BA JIN, by Olga LANG

VANZETTI, Bartolomeo (1888-1927)SACCO, Nicola (1891-1927)GOLDMAN, Emma (1869-1940)BAJIN (1904-2005) BERKMAN, Alexander (1870-1936)KEEL, Thomas H.Chinese RevolutionLANG, Olga (1898-1992)

From the book: FAMILY by Pa Chin

Anchor Books edition: 1972


Ba Jin (1938)

Pa Chin (Li Fei-kan) is one of the outstanding figures of modern Chinese literature [1]. He was very popular in China during the 1930s and 1940s, especially among the youth who were increasingly influential in Chinese political life in the twentieth century. Pa Chin wrote fiction, literary essays, and political articles, but his best works, and those which made him famous, were his novels describing the life of educated Chinese youth. The most successful of these has been Family, which forms the first part of his autobiographical trilogy, Turbulent Stream.

Pa Chin owed his popularity to the fact that his young readers readily identified with his characters. In his novels they saw the reflection of their own lives, their own sufferings and struggles. They were attracted not only by his ability to grapple with the crucial problems of the times, but also by his warm humanitarianism and his belief in the ultimate victory of his ideals. Though primarily realistic, Pa Chin’s fiction contains a great deal of romanticism which struck a responsive chord in his young readers.

Pa Chin did not belong to the most influential political movements of the period. At the age of fifteen he became an anarchist, and he continued to identify with anarchism until the Communist revolution of 1949. Few of his readers, however, followed in his political footsteps: the majority of those who became politically active joined either the Kuomintang or the Communist Party. Pa Chin, nevertheless, did influence them. True to his anarchist ideas, he taught them to rebel against despotism and oppression in every form. A particular target of his attacks was the old Chinese family system, which deprived the young of their freedom of action and their right to love and marry according to their own choice. Young men and women growing up during a period in which they felt they had "to shoulder the responsibility for their country," as Pa Chin put it, often asked the question: "What is to be done?" Pa Chin gave them an answer. He called for action and tried to convince his readers that the only effective way to act was the revolutionary way. In his fiction and essays he presented models for emulation in the Russian revolutionary idealists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as well as in the Chinese revolutionaries of his time.

Like so many other intellectuals of his generation, Pa Chin keenly felt the impact of Western political and moral ideas and literary trends. His disposition, his innate craving for freedom and justice, led him to embrace the Western humanist tradition. Three Western ideologies were of primary importance in the formation of his political ideas: international anarchism, Russian populism, and the French Revolution.

The greatest literary influences on Pa Chin’s works were the Russian classical writers, above all Turgenev, as well as the memoirs of Russian revolutionaries. But he was also influenced by French writers, especially Zola, Maupassant, and Romain Rolland. All these influences were superimposed on the style and methods inherited by the young writer from the magnificent old Chinese realist novels and short stories and from Chinese poetry. It must be stressed, however, that when Pa Chin used foreign ideas and literary devices he did so because they helped him to perceive and represent the new realities of Chinese life, which often bore a closer resemblance to Western life than to that of Old China. In many cases the resemblance between the situations and motivations described by Pa Chin and those apparent in Western literature are due less to influences and borrowings than to the similarity of circumstances described. This also explains the preponderance of Russian influence. As he himself once put it, "I liked them [the Russian writers] tremendously because the conditions of life in Russia resembled those of the Chinese people of that period. The character, the aspirations, and tastes of the Russians were somewhat similar to ours."

The reader of Family will see, however, that foreign influences did not change the essentially Chinese nature of Pa Chin’s novels. At the same time the poetic quality of his descriptions and the vividness of his characters lend them a universal appeal.

In many respects Pa Chin was a typical Chinese intellectual of the twentieth century. Even his fascination with anarchism could be found in the biographies of many men and women who played an important role in shaping the life of China in our time, including some prominent members of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party.

Pa Chin was born in 1904 of the wealthy and educated Li family in Chengtu, the capital of the province of Szechuan in southwest China. From the age of twenty-three, when he signed his first novel Destruction, the journalist, known until then as Li Fei-kan, used the pen name Pa Chin under which he became famous. He chose this name to express his adherence to anarchism; "Pa" in Chinese transcription stands for the first syllable of the name Bakunin and "Chin" for the last syllable of the name Kropotkin. Those who gave him the name Fei-kan drew their inspiration from an entirely different source: these words, meaning "sweet shelter," were taken from the Book of Odes, one of the ancient sacred books of China.

