Memories of the Cultural Revolution: Poems
At once a work of narrative lyricism and an act of personal courage, this memoir in verse documents the human cost of a period of political turmoil in China’s recent past. Luo Ying—the pen name of Huang Nubo, a celebrated poet, Forbes billionaire, and mountain climber—draws readers into the depths of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) by rendering its defining moments in his life with devastating precision and clarity. The narrative poems that make up Memories of the Cultural Revolution combine the ardor of youthful experience with the cooler insight of mature reflection, offering a nuanced picture of life in the midst of historic change.
The “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” marked a critical passage on China’s road to modernity, as momentous for the world as it was for one boy caught up in its throes. In poetry that juxtaposes the political and the personal, the social and the individual, Luo Ying depicts a time when ultraleftist mass movements and factional struggles penetrated the deepest level of private daily life. In bleak yet vivid portraits of his mother, father, classmates, and coworkers, he reveals how the period indelibly marred him. “I am a red guard just as I always was,” he writes.
Giving voice to the inner life of a man haunted by his experiences, Memories of the Cultural Revolution bears witness to a traumatic time when ideology threatened to crush individuality. Luo Ying’s poetry stands as eloquent testimony to the power of the individual voice to endure in the face of dire social and historical circumstances.
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