Learn Chinese Through Stories - Mao Dun's Silkworms
Mao Dun is our author of choice for this week. He is a contemporary of Lu Xun and Zhu Ziqing which means he was also writing during the May Fourth Movement. The May Fourth Movement is also called the New Culture Movement and was a time when authors were searching through writing the best way for China to modernize and to highlight China's problems. The movement gets its name from the day the Chinese government tried to sign the Treaty of Versailles which was marking the end of WWI. China was not in a very good bargaining position and hence got quite a bad deal from the treaty. Shandong which had belonged to Germany did not return to China, but instead was ceded to Japan. Student protests followed. Mao Dun writes in the vernacular Chinese and so that makes his works more accessible to Chinese language learners breaking in to reading Chinese short stories and literature. The best way to learn to read Chinese is to read as much as you can. Well, the best way is with our advanced Chinese readers of course, but the second best is to read as much as you can. Mao Dun (矛盾) meaning "contradiction" is obviously a pen name. His real name is Shen Dehong (沈德鴻) and was born in 1896 and lived until 1981. Silkworms or "春蚕" (Chūncán) in Chinese is a story about the rural life in China which is unique during this time period. Most stories during this time focused on urban life. The villagers in the story are hoping to profit from their silkworm business, but find that they are only getting deeper and deeper into debt. Mao Dun highlights the many troubles that peasants have while trying to make some money and run a business. Silkworms is part of a triology. The other two books are called with Autumn Harvest and Winter Ruin. Silkworms is dated as November 1, 1932. Enjoy and do your best to learn Chinese through stories with Mao Dun's Silkworms.