The change from Fei-kan to Pa Chin is symbolic of the great change that took place in China during the writer’s life time. When Pa Chin was born the structure of the old Empire was still standing, though already deeply shaken by foreign aggression and internal strife. In 1911-12, when he was seven years old, the monarchy was overthrown and the Republic proclaimed. His adolescence and early youth spanned civil wars, the victory of the Kuomintang (Sun Yat-sen’s Nationalist Party) over the warlords, and the appearance on the Chinese scene of the Communist Party, soon to develop into a formidable force. The time when he became an influential writer coincided with the twenty-first year of Kuomintang rule and the war with Japan. He was a mature man of forty-five when, in 1949, the Communist Party seized power, and he lived through the tumultuous years of the establishment of socialism in his ancient country.

The first nineteen years of Pa Chin’s life were spent, with a short interruption, in the large family mansion in Chengtu, a household consisting of fifty Li family members and their forty-five servants, ruled autocratically by his grandfather. After his parents’ death, the twelve-year-old boy was very unhappy and lonely in this family, which he called "a despotic kingdom." He felt the pressure of his grandfather’s iron hand especially painfully when the old man forbade him to enter a modern school. But after the grandfather’s death in 1917 the family had to yield to the wishes of the younger generation. Without the authority of the strong-willed patriarch, the family could not resist the fresh wind of change created by the New Culture Movement of 1915-22 (also known as the May 4th Movement). The initiators of this movement were convinced that in order to survive as a free and independent state, China had to reject completely the traditional outlook on life, particularly Confucianism, and to create a new culture. Most significant was the demand for a leading role of youth in the new China. And the New Culture Movement itself provided the first example: it was initiated and led exclusively by the younger generation of professors and students.

In working out the principles of the new culture the participants of the movement accepted from the West not only its technology, as did some enlightened members of the older generation, but also many of its political, social, and moral values. The publications of that time were full of material intended to familiarize readers with various Western political, social and philosophical theories, including Marxism and anarchism. Anarchism was already rather influential among the radically inclined intelligentsia at that time, and Marxism gained momentum after the Russian Revolution of 1917. The importance of science and democracy, the respect for the individual and his duty toward society, and a critical attitude toward life and ideas were especially emphasized. An important feature of the New Culture Movement was the impetus it provided for the tendency to establish the spoken language as the literary medium in place of the dead classical language. Simultaneously new themes, new style and new content reflecting modern life and ideas were introduced into literature. All these and also some Western influence had a beneficial effect on Chinese literature and the subsequent three decades belong to one of the most productive periods in its history.

In 1919 the youth actively and successfully intervened in Chinese political life. In a demonstration on May 4th the students of Peking University initiated a protest movement against the decisions of the Versailles Peace Conference which were detrimental to China’s interests. The initiative of the young intellectuals found wide support among the people of China, and under the pressure of public opinion, the Chinese delegation at Versailles refused to sign the peace treaty. This political action provided a great stimulus for the New Culture Movement. Periodicals and books spreading its ideas filled bookstores all over the country, and the anarchist groups numerous at that time greatly contributed to this flow.

In due course the wave of the movement reached the city of Chengtu, and the new literature came into the hands of the fifteen-year-old Pa Chin. From early childhood the sensitive, frail boy was sympathetic to the poor and oppressed. He realized that his grandfather’s mansion harbored two worlds: the upper world where the family lived, and the lower world—the cold dingy rooms relegated to the servants. "I don’t want to be a young master," he decided, "I want to be on their [the servants] side, I want to help them." Lonely and not understood by his family, the boy found his friends in books. He was greatly impressed by the new literature which helped him articulate his desire "to sacrifice himself for the happiness of humanity." Of decisive importance in his life were the popular anarchist publications in Chinese translation: Kropotkin’s "An Appeal to the Young," Emma Goldman’s articles on anarchism, and a drama called On the Eve, depicting the life of Russian revolutionary terrorists before the 1905 revolution. These books decided Pa Chin’s fate; he became a "Kropotkinite"—an anarchist-communist—and found in Emma Goldman his "spiritual mother."

