Discovering Mao’s Cultural Revolution through Books and Film

July 12, 2017

I read Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie soon after its English translation came out in 2002.  A few years later in 2005, we drove about sixty miles to see the Mandarin language film with English subtitles. Checking Amazon recently, I saw 344 customer reviews with an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars for the novel. The film had a 4.5 average.

This short novel spent twenty-three weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The author, born in China, moved to France where he learned to read, speak, and write French. The book was originally written in French and translated into English by Ina Rilke.

The story is about two likable, teenage boys and their struggle after being banished to a peasant village for “re-education” during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Sons of doctors and dentists, the boys work at muscling buckets of excrement up the mountainside and mining coal. Then there is the little seamstress of the title, whom Luo, one of the boys, falls in love with. He dreams of transforming the seamstress from a simple country girl into a sophisticated lover. He succeeds beyond his expectations, but the result is not what he expected.

Discover more about Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China through Joan Chen’s film Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl and Anchee Min’s memoir Red Azalea. Joan Chen’s film earned high marks on Rotten Tomatoes from both critics and the audience.  Min’s Red Azalea was a national bestseller. The Vogue Review said, “”The book sings. It is a small masterpiece. . . [No one] has written more honestly and poignantly than Anchee Min about the desert of solitude and human alienation at the center of the Chinese Communist revolution.”  The New York Times called it “[An] extraordinary story. . . . This memoir of sexual freedom is [both] a powerful political as well as literary statement.” And the Miami Herald said Min’s memoir was “Brave and heartbreaking.”

The best way to learn about the Mao era in Chinese history is to read it from those who were there and lived through it; not from some foreigner that wasn’t there and/or has never been to China.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Challenge of Finding Love in China: Part 2 of 2

June 28, 2017

The segment of Al Jazeeera’s report on Maggie Gu’s “Romance Chinese Style” starts with the sound of violins at a wedding banquet.

The narrator says, “Chinese weddings today combine east and west both in customs and in costumes. However, the all-important wedding banquet must start before twelve to avoid bad luck.”

China is learning about love and romance. However, it is also discovering the agony of divorce since in the last two decades the divorce rate in China has taken flight but is still far from the divorce rate in the US.

Divorce has become so common, that it led to a popular, award winning TV drama “Chinese-Style Divorce”, which is the story of a woman losing her husband due to jealousy. This program struck a chord with millions of Chinese viewers.

The producer/director of Chinese-Style Divorce went through a divorce the year before he started filming. Many in the production crew were also divorced.

Lost love in China has also created opportunities in a new divorce industry leading to lawyers that specialize in divorce.

The Economist also reported that Divorce is on the rise in China.

While Chinese laws have made divorce much easier, Chinese culture is still having a difficult time adjusting to the shock that comes with divorce.

Today, marriage in China is more than just sticking it out through hard times. These days young couples want harmony, happiness, and romance, which means when marriage becomes painful and/or boring there is no hesitation to get a divorce.

But there are still differences between Chinese and marriages in the United States. In China, many expect their new mate to show respect and support for parents.

Chinese parents may also become involved in playing cupid for their children.


A matchmaking party for Chinese female millionaires who don’t have time to find love on their own.

Return to or Start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Challenge of Finding Love in China: Part 1 of 2

June 27, 2017

It isn’t easy finding love in China. I’m not talking about sex. This is about love. While sex might be an element of falling in love, it isn’t love. And yes, there are individuals who think of love as a sexual desire.

For instance, high paid white-collar jobs in China are demanding and leave little time for romance, but with western style romance novels and romantic movies leading the way, searching for “love” however one defines it, is becoming common.

Although China’s open economy has made many people rich, “love” is still a difficult word to say since most Asians are more reserved than westerners.

“Romance Chinese Style” is a film by first-time director Maggie Gu that takes a close look at the romance industry in China that is helping to overcome this shortage of time and abundance of shyness.

Al Jazeera English reported on Maggie Gu’s film and looked at on-line dating, blind dates, double dates, and speed dating that is popular in China.

Since China opened its doors to the world, it has become a country in the fast lane, and in 2007, China’s first speed dating club opened.

Speed dating originated in the United States, but the concept reached China where for a small fee, to save time, speed dating takes place over the Internet.

