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Chinese Literature
Hai Rui ba guan 海瑞罷官 "Hai Rui Dismissed From Office"


This theatre play is not really famous by its content. Wu Han 吳晗 (d. 1969) was actually a historian who focused on Ming Dynasty 明. His understanding of history was contradicting to the official communist interpretation that saw historical events of as examples for the present. A change of real facts was allowed to serve the task of socialism. In 1959, after the Great Leap Forfard had failed, Mao Zedong 毛澤東 was criticized by Defense Minister Peng Dehuai 彭德壞, and evenually dismissed from office. Pointing to that real event, Wu Han, highly dissatisfied with the cultural politics of the Communists, wrote a theatre play with Hai Rui 海瑞 as hero. Hai Rui was a Ming time official who was thrown into jail for criticizing the emperor. The first performance being in 1961, his theatre play became an instrument to attack the "rightist" pragmaticians in the politbuero by the Gang of Four 四人邦 in 1965. Wu Han was one of the first victims of the Cultural Revolution and died in prison in 1969, only rehabilitated in 1979.
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July 18, 2010 © · Ulrich Theobald · Mail