the lie: Ding Ling and the Politics of Literature in the People’s Republic of China. Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. pp. Ch. 16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>