Andreas Weiland

The Chinese Playwright Yao Yi-wei ( 姚一葦)
A biographical note and  short bibliography

Yao Yi-wei ( 姚一葦;  Yáo Yīwěi, in English: Yi-wei YAO) was born as Yao Gong-wei on April 5, 1922.  As is typical of Chinese writers, he later on changed his name to Yao Yi-wei.
Yao came from Jiangxi Province, during the civil war a hotbed of peasant revolt against the Guomingdang dictatorship. His family was known as a family of scholars. It had roots in the provincial capital, Nanchang, but his parents lived in the countryside, in the area adjacent to Lake Poyang, where his father was a teacher and where Yao Yi-wei grew up and went to school. Here he attended primary school and junior high school. It was his family background that provided him with a remarkable knowledge of Chinese Classical literature, for a child his age.
Yao was admitted as an extern to Ru Jian Middle School (i.e., senior high) in 1938. But in the same year he was forced by the Guomindang regime to relocate together with the school's staff and his classmates to the island of Xiamen (Amoy, opposite Quemoy), due to military action that took place in and near Jiangxi. He completed is middle school education in 1941.
The Sino-Japanese War, the civil war, and the advance of revolutionary forces left few universities under control of the Guomindang regime, and thus he was compelled after graduation from Ru Jian Middle School to either cross lines under great danger to life and limb, or to enroll in the university that existed in the place where he already lived. 
Admitted by Xiamen University in 1941, Yao enrolled initially in the Department of Electrical Engineering. He soon switched to the banking/finance/economics  department, however.
In 1946, having just graduated from Xiamen University, Yao was faced with a decisive choice: to attempt the well-nigh impossible and go back to his family in Jiangxi (which would have meant crossing combat lines), or to go to Taiwan, responding to the immediate necessity to find a job.
Yao Yi-wei move to Taiwan in that fateful year. Like many others, Yao saw Taiwan as just another province of China and like others, he had no idea that a long period of separation from his family in Jiangxi would ensue.

As a university graduate from the mainland, Yao obtained a job at a publicly controlled bank, the Taiwan Bank (later called Bank of Taiwan when it became the island regime's central bank). It has been noted that he kept this job for 36 years and that he "never asked for a promotion, but he did request enough to keep himself and his family fed and clothed."

Less than a year after Yao's arrival in Taiwan, the local population was experiencing the Guomindang massacres that started on February 28, 1947 and that lasted for weeks, killing tens of thousands. Yao, as a mainlander, witnessed and weathered this and initially managed to get unharmed through the period of arrests, incarcerations, and executions known as the White Terror that followed. But in 1951, during an especially severe year of White Terror, he was arrested and was released only after seven months in prison.

The early 1950s also saw him embark on his life as a writer.
It was in 1953, that he adopted the pen name Meng'ou Wang Yao Yi-wei when publishing his translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This pen name pre-announced his later pen name Yao Yi-wei. He began to get involved in literary circles in the 1950s and was above all associated with the journal  筆匯  (Literary Review) during those years.
In 1962, Yao  became the editor of  "Modern Literature" (現代文學 Xiandai Wenxue), serving in this position until 1967. The late 1960s became another phase of repression that targeted suspect intellectuals, however. Among those who became victims of the clamp-down, was Yao's colleague Chen Ying-chen, a noted realist novelist known for his commitment to social  issues. When Chen was arrested, sentenced and jailed in 1968  – the year of student protests in Paris (France), Berkeley (USA), Japan, Belgrade (Socialist Yugoslavia), Prague (socialist Czechoslovakia), West Berlin and West Germany – , Yao Yi-wei is said to have responded by writing his play Hong bizi (红鼻子 Red Nose). According to other sources, the play was written earlier. The assumed publication date 1965 cannot be confirmed, however. The play was included in Yao's collection of plays titled 姚一葦戯劇六種 (Yao Yiwei xi ju liu zhong) that was published in 1975, in the early phase of a period characterized by democratic demands soon articulated during massive street protests. This was also the period of the ascent of the Xiangtu wenxue (Local realist literature) movement and of heated debates and charges of subversion hurled against it by the more solidly Guomindang-controlled press. The play 红鼻子 was republished in the People's Republic of China in 1984. Two years earlier, in 1982, Yao retired from his job at the Bank of Taiwan. In 1989, he visited his native place in Jiangxi for the first time since he had left it in 1938.

