Dr. Jung Chang

"I remember when my mother pointed to a stone, and she said this was the kind of stone people used to place on the feet of the baby girls to stop them trying to climb away and unbind their feet." This is one of the famous quotes by Dr. Jung Chang born in Yibin, Sichuan Province, China in 1952, now a British woman writer.

Dr. Jung Chang is the author of the best-selling books:

1. Wild Swans 2003 - 562 pages - Three Daughters of China, which has been said to be the most read book about China.
Chang paints a vivid portrait of the political and military turmoil of China in this period, from the marriage of her grandmother to a warlord, to her mother's experience of Japanese-occupied Jinzhou during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and her own experience of the effects of Mao's policies of the 1950s and 1960s.
2. Mao: The Unknown Story (co-written with husband Jon Halliday) 2005 - 814 pages
3. Romance of the Three Kingdoms: San Guo Yan Yi – 1995 – 174 pages

All the books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and together sold some 15 million copies.

She is inspired by her father who was deeply interested in literature. She quickly developed a love of reading and writing, composing poetry as a child. Mao’s extremist policies and projects eventually lead her parents who were working as high-ranking officers, to oppose him. They were targeted during the Cultural Revolution and were publicly humiliated as ink was poured over their heads and they were forced to wear placards denouncing them around their necks, kneel in gravel and to stand outside in the rain, followed by imprisonment, her father's treatment leading to lasting physical and mental illness. Their careers were destroyed, and her family was forced to leave their home.

The disruption of the university system in China lead Chang to spend several years as a peasant, a barefoot doctor, a steelworker and an electrician, though she received no formal training because of Mao's policy, which did not require formal instruction as a prerequisite for such work.

The universities were eventually re-opened and she gained a place at Sichuan University to study English, later becoming an assistant lecturer there. After Mao's death, she passed an exam that allowed her to study in the West, and her application to leave China was approved once her father was politically rehabilitated. She left China for Britain in 1978 and was awarded a scholarship by York University, where she obtained a PhD in Linguistics in 1982 - the first person from the People's Republic of China to receive a doctorate from a British University. She has also been awarded honorary doctorates from the Universities of Buckingham, York, Warwick and the Open University and Bowdoin College, USA.

Dr Jung Chang maintained her faith in Mao’s policies for a long time until she heard the news of her father’s death. His death in a way liberated her.

On the occasion of Mao’s death she wrote in her book that,

 “The Chinese seemed to be mourning Mao in a heartfelt fashion. But I wondered how many of their tears were genuine. People had practiced acting to such a degree that they confused it with their true feelings. Weeping for Mao was perhaps just another programmed act in their programmed lives.”

Dr Jung Chang gives lectures and presentation in various events and Universities on China’s Cultural Revolution. A gifted storyteller, her presentations stimulate emotions and leave audiences reflecting upon her powerful and moving messages, taking them on a thoughtful and, at times, emotional journey. Kaz Ross of the University of Tasmania deemed Wild Swans to have been a forerunner of a new genre: "'faction' – history told by fictional narrative means." 

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favorite books. I have read it multiple times and parts of it come back to me as I go through my life as a woman and mother here in the states. What a wonderful gift she shared with the world in writing her story!


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