Foreign Writings on Yan’an (1934-1949)

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2018


Foreign Writings on Yan’an (1934-1949)


Zhao Xueyong and Wang Xin


In the 1930s and 1940s, writers from abroad foregathering in Yan’an drew back the curtain on China’s international image through their writings on the “Red Holy Land.” The international image of Yan’an was jointly shaped by these writers and reporters through their writings about Yan’an in a cultural context at the juncture of history and society. The revolutionary individual consciousness and high level of artistic creativity of these writers from abroad infused their Yan’an narratives with a real sense of presence and a realistic meaning that transcended their times; this stands out as a shared feature of their work. As they pursued people’s nature, their “discovery” of the revolutionary force growing among the common people of China evoked and shaped the “heroes from among the masses.” The spiritual dimension of the Yan’an texts of these foreign writers was unlike the features of individual domestic writers. Their creative practice and the creative experience of domestic writers highlighted each other as they juxtaposed foreign and indigenous images of Yan’an and promoted the modern and cosmopolitan character of Yan’an literature in the intertextuality of reality and literature. Writers from abroad and domestic writers joined in the creation of Chinese revolutionary history and culture, bringing their personal discourse into that of China’s new age and completing the “restatement” of their cultural identity. Through a difficult process of historical self-construction, Yan’an’s world identity broke through its prescriptive international image to realize the self-certification of modern Chinese history.