Paul Theroux

Inflaming the Chinese

One Half of the Sky: A Selection from Contemporary Women Writers of China

By R A Roberts and Angela Knox (trans)

William Heinemann 143pp £11.95 order from our bookshop

Modern Chinese literature is not in a particularly robust phase at the moment, but if you complain about this to an educated Chinese you will be told that, artistically, things haven’t been the same since the Tang Dynasty (618–907). That by common consent was the high point of Chinese culture. Mao Zedong was especially fond of the Tang poet, Du Fu, who lived in the Eighth Century. ‘China has no tradition of women’s literature’, Frances Wood says in her introduction to this book of Twentieth Century stories by Chinese women writers. But there is no shortage of stories about women, and indeed one of the most interesting is the pornographic classic, Jin Ping Mei, which has been banned in China since the Ming Dynasty (1368–1643).

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