The Heresy of Wu Han: His play 'Hai Jui's Dismissal' and its role in China's Cultural Revolution
Published: October 2017© 1971
134 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.00 in
At the centre of China's Cultural Revolution in its first stages stands the ambiguous figure of Wu Han. Occupying until the mid-sixties a favoured position among the intellectual elite of the People's Republic, he was the eighth-ranking figure in the Chinese Communist Party, and his Peking Opera Hai Jui's Dismissal was performed all over China. Gradually it became apparent that Wu Han was using Hai Jui to lampoon Chairman Mao Tse-tung and the core policies of the CPP. Other dissidents began to pen articles and plays on similar themes.
For several years Mao chafed under these literary attacks, but in late 1965 he retaliated. A sudden, scathing attack on Wu Han and his play by an obscure newspaper editor marked the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, a cataclysm in which the Party leadership was decimated while Mao regained full supremacy. This volume presents the first translation of Wu Han's plays and helps to clarify the obscure origins of a national phenomenon that was at once intellectual, social, and political.