publication . Book . 2020

当代中国的回忆录书写与历史记忆的建构

唐小兵, Tang Xiaobing;
Open Access Chinese
  • Published: 28 Apr 2020
  • Publisher: Presses de l’Inalco
Abstract
近二十年来,华人世界出版了一系列不同主题、类型和价值偏向的回忆录,构成了对20世纪中国历史的复杂而多元的历史记忆,这些历史书写和历史记忆既充满了一种认同的竞争,同时也不乏互动,是华人社群构成自我理解和集体记忆极为重要的环节。因此,这些回忆录无论是对于研究20世纪中国史的历史学者,还是对于对了解这段历史感兴趣的普通读者来说,都是极有价值而值得认真予以辨析和讨论的。 Memoirs have become popular among cultural publications in contemporary China. Memoirs about the twentieth century are interesting to both general readers and academic scholars, and they have become sources of ideological culture and historical resources. However, several questions about the popularity of memoirs have emerged. Are the memoirs reliable, in particular can they serve as credible primary sources to be cited by historians? Are the memoirs a powerful challenge to the cognitive framework dominated by political ideology or mainstream values? Can memoirs written on the basis of different social and cultural identities improve our understanding of the various views, perspectives, and aspects of twentieth‑century century China? Is this huge volume of literature beneficial to effectively challenge the current structure that is dominated by orthodox ideologies and values, thus serving as an enlightenment to deeply comprehend the history of the twentieth century? What cultural role do the views of common people, females, the grassroots, and marginalized people play in such writings and publications?The publication of a massive number of memoirs reflects the interest among people in contemporary China to recall, reconstruct, and research their twentieth‑century history. It also serves to produce a public culture based on historical and cultural resources. The reading and analysing of memoirs undoubtedly indicate that contemporary Chinese are strengthening their sense of history, facing the dilemmas of their personal identities, and attempting to provide a competitive explanation of the history that has disappeared. We need to determine whether a consensus can be formed based on the minimal overlap of historical facts and whether the truth can be reached from the struggles and conflicts over historical memory and political power, thus forming a fundamental structure of knowledge? How should the values in the memoirs be judged in the public cultural sphere and in the field of historical research if the writing, publishing, dissemination, and reading of the memoirs only increase discussions among some sectors of society or strengthen the inherent prejudices among certain persons or certain classes, which then become a further divisive force in contemporary Chinese society.In terms of my reading and writing experiences, there are hundreds of memoirs about twentieth‑century China with historical and cultural values. However, in this discussion I can only focus on some representative samples. The authors of memoirs, according to their social and cultural positions, can generally be classified as politicians, scholars, newspaper reporters, social celebrities, or common people. Because politicians were the most important revolutionaries and witnesses of twentieth‑century China, their memoirs, which contain a massive amount historical information and cultural connotations, have become critical primary sources in studies of political, diplomatic, social, and cultural history. The history of twentieth‑century China, to a large degree, is a history of politics, so the historical memories of politicians are particularly important. Memoirs by Wellington Koo (顾维钧) and W. W. Yen (颜惠庆), for instance, contain detailed narratives about their work and travel experiences while in the process of coping with domestic and international affairs as members of the first generation of professional Chinese diplomats during the Republican period. Their memoirs are valuable resources to deeply and comprehensively explore the diplomatic history of the Republic of China.A high percentage of the memoirs have been written by scholars so as to record their academic and daily lives. Scholars are the knowledge and cultural elites of each period. They usually have acute perceptions and profound insights into the great changes of the times and the twists and turns behind such changes. Some of them even participated in the transformation of social history and the systems of education. Therefore, most of the history they record has a clear historical consciousness and a cultural awareness. He Bingdi’s (何炳棣) Sixty Years of Reading History and Understanding Society (读史阅世六十年) and He Zhaowu’s ( 何兆武) Going to School (上学记) are two examples that particularly reflect this feature. At the beginning of the twentieth century, China abolished the imperial examinations that had existed in China for a millennium and established of new type of education that was modelled after the Western systems. This was also a period when various new schools of thought emerged. Scholars and the cultural elite produced rich and diverse historical writings about this period of great educational and cultural transformation. Their texts, such as diaries and memoirs by overseas Chinese students, as represented by Hu Shi (胡适), Wu Mi (吴宓), and Jiang Menglin (蒋梦麟), are valuable documents to record China’s historical and cultural evolution.During the period of the late Qing Empire and Republican China, newspapermen, including journalists and general editors, were among the group of new‑style modern intellectuals. The features and needs of their professions allowed them to make many contacts with political, commercial, military, and academic circles. Thus, they have served as vital witnesses and observers of this significant period. Based on this view, as primary sources their memoirs possess a wide diversity of elements that present Chinese society of every hue. One such representative memoir is Bao Tianxiao’s (包天笑) Memoirs of Chuanying Building (钏影楼回忆录 ). Memoirs written by social elites are usually regarded as signposts of an era because the social elites enjoyed higher positions and were a source of the scarce symbolic capital in Chinese society. Because of their elite positions, they were likely to become involved in networks of political and cultural power. For this reason, memoirs, such as those by Dong Zhijun (董竹君), Chen Cunren (陈存仁), and Bei Dao (北岛), have become valuable primary sources for historical studies.Common and grassroots people, as opposed to elites, usually do not appear in these narratives. On the one hand, this is because of a typical perception of them as unimportant and lacking in ability to narrate history; and on the other hand, it is derived from their inadequate consciousness of constructing primary sources, as a result of which their histories have remained hidden in the dim corners of time. However, as ongoing recent endeavors, such as plans to write family histories or efforts by some