Wang Meng and Self-censorship

Cultural Unity and Socialist Values in 1950s China


  • Wendy Larson University of Oregon



Wang Meng, China censorship, 1950s China, Socialist bureaucracy, Chinese socialist novels, 王蒙, 中國審查制度, 中國五十年代, 社會主義官僚主義, 中國社會主義小說


The early work and experience of writer (and later Minister of Culture) Wang Meng provides a useful study in the “slow creep” of active, optimistic efforts on behalf of both political authorities and the people to create a unified cultural subject, as they move toward a more recognisable form of censorship and control. Although parts of Wang Meng’s first novel Long live youth were published in the late 1950s, it was not published in its entirety until 1979. The plot revolves around a group of high school girls who value spontaneity and freedom, rather than discipline and organisation. The small group of main characters develop strategies of inclusion and exclusion, mimicking society at large while shielding themselves from the contamination of politics and national affairs. By the time he wrote the novella A Young Man Arrives at the Organization Department in 1956, Wang Meng had reformulated his protagonist to recognise the insidious danger of self-censorship. Lin Zhen retains the values of “good cheer” and hard work but falls into doubt and confusion. The story’s portrayal of Lin’s colleagues in the Organization Department as lazy, cautious, and unenthusiastic is also part of a literary investigation into the kind of censorship that is woven into daily work life, emerging from the structures of bureaucracy.

上世紀50年代曾任文化部長的王蒙寫的兩部小說《青春萬歲》和《組織部新來的年輕人》呈現了中國50年代積極向上的樂觀主義精神。 《青春萬歲》寫的是一群追崇自由,隨性爛漫,不喜被組織和紀律約束的高中女生。她們對他人包容和排斥的策略,既是當時社會制度和風氣的體現,又展示了年輕人未經政治風雨及世俗侵染的青春和純潔。 《組織部新來的年輕人》揭露了官僚機構中逐漸滲透到日常工作中的審查制度。王蒙塑造了一個能自我審查隱患的主角林震。雖然其組織部的同事在小說中被描述為懶惰、謹慎並缺乏熱忱,林震自己也時常陷入懷疑和困惑,但他保留了“打起精神”和努力工作的價值觀。通過研究王蒙這兩部小說中所展現出來的樂觀主義精神,本文揭示了那個時代的當權者和民眾是如何將這種樂觀向上的價值取向逐步演變成政治審查的要素,從而構建起一個統一的文化主題。


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