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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 00:42 GMT 01:42 UK
Chinese literary icon Ba Jin dies
Ba Jin
Ba Jin suffered from heart problems and Parkinson's Disease
One of China's most famous writers has died at the age of 101, after a six-year battle with cancer.

Ba Jin was seen as a literary icon who symbolised the quest for identity by 20th Century Chinese intellectuals.

His best known novels, published in the 1930s, described traditional pre-Communist family hierarchies.

Hailed by the new government in 1949, he fell from favour during the Cultural Revolution but in his later years was rehabilitated and became famous.

"We have lost one of the most sensitive hearts of our time and one of the most important and widely read Chinese writers of the 20th Century," China Daily newspaper quoted Fudan University professor Chen Sihe as saying of his death.

Honorary posts

Ba Jin was born in 1904 in the western city of Chengdu.

He became an anarchist and democracy campaigner and lived in Paris, returning to China in 1928.

In 1931 he wrote his most famous novel, Family, describing the oppression of growing up in a feudal household.

As an opponent of the old regime, he was praised by Chairman Mao Zedong's Communists.

But in the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution he suffered the same fate as many intellectuals, branded a counter-revolutionary, publicly humiliated and imprisoned.

He was rehabilitated in 1977 and given several honorary posts such as chairman of the Chinese Writers' Association, which he held for more than 20 years.

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

In his last years he was confined in a hospital in Shanghai, unable to speak or move.

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