The next step was the desire to carry his ideas into practice, and the young man joined the local anarchist group. He became the group’s most active member, taking part in the students’ demonstrations against the local war lords, distributing revolutionary leaflets, and organizing a reading room on the premises of the local anarchist journal, to which he began to contribute articles. Thus at the early age of fifteen Pa Chin became an anarchist and a writer.

Relations between the young members of the Li family improved at that time, when many of them became interested in the new trends. Pa Chin was especially fond of his eldest brother. Yet his greatest emotional satisfaction was derived from his friendship with the members of his group. From then on friendship played a great role in his life and in the role of the characters in his fiction.

This period of Pa Chin’s life gave him the material for his trilogy, Turbulent Stream.

In 1923, after an energetic struggle, he won the consent of his family to continue his studies in a big city, and moved first to Shanghai and then to Nanking. In 1925 he graduated from a high school in Nanking but he did not enter the University of Peking as he had planned. He was carried away by a new upsurge of the revolutionary movement in China, the May 30th Movement, which derived its name from the date of the great demonstration in support of the striking workers of a Japanese-owned factory in Shanghai. The demonstration was brutally suppressed by the British police of the International Settlement and many of the participants were killed.

After May 30th Pa Chin lived in Shanghai and was very active in the anarchist movement. He translated from English, French and Esperanto, wrote on social and political problems, and did some work in the trade unions. The most important of his works at that time was a pamphlet called Chicago Tragedy, telling the story of the Haymarket affair of 1886 in which five Chicago anarchists were sentenced to death on trumped-up charges.

In the 1920s the anarchist movement in China, as everywhere in the world, was on the decline. Many of its adherents were forsaking it for the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, which promised more practical ways to achieve their aims. The cause of communism was greatly helped by the victory of Bolshevism in Russia and by the Soviet government’s abrogation of unequal treaties. But Pa Chin remained faithful to anarchism. He was a young man imbued with a feeling of compassion for the people and a desire to help them, with a craving for justice and freedom. Anarchism, striving for a happy, just and free society, through the teaching of Kropotkin, which has been aptly described as "applied ethics," was his choice. It was also the choice of other idealists who abhorred "the practical ways" of the Communists who accepted the cruelties, human sufferings and lack of freedom in the Soviet Union on the ground that the end justifies the means, an explanation Pa Chin considered thoroughly immoral.

Pa Chin and a few other genuine anarchists were modern counterparts of those idealists, poets, and dreamers of Old China who adhered to the teachings of Buddha and Lao Tzu instead of following the practical ways and becoming Confucian scholars and administrators.

His disappointment not in the anarchist ideal but in the results of his work in Shanghai were responsible for Pa Chin’s decision to study in France. Studies abroad were not unusual for Chinese intellectuals of that time. But Pa Chin left China during one of the most critical moments of the Chinese revolution, January 1927, when the revolutionary nationalist army was moving toward Nanking and Shanghai. He knew that it was not the right thing to do for "a sincere anarchist." But evidently, for all his devotion to the cause, Pa Chin was not a political fighter. He was an artist. During the next few years this became evident.

Pa Chin spent the next twenty-two months in Paris and in the small town of Château-Thierry on the Marne, with occasional trips to London. These two years greatly widened his cultural and political horizons and provided the intellectual stimulation and experience necessary for a writer. Contrary to his family’s expectations, he did not pursue much formal education, except for his study of the French language, but he read widely in philosophy, economics, and social problems as well as in Western fiction, mainly Russian and French. At that time he became thoroughly familiar with the history of the Russian populist movement, in which he found a rich source of inspiration for his writings.

No less important was Pa Chin’s involvement in political life. He immediately joined the Chinese anarchist group in Paris and became associated with anarchists and other exiles of various nationalities, including such prominent figures as Alexander Berkman and T. H. Keell (London). He continued his correspondence with Emma Goldman, begun in 1924 when he was still in China, and began to exchange letters with the Austrian anarchist Max Nettlau. He also associated with middle class and working class Frenchmen. His greatest emotional experience at that time was the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in August 1927. While still in China he had participated in the campaign for new trials for these Italian-American anarchists. In Paris he read Vanzetti’s autobiography, and, fascinated by this unusual man, wrote him a letter, received an answer and from then on referred to him as his "beloved teacher."