This Internet speed dating service allows busy members of China’s growing middle class to meet potential mates, and since many Chinese find it difficult to express what they feel, there are classes available where wealthy professionals can discover how to express themselves in the language of romance.


A Love Market in China

Part 2 will post on June 28, 2017

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Meet the Last Empress-Regent of China

June 20, 2017

The Last Emperor of China was Pu-Yi, but he never had the power of an emperor. Pu-Yi was born in 1906 and became emperor in 1908 when he was two-years old. His Empress was Wanrong and she was also born in 1906.  Pu-Yi married Wanrong in 1922 when they were both 16, ten years after the end of the Qing Dynasty. Wanrong might have technically been the last empress of China but she never had the power of one.

The real Last Empress of China was the Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi (Cixi). She ruled the Qing Dynasty as a coregent after her husband, the Xianfeng Emperor died in 1861, because her son, The Tongzhi Emperor (1856 – 1875), was too young to rule.

Tzu Hsi was the last empress to rule China as a regent. Pu-Yi was in a branch of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan with close ties to Empress Dowager Cixi, who was from the Manchu Yehenara clan.

Sterling Seagrave, the author of Dragon Lady, wrote, “Absurdly little was known about her (Cixi) life. The New York Times printed a long, error-filled obituary calling her Tzu An, the title of her coregent, who had died twenty-seven years earlier.”

Many current history texts have slandered the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (1835 – 1908) without much evidence as one of history’s most monstrous women, a ruthless Manchu concubine who seduced and allegedly murdered her way to the throne in 1861 to rule China through perversion, corruption, and intrigue.

She was even accused of murdering her son and then years later her nephew, who died the day before she did.

Instead, the evidence suggests her son died of syphilis because it was alleged he preferred prostitutes to the hundreds of concubines that were his property, young virgins that were selected for their beauty.

The allegations that Tzu Hsi was a monster was started by Edmund Backhouse, a reporter working in China for The London Times. His lies and deceit wouldn’t be discovered until Sterling Seagrave was doing research for his book about Tzu Hsi.

Backhouse’s journalistic fraud is still used as the foundation of most history textbooks that continue to slander Tzu Hsi.

To do Tzu Hsi justice and to discover the truth, read Seagrave’s Dragon Lady, The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China.

Also, read what Robert Hart wrote about her in his letters and journals.  Robert Hart arrived in China from Ireland in 1854 to work as an interpreter for the British consulate in Ningpo. Five years later Hart quit that job and went to work for the Emperor of China. He didn’t retire and return to England until 1908.

Hart was Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs and worked closely with the Imperial ministers and Manchu princes. Before returning to England, he met with the Dowager Empress in a private audience where witnesses said she cried.

Hart referred to Tzu Hsi as “the Buddha” and later “the old Buddha,” because she was a devout Buddhist.

Hart, who is considered the Godfather of China’s modernization, at no time indicated in anything he wrote that Tzu Hsi was conspiratorial, sinister, or manipulative. However, he did indicate that she was strong-willed and hot-tempered, clever, and had ability. In fact, it’s obvious from what he wrote about her that he thought of her with affection and admiration.

Tzu Hsi died in 1908 a few weeks after Robert Hart left China. China’s last Imperial Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, collapsed in 1911.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


There are more Men than Women in China and Money Counts

April 19, 2017

China Has Too Many Bachelors reports, “Forty-one million bachelors do not have women to marry. If nothing is done to change this trend, by 2020 there will be 55-million extra men in China.”

Since there is a growing shortage of women in China, men have to compete.  The winner is usually the one who earns the most. Danwei (Chinese media) posted a letter from a university student who was attracted to a beautiful girl in one of his classes, but he has nothing to offer and is ready to give up before asking her out for a first date.

Danwei says, “There’s a different kind of meat market in China. Female mate shoppers check out not only a man’s looks, humor and signs that he’ll treat her well. They also look for a bit of beef, as in where’s-the-beef. That means a man’s potential to earn money.”

