Cao Wenxuan Lecture on “My Life, My Literature”


Prof. Cao Wenxuan of Peking University is a well-known author of children’s books in China and in 2016 was winner of what has been called the Nobel Prize of children’s literature—the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing. On Jan. 20, 2019, Prof. Cao visited the International Library of Children’s Literature and delivered a lecture entitled “Cao Wenxuan: My Life, My Literature.”

Prior to Prof. Cao’s lecture, Prof. Tomoko NARUMI of Osaka Kyoiku University gave an overview of children’s literature in China, during which she introduced Prof. Cao’s achievements and described him as a leading figure in modern Chinese children’s literature.

Prof. Cao began his lecture by saying “I was born and raised near the water.” During the first half of his lecture, he talked about his own life and literature. He said that the days he spent near water in his childhood have always inspired him to write stories. He also indicated that strength and flexibility are two characteristics of water that can also be seen in prose and poetry.

During the last half of his lecture, he described literature as having an essence that never changes over time but continues to express universal values such as solemnity, earnestness, gracefulness, and elegance. He also said that it was futile to categorize literature and that there wasn’t any real distinction between literature and children’s literature per se. He concluded his lecture by reiterating that he had been “born and raised near the water.”

In responding to a questionnaire about the lecture, 92% of the respondents expressed overall satisfaction. Comments from the audience included the following: “His thoughts on water and literature were poetic, reflective, and philosophical, which stimulated my imagination,” “His lecture itself was literature,” “The whole lecture was really beautiful and interesting,” and “Prof. Narumi’s comments helped me understand Mr. Cao’s universe.”

Additional details are available (in Japanese) at the following link.


(2019.5.21 update)