Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Cultural Revolution Narratives: Rethinking History through the Prism of Post-Mao Literature
pdf

Chinese educated youth, or zhiqing, who were sent to the countryside for re-education during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), began to re-frame their historical narratives of this tumultuous decade in the post-Mao period. This essay examines how two distinct genres of post-Mao literature, the Literature of the Wounded (shanghen wenxue) and Nostalgic Literature (huaijiu wenxue), reproduced an imaginary binary between individual memories of the Cultural Revolution and the officially-sanctioned history of this period, while a third genre of literature, the Narration of the Absurd (huangdan xushi), rejected a memory/history dichotomy. Instead of relying on a single narratorial voice, which silences the plurality of voices located in and out of the historical record, the Narration of the Absurd opened up radically new possibilities for narrating, in a non-linear fashion, a multiplicity of perspectives, memories, and uncertainties about the past.