Long Yingtai on Han Han and Social Criticism

The Nandu Daily recently ran an article (h/t to ESWN) on Taiwanese writer and social critic Long Yingtai ((Or Lung Ying-tai, if you insist on using Wade-Giles…)), who is currently in China premiering a documentary. Long was a prominent essayist in the 1980s and an outspoken critic of Taiwan’s government, which at the time was still dominated by a single party. When asked to compare herself in the 1980s ((She also wrote a column in the 1980s that appeared in print in Mainland Chinese papers including the China Times.)) with Han Han today, she responded thusly [quote is from the article, not all of it is what she said verbatim]:

“‘In a healthy society, you need all kinds and all ages of Han Hans. The reason my book Wild Fires ((A collection of critical essays from the 1980s)) was an overnight success is because there were so many taboos in Taiwan at that time, every slap and welt left a bruise.’ She also said that if we hope to move society towards a more open and healthy era, we should believe in the value of letting everyone’s voice be heard.”

She also expressed some interesting views on historical writing when responding to a question from a reader as to whether she felt her own style of writing might be a bit too exaggerated and thus inaccurate:

“Long Yingtai said she chose the style that fit her own personality the best, ‘I am profoundly skeptical of so-called ‘all-encompassing [historical] narratives’, because behind all of these “great” things is a person.’ She said she has always felt that all the great figures throughout history were just regular people, that their parents still had to change diapers for them when they were young. So they must have soft emotions in their hearts [like regular people], and we can use literature to represent this. What I do is not history, and it needn’t be an ‘all-encompassing narrative’.”

0 thoughts on “Long Yingtai on Han Han and Social Criticism”

  1. I think your problem with the sentence in question is because you’ve overlooked the main construction of the first two clauses:

    The reason my book was an overnight success is because there were so many taboos in Taiwan at that time.

    Then, she turns metaphorical:

    Every slap left a welt or a bloodstain. (In other words, the book cut deeply, caused controversy, etc.)

    At least that’s how I read it.


  2. Have your noticed the hostility towards Long Ying-tai on the Chinese Internet?

    In one meeting, an audience member asked her to state her position with respect to Liu Xiaobo?

    Her answer: “Please read my books.”

    The hostility against her is over her unwillingness to make an unequivocal statement. She won’t.

    Why not?

    I think people need to re-read Wild Fires …


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