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One Day in China

May 21, 1936

Format: Hardback
Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven, United States
Published: 1st Jul 1983
Dimensions: w 160mm h 250mm
Weight: 680g
ISBN-10: 0300028342
ISBN-13: 9780300028348
Barcode No: 9780300028348
Depicts the activities and experiences of people from all over China and at every level of society on an ordinary day.

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Kirkus US
Maxim Gorky's idea of compiling a written record of one day in the world inspired Chinese novelist Mao Dun (1896-1981) to solicit contributions from the public-at-large for a record of a single day in China. The original result, published in September 1936, consisted of 469 specially-written pieces (out of more than 3,000 received), plus newspaper clippings and illustrations. For this book, 84 pieces were selected (these are the first translations) and grouped around four main themes: "family," which includes clan and ancestral relations; "heads," which encompasses familial and governmental authority; "superstitions"; and "Chinese traitors," which concerns the struggle against the Japanese. These were recurring themes, the editors explain. (The original was arranged geographically.) This is not, however, the unposed snapshot of Chinese life that the original editors, or the new ones, would like: the respondents were heavily weighted toward students and teachers, and none came from the Communist-controlled north. Thus, the sample is skewed toward the small, literate middle class - eliminating, also, quite different viewpoints on authority, women, and the fight against the Japanese. One female student describes a visit from her older sister, who had previously written letters about the need for women to break out of their traditional Chinese roles; the writer is disappointed to discover her sister in one of those conventional roles as a young wife. Another contributor tells of seeing a young wife released from jail into the arms of her husband's Godfather-style family; the woman pleads to be kept in prison - and, refused, is pounced upon by her legal captors and dragged into their long, dark sedan. A teacher writes mockingly about the requirement that he denounce the Chinese Communist "bandits" regularly to his class, while another decries the crowd before the "Living Bodhisattva" who, for a fee, dispenses predictions and prescribes sacred water for blindness. A high school student, in a school run by collaborators, tells of expunging parts of history books in anticipation of a Japanese visit; but when the students get upset, the teacher encourages them to remember the excised lessons. Most of the selections are written in a wearisome, self-consciously "literary" style ("Thus ended this tragic scene!"), and nothing surprising is revealed. Of use nonetheless for particular, if limited, purposes. (Kirkus Reviews)