When a musical interpretation of the poem “Congqianman” appeared on Sing My Song, the public found a new interest in its author, Mu Xin, a famous modern literary master.
Born as Sun Pu in 1927 in Zhejiang province, Mu moved to New York in 1982. He read books, painted and wrote poems. He is best known as the teacher of Chen Danqing, Cao Liwei and other contemporary Chinese artists.
Mu spent most of the Cultural Revolution in prison but never stopped his pursuit of literature. He drew keyboards and played Mozart in his head.
Chen said Mu was crazy about literature. In the late 1950s, Mu studied stream of consciousness writing in secret. In the 1960s, before the Cultural Revolution, he spent many nights talking about Yeats, Thomas Stearns Eliot and Spengler. Even while imprisoned he never stopped writing.
It took a lot of persuasion to get Mu to stop discussing world literature and start discussing his own work. When he agreed, Mu held nine classes where he spent half the class on modern literature and the other half on one of his articles chosen by a student.
Chen Danqing had five notebooks that recorded his experiences with Mu and his works. In 2013, two years after Mu Xin passed away, Chen published Literary Memories based on those class notes. In August, he published Mu Xin Talks About Mu Xin, a second volume based on his notes and some additional content. Many readers didn’t understand why Chen Danqing published a second book while the first one made a clear analysis of Mu and his works. Some commenters said Chen overestimated Mu’s literary value.
Artists and writers said the first book represents Mu’s instructions on reading and the second his lessons on writing.
Many readers said Mu’s words are beautiful and soft. As in “Congqianman,” his description of a young child’s innocent talk, the vendors who sell soy milk by the train station, the mail horse and an old and beautiful lock attract readers while leaving fine details to the imagination.