Throughout his entire life in Taiwan, Yao has been engaged in creative pursuits as a playright, literary critic, art critic and literary translator. He also engaged in teaching the theory and practice of theater, respectively performing or dramatic arts, since 1957 as a part-time teacher, holding  such teaching jobs simultaneously with his work as a bank employee. For more than twenty years, he taught at such educational institutions as the Fu Hsing Kang College and the Wenhua College (Chinese Cultural College; subsequently, a university) where he later held key positions at the graduate school of arts and in the department of film and theater. 

Yao is respected on the island of Taiwan and on the mainland of China as a modernist and a humanist with a profound knowledge of the classical Chinese literary and dramatic heritage and Chinese aesthetics. He is noted not only for his productivity and imagination as a playwright but also for his achievements as literary critic and art critic. His scholarly contributions in the field of literary and drama theory and aesthetics have earned him the respect of many colleagues at home and abroad. In 1982, he was centrally involved the creation and good start of the new National Institute of the Arts, having a noted role as the founder of its Drama Department. He was the department's first head as well as the National Institute of Art's first dean of Academic Affairs.  As a teacher at the institute's drama department and the Wenhua University's Graduate School of the Arts, he inspired and influenced many new talents in the field of the theater. It has earned him the reputation of  "the mentor of a generation." 

Yao Yi-wei died in Taiwan in 1997, a few years after having witnessed the demise of the Guomindang's military and bureaucratic dictatorship, a system he never liked. His most notable plays, according to some critics, are Red Nose, A Suitcase, and Restart.  A key collection of his plays is 姚一葦劇作六種 (Yao Yiwei ju zuo liu zhong, published in Taipei by Shulin Publisher (Shulin chuban youxian gongsi) in 2000. 

A Short Bibliography of Works by Yao Yi-wei ( 姚一葦)
(including a few translations done by him and translations of his works)

Mark Twain 吐溫 (Make Tuwen 1835-1910) 湯姆歷險記 (Tang mu li xian ji ), translated by Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), s.l. 1953
[translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer]
also the edition published in 
Hsintien, Taipei:  Zheng zhong,   Minguo 91 [2002]

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 來自鳳凰鎮的人 (Lai zi Fenghuang zhen di ren)
Taipei : Xian dai wen xue she 現代文學社, Minguo 52 [1963]

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 孫飛虎搶親 (Sun Feihu qiang qin)
Taipei : Xian dai wen xue she 現代文學社, Minguo 54 [1965]

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 碾玉觀音 (Nian yu guan yin / Jade Guanyin)
Taipei : Wen xue ji kan she 文學季刊社, Minguo 56 [1967]
See also:  Yiwei YAO ( 姚一葦 , b. 1922),   「碾玉觀音」之研究 ("Nian yu guan yin" zhi yan jiu). Taipei :   n.n.,   minguo 60 (1971)

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922),  紅鼻子 (Hong bi zi / Red Nose) 
s.l. [Taipei],  1968 (?); or already 1965(?)

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 藝術的奧秘 (Yi shu de ao mi )
Taipei : Taiwan kai ming shu dian 臺灣開明書店, Minguo 57 [1968]
10, 1, 399 pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922),     戲劇論集 (Xi ju lun ji)
Taipei : Taiwan kai ming shu dian 臺灣開明書店, Minguo 58 [1969]
2, 2, 243pp.
Taipei : Taiwan kaiming shudian 1988
2, 2, 243pp.

Aristotle [Aristoteles], 詩學箋註 (Shi xue jian zhu [On Poetics]) /  transl. by Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922)
Taipei : Guo li bian yi guan 國立編譯館, Minguo 58 [1969]
2, 217pp.

