THROUGH CHINESE EYES: Reconstruction: Transforming a Society, Vol. II by Peter -- Ed. Seybolt
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THROUGH CHINESE EYES: Reconstruction: Transforming a Society, Vol. II

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This new series bears a superficial resemblance to some Praeger publications a few years back, and indeed one selection, on the Long March, has been duplicated from We the Chinese (KR, 1971). However a good deal more ambition and purpose is evident in this two volume anthology: the selections are dearly related to the theme, represent a balanced spectrum of viewpoints and are accompanied by commentary that is consistently helpful and judicious. Excerpts are arranged to contrast traditional and post-revolutionary mores and social structure -- relationships between landlord and peasant under the old system and in a village ""overturned"" by party workers, the changing status of women, family loyalty as described by Lin Yutang as opposed to the party ideal of collective loyalty, the venality of Confucian bureaucrats vs. the puritanical reaction against party leaders during the cultural revolution, even a chapter on the differences (and more surprisingly, the continuity) between classical and contemporary Chinese poetry. Seybolt includes both the approved positive viewpoints of the ""new socialist literature"" and dissents such as Robert Loh's Escape From Red China,' which describes the ""thought reform"" ordeal of an upper class intellectual, and even obvious propaganda pieces, such as ""Meng Hsiang-ying Stands Up,"" the story of a young woman's liberation from the tyranny of husband and mother-in-law, can be surprisingly moving. (Other items, like the Red Guard's shocked accusation that a party functionary and his wife took baths together, are equally surprising in what they reveal about Chinese notions of degeneracy.) Seybolt attempts to place each entry in the context of the revolution's overall goals, yet is never insensitive to personal injustice. Altogether, an unusually productive exercise in anthology-making which should stimulate classroom discussion and enable independent minded young people to see one step beyond the reactions, sympathetic or otherwise, of western observers.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1974
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Praeger