institutes in the mainland to promote oral histories, and the collection and compiling of oral histories sponsored by the Universities Services Centre for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Institute of Modern History at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, narratives about the lives and fates of grassroots people gradually have been emerging. Some biographies by common people have attracted social attention and have become influential in Chinese society. They serve as critically valuable primacy sources for historical studies on the common people.Based on their subjects, these memoirs can generally be classified as historical memoirs about the Chinese revolution, academic thoughts, cultural education, political movements, and dispersion. Some representative memoirs that belong to the category of revolutionary memories published by Oriental Press (东方出版社), such as Memoirs of Zheng Chaolin (郑超麟回忆录), Wang Fanxi’s (王凡西) Shuangshan Memoirs (双山回忆录), Chen Gongbo’s (陈公博) Bitter Smile (苦笑录), Zhang Guotao’s (张国焘) My Autobiography (我的回忆), and Wang Ming’s 王明) Fifty Years of the Chinese Communist Party (中共50年). The works in this category, to a certain extent, present the heterodox and lost history of the Chinese revolutions in the twentieth century. In particular, they reveal the historical fates and personal thoughts of those who lost out in the political struggles with the Chinese Communist Party, such as the history of the Chinese Trotskyites, which are helpful to draw a relatively complete picture of the Communist revolution in twentieth‑century China from a variety of perspectives.For most Chinese, the first half of the twentieth century, with the coming of the Cold War and the division of China across the Taiwan Strait, was teeming with internal tragedies. The lives of celebrities and of ordinary people were walled off in separated areas; therefore war, escape, separation, and suffering are prominent themes in memoir writing. One such memoir consists of the four volumes of reminiscences by the Chinese writer in the United States, Wang Dingjun, particularly his Guanshan Seizes the Road (关山夺路). This is Wang’s third volume in his memoirs and it is one of the best witnesses of the political and military conflicts between the Nationalists and Communists during the Chinese Civil War from 1945 to 1949. Through the military culture, organizational effectiveness, party-state relations, and the takeover of the Japanese occupied areas by the two parties, Wang Dingjun convincingly explains the transformation of the strengths and weaknesses and the change in the balance of power between the Nationalists and the Communists. Literary Rivers and Lakes (文学江湖), which is the fourth volume of Wang Dingjun’s memoirs, vividly and meticulously describes life, the media, and social culture in Taiwan under martial Law. Another example is The Great Flowing River: A Memoir of China, from Manchuria to Taiwan (巨流河), written by Qi Bangyuan (齐邦媛), a retired professor at National Taiwan University. This work has had a strong influence on both sides of the strait and even in the entire world of Chinese readers. As the daughter of a Manchurian political elite, in this book Qi describes her personal and family’s experience as well as her observations about Chinese society during the great transformation of Chinese politics and history. It includes her experiences of studying at National Wuhan University and working at different schools in Taiwan. The most valuable feature of this memoir might be her presentation of the possibility of preserving the cultural temperament and rational dignity of intellectuals by relying on one’s individual writing style when encountering the conflicts and turbulence during periods of extreme chaos, anxiousness, and insecurity.French historian and ideologist Alexis de Tocqueville believed that the human psyche would be haunted by unrest if history was not able to care for the future. To a certain extent, writing, publishing, and reading memoirs in contemporary China construct a channel between history and the current world, and this channel is helpful to introduce historical and cultural sources into the field of contemporary Chinese historical research and the public cultural sphere of contemporary China. From this perspective, memoirs are not only historical writing that seeks a self‑identity and a cultural identity but they also present a cultural and historical consciousness that attempts to clarify the fog that permeates the historical memory of twentieth‑century China that has been polluted by ideology. It is well known that memoirs are not completely reliable in uncovering the truth. The writers' past recollections based on different perspectives, positions, resources, and intentions may often highlight one historical fact but may obscure another historical fact. Meanwhile, they may strengthen a certain historical cognitive framework and at the same time dilute another possibility of historical cognition and imagination. However, as long as the writing, publishing, and communication of memoirs remain sufficiently diverse and open, historical memory and historical writing may build a solid foundation to gradually reach the historical truth and to provide a basis for public discussions and academic research.(Translated by Dr Wang Yi, postdoctoral researcher, Institute of Modern History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; polished by Mrs Nancy Hearst, librarian, Fairbank Collection of the H.C. Fung Library, Harvard University) Une série de mémoires chinois représentant différents sujets, contenus et valeurs personnelles ont été publiés à l’échelle mondiale dans les deux dernières décennies et ces mémoires constituent ensemble la mémoire historique complexe et plurielle de la Chine du xxe siècle. Les récits et mémoires historiques inclus dans ces écrits expriment tout à la fois les conflits et les échanges entre les différentes identités qui forment une part importante de la compréhension de soi et de la mémoire collective des communautés chinoises présentes dans le monde. Ainsi, ces mémoires sont précieux et méritent discussion et analyse critique dans la mesure où ils sont importants à la fois pour les chercheurs qui travaillent sur l’histoire de la Chine du xxe siècle et pour les lecteurs ordinaires qui s’intéressent à cette période de l’histoire chinoise.
Subjects
free text keywords: China, East Asia, historical narrative, historical memories, memoirs, history, historiography, Africa, encyclopaedia, America, Asia, Asie orientale, Chine, récit historique, mémoire, mémoires historiques, 回忆录, 历史书写, 历史记忆, 中国, 东亚, 记忆, encyclopédie, historiographie, histoire, source historique, Afrique, Amérique, Asie, History, HIS016000, HBAH
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Book . 2020
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