Paul Theroux

Chuang Shang Wen-Xue

Life and Death in Shanghai

By

Grafton Books 496pp £12.95 order from our bookshop

One of the Selected Thoughts of Chairman Mao begins, ‘A revolution is not a dinner party,’ and during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (to give it its full name) everyone quoted that Thought as a favourite. They even sang it. Singing the Thoughts was considered the true test of Maoist sincerity, and in fact every Thought in the Red Book was set to music and made singable. Red Guards beat people insensible, burned mosques, marched to Mao’s birthplace, picked tea, made pig-iron, lettered big-character posters, threw intellectuals out of the window, built bomb shelters, and all the while they sang, ‘A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind , courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.’

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Here's reviewing Rachel Kushner's novel about a woman caught in the injustice of the US prison system,… ,
    • 'Hart sets out to unsettle, startle and disturb. In this strange, disconcerting, radical version of a strange, disc… ,
    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,