Report from a Chinese Village

Source: Chang Chung-liang, interviewed for Jan Myrdal, Report from a Chinese Village (London: Picador, 1975, orig. Rapport från kinesisk, pub 1963), trans. Maurice Michael, p. 99

Text: I can now read the newspaper and write letters. I can also read simpler books of fiction. I stick most to serial stories in parts with lots of pictures and a few simple characters on each page. The pictures make it possible to understand the characters I don’t know.

I am very fond of films. Opera and that sort of things doesn’t appeal to me so much. Opera is a bit old-fashioned. Films have much more variety, more themes, more reality, and much more that is funny and makes you laugh. I usually go to the cinema or opera once every ten days. We often have films in Liu Ling; but mostly I take myself into the town. Sometimes I go with my wife and my eight -year-old son, my other children are far too small to appreciate going to the cinema. But, sometimes, when we have finished work for the day, someone will say: ‘Come on, let’s ride into town and go to the cinema.’ Then we jump on our bicycles and ride off.

Comments: Chang Chung-liang (c.1928-?) was a thirty-three-year old book-keeper from the North Chinese village of Liu Ling, near Yenan (the town referred to here). He was interviewed and profiled in a study 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. Opera here refers to Chinese opera.