May 20, 2015

TURNS OUT IT WAS REALITY THAT WAS BIASED AGAINST IT:

Mao's China: The Language Game (Perry Link, 5/19/15, NY Review of Books)

It can be embarrassing for a China scholar like me to read Eileen Chang's pellucid prose, written more than sixty years ago, on the early years of the People's Republic of China. How many cudgels to the head did I need before arriving at comparable clarity? My disillusioning first trip to China in 1973? My reading of the devastating journalism of Liu Binyan in 1980? Observation of bald lies in action at the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 and in the imprisonment of a Nobel Peace laureate in more recent times? Did I need all of this to catch up to where Chang was in 1954 in her understanding of how things worked in Communist China, beneath the blankets of jargon? In graduate school I did not take Chang's Naked Earth (published in Chinese in 1954 and translated by Chang into English in 1956) and its sister novel, The Rice-Sprout Song (also published in 1954 and translated by Chang into English in 1955), very seriously. People said the works had an anti-Communist bias.

Sadly, it was instead 50 million Chinese who were getting the cudgel, not the fellow travellers in the West.
Posted by at May 20, 2015 7:03 PM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« PURITAN NATION: | Main | THE ORIGINAL TRUTHER: »