Translated by David Hull
Mao Dun’s Waverings provides a riveting account of a fateful turning point in the history of the Chinese revolution. Set in a county town in the interior of China in 1927, the year the Communists were crushed in the coastal cities and shifted their mobilizing efforts toward the rural hinterland, the novel captures the pervasive sense of uncertainty and anxiety which accompanied that momentous transformation. Mao Zedong’s famous Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan, published the same year, celebrated the poor peasants for their revolutionary commitment and chastised the middle peasants for ‘wavering’ (dongyao) in the heat of battle. As Mao Dun’s gripping tale makes clear, however, middle peasants were not the only people shaken by the Red Terror that seized the Chinese countryside. The appalling violence of the day generated widespread apprehension and desperation on the part of rural society. Beautifully translated by David Hull, this original 1928 version of Mao Dun’s novel opens a revealing window onto the complex drama of social revolution. A radical sympathizer himself, Mao Dun nevertheless writes with extraordinary insight and empathy about the human anguish that revolutionary struggle entailed for so many of his fellow countrymen. This book belongs on the reading list of anyone seeking to understand the Chinese revolution at one of its most critical junctures.