The Power of Weakness
Introduction by Tani Barlow
The Power of Weakness juxtaposes stories by Lu Hsun, revered as “the most important figure in twentieth-century Chinese letters,” and Ding Ling, his successor in writing in a realistic style about life in modern China.
Six works of astringent social commentary locate moments of conflict when tradition and notions of social conformity are in flux. In his speech “What Happens After Nora Leaves Home?” (a reference to Ibsen) and his short stories “New Year’s Sacrifice” and “Regret for the Past,” Lu Hsun exposes how the anti-Confucian nationalist movement of the 1920s liberated women’s thoughts and expanded their expectations only to leave them stranded by outmoded customs and financial dependency. Ding Ling, reacting to the clash between the nationalist and communist movements dating from the late 1920s, moves on from Lu Hsun’s sentiments in her feminist speech “Thoughts on March 8 (Women’s Day)” and in her more hopeful short stories “New Faith” and “When I Was in Xia Village.”
"Stories by two giants of literary realism in modern China answer 'How do you write about a revolution?'"
"A vital collection . . . from 1920s and 1930s China written at a moment of despair and hope. The stories, no less than the excellent Introduction, have much to say about writing the historical experience of revolution, and, by implication, about how we might write our current times. A must read for anyone interested in good world literature, feminism and/or politics."