Monday, March 2, 2009

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
First published in French, in 2000, it is about two young Chinese men who are forced to be re-educated and sent to live under harsh conditions on a mountain.  In real life, the author was sent for "re-education" at around the same age as the two main characters of this novel.  He left China in 1984 for France where he still lives. 

Page 6
A few words about re-education: towards the end of 1968, the Great Helmsman of China's Revolution, Chairman Mao, launched a campaign that would leave the country profoundly altered.  The universities were closed and all the "young intellectuals," meaning boys and girls who had graduated from high school, were sent to the countryside to be "re-educated by the poor peasants."
The real reason behind Mao Zedong's decision was unclear.
Page 23
The princess of Phoenix mountain wore pale pink canvas shoes, which were both sturdy and supple and through which you could see her flexing her toes as she worked the treadle of her sewing machine. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the cheap, homemade shoes, and yet, in a place where nearly everyone went barefoot, they caught the eye, seeming delicate and sophisticated. The fine shape of her feet and ankles was set off by white nylon socks.

A long pigtail three or four centimetres wide fell from the nape of her neck down to the small of her back, where the end was tied with a brand-new red silk ribbon.

When she leaned over her sewing machine, the shiny metal base mirrored the collar of her white blouse, her oval face and the sparkle in her eyes - without doubt the loveliest pair of eyes in the district of Yong Jing, if not the entire region.

No comments:

Post a Comment