Robert Louis Stevenson (姚一葦譯 ), 杜里世家 = The master of Ballantrae (Tuli shi jia), translated by Yiwei YAO. 
Taipei : Zheng zhong shu ju 正中書局, Minguo 58 [1969]
4, 287pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922),   「碾玉觀音」之研究 ("Nian yu guan yin" zhi yan jiu)
Taipei :   n.p. : n.n. ,   minguo 60 (1971)

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), The Crown Prince Shen-sheng: a Tragedy in Four Acts. Transl. by Marion Taylor.
87 leaves
s.l. : n.n.,   1972.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 文學論集 (Wenxue lun ji / Wenhsüeh lunchi)
Taipei : Hong Jianquan jiao yu wen hua ji jin hui : Shu ping shu mu chu ban she 洪建全敎育文化基金會 : 書評書目出版社 , Minguo 63 [1974]
2, 2, 316pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 姚一葦戯劇六種 (Yao Yiwei xi ju liu zhong)
Taipei : Hua xin wen hua shi ye zhong xin 華欣文化事業中心, Minguo 64 [1975]
1, 504pp. [Plays; contains the plays:(1)Lai zi Fenghuang Zhen de ren;(2)Sun Feihu qiang qin; (3)Nian yu guanyin; (4)Hong bi zi (Red nose?); (5)Shen sheng;
(6) Yikou xiangzi (A Suitcase).

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922). 姚一葦文錄 (Yao Yiwei wen lu)
Taipei : Hong fan shu dian : zong jing xiao Er ya chu ban she 洪範書店 : 總經銷 爾雅出版社, Minguo 66 [1977]
4, 221pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 傅青主  (Fu Qingzhu)
Taipei : Yuan jing chu ban she 遠景出版社, Minguo 67 [1978]
7, 99pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 美的範疇論 (Mei de fan chou lun)
Taipei : Taiwan gai ming shu dian 臺灣開明書店, Minguo 67 [1978]
3, 1, 384, 9 pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 戏剧 论集 (Xiju lunji)
Taipei : Taiwan kaiming shudian 台湾开明书店, 1979. (4th ed.)
2, 2, 243pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 雲門舞話 (Yun men wu hua)
Taipei : Yuan liu chu ban she 遠流出版社, Minguo 70 [1981]
5, 3, 307 pp., plus  16 unpaged pages with plates (illustrations)

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 戲劇與文學 (戏剧 与 文学 / Xi ju yu wen xue)
Taipei : Yuan jing chu ban shi ye gong si 遠景出版事業公司, Minguo 73 [1984]
2, 8, 192, 16pp.

Kehuan LIN (bian) / Yiwei YAO,  《红鼻子》的舞台艺术 /  "Hong bi zi" de wu tai yi shu
Beijing : Zhongguo xi ju chu ban she : Xin hua shu dian Beijing fa xing suo fa xing 中国戲劇出版社 : 新華书店北京发行所发行, 1984.
2, 3,  298pp.; with 16 unpaged pages of plates [illustrations]

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), Wen lü
Taipei : Hongfan  1985

Pang-Ling CHOU, A translation of Yao Yi-wei's Shen-sheng with introduction
(M.A. thesis; Univ. of Georgia, 1985)
v, 96 leaves

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 我们一同走走看
(Wo men yi tong zou zou kan)
Taipei : Shu lin chu ban you xian gong si 書林出版有限公司, Minguo 76 [1987]
4, 237 pp.
(1)Wo men yi tong zou zou kan --
(2)Zuo Botao --
(3)Fang ke --
(4)Da shu sheng chuan qi --
(5)Mawei yi.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922),  戲劇與文學 (戏剧 与 文学 / Xi ju yu wen xue / Hsi chü yü wen hsüeh)
Taipei :  Lian jing chu ban shi ye gong si /  Lien ching chʻu pan shih yeh kung ssu 聯經出版事業公司, Min kuo 78 [1989]
13, 304pp.
(also 1984)

