Jia Pingwa, the renowned writer and the new honorary doctor of the University of Macau (UM), gave a Doctor honoris causa Lecture, titled ‘Contemporary Literary Writing in Chinese’, in the Anthony Lau Building at UM. The lecture attracted a full-house audience composed of UM faculty, students, and members of the public. Even the aisles were packed with people.
In his speech before the lecture, Rector Zhao said that Chinese literature is one of the key disciplines at UM, as every world-class university should have a world-class academic programme focused on the native language of the country in which the university is located. In recent years, the Department of Chinese Language and Literature has made considerable progress with the support of various parties. The department now boasts a faculty team of renowned experts and scholars. Earlier, it signed a collaboration agreement with its counterparts at Taiwan University, Peking University, and the University of Hong Kong, on jointly establishing an international academic platform. These achievements are closely related to the team of honorary doctors composed of such literary masters as Wang Meng, Mo Yan, Yu Kwang Chung, Jin Yong, and Pai Hsien-yung. The addition of Dr Jia will further increase the influence of the team and benefit the future development of Chinese discipline at UM.
At the lecture, Jia shared his insights on the current development and future of contemporary Chinese literature in his unique Shaanxi dialect. He believes that writers should think independently in an age fraught with big changes, because a writer without modern, independent thinking would have difficulty gaining a foothold or creating works that deserve a place in the readers’ bookshelf or history. He also thinks that writers need to look at society with fresh eyes against the new backdrop of a fast-developing world. ‘My heart aches for the rapidly declining countryside. Should I sing a eulogy or an elegy? I am not sure,’ he bemoaned.
Prof Zhu Shoutong, head of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, chaired the Q&A session. The audience was very enthusiastic and asked many questions in Shaanxi dialect, Cantonese, and Mandarin. Dr Jia patiently answered every question from the audience. Rector Wei Zhao also participated in the Q&A session, which was punctuated by laughter and applause. In concluding the Q&A session, Prof Zhu highly praised Jia’s talk, saying that Jia accurately presented the dilemma between literature and time, as well as the dilemma between writers and reality, quoting a line from Li Sao by Qu Yuan, ‘This is his blood,
his tears, his book of confessions.’