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Monday, September 22 2014 @ 01:15 PM CDT

Mao: The Curse of the Mummy by Rene Vienet

Asia

“Mao 30 Years After His Death, in China and in France” is an essay topic that teachers of 12th grade history classes will opportunely propose to their students next month. The recent publication of Mao une histoire méconnue by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, and this week’s broadcast on Arte of the recent documentary by Philipp Short, informed by official Chinese sources, will facilitate such directed scholarly study.

Mao: The Curse of the Mummy

by René Viénet

“Mao 30 Years After His Death, in China and in France” is an essay topic that teachers of 12th grade history classes will opportunely propose to their students next month. The recent publication of Mao une histoire méconnue by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, and this week’s broadcast on Arte of the recent documentary by Philipp Short, informed by official Chinese sources, will facilitate such directed scholarly study.

Moreover, these two “thirty years later” novelties will allow teachers to speak to their students of methodology: how “thirty years beforehand” it was possible to understand the essential and make it known; in 1971, Simon Leys, the author of Les habits neufs du Président Mao,[1] was condemned by French sinologists for having never taught in France. Because I was the book’s editor,[2] and because I offended again by publishing some other titles that have now become classics, and especially because I released the film, Chinois, encore un effort pour être révolutionnaires,[3] I was excluded from the CNRS,[4] unanimously, under Section 38.

Because these two titles can be compared, without blushing and despite their great age, to the aforementioned works, and because they stand up to being re-read and re-screened, “thirty years later,” one can suggest that they should also be assigned to high school students, that is, if the principals aren’t too Mao-prudent and do not anticipate what Inspector General Geismar[5] said, thirty years ago, when he was a Maoist.

Shown by a quick survey of the pedagogical files that, here and there, find themselves incited to offer tags for such classroom assignments and, where the parents are concerned, bounce the debate to someplace one didn’t expect it, where it is nevertheless suitable to develop it: an inept teaching of history and current Chinese events that has led French diplomacy, industry and commerce to disappointments and often disasters for the last 150 years.

From the sacking of the Summer Palace (a magnificent palace constructed by European Jesuits) in Peking[6] by Napoleon III, to the costly failed attempt by Jules Ferry to seize Formosa, to Admiral Courbet’s destruction of FuZhou’s arsenal (partially constructed by another French polytechnic student), all the way to TGV’s collapse in Taiwan and other commercial failures and scandals, there is a continuity that high school students could analyze, texts on the table, with their teachers.

As if, on the contrary, the success of Cogema in Taiwan twenty years ago or the concurrent success of Framatome in China, which made millions of Euros, offered proof that there was no inevitability in Franco-Chinese bilateral relations. They couldn’t understand those who couldn’t imagine that France had managed to build, in Fujian, a pair of Franco-German reactors that burned used/recycled combustibles from Taiwanese stations and provided Taiwan, as well as the Fujian network, with electricity. Do the [school] principals doubt this?

On 30 August 1858, after the taking of Tianjin (Tientsin), the Moniteur published a telegram from Baron Gros, the plenipotentiary ambassador who was about to open a French embassy behind the bayonets and, along with Cousin-Montauban and Lord Elgin, burn the Summer Palace: “The Emperor’s prayers are answered in China. This vast empire is open to Christianity and almost entirely to commerce.” In November 1994, the French ambassador to China signed a celebrated dispatch that prohibited Framatome from ever signing a negotiated contract with Daya Bay again. A month later, China signed the Ling’ao contract.

Between these two ambassadors, a coterie of Sinologists – Catholic Maoists for the most part, an interesting French subsidized exception – effectively obscured the issue for French industrialists. Mao once told one of Charles de Gaulle’s ministers (André Bettencourt, who didn’t know how to respond) that – ever since Dien Bien Phu was pounded by Chinese mortars – France had no more role to play in Asia. Thirty years after Mao’s death, wept over by so many French people, can one evaluate on the disappointing economic balance sheet what remains of Mao and the role of Maoism, in France and in Franco-Chinese relations?

Guy Sorman proposed to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs that it offer ten Ph.D.-level grants to Chinese students who are interested in studying, case by case, the history of French Maoism in the universities and [other] institutions. Le Figaro invited a repentant Maoist to offer his answer to their analysis.

I can rejoice all the more that, in Chinois, encore un effort, I ridiculed André Glucksman (Bernard-Henri Levy was attacked in the American version), and that the film seems to have had a positive effect on him.

