Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution

By Yan Jiaqi; Gao Gao et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 25

Arts Criticism and
the "Revolution of
Beijing Opera"

IN THE SUMMER OF 1968, after a full two years of conflicts between mass organizations, the zeal among the people was gradually cooling with the establishment of revolutionary committees on the levels of province, municipal, and autonomous regions in China; the implementation of Three Supports and Two Militaries; 1 the assignment of the most radical university graduates and middle-school students to the countryside and the widespread campaign to rectify the class ranks. Only Lin Biao and Jiang Qing were still applying themselves to the realization of their respective goals.


Jiang Qing's Early Artistic Career

From the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, Jiang Qing boasted about herself as the standard-bearer of literature and the arts. She tried to earn political capital by glorifying herself in the world of art. That she chose the world of art to implement her project had everything to do with her early life as an actress.

Jiang Qing was born in 1913 in Zhucheng County, Shandong Province. Her original name was Li Yunhe, and as a child her nickname was Li Jinhai. Later, she took Lan Ping as her stage name. Her grandfather, Li Chunhai, owned more than a hundred mu of land. Her father, Li Dewen, ran a woodcrafts shop for travelers for more than twenty years; he subsequently sold the shop and bought 120 mu of leasable land from a large landowner in the county. 2 Jiang Qing's mother was the second wife of her father. By the time of Jiang Qing's birth, her father was already in his late years, and the financial situation of the family was deteriorating. As a result, Jiang Qing completed only five years of primary school. At the age of fifteen or sixteen, Jiang Qing moved to Ji'nan, where she entered the Shandong Experimental Opera School operated by Wang Bosheng, studying there for one year. She then joined a traveling

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