Xie's decades of political engagement [were]... full of social and personal experiments, of individual stories worked out in the interstices of big and visible events, of people negotiating daily life without knowing how the political story would end. Xie's autobiography is a precious glimpse into that vanished world of revolutionary uncertainty.
In lyrical, flowing prose, this absorbing autobiography interweaves politics, family relations and romance as it chronicles an extraordinary woman's struggle to free herself from traditional Chinese society. Born into a conventional family, Xie Bingying (1906-2000) was expected to be an obedient daughter and, later, daughter-in-law. A girl's education was largely restricted to learning how to spin cotton and embroider. Xie's reading was limited to such books as Teach Your Daughter Traditional Rules. Her fate was to be determined by her parents and a matchmaker. From an early age, Xie rebelled against these circumstances. Despite her mother's scolding, she dared to venture outside to play with the boys, and she fought fiercely against having her feet bound. In this chronicle of the first 32 years of her life, gracefully translated by her daughter and son-in-law, Xie recounts her efforts to secure an education, escape from an arranged marriage, raise an infant while a single mother and, chiefly, forge political change in China as a soldier in the National Revolutionary Army fighting the warlords who dominated much of China in the 1920s, and against the Japanese in the 1930s. Drawn to the bohemian life, Xie scoffed at financial and physical security, and gloried in her image as a "warrior who opposes all feudal rule," even when her choices summoned hunger, loneliness and imprisonment. The happiest day of her early life, she recalls, was the day in 1928 when her War Diary was published. She went on to become a noted author of novels, other autobiographical works and essays. This story of a Chinese feminist makes social and political issues of 20th-century China dramatically accessible to thelay reader. 12 photos, 3 maps. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The efforts of women to emancipate themselves from restrictive social and family bonds is one of the central themes of modern Chinese history. A high degree of grit, intelligence, perseverance, and luck was required to succeed, particularly in the early decades of the 20th century. Xie Bingying had all those qualities in spades. Like a rocket escaping the pull of gravity, she hurtled from the remote village in central China where she was born in 1906 to a bohemian existence in urban China and eventually to a successful career as a teacher, essayist, novelist, and social activist. In 1927, she became a soldier in the Nationalist Army during its famous Northern Expedition. Her vivid and emotionally charged memoir, covering the first third of her life, was first published in China 60 years ago and is translated here by her daughter and son-in-law. An exemplar of the "new woman," Xie was an idealist and a romantic given to florid writing that matches the impressive melodrama of her life. For larger public and academic libraries. [Although sympathizing with the ideals of the Communist party, Xie Bingying was not a Communist and moved to Taiwan in 1948, becoming an ardent opponent of Mao. Ed.] Steven I. Levine, Univ. of Montana, Missoula Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A first English translation of an autobiography whose initial volume was published in 1936 in Shanghai introduces a feisty woman warrior who defied-not always successfully-her autocratic traditional family, wrote prolifically, served on the front, and loved passionately. Xie Bingying, born in 1906 in a Chinese village (and died in 2000 in San Francisco, where she had lived since 1974), lived in proverbially interesting times-as Warlords and Nationalist and Communist forces fought for power and Japan invaded. A romantic idealist rather than cold-blooded theoretician, Xie ruefully recalls her life from childhood until the 1938 Japanese invasion, when she nursed soldiers at the front. The daughter of a scholar, who taught her to read, she was determined not to be a conventional woman of the period. Though she deeply loved her equally strong-willed mother, she strongly resisted having her feet bound-but to no avail. Then, when her mother refused to let her continue her education, she threatened suicide. Betrothed since childhood to a neighbor's son, Xie again tried to defy her mother when the marriage was to take place. She ran away, was caught, held prisoner, and eventually went through with the ceremony in 1927, though the marriage was soon annulled. Xie moved to Beijing, had lovers, and bore an illegitimate daughter. Even before the marriage, however, Xie was writing for progressive publications, had joined a regiment in Chiang Kai-shek's army, and fought the feudal warlords. She later studied in Japan to study, was imprisoned briefly for her political views, and, back in China, continued to write and teach. Despite intimidation, poverty, and often near-starvation, Xie continuedfearlessly to fight for change and women's rights. Without a chronology, an autobiography that reprises the high and low points of a life can make for a riveting but at times confusing story. Nonetheless, this is an evocative self-portrait of a Chinese woman who really was a warrior.