But as submerged as Pa Chin was in Western culture and the Western revolutionary movement, he never became an expatriate and constantly kept in touch with China and its problems. He was a frequent contributor to anarchist periodicals in Shanghai and to the journal Equity published by the Chinese anarchist group in San Francisco. His translation of Kropotkin’s Ethics: Origin and Development, "immortal masterpiece," as he called it, was done for a Shanghai anarchist publishing house.

The break between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party and the massacre of Communists in Shanghai on April 12, 1927, was of course heatedly discussed in the meetings of the Chinese anarchist group in Paris, and Pa Chin and his friends were definitely against the Kuomintang in this conflict.

Not only the contemporary events in China but also those of the recent past were constantly on Pa Chin’s mind. In Paris he wrote his first novel, Destruction, in which he described the life of Shanghai revolutionists, and whose protagonist is recognizable as an autobiographical figure. The novel deals with problems of the greatest concern for revolutionists: the main motive of revolutionary activities, i.e. love for the oppressed or hatred of their enemies; the right to personal happiness; terror as a method of revolutionary struggle. Pa Chin also dealt with the last problem in an article entitled "Anarchism and Terrorism." He was against political assassinations. "There is no other way to bring about anarchism but an organized mass movement," he said. But he was sympathetic toward the terrorists and held the present immoral society responsible for their desperate acts. After finishing his novel Pa Chin sent it to a friend in Shanghai. When he returned to Shanghai in December 1928 he discovered that it had been accepted by a leading literary journal, The Short Story Monthly.

Although he had already written his first novel, upon his return to Shanghai Pa Chin considered himself primarily a political writer. Even when it became clear that Destruction was a great success, he still did not recognize himself as a creative writer par excellence. He continued to translate, finishing Kropotkin’s Ethics, the work he considered his revolutionary duty and which "gave him courage [and] strengthened his faith" at the time of the consolidation of the reactionary Kuomintang government and the growing menace of Japanese aggression. Another important work of that time was the book From Capitalism to Anarchism based on Alexander Berkman’s Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism.

But "in his free time" Pa Chin continued to write fiction. His first volume of short stories, describing the Westerners he had met in France, aroused considerable interest, since Westerners were rare figures in Chinese fiction. The readers also liked the new Western literary devices in Pa Chin’s stories. The Setting Sun, a novel set against the background of the May 30th Movement and which dealt with foreign aggression and the role of bourgeois intellectuals in the revolutionary labor movement, was also favorably received by the critics.

In 1931 Pa Chin wrote the novel Family, his masterpiece. The topic was a timely one. The struggle for the liberation of youth and women from the fetters of the old patriarchal family system had been going on for many years. The New Culture Movement gave it an impetus and many outstanding writers and scholars supported it. But the battle was not yet won. In the eldest brother Kao and the other young victims of a family dominated by old men and old traditions, many young men and women recognized themselves, their friends and brothers. Many of them found courage reading about the rebellion and victory of the younger brothers Kao. The poetic and tragic figure of the slave girl Ming-feng, the vivid dialogues and descriptions of the family and youth group life fascinated the readers. The novel was a tremendous success and it definitely brought Pa Chin into the ranks of first-class writers. For many years Family was the favorite book of Chinese students.

Two more novels followed: New Life, a sequel to Destruction, dealing with an intellectual who overcomes his despondency and loss of faith in the revolutionary movement, rejoins the fight and dies a heroic death; and Fog, the first part of the trilogy Love. Then appeared new collections of short stories. Pa Chin’s artistic skill was developing. In 1931 he began to consider himself a "regular writer of fiction." He was full of energy and apart from fiction wrote political articles, literary essays, and book reviews, and devoted much time to editorial work.

