Monday, 26 January 2009

Bound Feet

Xin xin ran zhang kai le yan
- Zhu Ziquing

(With pleasure, Nature opened its eyes, to new things)

Today is Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox, and Vietnamese Tet, Year of the Water Buffalo. I am listening to an audiobook of Jung Chang's 'Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China' and feeling so aware of freedom of speech. The blogosphere is proof of the freedom of lively conversation and cultural debates, sharing of opinions and images and historical moments. It is good to take a moment to appreciate the wonder of our unburned books and individuality.
Here is the section I am currently reading:

"My parents were under permanent orders to stay at home and wait to be summoned to the next meeting. Going into hiding was out of the question. The whole of China was like a prison. Every house, every street was watched by the people themselves. In this vast land, there was nowhere anyone could hide. My parents could not go out for relaxation either. 'Relaxation' had become an obsolete concept: books, paintings, musical instruments, sports, cards, chess, teahouses, bars - all had disappeared. The parks were desolate, vandalized wastelands in which the flowers and the grass had been uprooted and the tame birds and goldfish killed. Films, plays, and concerts had been banned...We hardly even thought of going out for a walk."


If you click on the link above (on Jung Chang's name) it will lead you to the BBC Woman's Hour radio broadcast with the author talking about coming to England, Mao, and trying to be a writer despite the Cultural Revolution. She is enchanting. Another extraordinary book I discovered some years ago is Xinran's 'The Good Women of China'. It is a collection of stories recorded by a brave radio presenter, of even braver Chinese women, some of whom have never left my memory. If you have read anything that left a particularly vivid impression, do let me know.

So, Happy New Year again to us all. I will eat my orange one segment at a time, and 'open my eyes to new things'.

3 comments:

A Cuban In London said...

I loved 'Wild Swans' (http://cubaninlondon.blogspot.com/2008/03/wild-swans-tude.html). Although 'loved' is the wrong word in the context of what she suffered. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

willow said...

I am putting this book on my library list. Thanks so much for the nice review.

willow said...

Oh, and about the Dorianne Laux poetry. She has at several little paperback books of her poetry out there. I have "Smoke" and "What We Carry" which both have some nice works in them. I can't say that I love all her poems, but some are outstanding.

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