World Literature 3rd Hour
11 November 2013
The Changes Western Literature and a Girl Can Bring
The Chinese Culture Revolution in the mid-1960s sent millions of city teens, especially the children of the intellectuals, down to rural area for “re-education” to teach them the value of being a peasant. In the novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie describes the life and changes the Cultural Revolution brought to the narrator and Luo, who were sent down to the country because of their background. However, instead of being “re-educated” by the hard labor on the farms, the narrator is educated and changed by the western literature and the Little Seamstress.
Western Literature that was discovered at Four-Eyes’ house is a major factor in changing the narrator. At the beginning of the novel, the narrator and Luo discover that Four-Eyes has been hiding western literatures in his secret suitcase. After trying all sorts of ways from helping him out with the labor work to getting folk songs for him, the narrator and Luo finally get a book by Balzac, a French author, from Four-Eyes. The first time the narrator reads the book, he describes himself as: “a boy of nineteen, still slumbering in the limo of adolescence, having heard nothing but revolutionary blather about patriotism, communism, ideology and propaganda all his life, falling headlong into a story of awakening desire, passion, impulsive action, love” (57). The narrator grows up under the concept and philosophy of communism, the western literatures that describe desire, passion, and love overwhelm him with the kind of knowledge that he has never touched on before. The knowing of such feelings’ existence puts the narrator in absolute awe. These are the exact things that communism directly rejects, therefore hidden from the narrator. Once this is presented in front of the narrator, it transforms his view to the society and changes the way he look at things in life. Later...
Cited: Dai Sijie. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Trans. Ina Rilke. New York: Anchor Books,
Proofread by Sean Anderson
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