The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System

The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System

by Perry Link

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Overview

The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System by Perry Link

Why do people in socialist China read and write literary works? Earlier studies in Western Sinology have approached Chinese texts from the socialist era as portraits of society, as keys to the tug-of-war of dissent, or, more recently, as pursuit of "pure art." The Uses of Literature looks broadly and empirically at these and many other "uses" of literature from the points of view of authors, editors, political authorities, and several kinds of readers. Perry Link, author of Evening Chats in Beijing, considers texts ranging from elite "misty" poetry to underground hand-copied volumes (shouchauben) and shows in concrete detail how people who were involved with literature sought to teach, learn, enjoy, explore, debate, lead, control, and resist.

Using the late 1970s and early 1980s as an entree to the workings of China's "socialist literary system," the author shows how that system held sway from 1950 until around 1990, when an encroaching market economy gradually but fundamentally changed it. In addition to providing a definitive overview of how the socialist Chinese literary system worked, Link offers comparisons to the similar system in the Soviet Union. In the final chapter, the book seeks to explain how the word "good" was used and understood when applied to literary works in such systems.

Combining aspects of cultural and literary studies, The Uses of Literature will reward anyone interested in the literature of modern China or how creativity is affected by a "socialist literary system."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691001982
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 02/14/2000
Pages: 386
Product dimensions: 7.75(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.03(d)

About the Author

Perry Link is Professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University, where he teaches modern Chinese language, literature, and cultural history. His books include Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies and Evening Chats in Beijing.

Table of Contents


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS vii

A NOTE ON DOCUMENTATION ix

INTRODUCTION 3

CHAPTER ONE Historical Setting 13

Warming, 1976-1979 15

Cooling, 1980-1983 22

Perspectives 36

CHAPTER TWO The Mechanics of Literary Control 56

A Spectrum of Newpoints 56

What Was Controlled? 59

The Literary Control System 63

The Mechanics of Relaxation 68

The Mechanics of Tightening 81

Soviet Comparisons 97

CHAPTER THREE Writers 104

Tradition of Responsibility 104

The Modern Crisis and the Idea of a "Path"106

Establishing National Guidelines 108

Effects of the Anti-Rightist Campaign 110

Maoist Utopianism in Command 113

Kinds and Groups of Writers 116

The Writers' Association 118

Generational Differences 122

Livelihood 129

Dissent 138

Purposes 142

CHAPTER FOUR Media and Market 167

Distribution: Official and Public 167

Distribution: Restricted, Semiofficial, and Unofficial 183

Related Media: Stage, Film, Radio, and Television 198

CHAPTER FIVE Readers: The Popular Level 210

Readership (Audience) Groups 212

Popular Entertainment 220

CHAPTER SIX Readers: Socially Engaged Level 249

Intrusive Politics 254

Special Privilege and Abuse of Power 258

Pervasive Corruption 260

Styles of Bureaucratism 263

The Need for Rule of Law 270

The Problem of Truth 272

The Place of Romance 278

CHAPTER SEVEN The Uses of Literature 284

The Party and Its "Engineering" 286

Problems with Engineering 289

Retreat ftom Engineering 294

Secondary Uses of Engineering 296

The Variety of Other Uses 300

Transcending "Uses" 319

Use and Quality 322

SELECT GLOSSARY OF CHINESE CHARACTERS 333

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS CITED IN THE NOTES 339

INDEX 369

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