The Hurricane

The Hurricane

The Hurricane

The Hurricane

Excerpt

When I arrived in Northeast China in the winter of 1946 the land reform was already in progress. The Northeast Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was then calling upon government workers to go to the countryside to lead the peasants in this mass movement. The contradictions and struggles between peasants and landlords were among the main contradictions and struggles of our time and I knew that the land reform was one of the keys to victory in our revolution. This understanding, combined with a sense of duty to the revolution, made me eager to be sent to the countryside. At that time, I wanted only to plunge myself heart and soul into the struggle; I had no idea of writing a novel.

In order to carry out the land reform successfully, it was necessary to live with the peasant masses and to feel as they did. During the several months of our stay in villages in the northern part of Northeast China, we lived and worked with these tillers of the land. We ate like them, our daily meals consisting of nothing but ground maize and salted vegetables. To have lived a little better would have meant to detach ourselves from the masses for, after fourteen years of cruel oppression and exploitation under Japanese rule, the life of the peasants in the Northeast was extremely hard. Many of them were living on wild herbs and acorns while girls of seventeen or eighteen went around half-naked for want of clothes.

At the beginning, the peasants did not understand us: they could judge us only by what they saw of us. It was not until they had found that we were actually living simply and eating even worse than they that they were convinced that we had come for their good and that we harboured no ulterior motives. We put away our leather shoes for fear that such shoes would remind them of the puppet Manchukuo police who had persecuted them. And soon, as a result of such self-denial on our part, the peasants came to trust us and to show concern for our well-being and safety. At night, . . .

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