The period in China’s recent history between the death of Mao and the débâcle of 1989 can be seen as a long decade, but also historically as a “lost” decade. It is “lost” in the sense that the political engagement of intellectuals and makers of culture has been occulted by official history-telling; it is also “lost” in that its memory has been abandoned even by many who lived through it; “lost” also in the embarrassed silence of those who prefer to focus on the subsequent economic miracle of the 1990s that gave rise to today’s more prosperous China; and “lost” as a time of opportunity for cultural and political change that ultimately did not happen. The relevance of the “lost” decade to China’s living, if untold, history was once more made clear by the conferral of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on Liu Xiaobo, a political activist since 1989, and by the awarding of the 2010 Neustadt literature prize to the poet Duoduo whose poetry and personal trajectory loom large in Lee’s book.
Gregory B. Lee was educated in London and Peking. He has taught at the universities of Cambridge, London, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Lyon, and was most recently Chair Professor of Chinese and Transcultural Studies at City University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Dai Wangshu: The Life and Poetry of a Chinese Modernist; Troubadours, Trumpeters, Troubled Makers: Lyricism, Nationalism and Hybridity in China and Its Others; and Chinas Unlimited: Making the Imaginaries of China and Chineseness.
China's Lost Decade, by Gregory B. Lee
China's Lost Decade
Cultural Politics and Poetics 1978-1990 in place of history
Gregory B. Lee
ISBN 978-0-983297-00-0 (paper)
5½ x 8¼