The year 1931 marked the beginning of difficult times for China. In September the Japanese army occupied Manchuria and in January—February 1932 the Japanese attacked Shanghai. Pa Chin’s house was occupied and looted by the Japanese soldiers and the manuscript of his novel New Life was burned in a fire in the printing office. The acute feeling of indignation and national danger prompted Pa Chin to write a novel, Dream on the Sea, the story of a country occupied by foreign invaders, easily recognizable as China and the Japanese. The story is a passionate indictment of the invaders, of the foreigners who sympathized with them and of the upper class collaborators, with praise for the resistance offered by the common people and revolutionary intellectuals.

Almost all of Pa Chin’s novels dealt with the intellectuals. But after his extensive travels in North and South China, described in detail in two travelogues, peasants and workers began to appear in his stories; one of the best of these stories is "Dog." In 1933 Pa Chin wrote the rather successful novel Snow, based on his own observations of a coal miners’ strike in North China.

In 1934 Pa Chin finished the trilogy Love, which consisted of three novels, Fog, Rain, and Lightning, and a novelette Thunder. The trilogy describes the life of revolutionary intellectuals and (in Thunder and Lightning) their work in mass organizations. In a series of dramatic episodes, tense dialogues and interior monologues, it tackles many vital problems: the purpose of human life, political convictions, revolutionary tactics, friendship, loyalty, family, love. In spite of the trilogy’s title, love does not play the main role in the life of its characters. "More important for them is their faith," said the author. Like almost all of Pa Chin’s fiction, Love has a didactic purpose: to show the readers how to live and to give them a model for emulation. Pa Chin considered Love his favorite work. The critics and the public did not agree with this judgment and found some of his other works, in particular, Turbulent Stream, to be greater achievements.

Pa Chin wrote with enthusiasm, regarding his literary work as a mission. He felt "an inner urge to describe the life, feelings and ideas of Chinese youth and to influence life with my writings." This attitude toward literature naturally brought him close to those writers who advocated "art for life’s sake" rather than to those of the "art for art’s sake" school. But sharing anarchist distrust of organizations, he did not join any of the literary groups of his time. As an anarchist he was an avowed enemy of the Kuomintang regime. Some of his books and the books of other anarchists were banned, and in 1934, afraid of being arrested, he escaped to Japan for a while. This situation naturally brought him close to the other enemies of the regime, the Communists, with whom he shared some views on the aim of literature. But his cooperation with the Communists did not proceed smoothly. Some of the left wing critics praised Pa Chin but more often he was reproached for being a "petty bourgeois writer" who "does not understand history, does not understand revolution" and attacked for his "vague humanitarianism" and adherence to anarchism. His defense of the Spanish anarchists during the Spanish Civil War (1936-38) also made him a target of attack by the adherents of the Communist Party line. His refusal to join the Chinese Writers’ Organization in 1936 was denounced as an attempt to wreck the writers’ united front for resistance against Japan. This reproach was utterly unjust and the great writer Lu Hsün, who valued Pa Chin highly, came out in his defense. Pa Chin warded off these attacks but they did hurt him, especially when the critics spoke of his "petty bourgeois origin." Like many other left wingers (not only in China) he was ashamed of not hailing from a worker or peasant family which would have been a guarantee of a correct attitude toward life.

In general, in spite of his great success and his readers’ devotion, Pa Chin was not happy and was not at all convinced of the usefulness of his literary work. It is also evident from his writings that he felt guilty about drifting farther and farther away from his work in the anarchist movement after he became a popular fiction writer. In almost all his writings Pa Chin called on his readers to rebel against the establishment and to recognize that progress can be achieved only at a price of great sacrifice. But he felt it hard to demand these sacrifices from the young people whom he loved so much. Moreover he often asked himself, "What right have I to do that? What did I sacrifice for the sake of the people?" All these scruples and torments show what an honest and sensitive person Pa Chin was. And it should be remembered that until 1947 he never expressed his doubts and despair in his works of fiction, all of which are basically optimistic. Even the sad "cries of the soul," as he calls them in his autobiographical works, always end in a proud positive assertion that he "never lost his faith," the faith in a better future for humanity.

