Individualism in Chinese Literature

4 April 2015
Compares views of Mao Zedong in a speech & Wang Meng & Bei Dao in two short stories.

This study will examine three works of Chinese literature in terms of the ways in which different writers depict the notion of individualism or the individual. The three works are Mao Zedong’s Talks at the Yan’an Conference on Literature and Art,
Wang Meng’s A Young Man Arrives at the Organization Department, and Bei Dao’s An Artist’s Life. Mao’s speech is thoroughly anti-individualistic. Meng’s story is far more individualistic, but its lightly satirical focus on an artist’s troubles with the Chinese bureaucracy hardly produces a counter-revolutionary glorification of individualism. Dao’s poem is the most purely individualistic and experimental of the three, and the most free of any concern with ideology, whether treated reverently (as with Mao) or satirically (as with Meng).

Individualism is a threat to Mao and the Marxist ideology.

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