We return to China for an introduction to the high school students’ projects: in Peking, at the glass jar into which certain people thought that they had finally relegated him (a jar visited by a number of pilgrims), Mao launched a curse against Deng Xiaoping and his partisans, which we can summarize as follows: “You have all thrown out the greatest part of Maoism for your four modernizations, but you will not dare to touch my mausoleum, the demolition of which would be perceived as the beginning of the fifth modernization: democracy. To eliminate me from the landscape, will you dare to celebrate Wei Jingsheng and, like Mandela, will you demand ‘One man, one vote’?”[7]

To awake to the depths of their class those who want to organize HEC and do business in China without learning Chinese first, the history teacher could then try a diversion.

The affairs of the large French companies in China haven’t gone very well for the most part. Ten years spent in the university fighting against Catholic-Maoist Sinologists, the disciples of the infallible Jean Chesneaux of the Student Parish, and then twice that many years representing industrial companies in the Chinese world allow me to write that all the failures of French industrialists in China over the course of the last thirty years – failures in the widest sense, including Formosa – can be explained by an upstream perversion in the education of the people called to work there.

This opinion can figure in the salmon-colored pages of Le Figaro Economie as an introduction to a caustic series on the disappointing performance of French industry in China and the ways to remedy it: “Hold on to your feet, the ladder’s out!”[8]

France wasn’t the first, far from it, to recognize China and reestablish diplomatic relations with Peking, in 1964, but it wasn’t the last, either. Nevertheless, its score in commercial matters is quite modest if one compares it to French political and diplomatic flattery since 1964. In fact, it hides a profound absence of linguistic, historical and political education among the bureaucrats and merchants, and the quasi-total incompetence of the university with respect to Chinese affairs, with very rare exceptions.[9]

Mocked on this point in the introduction to Révo. Cul. Dans la China pop.,[10] the author removed this undesirable dedication from subsequent editions, but never truly questioned his initial analysis. It is fitting to dig out from the multimedia libraries at the high schools this forgotten best seller[11] written by a minister who was the political editor of Le Figaro and confront the angelic aberrations of all that China has disclosed since then about the horrors of Maoism. To reassure today’s high school students on the Left-Right balance of error, their teachers will once again pull out the quote in which Daniel Cohn-Bendit believed that he was obligated to say something good about the popular communes (30 million dead of starvation).

In September 1976, thirty years ago, no television station dared to air an “obit” for Mao. He was probably immortal to the editorial secretaries. To the great surprise of the Maoists, student-teachers or not, an obit was nevertheless available thanks to Hélène Vager (the producer of Bof) and Charles-Henri Favroc (producer of Le Chagrin et la pitié): [in it,] without any narrative by a third person, Mao himself announced, over the course of 26 minutes, his own obit for an evening-debate on Antenne 2. He had sufficiently revealed himself to the Red Guards, who had feverishly transcribed his incisive remarks, so that the proceeding functioned well, with pictures that were largely unpublished at the time. The [image of life],[12] the extinction of which President Valéry Giscard would salute, flickered all evening. And this short film was chosen as the French selection for the short-film competition at the Cannes Festival.

On an unfortunate live broadcast, Joris Ivens, a Stalinist filmmaker, challenged the participants in a televised debate to cite the name of a single political prisoner in Maoist China. The broadcast was mostly devoted to the book and the wall poster by the group Li YiZhe that appeared in French translation and that the technicians read in the control room.

As a result, during the following days l’Express devoted more space to imprisoned Chinese dissidents than to defunct Sollers & Kristeva,[13] and as much to the student-teachers on the rue d’Ulm,[14] their devotion intact, as to Francois Jullien, but unfortunately Lin Biao and Mrs. Mao were no longer paying attention.

The broadcast and the stir caused by the book contributed to the release of the authors of a Chinese samizdat, imprisoned not far from the spot at which Deng Xiaoping was incarcerated, despite everything authorized to live with his family and to personally wash his son (hemiplegic after having preferred to jump out a window than to continue to be tortured by the Red Guards preferred by Serge July[15]).

Several weeks earlier, in December 1975, also on Antenne 2, a Madame Mao-loving polytechnic graduate demanded the mic during a live broadcast to which he was not invited, then left the stage in a theatrical manner, applauded by a group of militant Maoists, because he could not tolerate – on State-sponsored television – hearing from a French minister about “Madame Mao” but nothing about “Comrade Jiang Qing,” and still less could he tolerate that one had predicted that “Deng Xiaoping would send Mrs. Mao to the monastery upon the disappearance of the Great Helmsman.” With an ability to think on his feet that would remain his trademark for the following thirty years in French diplomacy and university education, Dr. Jean-Luc Domenach of the Céri[16] congratulated Minister Lionel Stoléru: according to his best sources, “Comrade Deng Xiaoping and Comrade Jiang Qing, reconciled, henceforth are open to the building of socialism in China.”

