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Deathsong of the River: A Reader's Guide to the Chinese TV Series Heshang by Su Xiaokang and Wang Luxiang

54 Deathsong of River
Translated by Richard W. BODMAN and Pin P. WAN
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Perhaps the most daring TV documentary series ever produced in mainland China, which directly affected the thinking of Chinese youth on the eve of the 1989 democracy movement. This richly annotated translation of the original filmscript by SU Xiaokang and WANG Luxiang puts the series in its intellectual and artistic context and is suitable for use in classes on Chinese culture and contemporary China, with or without the videotape. | 370 pages


Part 1 Introductory Notes

  • Translators' Foreword: "From History to Allegory to Art: A Personal Search for Interpretation" Richard Bodman
  • "A Second Wave of Enlightenment?  Or an Illusory Nirvana? Heshang and the Intellectual Movements of the 80s" Pin P. Wan

Part 2 A Reader's Guide

  • Title Page of First Edition
  • Su Xiaokang, "Arousing the Whole Nation to Self-Questioning"
  • Part One, "Searching for a Dream"
  • Part Two, "Destiny"
  • Part Three, "The Light of the Spirit"
  • Part Four, "The New Era"
  • Part Five, "Sorrow and Worry"
  • Part Six, "Blueness"

Part 3 A Viewer's Guide

  • Text and Images for Part Four, "The New Era" Text and Images for Part Six, "Blueness"

Part 4 Commentary

  • "The Distress of a Dragon Year--Notes on Heshang" Su Xiaokang
  • "Heshang: Withering Chinese Culture?"  Weiming Tu
  • "Historians in the Capital Criticize Heshang: A Summary" Weiming Tu

Bibliography, compiled by Richard Bodman | Chinese Historical Chronology | Maps

  • "Highly recommended. It fits the needs, above all, of undergraduate and graduate courses that use the videotape of He Shang as teaching material, but its usefulness goes well beyond this, providing an accomplished exposition of a highly complex cultural, intellectual and political phenomenon." — Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs
  • "The kind of text that university Chinese studies departments should be teaching as a literary/cultural text alongside or instead of canonical "literary" texts, and the book that Bodman and Wan have assembled greatly facilitates such a project. ... an almost perfect package." —The China Quarterly 
  • "As close to a definitive treatment of He Shang as we shall ever get." — Journal of Asian Studies


  • Richard W. Bodman and Pin P. WAN teach Chinese language, literature, and Asian studies at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

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