After the war with Japan finally broke out (July 7, 1937) Pa Chin eagerly participated in the struggle against the enemy. In his attitude toward war Pa Chin did not follow the orthodox anarchist view that "a man ought never to fight except in the social revolution." He could not consider the Japanese invasion merely a conflict between the Chinese and Japanese ruling classes, the outcome of which was irrelevant for the working people. Yet during the war Pa Chin repeatedly stressed his continued faith in anarchism. Maybe he felt that to fight against foreign aggression was compatible with anarchist ideals, remembering that two famous anarchists whose names he adopted as his own also did not "stand above the battle": Bakunin during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and Kropotkin during the First World War.

Pa Chin spent the war years (1937-45) moving from one city to another in the part of China not occupied by the Japanese. At that time he was one of the leaders of the "All China Association of Artists and Writers for Resistance to the Enemy." He edited periodicals dedicated to the cause of resistance and worked in the publishing house "Culture and Life," whose editorial director he had been since 1935. He also participated in the translation and publication of Kropotkin’s most important works. And of course he continued to write fiction.

In the two first parts of the novel Fire, the bard of Chinese youth described their lives and deeds during the first years of the war. He depicted in volume one their participation in the battle for Shanghai in the fall of 1937 and, after the retreat of the Chinese army, in the underground resistance against the Japanese. In volume two we see the youth group spreading propaganda for the war of resistance among the peasants near the front. At about the same time (in 1939-40) Pa Chin wrote the second and third parts of Turbulent Stream, the novels Spring and Autumn in which he portrayed the development of three young members of the Kao family into rebels and revolutionists and the destruction of those who submit to the cruel family authority. The two first volumes of Fire, the novel Spring and to a lesser extent the novel Autumn are imbued with an optimistic spirit. Undaunted by the series of defeats, Pa Chin believed in final victory because he believed in the fighting spirit of the Chinese people.

During the last two years of the war, however, a mood of apathy and exhaustion permeated those parts of China occupied by the Japanese and ruled by the Kuomintang government, and this reflected also on Pa Chin. He was restless, unhappy and often sick. His restlessness expressed itself in his renewed philosophical quests and his interest in Christianity, although he remained an atheist. In the third volume of Fire he described the cooperation of young revolutionary atheists with Chinese Christians in the war. In contrast with Pa Chin’s other novels, the protagonist of the third volume of Fire, a Christian minister, is not a young man. It is significant that he is presented as a very attractive figure. In this part of the novel Pa Chin again asserts his belief in victory and the possibility of all men of good will to work together. But streaks of sadness appear here more often than usual in Pa Chin’s works and it has a sad ending. The good minister dies. The revolutionist who worked underground in Shanghai is betrayed and killed. His girl, who returns to Shanghai to avenge his death, fails in an attempt to assassinate a collaborator responsible for his death and also perishes. Moreover the novel shows a gallery of repulsive characters among the modern Chinese youth. Sad too is the charming novelette The Garden of Rest (1944), a psychological family story unrelated to the war.

After the Japanese defeat in 1945 Pa Chin returned to Shanghai. He translated Kropotkin and other writers, wrote short stories, published a book of obituaries of his deceased friends, and finished two novels started during the last year of the war. One of them, Ward Number Four (1946) describes the terrible conditions in a wartime hospital and the vain attempts of an idealistic woman doctor to change them. This ward looks very much like a symbolic picture of Kuomintang China of that time.

Another novel, The Cold Nights, along with Family is one of Pa Chin’s masterpieces and ironically became the last novel he was destined to publish. The action takes place during the last years of the war. The protagonists, Wang Wen-hsuan and his wife, now in their thirties, had been idealists in their youth. Now they are completely absorbed in their personal affairs and the struggle for existence. Like so many other intellectuals in war time, they live in an atmosphere of privation and disease. Their family life is very unhappy, and Wen-hsuan’s devoted and possessive mother further aggravates the situation. Finally the wife, a healthy and vivacious woman, leaves her sick husband. He dies soon after the Japanese surrender. Gloom penetrates the life of poor people at the end of the war. One of the last sentences of the novel is pronounced by a woman on the street who says, "Victory is for them, not for us. We have not made profit out of our country’s misfortune. Victory does not bring us luck."