But Comrade Domenach of the Céri neglected to warn the persons concerned by his prediction, and history took a different turn. Several years later, Mrs. Mao was publicly condemned to death and authorized to kill herself – the first time in China for a fallen leader of her caliber. Shortly after these events (which so contradicted Comrade Domenach of the Céri), Chinois, encore un effort pour être révolutionnaires was – in 1977 – the French film chosen by the Fifteen Directors at the Cannes Film Festival, but this was done in a more-than-reticent atmosphere, the atmosphere of the Madame-Maoist intelligentsia of the time. Pierre Kast, who, as much as Georges Charensol, appreciated my feature-length film, was led to defend it vigorously against its detractors.

To make a long story short, let us say that, thirty years before Philipp Short’s long documentary, thirty years before Chang and Halliday’s Mao, the history of the cultural revolution and its context was summarized – at the very moment of the arrest of the “Gang of Four” – in two hours and in color, with music of the period, plus the superb voices of Thierry Lévy and Jacques Pimpaneau, several incontestable quotations, and rare images, [all] with a vigorous language borrowed from Mao himself, supported by a Groucho Marxist analysis, [in short] a montage that has not had its equivalent since.

The film explains – and, at her trial, Madame Mao recalled – that there were five people in the Gang of Four. It ended with a very simple question: How much time would it take for Deng Xiaoping to push Hua Guofeng outside of the Forbidden City and take his revenge on Mao?

It wouldn’t be necessary for another virtuous Catholic-Maoist Sinologist to present formal excuses to the ambassador from China and to explain that the director of the film, dishonoring the CNRS,[17] would be chased away because – there was no more doubt – he was a supporter of Deng Xiaoping. The assistant director of the film (working under a pseudonym) – who was a deserving and unemployed person, and who would obviously make a good journalist in the future (having been recruited by Francois Fejto to become the AFP’s correspondent in Peking) – was attacked by the Catholic-Maoists who wanted to control the media as well as diplomacy and the universities. The AFP disregarded the attacks; it was good about them; and thus benefited from an excellent picture by Francis Deron of the “Democracy Wall,” as did Le Monde, which, wanting to dissipate the costly Khmer-Rouge and philo-Maoist images distributed by Patrice de Bouc and Alain de Beer, recruited the first French journalist based in China who had made the effort to learn Chinese before his departure.

Thirty years later, is it necessary to highlight the forgotten names of mundane Maoists, their blunders and despicable acts? And why them rather than a thousand others? It would assuredly be more than useful to do so; it would be pedagogic: for thirty years, French universities have persevered in errors about and perversions of China. This was the golden age of prebends for the disciples of Jean Chesneaux, Léon Vandermeersch, and Domenach of the Céri, who prevented Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans) from teaching in France, let General Guillermaz’s library-research center at the Ecole des hautes études waste away, and passed bad messages to companies.

But even if many literary translations of high quality emerged, the study of Chinese history and economics was left wanting for thirty years. For example, few academics could understand and explain the role that Taiwan would be led to play in the modernization of China, and how French companies must establish themselves on this island, as on a springboard towards China – despite the Foreign Ministry of Ms. Morel and Mr. Manac’h.

(A thesis, if you please! or at the least a memory of mastery, financed by the French Institute for International Relations. One writes articles on chefs, and theses on novelists; why doesn’t one write theses about the diplomats by using their administrative-desk-prose?)[18]

In fact, one of these companies, and not the least of them, hoped to open an office in Taipei because Li Peng, the Chinese Prime Minister at the time, suggested that it not neglect the Taiwanese market! In 2006, has the situation evolved? Not so much, and not in a good direction. Dr. Domenach of the Céri has become a kind of chaplain at the French embassy in China, a political commissar who has placed his clerical collar on the side of his head, like a beret, but without forgetting the loaf of bread under his arm. He was designated the direct representative of Lionel Jospin in the People’s Republic of China by a diplomatic telegram to the French embassy; the universities and the Foreign Ministry have contributed to his exile. Unfortunately they have not contributed enough, because a competing Sinological research team pumped in almost 300,000 Euros for a polythematic and multidisciplinary study of Chinese torture (can one still say after this that the universities lack money?).[19]

From time to time, in Peking or Shanghai, French businessmen in China are invited to pay their shares to take part in a dinner-discussion with the subtle director of awareness, and hear him recount the end of Maoist history, drafted by wetting his ink with the holy waters of the journal Esprit-es-tu-la? One divines what bad affairs these businessmen make there.

