Lingnan University’s Centre for Humanities Research held the “Hong Kong Literature and Culture of the 1950s Seminar Series” (12) and (13) on 7 and 18 December respectively.
Dr Chin Wan, Assistant Professor of Department of Chinese, was invited to discuss “Ye Lingfeng and Hong Kong Naturography” at the Seminar Series (12), while Prof C C Liu, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, spoke about “Enchanting Moments in a Painful Era – The Migrant Musicians from Mainland to Hong Kong in the 1940s” during the seminar series (13).
Published in 1958, Ye Lingfeng’s Hong Kong Naturography is a book of the author’s observations of various animals and related stories sprinkled with information from natural science and folklore studies. Dr Chin pointed out that although Ye’s tone of writing seems light and soft, it also reveals his dismay and deep thoughts between the lines. He has written the preface of a new edition of Hong Kong Naturography published by Chunghwa Books in 2011.
Dr Chin also read three essays from the book, namely “Mermaid”, “Tigers of Hong Kong” and “Collared Reed Snake” at the seminar, after which he shared with the audience the legend of mermaids in Hong Kong, stories about tigers in Hong Kong during the 1930s and his childhood memories about collared reed snakes.
In his seminar, Prof Liu introduced musicians from mainland China during the 1940s, including Hu Ran (1912-1971), Zhao Meibo (1905-2001), Hwang Yau-tai (1912-2010), Lin Sheng-shih (1914-1991), Shao Guang (1919-1983), Yip Shun-chi (1926-1997) and Harold H T Wei (1906-1993). During the civil war, they abandoned their music careers on the mainland and fled to Hong Kong in the 1940s. Given the differences in their values and education background from those of the Hong Kong intelligentsia of the time, these migrant musicians were confronted with all sorts of undue prejudice. However, they still had an impact on the music industry in Hong Kong during the post-war decades. For those migrant musicians, the 1940s-1950s might be painful years with enchanting moments.
Before the end of the seminar, Prof Liu also played some of his music collections, including an art song Your Dream by Lin Sheng-shih, with lyrics by poet Xu Xu.