Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

Yu Hua's Exploitation of Mao-era Rhetoric

By Helen Wang, published

China Information, vol. 26, no. 1 (March 2012): "Doing Things Right with Communist Party Language: An Analysis of Yu Hua's Exploitation of Mao-era Rhetoric" by Hua Li

Abstract This article focuses on a specific aspect of Yu Hua’s satiric criticism of Mao-era rhetoric through the use of double-voiced discourse in his full-length novel Cries in the Drizzle. I analyse how this double-voiced discourse is achieved through the contrast between the focalizers’ unreflective and matter-of-fact use of Maoist rhetoric and the public narrator’s clear awareness of the shabby realities behind this rhetoric. The varied understandings of Maoist rhetoric within a variety of narrative voices give rise to sarcasm, irony, and parody. Four episodes in Cries in the Drizzle will be analysed in detail. In each of these, Mao-era rhetoric is projected and embedded in the daily conversations and language of some characters who hail from villages in the countryside. These episodes invite readers to reflect upon just how much of the daily discourse of the Chinese people alludes to, or incorporates, the words of Mao and the Party, and also to appreciate the varied forms of double-voiced discourse brought about by differentiated perspectives of the public narrator versus the focalizers in Yu Hua’s story.

Hua Li, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Montana State University, 118A Gaines Hall, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA Email:

China Information is a refereed journal dedicated to timely and in-depth analyses of major developments in contemporary China and overseas Chinese communities. The journal encourages discussion and debate between different research traditions, offers a platform to express controversial and dissenting opinions, and promotes research that is historically sensitive and contemporarily relevant.


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