Skip to content


The weather is fine now, but this morning it was snowing, I think with flakes already melting, they fell straight down, close together and quite quickly. A source of desperation. I have to do something, set the brain free. Find out something more about Ding Ling.

Born in 1904, she belonged to the May 4th movement, a literary club that is breaking away from traditional Chinese culture. By 1920 Confucianism had taken on the features of a political straitjacket protecting the corrupt elite. And politics in China is then in an identity crisis, after the Boxer thing and after the subsequent international sanctions. The Treaty of Versailles also provokes revolt.

A time of warring locally supported generals follows. They populate the political scene. That battle turned into a civil war that ended around 1949 with the Kuomintang in Taiwan and the CCP on the mainland. It lasted from 1927 to 1949, interrupted by the Second Sino-Japanese War between 1937 and 1945.

Ding Ling joined the CCP in 1932 and was later imprisoned for 5 years after she published dissenting views. She always employed literary means to express her own thoughts. In a life that was all the time constrained by dominant moralities, whether they were feudally backward, or of the May 4th movement, or emerged with the whims of the CCP (the leap forward, the cultural revolution, the opened economy) or were invoked by the feminists in the USA (where she visited in 1981).

Many of the May 4 movement saw accessible literature as an important tool for influencing political culture. I am also going to use that instrument. I too often see my own views rebounding against the dominant morality (and my own limitations). I then use “fiction” as a label.