Thursday 10 August 2023

Peking University Library, 1975

Frances Wood, Hand-grenade Practice in Peking: My Part in the Cultural Revolution (London: Slightly Foxed, 2015; 2000), p. 162:

I made progress with the library. Armed with chitties guaranteeing my urgent need to read bad books, I was issued with the works of Chen Duxiu, the first General Secretary of the Communist who became a Trotskyist and a fierce opponent of Mao. The books were stamped 'Negative Teaching Material' and 'To be Used in Criticism'. You could only get books by Zhou Yang, the main spokesman for culture and the arts until 1966, if you made it quite clear that you were aware of his position as a 'Counter-revolutionary Double-dealer'. By now I was running out of things to borrow from the Embassy library, so I was delighted to discover that the western language collections in the University library were unweeded and full of delightful reading matter composed by foreign counter-revolutionary double-dealers. I borrowed first editions of Henry James, once owned by a Peking resident with the interesting name of Mildred ffrench.