Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes

By Li Yu-Ning | Go to book overview

20
Mother's Books

P'an Ch'i-chün

A PROLIFIC writer, P'an Ch'i-chün ( 1917-), known by her pen-name, Ch'i-chün, has published several dozen collections of stories, essays, and sketches. Childhood memories of life in her hometown of Yung-chia in Chekiang Province provide many of her favorite themes, but both in style and subject matter, she also draws on the classical literary tradition, which she studied in her youth and majored in at Chih-chiang University in Hangchou.

The following memoir (from Liu-yü t' a-nien shuo meng-hen [Vestiges of dreams saved for future conversation] [Taipei: Hung-fan Bookstore, 1980], pp. 1-7) is typical of the warmth with which she evokes the everyday life of ordinary people. It is included here as a reminder that, for many women, growing up in a traditional family environment was a positive experience. For, although the title indicates that the subject is her mother, the author herself is also present throughout, both as the growing daughter under her loving mother's care and as the mature, reflective writer whose appreciation of her mother's influence on her own development pervades the memoir. The result is a depiction of a mother-daughter relationship very different from other autobiographies in this collection; the contrast with Hsieh Ping-ying (chapter 12) is particularly striking. In keeping with the best in the Confucian tradition, Ch'i-chün's mother educates her by being the role model of a proper mother and wife, and a moral human being, as well as by transmitting what she believes to be practical knowledge. Character is central, for the mature author no longer shares many of her mother's beliefs and values; her modern education has taught her to be more skeptical, and to know that the

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