The Taiwanese 台灣人 Tâi-Oân Lâng

Welcome to the Taiwanese Site! This is a collection of the stories of the past Taiwanese who had contributed to Taiwan in various aspects. We encourage readers' comments. Contact point, email contact at or ** Last Update April 26, 2012 **

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dr. Lai Ho 賴和 醫師

Dr. Lai Ho

Deep rooted in the literatures of Taiwan…
Embraced the lives of the ordinary people



Lai Ho (賴和, 本名賴河) was born in ChangHua, Taiwan on May 28th 1894. He studied Chinese literature quite early, and entered the Taipei Medical College (later known as National Taiwan University Medical College) when he was 16. One of his classmates was Dr. Du Chong-Ming 杜聰明

Upon graduation, Lai opened up his own clinic in his home town at the age of 22. He practiced medicine and was involved in cultural and creative writing activities throughout his life.

Twice he was arrested (1923, 1941) by the Japanese authority because of his guts and resistance expressed in writings and speeches on the unfair treatments to the fellow Taiwanese by the Japanese government. While in jail, like many great writers, he continued to write. He derived from the traditional poems to the freer form and some novels.

Dr. Lai was known for standing firmly with the Taiwanese all the way. In January 31st 1943 Lai passed away at the Taipei Imperial Medical College Hospital.

He earned his nick name as the Matsu of ChangHua (彰化媽祖) because he dedicated his skills to the patients, especially the poor. While he was not at the clinic, He observed and read and put his thoughts together and wrote.

Throughout his life, he had written more than a thousand poems, articles and novels. To his friends, his writings were as effortless and as natural as breathing (平生慣作性靈詩,珠玉連篇不費思.)

Like Dr. Lim Bo-Seng (林茂生) Dr. Lai was also actively involved in the Taiwan Culture Association (台灣文化協會) which could be considered at that time the Taiwanese cultural oriented think-tank.

In his rather short life (barely half a century) under Japanese control, Lai tirelessly tendered his patients. And his writings had actually opened up a new dimension of the Taiwanese literature.

The power of his works was found in the very common language, first handed and almost naked descriptions, and down right struggles with the people like our grandpas and grandmas and great uncles and great aunts, those senior neighbors, known and unknown, in the fields, on the streets and in the alleys.
In stead of collecting the fees from the patients, Lai collected the stories of their lives, laughs, hope, tears and pains.

Lai probably was not the first Taiwanese physician who involved so much in the writings, but he was certainly among the best.

Dr. Lai was later honored as the Father of the New Taiwanese Literature (灣新文學之父).

Some of his works displayed in Chinese:

Dr. Lai’s official Memorial Hall:

To find out how the Taiwanese language virtually links with other languages:


Blogger leonard said...

Attn to blog author,
I read introduction with interest of Dr. Lai Ho and his works. Did Dr. Lai has a hobby of "painting" using name as "Lai Lang or Lai Huo Lang?" and did Dr. Lai leave any fine art? I am a Taiwanese in Los Angeles and hope to hear from you soon in this regard. My email address is LEONARDUSI@HOTMAIL.COM
Thank you very much for your prompt attention and await speedy yours. Meantime Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

2:45 PM  
Blogger dan said...

Rediscovering Lai He, the 'father of Taiwanese literature'

Dan Bloom (丹布隆)

If the name Lai He is mentioned in Taiwan today, how many people will know
who he is? And if his name is mentioned at a national university
campus or in a high school class today, how many students will know
who this great Taiwanese man

There's an important story here, about an important storyteller.

Lai He was a Hakka man, a doctor, and he is well-known among Taiwanese
who have deep personal feelings for Taiwan as an independent country.
However, for perhaps 90 percent of Taiwan's 23 million people, the name "Lai
He" probably does not register.

So who was this important
short story and peot, this father of Taiwanese literature,
this man for all seasons who died at the age of 50 after being
imprisoned by the Japananese rulers of his beloved, colonized, land?

Lai He was born in 1894 and died in 1943. "Lai He" was a pen name, his
actual name being Lai Yun. He studied to be a doctor,
and he practiced medicine as his primary work, but he
was also a writer, a man of letters, the man who steered Taiwanes
literature in a new direction. But go to any
bookstore today in Taiwan and try to find one of his books or one of
his collections of short stories. Good luck.

In today's fast world of "Farmville" computer
games and YouTube videos and Plurk and cable TV, the life and literary
works of Lai He have all but been forgotten
by the general public. This is not right. His name needs to be
revived and his work re-read and re-examined in light of what has
happened since he left this mortal coil.

Recently, the Council for Hakka Affairs sponsored the publication of a
daily newspaper series of English translations of two of Lai He's
short stories, "A Dissatisfying Yearend" and "The Lever Scale." The
stories were ably translated by Joe Hung, a veteran journalist who now
serves as director of the Central News Agency in Taipei.

For most foreigners in Taiwan, the daily series of translations was
their first introduction to the works of one of this nation's most
important literary treasures. He has rightly been called "the father
of Taiwanese literature" because he was among the first to write about
Taiwan life here in Taiwan -- and for Lai He this meant telling
stories about daily life under Japanese occupation during the
1895-1945 colonial era.

9:04 PM  

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