Even if a girl likes a guy, the parents are going to get involved at some point to make sure the man earns enough to provide for their daughter. If the parents are against the marriage, for any reason, the odds are it will not take place even if the man has money.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

 


The Lovers Who Wanted to Save China’s Past

March 22, 2017

Smithsonian Magazine ran a piece on The Lovers of Shanxi. Lin Huiyn and Liang Sicheng are known today as the couple that wanted to save China’s ancient architectural treasures before they were lost forever. On the eve of World War II and Japan’s invasion of China, this married couple set out in the 1930s to search China and document the country’s architectural history.

Smithsonian said, “The couple would go on to make a string of extraordinary discoveries in the 1930s, documenting almost 2,000 exquisitely carved temples, pagodas and monasteries that were on the verge of being lost forever.”

Liang Sicheng is recognized as the “Father of Modern Chinese Architecture”. Princeton University, awarded him an honorary doctoral degree in 1947, and wrote “a creative architect who has also been a teacher of architectural history, a pioneer in historical research and exploration in Chinese architecture and planning, and a leader in the restoration and preservation of the priceless monuments of his country.”

His wife was the first female architect in modern China. Her passion was the restoration of China’s cultural heritage sites.  She died in 1955 of tuberculosis, and soon after her death, her husband was denounced during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and Liang Sicheng died in 1972 before the Cultural Revolution ended. During the years after his first wife’s death, he witnessed the destruction of many of China’s architectural masterpieces.

But today, in China, this couple is remembered and honored for what they accomplished.

These two also visited one of the few surviving examples of ancient China’s architecture to see the massive four-mile-long wall built in 1370 AD that surrounds the city of Pingyao in Shanxi province. One reason this city’s ancient architecture survived the Mao era is because the city was too poor to tear everything down during the Cultural Revolution when Mao was attempting to erase history.

After Mao’s death, Deng Xiaoping reversed Mao’s policies and opened China to the world, and over the years many of the damaged buildings were rebuilt.

I can only hope that something similar will happen in the United States once the malignant narcissist Donald Trump is gone.

Today the ancient city of Pengyao is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most buildings in the Old city are from the Ming and Qing dynasties. During the late Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was the financial center of China.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Laowai, their sexual fantasies, and The Exact Unknown

November 2, 2016

If God really thought sex was a mortal sin, why did He give young men so much testosterone? In fact, visit the Mayo Clinic.org to discover the facts. The Mayo Clinic says, “Testosterone is a hormone produced primarily in the testicles. Testosterone helps maintain men’s sex drive and sperm production.”

In addition, HealthDoc13.com reports that from age 18 to 30 “Your sexual appetite is prodigious (huge, enormous) and sex often occupies the front burners of your mind. It requires very little stimulation to achieve an erection.”

This post is a book review. The stories in Isham Cook’s collection, The Exact Unknown, reveal men driven by the often oppressed and censured male libido. These stories are not an author’s sex fantasy as some Puritanical minds might think, because many of the characters in these stories don’t achieve their goal, charming Chinese beauties that aren’t as easy to seduce as some think.

This collection is set in modern China where women are considered equal to men and are experimenting with that freedom and their sexuality. In case you are unaware of it, bound feet women in China and concubines as the property of men — you know, legal sex slaves — was officially ended by Mao after his famous liberating ‘Women hold up half the sky’ speech.

I think the best story in this 5-star collection of testosterone driven characters was Good Teacher, Bad Teacher starting on page 103 of the paperback.  John Cobalt is from Los Angeles and he’s teaching English in Guangzhou, China to Chinese college students. “This strange six-foot-five American dressed in what struck his employers as pajamas … went barefoot both in class and out on the street. … If that wasn’t bad enough, some students complained to the department head they could make out Cobalt’s penis against the flimsy fabric of his pants, in its flaccid state to be sure, yet they considered this to be highly improper nonetheless.”

To discover how Cobalt ends up with a devout and loyal following of Chinese college graduates, who are mostly female, you’ll have to read the book.

My second best choice would be The Curious Benefits of Neurosis starting on page 130 in the paperback that’s about a sex addict who sets out one night to visit as many massage parlors as possible with some surprising results.

I must warn you that there are a few well-written stories in this collection that have nothing to do with the out-of-control libidos of foreigners hoping to exploit the women of China.

The author sent me a complementary paperback copy of this book for my honest opinion that I’m sure modern, born-again Puritans will not approve of.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

on-sale-for-limited-time-oct-nov-2016

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline