Libmonster ID: CN-1331
Author(s) of the publication: S. TOROPTSEV

S. TOROPTSEV

Doctor of Historical Sciences

In October 2004, the famous Chinese writer Wang Meng celebrated his seventieth birthday, and a month later, at the invitation of the Russian-Chinese "Committee of the XXI Century", he came to our country - "a dream of his youth," as he said himself. "It's like visiting old friends," he summed up his ten-day visit.

In general, we went with Wang Meng "stove-benches" - "close, short acquaintance", as the phraseological dictionary interprets this old expression, and Dahl gives an example - " they have both stoves and benches, all together, are friendly." I commented on this to Wang Meng in Moscow at the "Appetizing Glade"in the Pechki-Lavochki tavern, under the plentiful national snacks accompanied by a non-dangerously starched mead. There was a serious conversation ahead in the magazine "Foreign Literature", and Wang Meng was not averse to a good glass of Russian vodka.

The interior of the old village hut touched the writer, and he resolutely threw off the internal uniform of a nomenklatura official, who sometimes, according to the situation, pulled on himself, remembering that in the late 1980s he was the Minister of Culture of the PRC for three years and still remains in the official rank of "state minister".

In general, Wang Meng is a pleasant, easy-going person, inclined to joke, laugh, and sing, especially when he sings the Soviet songs of the 50s that he loved so much. (nostalgia for youth?). It was with this duet that he and one of his readers completed the presentation of a new collection of his short stories and novellas, Footprints on the Slope Leading Up, which had just been published in Moscow. Soviet songs are also sung by Van Man's characters, who are also well-known for our classics-music, literature, and painting. Tchaikovsky's "Andante cantabile" turned the soul of Cao Qianli, the main character of the story "Roan", made him a musician and supported the strength of spirit in the difficult times of the "cultural revolution".

"We can say," Wang Meng points out with a smile, " that the influence of Khrushchev or Brezhnev was once suspended in China, but not Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, or Repin." And in a conversation with our Minister of Culture A. S. Sokolov, Wang Meng repeated:: "It's hard to find another country with such cultural influence on China as Russia." And, taking into account the main profession of the minister, he specified: "Russian music is a part of the Chinese soul".

Wang Meng is a man and writer of a very difficult fate (and who in China over the past few decades has had an easy fate?!). Born in October 1934 to a family of metropolitan intellectuals, he spent the next five years living in a village in Hebei Province. He did not receive a higher education, having gone, as he himself comments, "following the example of Maxim and other heroes of Soviet films", to the revolution. And he calls himself an "eternal student", implying an inexhaustible interest in everything new and unknown in the world and in man.

From the age of 12 (1946), Wang Meng joined the underground work in Beijing, in 1948, after a few days before the required 14 years, he joined the CPC; after the proclamation of the People's Republic of China (1949), he worked in the grassroots governing bodies of the All-China Youth Organization, studied at the Central School of the New Democratic Youth Union (analogous to our Komsomol).

So Wang Meng began his career as a party bureaucrat, but his genes were all mixed up: among his distant ancestors was a writer, a contemporary of Cao Xueqin (XVIII century), the author of the famous novel "Dream in the Red Tower"in Russia. The ancestor also turned out to be a free-spirited man, for which he paid the price of exile to the remote lands of Xinjiang. His descendant was doubly affected.

Wang Meng began writing as a child, and published his first essay, "The Heart of Spring," in 1948 in the school almanac. In 1953 he started writing the novel "Long Live Youth", and in 1955 he published his first short story "Fasolinka" in Vsekitay magazine-

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The People's Daily (of which he became editor-in-chief in the 1980s).

Already the first works showed the extraordinary writing talent of Wang Meng, penetration into human psychology, subjectivized image of the external world through the individual perception of its characters, which was unusual for Chinese literature of those years, mainly superficial and slogan-based.

Wang Meng's short story "Newcomer to the Organizing Department", published in 1956, caused a wide response in the country. The story showed bureaucratic tendencies in the leading echelons of the party. But in 1957, a campaign of "struggle against revisionism" was launched, when leading "spreads" were sent from top to bottom to identify and criticize "enemies of the party and socialism". As a result, the author himself was classified as a "right-wing element", expelled from the party and sent for "labor re-education". With short interruptions, it continued until 1978-first in the vicinity of Beijing, then in remote places in Xinjiang, where Wang Meng was initially "entrusted" with the post of deputy brigadier, and with the beginning of the "cultural revolution" in 1966 and the tightening of policy towards "enemies of the party and socialism", this "trust" was also deprived.". The writer's health began to fail. Wang Meng managed to cope with the disease only after three decades of his own volitional effort, supported by medicine and gymnastics ("my hobby is swimming," he explains).

In the late 70s, when China managed to get out of the "cultural revolution" that was terrorizing the people, Wang Meng returned to Beijing and one by one published his first new works-short stories and novellas "The Kite and the Ribbon", "Dreams of the Sea", "Spring Voices", "A Look into the Night" (when published in our country in 1981 in the magazine "Foreign Literature", the title of the story was changed to an arbitrary "Night in a big city")," Moth","Comprivet".

They shocked the country, admiring some, and shocking others. A heated debate broke out: who is Wang Meng-an innovator, whose work, permeated with unusual psychologism and elements of the "stream of consciousness", opens up new horizons of domestic literature, or, as some people used to say at that time, with the still not lost habit of looking for enemies everywhere, a malicious"agent of overseas influence"?

Times have changed. Today in China, there is even an Institute for studying the work of Wang Meng!

If in the socio-economic sphere, in the classical Confucian style, the task of building a "small welfare society" is put forward, then in the ideology the emphasis is placed on creating a "harmony society". This means, as the writer clarified in one of the conversations, giving up "too many" social conflicts, political campaigns, shocks and instability, tension and distrust that have shaken the country over the past two centuries.

On a cautious, even still with the caveat "not for the transcript", question: "Do Chinese writers feel pressure from the authorities?" Wang Meng, without turning away from the microphone, frankly replied, " Overall, the situation is favorable... The current confrontation between the authorities and creative people can be called soft... Even if some manager doesn't like the work, he won't publicly criticize it, because it will only cause him unnecessary trouble - the whole world will start talking about persecution."

If the answer had ended there, it would not have been worth quoting. But with a smile, Wang Meng continued to open up...However, the manager will express his opinion to the publisher, so that in the future there will be no such works." It should be taken into account that there are no private publishing houses in China (despite the fact that there are private universities), so the result of such use of "telephone law" is obvious. Although...

Although there are "pirated publications" that ignore censorship, both "external" and "internal". They are sponsored from abroad and published there. This does not affect the political fate of authors at home, as it did in very recent times ("the policy of reform and openness," Wang Meng stressed). But, he complains, this only litters the literature, because the Western media is too zealous to raise such pirates on the shield, without looking at the artistic quality of the work, just because of the fact of "opposition to the regime". And these, Wang Meng emphasizes, are often not the best examples of modern Chinese literature.

The book market in China is very developed. The country publishes several thousand titles of books a year. Unfortunately, they mostly remain in the circle of sex, drugs, low-grade detective stories, near-scientific fiction, which is still poorly developed, and therefore the translated "Harry Potter"is absolutely leading in this sector.

But the market still brought a revival and a choice. Wang Meng lists serious authors who appeal to him and have the opportunity to publish:" young and beautiful forty-year-olds "Te Ning and Wang Anyi, Zhang Yu from Henan province, whose prose resembles the Italian neorealist series"cops and thieves". There were very young, twenty-year-old writers whose work reflects the modern "crisis of computer thinking".

Wang Meng himself doesn't look back at the market. "They say I'm outdated. If it was really outdated, and they wouldn't remember it," he notes with a grin. Now he is working on a book of micro-stories and quite"market-like"

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He adds, " It's a genre that Chinese magazines love." Some of it has already been published in France, and when he returns home, he promised to make a selection for Moscow as well.

Wang Meng is hardworking. His faithful assistant is the computer on which the writer has been working for 13 years. At a meeting with readers in a bookstore, he remarked:: "If you translate everything I've written, your store shelves will overflow with my books." He is loved abroad. In recent years, 155 foreign publications have been published, only in France, by the Year of China in 2004, a four-volume book was published, half of which was "Xinjiang prose" - works of art based on the material of Xinjiang, the life of which Wang Meng loved and studied well during the years of exile, even mastered the Uyghur language.

The pioneer of translations of Wang Meng's novels was Italy (1986), and the second was "Prefabricated Figures "(in the published translation - "Metamorphoses, or the game of folding pictures") in the Soviet "Selected" in 1988. (Starting with small forms, Wang Meng focused more on large-format epics in the ' 90s, although I think that as an artist he is brighter in the short story genre.)

In our country, there were many publications of Wang Meng's prose in periodicals, and in 2004, on the occasion of the writer's seventieth birthday, a new collection of his short stories and novellas "Footprints on the slope leading up" was published, which included the best works of recent years. The author assessed it as follows:"Well composed, reflects the changes that have taken place in the destinies and souls of Chinese people in recent years."

Wang Meng's books have firmly conquered the world, and he himself travels a lot, learning about his country ("there is not a single province of China that I would not visit"), and the Globe. He has already visited 50 countries and regions, and last year alone, his arrival in Russia was his third trip abroad. From us, he flew to Kazakhstan to give a lecture at the Center for Chinese Culture in Alma-Ata (alas, the creation of such a Center in Moscow and, accordingly, the Russian one in Beijing has been discussed for several years! So far, only conversations). He has been to the United States ten times (and I will add that one of his best works, the story "Roan", the cry of his freedom - loving and human-loving soul, was written in the United States-during a two-month literary seminar held there).

In our country, which Wang Meng, as he himself said, "dreamed of from a young age," he is for the second time. For the first time (with a brief visit to Moscow), he arrived in 1984 at the head of the Chinese delegation at the Tashkent Film Festival, where the film "Long Live Youth" based on his early novel participated in the competition. (In total, 4 works of the writer were filmed, but without much success: cinematographers do not manage to catch the intense inner pulse of the plots, the deep psychology of the artistic fabric, and they limit themselves to tracing the external action - a certain "story" that has lost its soul.) The result of the first visit was a book of travel notes "To the Soviet Union with emotional excitement".

Wang Meng's authority, which is indisputably recognized both in China and in the world, is finally recognized in Russia. At a conversation in the magazine "Foreign Literature", he was invited to join the International Council of the magazine, joining G. Grass (hearing a familiar name in Russian, Wang Meng animatedly repeated it, like other well-known writers ' names). He proudly - as a high honor - informed the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation A. S. Sokolov about this proposal, with whom they discussed the development of mutual contacts, taking into account the much-binding Year of China in Russia and the Year of Russia in China-they are scheduled for 2006-2007.

The offer of "Foreign Literature "did not contain any" diplomatic " flattery directed at the high-ranking visitor. Who is more authoritative in China than Wang Meng - as a pioneer, as a sage, as a pure, benevolent soul, alien to the petty conflicts that often tear apart the creative environment. Whether it's China or Russia, the atmosphere is quite similar, although there the writers 'Union, in which Wang Meng is the vice-chairman, is united and, at least outwardly, is not fragmented by "domestic" squabbles.

Wang Meng came to Russia, as already mentioned, at the invitation of the Chinese-Russian "Committee of the XXI Century". He was awarded a diploma of Honorary Doctor of the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The professor (Wang Meng teaches at several universities and heads the Institute of Literature of the University of the Ocean in Qingdao) devoted his doctoral lecture to the Chinese character, considering it a specific asset of national culture, which contributed to the maturation of conceptuality as a method of Chinese thinking, a unique treasure that will allow China to save its own face in line with the possible leveling of national cultures - one of the dangers of globalization, an inevitable, in Wang Meng's opinion, but far from unambiguous process.

It is in culture that the writer sees the fateful mission of saving the identity of each nation. In a globalizing world, cultural exchange is just as important as the exchange of the latest technologies. "The Chinese government," Wang Meng remarked with a smile to the Russian Minister of Culture, " is not going to turn China into a military superpower, but we are certainly a superpower in terms of culture. Russia is also a cultural superpower, and I believe that our cooperation will improve and flourish the culture of the whole world."


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S. TOROPTSEV, "STOVES AND BENCHES" WITH WANG MENG // Beijing: China (ELIBRARY.ORG.CN). Updated: 29.04.2024. URL: https://elibrary.org.cn/m/articles/view/-STOVES-AND-BENCHES-WITH-WANG-MENG (date of access: 15.07.2024).

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