This novel, more than any other written after 1943, reveals the unhappiness that took hold of Pa Chin at that time. After the war the situation in Kuomintang-ruled China went from bad to worse. The trend to the right in the government, the shameless corruption in the administration, the continued misery among the people, the constant terrorism against the dissenters—all these further alienated from the government even those intellectuals who did not share Pa Chin’s condemnation of the capitalist regime. On the other hand the record of the Chinese Communists during the war was one of considerable achievement and presented a picture of integrity and dedication to the ideal of socialism which Pa Chin so cherished. The difference between these two images must have been of great importance when, after the Communist victory, he decided not to leave his country. Here again Pa Chin acted as a typical Chinese intellectual. The majority, including the major Chinese writers and many anarchists, did not emigrate. Pa Chin shared their fate also in the next twenty-odd years.

During the first seventeen years after the establishment of the Chinese People’s Republic, Pa Chin was accepted by its rulers. They knew that in spite of his past criticism of the Russian and Chinese Communists Pa Chin helped to create among the intellectuals an emotional climate which induced them to accept the Communist revolution. The revolutionists in his novels and short stories attacked not only Old China but also modern capitalism as "the systems obstructing the development of society and of human personality," as "the forces destroying love." Many of the moral values which Pa Chin inculcated into his readers were in keeping with Communist ideas: to sacrifice oneself for the cause, to live for others, to enjoy group living, to practice self-criticism. During the time of the Russian-Chinese honeymoon in the 1950s, Pa Chin also benefited by the friendly attitude toward him in the Soviet Union. His anti-Soviet articles and remarks published in the obscure anarchist journals were forgotten or forgiven. The Soviet critics evidently realized that Pa Chin’s high respect for the nineteenth-century Russian revolutionists greatly increased the popularity of the Bolsheviks who were—rightly or wrongly —considered as their heirs.

Pa Chin had to pay heavily for this acceptance, however. He was often criticised and many concessions were demanded of him. The new editions of his works were published only after thorough revision. He began by removing from his stories everything that revealed his characters’ anarchist identities and even sympathies: the titles of the books they read, pictures on their walls, quotations from anarchist authors, mention of their names. Then he removed all traces of his own adherence to anarchism from his purely autobiographical works. Finally in 1958 he had to make an open break with his past, attributing his adherence to anarchism and admiration of Kropotkin to his "petty bourgeois feelings" and "lack of power of judgment."

These changes have destroyed the historical value of his purely autobiographical works. The new expurgated editions no longer present a true portrait of a young Chinese intellectual of the 1920s and 1930s. The removal of anarchist traits from his works of fiction did not affect them that much: Pa Chin always preferred not to present his characters as anarchists. Only politically experienced readers could see their true identity. For average readers they were just revolutionaries, enemies of the establishment. But some of the concessions he had to make in the 1950s did hurt the artistic value of his stories, especially when he had to give them happy endings. Why did he make all these concessions? Why did he repudiate his "beloved anarchism," his teacher Kropotkin, his "spiritual mother" Emma Goldman? What had he to undergo when doing that?

We have no way of knowing. But perhaps the following speculation can provide some clues. To begin with, there was a social revolution in China, an event he had advocated his whole life. What emerged as a result of it did not conform to his image of a free and happy society, but some features of the new life in China must certainly have met with his approval. He shared fully the condemnation of the Kuomintang regime so often used in Communist propaganda and was completely sincere when be related the stories of the hard life of the peasants and workers in the past. And he certainly was happy to see that the material life of the common people was constantly improving and that there was a new dignity in it after the revolution. There can be no doubt that he expressed his own ideas when joining in the attacks on the survival of the old family system. The criticism of "petty bourgeois intellectuals" and their selfishness also was not new to him. Maybe his desire to become an organic part of the new society was strengthened also by the fact that in post-revolutionary China the Communists set more value on ethics than they had before. And as to freedom, maybe he still hoped that it would not be restricted forever and that "future generations will see it," as he had said in 1930.

He tried hard to become a disciplined member of the new society. Did he succeed?

During the first seventeen years of the Chinese People’s Republic Pa Chin was a respected "writer of the last generation." His old books in new expurgated editions sold well. A play based on Family was often performed. Two films were made of this novel, two more were based on Autumn and Cold Nights. He lived in Shanghai in comfortable circumstances with his wife, whom he married in 1944, and their two children. His readers continued to write to him. He occupied leading positions in the writers’ and artists’ organizations, often represented China at various international conferences, and was even a deputy in the National People’s Congress. But was he happy?

