Présentation de l'éditeur
His second escape came in 1923 when he left Chengdu to study, moving to Nanking and then Shanghai where he continued his anarchist activism and writing, producing a pamphlet on the Chicago Haymarket Affair of 1886-7.From 1927 to 1928 Ba Jin lived in France, meeting many anarchists including Alexander Berkman, whose ABC of Communist Anarchism (AKA What is Anarchism?) he later translated and adapted. In France he also wrote to Bartolomeo Vanzetti awaiting execution in Massachusetts. He was deeply affected by the case and later wrote a pamphlet about it.
In France Ba Jin completed Destruction, the first of his novels based on the struggles of young Chinese revolutionaries. In 1931 he wrote Family, recognised as his greatest work. In 1931 came the first Japanese invasion of China that preceded the full-scale war of 1937-45. Ba Jin wrote extensively for the anti-Japanese resistance, though without abandoning anarchism.
After the Communist victory in 1949, Ba Jin was forced to rewrite his works. 'In the first editions the protagonists acted with anarchist ideas and in a clearly anarchist ambience, and they often quoted the well-known texts of anarchism… In the “revised” edition… Emma Goldman is not only no longer his spiritual mother; she doesn't exist.' From this point on, he abandoned fiction, and wrote a small amount of reportage. In 1958 he renounced Anarchism and in 1961 stated 'I am not satisfied either by the quantity or quality of my works.'
However, whenever the regime allowed it, Ba Jin spoke out. ‘In 1962, when the party seemed to tolerate and even promote a more creative and spontaneous style in literature, [Ba Jin] delivered a speech under the title “Courage and Sense of Responsibility of Writers.” It was a protest against the literary bureaucrats and an admonition to writers to be fighters, to uphold the truth and their own vision of reality.’
Payback came during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Mao unleashed the Red Guards on his ‘bureaucrat’ enemies. They also persecuted writers, including Ba Jin - making a great deal of his anarchist past. ‘To the people’, instead of being an optimistic plan to spark social change as it had been for the nineteenth-century Russian narodniks became a punishment for independent thinking or ‘disloyalty’. On June 20, 1968, [Ba Jin] was dragged to the People’s Stadium of Shanghai. Those present and those who watched the scene on television saw him kneeling on broken glass and heard the shouts accusing him of being a traitor and enemy of Mao. They also heard him break his silence at the end and shout at the top of his voice, ‘You have your thoughts and I have mine. This is the fact and you can't change it even if you kill me.’”