Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1954. First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition in English. Original silk over boards, spine faded half a shade, else near fine, in a jacket with chips at the edges, and a short pen line to the front panel, else very good. Near fine / good. Item #162
I am no panegyrist of Ting Ling (1904?–1986), in fact I know nothing about her, beyond her oft–altered biography, but she was “the” Chinese feminist novelist, and the ultimate Asian uberfrau, bravery indeed in China under Mao. She was a prodigy at Shanghai and Peking Universities and at 28 was appointed editor of the official left wing writer’s journal, but in 1933, her outspoken contempt for male chauvinism earned her 3 years in a Kuomintang prison. A book of stories (When I was in Sha Cuan, 1945) was greeted with the Chinese revolutionary equivalent of rock star popularity, followed by the expected Party discipline (status is measured by deference). Seeking a subject dear to the heart of the Party line, and harmonious with her own sense of integrity, she moved to the countryside, and found an intellectually defensible Communist success story. The result was this novel (1948), a virtuoso study of land reform, which won the Stalin Prize in 1951. Her return to favor included membership on the Cultural and Educational Council, command of the editing department at the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, and Vice–Chairpersonship of the Union of Chinese Writers. Of course, she used her position to increase the pitch of her attacks on male hegemony in the family, and the government. Faster than you can say “Animal Farm” tolerance turned to exasperation, and in 1958 she was purged and sent to raise chickens in the Heilongjiang reclamation area. By 1970 she was in a Communist prison, then reluctantly released in 1975, and finally rehabilitated as “too old to cause trouble” in 1979.