A Woman Soldier's Own Story: The Autobiography of Xie Bingying

A Woman Soldier's Own Story: The Autobiography of Xie Bingying

A Woman Soldier's Own Story: The Autobiography of Xie Bingying

A Woman Soldier's Own Story: The Autobiography of Xie Bingying

Synopsis

For the first time, a complete version of the autobiography of Xie Bingying (1906-2000) provides a fascinating portrayal of a woman fighting to free herself from the constraints of ancient Chinese tradition amid the dramatic changes that shook China during the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.

Xie's attempts to become educated, her struggles to escape from an arranged marriage, and her success in tricking her way into military school reveal her persevering and unconventional character and hint at the prominence she was later to attain as an important figure in China's political culture. Though she was tortured and imprisoned, she remained committed to her convictions. Her personal struggle to define herself within the larger context of political change in China early in the last century is a poignant testament of determination and a striking story of one woman's journey from Old China into the new world.

Excerpt

Xie Bingying

WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I COULD NOT UNDERSTAND WHY REBELLING against my parents was such a bad thing. I only wanted to be educated, just like my brothers, and to escape the feudal traditions of having my feet bound and my marriage arranged. I joined the Northern Expedition and fought the warlords partly to gain my country's freedom, partly to gain my own. This book describes the first thirty-two years of my life. It is the story of a Chinese girl who wanted to choose her own destiny in a country bound up in tradition and prejudice. I began the autobiography at the suggestion of Lin Yutang, who wished to publish it in Universal Wind, a magazine he edited at that time. I began writing it when I was in Changsha and I completed the first volume in the spring of 1936.

Many newspapers in Shanghai and Nanjing gave the book favorable reviews when it appeared, calling it a sincere and truthful description of a young girl's struggle to educate herself and to rebel against suffocating feudal traditions. In those days many young girls were in the same situation as I, but often they were not as lucky as I in gaining their freedom—yet they continued to struggle. As a result of their efforts, most modern Chinese women do not suffer the pain of bound feet, and many have escaped the shame of arranged marriages. Also, many now receive an education equal to that which men receive. All these are signs of human progress.

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