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Heroes of China's Great Leap Forward

Heroes of China's Great Leap Forward: Two Stories

Copyright Date: 2010
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    Heroes of China's Great Leap Forward
    Book Description:

    Heroes of China's Great Leap Forwardpresents contrasting narratives of the most ambitious and disastrous mass movement in modern Chinese history. The objective of the Great Leap, when it was launched in the late 1950s, was to catapult China into the ranks of the great military and industrial powers with no assistance from the outside world; it resulted in a famine that killed tens of millions of the nation's peasants.

    Li Zhun's "A Brief Biography of Li Shuangshuang," written while the movement was underway, celebrates the Great Leap as it was supposed to be: a time of optimism, dynamism, and shared purpose. A spirited young peasant woman, freed from the restrictions of home life, launches a canteen and wins the recognition of authorities and the admiration of her husband. The story-and the film that followed it-made Li Shuangshuang the greatest fictional heroine of the Great Leap. In contrast, Zhang Yigong's short novelThe Story of the Criminal Li Tongzhong,written two decades later, was one of the first works published in China to suggest a much darker side to the Great Leap. A village official leads a raid on a state granary to feed starving peasants; he is later arrested and dies a criminal. Although Zhang stopped short of portraying the horrors of famine, his tone of moral outrage provides a rejoinder to the triumphalism of "Li Shuangshuang."

    The stories are accompanied by an introduction to the Great Leap and portraits of the two writers, including their recollections of that traumatic time and the creation of their very different heroes.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3759-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
    (pp. 1-14)

    Two celebrated works of fiction, written twenty years apart, present very different pictures of rural China in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This was the time of the Great Leap Forward, the utopian scheme designed to catapult China into the ranks of the world’s leading military and industrial powers that instead precipitated the greatest famine of the twentieth century. Li Zhun’s short story “A Brief Biography of Li Shuangshuang,” of which the version translated here was published in 1960, shows the Great Leap Forward as it should have been, and was in the official press of the day: a...

    (pp. 15-62)
    Li Zhun and Richard King

    Li Shuangshuang is the wife of Sun Xiwang of the Sun Family Village Brigade of our commune, and is twenty-six or twenty-seven years old this year. Before the establishment of the commune and the Great Leap Forward, there were very few in the village who knew her name was Shuangshuang, because she already had two or three children when still very young. In the days of the agricultural collectives, she was seldom able to head out to the fields to do any work. Even when she put in a few days of labor during the busy season around the wheat...

    (pp. 63-128)
    Zhang Yigong and Richard King

    Why does it always have to rain at Qingming?¹ Fine strands of silent rain wove themselves into a silver net, enmeshing the thoughts that swirled in the mind of the District Party Secretary Tian Zhenshan.

    Tian Zhenshan was riding in a jeep, traveling to a remote county in the mountains to attend a ceremony that would restore the good name of a Party branch secretary.

    This Party branch secretary was a man who had left the human world nineteen years before. Over the course of those nineteen years, history had brought unimaginable turmoil and played who knows how many terrible...

    (pp. 129-132)
  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 133-139)