To be happy the writer has to write. Yes, he did write: short stories, essays, accounts of his travels, appeals for peace, commentaries on his works and he did editing and translations. "But I am not satisfied either by the quantity or by the quality of my works," he wrote in 1961. He could not but feel that nothing of significance had come from his pen since 1949. His stories were flat and he did not publish a single new novel—a literary genre in which he formerly excelled. "It is difficult to describe one’s heroes in the imposed style," he said to the French writer Simone de Beauvoir in 1956. It was also obvious that he could not approve of all that he saw around him. He had misgivings and as soon as an opportunity arose he would voice them.

In 1956-57, during the "Hundred Flowers Period" when Mao Tse-tung proclaimed a new era under the slogan "Let the hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of thought contend," Pa Chin, like scores of other intellectuals, trustfully followed Mao’s invitation to express his criticism. It was a loyal and constructive criticism inspired by a desire to improve the life in his country. But the flowers of criticism did not bloom long. They were not as red as Mao wanted, and the era of permissiveness came to an abrupt end. Pa Chin was severely scolded in the press for his temerity and, following the rules of the game, he admitted his mistakes, blaming them on his "feudal-bourgeois origin." But as soon as the new relaxation came in 1962, when the party seemed to tolerate and even promote a more creative and spontaneous style in literature, Pa Chin came out with a speech under the title "Courage and Sense of Responsibility of Writers." It was a strong protest against the literary bureaucrats and an admonition to writers to be fighters, to uphold the truth and their own vision of reality.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966-68) Pa Chin was severely punished for these and previous expressions of his true opinions. The Cultural Revolution was perhaps really meant by Mao as an onslaught against the bureaucratism, inequality, and ossification which began to dominate life in China at that time, but in fact it hit the intellectuals hardest and Pa Chin was one of the victims. His books, together with the books of other writers of his generation and the works of Chinese classical literature, were removed from bookstores and libraries and in some cases even burned. Pa Chin was again criticised and compelled to criticise himself in an open meeting. A most vicious attack on him was launched by the Shanghai newspaper Wen-hui on February 26, 1968. Pa Chin was denounced as "the big literary tyrant" and "the oldest, most notorious anarchist in China." "In 1930," the newspaper said, "he had vigourously attacked the Soviet Union and the Bolshevik Party led by Stalin but his real target was the Chinese Communist Party ... he actually dared to point the spearhead of his attack on our most revered and beloved leader Chairman Mao. He really deserves to die ten thousand deaths for his crime ..." Pa Chin’s attempts at criticism were recalled and used as proofs of his "counterrevolutionary anti-Maoist attitude." The attack on Pa Chin gave the authors of this article another opportunity to strike at those party leaders who were now declared enemies of Mao, and to accuse them of the desire to restore capitalism in China. They allowed Pa Chin to function as a "progressive old writer."

A few months later the Red Guards carried into practice the threats contained in this article. These members of the new generation of Chinese youth whom Pa Chin loved so much ransacked the writer’s house and destroyed his Chinese art objects as well as his library, which was said to contain one of the best collections of anarchist literature in the world. Similar outrages were perpetrated against hundreds and perhaps thousands of writers, professors and other intellectuals. Finally, on June 20, 1968, Pa Chin was dragged to the People’s Stadium of Shanghai. Those present and those who watched the scene on television saw him kneeling on broken glass and heard the shouts accusing him of being a traitor and enemy of Mao. They also heard him break his silence at the end and shout at the top of his voice, "You have your thoughts and I have mine. This is the fact and you can’t change it even if you kill me." This desperate cry speaks not only for Pa Chin. For a while Pa Chin was kept under virtual house arrest.

Then, as rumor has it, this sick old man was "sent to labor for reeducation."

But now the Cultural Revolution has abated. Pa Chin and some other intellectuals who survived the ordeal returned to their homes. It seems that now in China they have a desire to forget the hardships of the recent past. If Pa Chin’s books again become accessible to Chinese readers, there is no doubt that they will be read.

Olga Lang

New York, 1972

[1We are grateful to S. Kashdan who kindly sent this text