Mo Yan: Frenemy of the State

While noting Mo's "wide-ranging, earthy writing [on] even such sensitive matters as forced abortions," theInternational Herald Tribune hinted at Mo's being an apologist-intellectual like Ezra Pound or Jean-Paul Sartre: "was he, even then, under a kind of spell?" The paper quoted Gao Xingjian, the 2000 literature laureate whose dissident stature and French citizenship made him ineligible for recognition as a "Chinese" winner back home: writers need "'total independence' to create [...] 'eternal'" literature. "What is the relation between officials and literature?" Gao asks. "Nothing... They have nothing to do with literature, especially with literature [...] Where can officials and literature be connected? Nowhere. ... And if they are, then it's merely official literature, and that's a really laughable thing. So literature shouldn't be organized by officials."

Just don't tell that to Tang dynasty wordsmiths Li Bai and Du Fu, or the historian Sima Qian, painter-poet-calligraphers Su Dongpo and Ouyang Xiu, 11th-century public-interest crusader Bao Zheng, or prominent 2nd-century BC anti-corruption activist Qu Yuan. And definitely don't tell noted itinerant philosopher Confucius.

attached to: Mo Yan


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