Children's Literature in China: From Lu Xun to Mao Zedong

By Mary Ann Farquhar | Go to book overview

6 Children's Literature in the People's Republic of China

In 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the birth of a new People's Republic of China. It was led by the Chinese Communist Party, with Mao as Chairman. Between 1949 and Mao's death in 1976, children's literature, like all the arts, was centralized under layers of bureaucracy and harnessed as an instrument of social control and ideological change. Children's literature in this period was a state institution, apparently controlled by either civil or military bureaucracies. However, at the apex of these bureaucracies stood the Communist Party, a parallel and convergent command structure with functions traditionally associated with the state. 1 Thus Party policy determined the development of children's literature in this period.

The problem with Party policy as a defining framework for developments in children's literature is that policy changed constantly. These changes arose from factional power struggles within the Party and from the Maoist imperative to transform the nation's people ideologically through revolutionary struggle. Party policy towards the arts, including arts for children, oscillated between coercive pressure to conform to the Maoist principles of revolutionary popularization as enshrined in the 1942 Yan'an 'Talks', and relaxing of these controls. Children's literature in these decades must therefore be understood in the context of particular periods, marked by major policy shifts and political events (Table 6.1). These periods are: 1949-56, a time of consolidation and relaxation of controls; 1957-65, a period of increasing control over both children's literature and its writers; and 1966-76, called the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, when class struggle was the 'key link' for all cultural activity.

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Children's Literature in China: From Lu Xun to Mao Zedong
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies on Modern China ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 10
  • 1 - The Historical Background 13
  • Conclusion 36
  • Notes 37
  • 2 - Lu Xun and the World of Children 41
  • Conclusion 84
  • Notes 86
  • 3 - A New Children's Literature 91
  • Conclusion 138
  • Notes 139
  • 4 - Revolutionary Children's Literature 143
  • Conclusion 185
  • Notes 187
  • 5 - Comic Books and Popularization 191
  • Conclusion 242
  • Notes 244
  • 6 - Children's Literature in the People's Republic of China 249
  • Conclusion 293
  • Notes 295
  • 7 - The Post-Mao Canon 299
  • Conclusion 305
  • Notes 306
  • Bibliography 307
  • Index 325
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