Z H A N G L I J I A Fifty men in pajamas crowd the common room of a mental institution in Beijing. Some sit shoulder to shoulder on the concrete floor with their backs against the wall. Others watch television or wander about, talking to themselves, lost in worlds of their own. One patient stands apart, smoking and staring through the barred windows to the garden below. Hair cropped short, dressed in regulation pajamas, he looks like every other inmate; but this man's inner world may be more extraordinary than that of all the rest. He has been called China's Dante. Respected then reviled by the Red Guards in the 1960s, later praised as the forerunner of the underground literature movement, criticized by the authorities, and recently back in favor enough to be published and to receive literary awards, fifty-two-year-old Guo Lusheng has been scarred by his journey through Maoist hell and by the mental breakdown caused in part by political persecution. But this poet is also a survivor and takes a calm view of the ups and downs in his life and the transient nature of fame. Tall and well built, he chain-smokes as we
Manoa – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Apr 1, 2002
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