Report from a Chinese Village

Source: Li Hung-fu, interviewed for Jan Myrdal, Report from a Chinese Village (London: Picador, 1975, orig. Rapport från kinesisk, pub 1963), trans. Maurice Michael, pp. 248-250

Text: With the years, life has got better. We are making progress all the time. In the old days, for example, we had few possessions. Now we have thermoses, galoshes, blankets, hand-carts with rubber wheels, bicycles. There’s no comparison between what is was like before and what it is like now. We had been hoping for a long time to be able to buy a bicycle. We had planned to buy one. Eventually, in 1959, we had got enough together to buy one. We use it for transporting things, for bringing things home when we have been in the town shopping, and I usually take it to ride over to my relations in other villages. Sometimes I take my wife and children with me. I give them a lift then. It’s a quick way of getting there. Women walk so slowly. I also take the bicycle when I am going into the town to go to the opera or the cinema. I like the opera and cinema; but on the other hand I am not particularly amused by the song-and-dance troupes. It’s mostly operas that are already classics that I like. Of the films I remember, I can mention ‘The Monkey King Conquers the White Bone Spirit Three Times’, that is a filmed opera, and ‘Hwa Mountain is Conquered’. I like films. My ten-year-old son can’t get on with opera, but he likes films, he wants to see films like ‘A Warrior of Steel’. He wants adventure and excitement and war and that sort of thing.

Comments: Li Hung-fu (b. c.1928-?) was a battalion commander in the People’s Militia and resident in the North Chinese village of Liu Ling, near Yenan (the town referred to here). He was interviewed and profiled by Swedish sociologist Jan Myrdal during a month’s study of the village undertaken in 1961, which resulted in his Report from a Chinese Village. The films referred to are Monkey King Conquers White Bone Ghost Three Times (China 1961), Capture by Stratagem of Mount Hua (China 1953) and Steeled Fighter (China 1950). Opera here refers to Chinese opera.

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