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 欣賞與批評 (欣赏 与 批评 / Xin shang yu pi ping)
Taipei : Lian jing chu ban shi ye gong si 聯經出版事業公司 [联经出版事业], Min guo 78 [1989]
7, 391pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 說人生 (说 人生, Shuo ren sheng) 
Taipei : Lian jing chu ban shi ye gong si 聯經出版事業公司, Min guo 78 [1989]
2, 215pp. 
Publisher given also in this way: Tʻai-pei shih : Lien ching chʻu pan shih yeh kung ssu, Min kuo 78 [1989] (1990 printing) 

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 審美三論 (Shen mei san lun)
Taipei : Taiwan Kai ming shu dian 臺灣開明書店,  Minguo 81 [1992]
ISBN 9576366402 
ISBN 9789576366406
vii, 186pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 戲劇原理 (Xi ju yuan li / Hsi chü yüan li) 
Taipei : Shu lin chu ban you xian gong si 書林出版有限公司, Minguo 81 [1992]
ISBN 9575862503 
ISBN 9789575862503
v, 251pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), X 小姐 / 重新開始 (X xiao jie / chong xin kai shi)
Taipei : Mai tian chu ban gong si 麥田出版公司, 1994.
ISBN 9577081622 
ISBN 9789577081629
[2 plays]

Yiwei YAO ( 姚一葦 , b. 1922), 戲劇舆人生 : 姚一葦評論集 (Xi ju yu ren sheng : Yao yiwei ping lun ji)
Taipei : Shu lin chun ban you xian gong si 書林出版有限公司, Minguo 84 [1995]
ISBN 9575864921 
ISBN 9789575864927
2, 5, 215pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), The Legend of the Tree God. (Translated and with a foreword by David Jiang)
Leeds (Alumnus)1995
ISBN 0951655760
ISBN 9780951655764

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), 藝術批評 (Yi shu pi ping)
Taipei : San min shu ju 三民書局, Min guo 85 [1996]
ISBN 9571424463 
ISBN 9789571424460
3, 6, 342pp.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922 ), 姚一葦劇作六種 (Yao Yiwei ju zuo liu zhong)
Taipei : Shu lin chu ban you xian gong si 書林出版有限公司, 2000.
ISBN 9575868714 
ISBN 9789575868710
[Mayor collection of his plays]

Mark Twain 吐溫 1835-1910 /  Yiwei YAO ( 姚一葦 , b. 1922), translator, 湯姆歷險記(Tang mu li xian ji )
Hsintien, Taipei  : Zheng zhong 正中, minguo 91 (= 2002) .
ISBN 9570914130 : 
ISBN 9789570914139
[translation of The adventures of Tom Sawyer]
305, [6]pp., ill.
Make Tuwen = Mark Twain 

Yiwei YAO ( 姚一葦 , b. 1922), 戲劇原理 = Drama theory (Xi ju yuan li, drama theory )
Taipei : Shu lin chu ban you xian gong si 書林出版有限公司, 2004.
ISBN 9574450384 
ISBN 9789574450381
ix, 234pp.
(drama theory)

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), Suitcase (transl. by Chou Shan)
Taipei : Hua gang chu ban bu : Zong jing xiao Hua gang shu cheng 華岡出版部: 總經銷華岡書城, Minguo  ?
[Translation of: Yi kou xiang zi] n.d.

Yiwei YAO (姚一葦 , b. 1922), The Various Faces of Life
s.l., n.d.

X隱地 (Yindi [zhu], 1939- )with  Xian-song ZHOU 周賢頌, Yi-wei YAO 姚一葦, Li DUAN 李端,   我的書名就叫書 (Wo dei shu ming jiu jiao shu)
[Appendices (p. 121-140): Rang wo men lai yi ge du shu yun dong / by Zhou Xiansong -- Tan du shu  / by Yao Yiwei -- Jing xin zhuang ding yi ben shu / by  Li Duan.] 

Yao Yi-wei  (Yiwei YAO  姚一葦 , b. 1922), Szenen des Lebens,  n.l. :  n.n., n.d.

Yao Yi-wei (Yiwei YAO  姚一葦 , b. 1922),  Zwei Punkte bezüglich des Studiums europäischen  Theaters,  n.l. :  n.n., n.d.

(compiled by Andreas Weiland)

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