China's "Great Leap Forward" of 1958-1961 was a time of official rejoicing over the achievements of Communism, but it was also a time of immense suffering. Growing dissent among intellectuals stimulated creativity as writers sought to express both their hope for the success of the revolution and their dissatisfaction with the Party leadership and policies.
But the uneasy political climate and the state's control over literature prevented writers from directly addressing the compelling problems of the time. Rather, they resorted to a variety of sophisticated and time-honored forms for airing their grievances, including the historical drama. Rudolf Wagner examines three of these plays written and performed between 1958 and 1963 in an effort to decode their hidden political and cultural meanings. He also provides a broad survey of the politics of the historical drama in China, suggesting further avenues of inquiry into the relationship between literature and the state.
This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1990.