Translation of the Chinese Novel Chung-Yang (rival Suns) by Chiang Kuei (1908-1980)
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Chiang Kuei's lifetime spanned one of the most turbulent periods in modern Chinese history, the political transition from empire to republic, and the cultural transition from traditional to modern. He grew up during the surge of nationalism and the iconoclastic rejection of traditional values connected with the May Fourth Movement of 1919. As a young man, he took part in the Northern Expedition and witnessed the violent political struggle between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party. During the eight-year War of Resistance Against Japan, he served as an officer in the Chinese army. After the war, he emigrated with his wife and family to Taiwan. He produced numerous novels from the late 1950s to the late 1970s. Two of his novels, The Whirlwind and Rival Suns, may be considered companion pieces; The Whirlwind deals with the Chinese communism in a rural setting, and Rival Suns deals with Chinese communism in an urban setting. The two works represent Chiang Kuei at his best.
"Rival Suns centers around young men in their late teens and twenties who fomented and directed mass activities in the city of Wuhan for the Chinese Communist and Nationalist parties . . . . Written years before the Cultural Revolution in China, Rival Suns contains chilling accounts of students denouncing their parents in mass school rallies, trumped up accounts of sexual and physical abuse against political opponents that led to arrest, torture, and murder in which the Communist accusers redouble the supposed offenses of their captives. . . . The apparent struggle is between the Nationalists and the Communists, but the real struggle is between the old ways of cultured Chinese life and the mixture of refined high culture and vulgar mean culture coming to China from outside. . . . It is this very split judgment about the traditional and modern that has given Chiang Kuei's novels their lasting appeal. . . . Ross captures the mood and tone of these novels, and his text maintains the fast flowing narrative style of the original. Without Ross' dedication and effort, Chiang Kuei's wonderful novels would remain unknown to the vast majority of those who do not read Chinese." – from the Preface by David Buck
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