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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 10:09 GMT
Chinese author Ba Jin turns 100
By Louisa Lim
BBC, Beijing

China is celebrating the 100th birthday of one of its most famous authors, Ba Jin.

Seen as a literary icon whose life symbolises the quest for identity by Chinese intellectuals in the 20th century, there has recently been a revival of interest in his work.

Ba Jin
Ba Jin is still chairman of the China Writers' Association

Newspapers are printing special supplements and star-studded theatre performances of Ba Jin's work are being staged.

But the author himself is unlikely to be celebrating.

Unable to speak or move, he lives in a hospital in Shanghai.

Its medical staff had vowed to keep him alive to see his 100th birthday.

And despite his age and infirmity, the author still holds an official post as the chairman of China's Writers' Association.

He was re-elected to the position two years ago, sparking controversy in literary circles.

Ba Jin's life illustrates a century of China's history.

His most famous work "Family" describes the oppression of growing up in a traditional feudal household.

As a young man he was an anarchist and democracy campaigner and he lived in Paris, returning to China in 1928.

During the cultural revolution he was beaten and imprisoned as a class enemy.

But despite Ba Jin's fame, the authorities have never heeded his calls to build a museum memorialising the cultural revolution's atrocities.

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