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F: Hu Feng's Prison Years

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F: Hu Feng's Prison Years Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Hu Feng, the ‘counterrevolutionary’ leader of a banned literary school, spent twenty-five years in the Chinese Communist Party’s prison system. But back in the Party’s early days, he was one of its best known literary theoreticians and critics—at least until factional infighting, and his short fuse, made him persona non grata among the establishment.

His wife, Mei Zhi, shared his incarceration for many years. F is her account of that time, beginning ten years after her and Hu Feng’s initial arrest. She herself was eventually released, after which she navigated the party’s Byzantine prison bureaucracy searching for his whereabouts. Having finally found him, she voluntarily returned to gaol to care for him in his rage and suffering, watching his descent into madness as the excesses of the Cultural Revolution took their toll.

Both an intimate portrait of Mei Zhi’s life with Hu Feng and a stark account of the prison system and life under Mao, F is at once beautiful and harrowing.

With support from English PEN

This book has been selected to receive financial assistance from English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme supported by Bloomberg. English PEN exists to promote literature and its understanding, uphold writers’ freedoms around the world, campaign against the persecution and imprisonment of writers for stating their views, and promote the friendly co-operation of writers and free exchange of ideas. For more information visit <a href="http://www.englishpen.org">www.englishpen.org</a>.

Review:

"A Chinese dissident couple endure a Kafkaesque ordeal in this bleak memoir. Hu Feng (aka Zhang Guangren) a prominent Communist literary critic, spent 25 years in the Chinese penal system on vague charges of 'idealism'; Mei Zhi, who spent seven years in prison for being his wife (and died in 2004), focuses her reminiscences on their years under nerve-racking house arrest during the Cultural Revolution. The struggle between the prickly, perversely courageous Hu and Chinese bureaucrats, who clothed harsh coercion in chummy paternalism, makes for a striking study of Maoism's spiritual contortions. As part of his 'thought reform,' Hu is ordered to pen self-criticisms of his (and his friends') unspecified 'guilt'; he responds with a defiant passive aggressiveness, avowing his faith in the Party and its right to punish him — even as he declares his innocence. (The decadeslong inquisition climaxes when Hu, emerging from a particularly brutal prison stint, lapses into a paranoid graphomania in which he admits to imaginary offenses.) In Benton's limpid translation, Mei's own quest for normalcy — a decent meal, a garden, a rare evening of companionship and relaxation — amid the poverty and crazed fanaticism of Mao's China comes through with vivid immediacy. The result is a quietly harrowing account of the intimate horrors of totalitarianism. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

China's first literary dissident's Kafkaesque journey through the prisons of the Cultural Revolution.

Synopsis:

US

Synopsis:

2013 English PEN Award winner

Hu Feng, the ‘counterrevolutionary’ leader of a banned literary school, spent twenty-five years in the Chinese Communist Party’s prison system. But back in the Party’s early days, he was one of its best known literary theoreticians and critics—at least until factional infighting, and his short fuse, made him persona non grata among the establishment.

His wife, Mei Zhi, shared his incarceration for many years. F is her account of that time, beginning ten years after her and Hu Feng’s initial arrest. She herself was eventually released, after which she navigated the party’s Byzantine prison bureaucracy searching for his whereabouts. Having finally found him, she voluntarily returned to gaol to care for him in his rage and suffering, watching his descent into madness as the excesses of the Cultural Revolution took their toll.

Both an intimate portrait of Mei Zhi’s life with Hu Feng and a stark account of the prison system and life under Mao, F is at once beautiful and harrowing.

About the Author

Mei Zhi was a writer and revolutionary and the wife of literary dissident Hu Feng. She passed away in 2004.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781844679676
Author:
Zhi, Mei
Publisher:
Verso
Author:
Benton, Gregor
Subject:
Political
Subject:
World History - China
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20130231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Biography » Political
History and Social Science » Asia » China » Revolutionary 1911 to 1949
History and Social Science » Linguistics » Specific Languages and Groups
History and Social Science » World History » China

F: Hu Feng's Prison Years New Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages Verso - English 9781844679676 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A Chinese dissident couple endure a Kafkaesque ordeal in this bleak memoir. Hu Feng (aka Zhang Guangren) a prominent Communist literary critic, spent 25 years in the Chinese penal system on vague charges of 'idealism'; Mei Zhi, who spent seven years in prison for being his wife (and died in 2004), focuses her reminiscences on their years under nerve-racking house arrest during the Cultural Revolution. The struggle between the prickly, perversely courageous Hu and Chinese bureaucrats, who clothed harsh coercion in chummy paternalism, makes for a striking study of Maoism's spiritual contortions. As part of his 'thought reform,' Hu is ordered to pen self-criticisms of his (and his friends') unspecified 'guilt'; he responds with a defiant passive aggressiveness, avowing his faith in the Party and its right to punish him — even as he declares his innocence. (The decadeslong inquisition climaxes when Hu, emerging from a particularly brutal prison stint, lapses into a paranoid graphomania in which he admits to imaginary offenses.) In Benton's limpid translation, Mei's own quest for normalcy — a decent meal, a garden, a rare evening of companionship and relaxation — amid the poverty and crazed fanaticism of Mao's China comes through with vivid immediacy. The result is a quietly harrowing account of the intimate horrors of totalitarianism. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , China's first literary dissident's Kafkaesque journey through the prisons of the Cultural Revolution.
"Synopsis" by , US
"Synopsis" by , 2013 English PEN Award winner

Hu Feng, the ‘counterrevolutionary’ leader of a banned literary school, spent twenty-five years in the Chinese Communist Party’s prison system. But back in the Party’s early days, he was one of its best known literary theoreticians and critics—at least until factional infighting, and his short fuse, made him persona non grata among the establishment.

His wife, Mei Zhi, shared his incarceration for many years. F is her account of that time, beginning ten years after her and Hu Feng’s initial arrest. She herself was eventually released, after which she navigated the party’s Byzantine prison bureaucracy searching for his whereabouts. Having finally found him, she voluntarily returned to gaol to care for him in his rage and suffering, watching his descent into madness as the excesses of the Cultural Revolution took their toll.

Both an intimate portrait of Mei Zhi’s life with Hu Feng and a stark account of the prison system and life under Mao, F is at once beautiful and harrowing.

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