Thirty years later – China having meanwhile published thousands of pages that denounced the crimes and massacres of the “Cultural Revolution” and rehabilitated its most famous victims, such as Defense Minister Peng Dehuai, President of the Republic Liu Shaoqi, and so many others, tortured to death under Mao’s orders – one can still find in the media in France rebukes by dozens of eminent people of all kinds, who demand and continue to demand a “Cultural Revolution” in France, in their ministries or industries. There cannot be either ignorance or ambiguity on the part of these ministers, managers and master thinkers: the expression “Cultural Revolution” was never used before Mao invented it, nor since then, that is, if it is used to designate a bloody and catastrophic “anti-cultural counter-revolution” as stigmatized by Souvarine.[20]

In China, to speak of cultural revolution is like evoking [the Nazi massacre at] Oradour-sur-Glane in France, but multiplying by six years and several millions victims. Thus, the expression only exists to summarize a civil war, a tragedy, the horrors of which have been revealed by China itself, in an official and documented fashion, accessible to all foreigners who wish to learn, in French or in English, not just Chinese.

It was China that offered Philipp Short the very powerful images of Peng Dehuai, the Minister of Defense, beaten to death under the watch of several cameras, and of Liu Shaoqi, the President of the Republic, beaten before being left to die of hunger and ill treatment in a cellar.

For those who want to put together a didactic anthology – and this is no doubt the case for all the teachers of upper-level history and economics courses – it suffices to search the web for expressions such as “need a cultural revolution” or “cultural revolution is necessary.” Thirty years after the death of Mao, the death sentence passed upon his wife, and the condemnation of the Cultural Revolution in its entirety and in all its details by the Chinese government, the harvest would be staggering.

In the ocean of quotations reproduced on the Internet, we retain two of them, found by chance, aberrant but significant. Could one imagine these two orators demanding “a Treblinka, an Auschwitz, to resolve our/their problems”?

Not so long ago, Edgar Morin wrote in l’Humanité: “We must have a cultural revolution that resumes the aspirations of socialism on [the basis of] other basic notions, like those of Marx’s thought.” Francois Fillon, facing Nicolas Sarkozy at the Summer University for Working-Class Youths in La Baule, September 2005: “A cultural revolution is necessary in this country!” Even funnier: a member of the Keepers of the Seals spoke of his wishes for a cultural revolution at the Ministry of Justice, but the time is lacking for us to examine the press clippings of la place Vendôme concerning the manner in which the children of magistrates denounced their parents, the prosecutors were beaten with belts, the buckles turned outwards, wielded by the invited court clerks under penalty of themselves being beaten and then squeezed into the broom closet, after being jiggered by the jailhouse guards to the tune of “The Loyalty Dance,” burned the books in the library, etc.

As if serving me some soup, or inviting me in a provocative manner to write a regular column,[21] the editorial secretary of the salmon-colored pages of Le Figaro said, the day before yesterday, that l’Express would soon experience its own “cultural revolution” because that weekly publication had been bought by a Belgian!

Six months before the thirtieth anniversary of Mao’s death, and despite the insistence of Pierre-André Boutang, who organized the production of Short’s video documentary, which comes out on DVD this week, the boss of Arte not only refused to air Chinois, encore un effort, but simply left its collaborators, and the customary selection committee, to view some other way this classic, the American version of which jeers at its chairman when he was a Maoist.

And INA, which co-produced the film, couldn’t find – over the course of six months – the poster for the film, an entry for it in its catalogue or a copy of the film itself. Thus I proposed to Pierre Haski, the new man in charge of editorial matters at Libération and formerly a good press correspondent in Peking, that I offer the film to him and that, on 9 September (the anniversary date), he insert a DVD copy of it into each copy of his newspaper. This was intended to be an homage to Hélène Hazéra, back when she edited the music section of Libération. Once he had viewed the film, this pleasant guest [Pierre Haski] never again invited me to lunch.

At le Nouvel Observateur, the person in charge of DVDs – at least he presents himself as such – was more frank when he explained that Chinois would go over more easily at the Shanghai Cinema than in his weekly newspaper.

Thirty years is thus a reasonable period of time for a settling down, for a comparison – always the mainstay of upper-level classes – of two well-known biographies of Mao available in French: the one by Philipp Short, who was authorized and then translated by China, and the one by Chang and Halliday, which still isn’t officially translated but circulates there. Short’s biography was adapted by its author into a television program that benefited from commendable support from official Chinese organizations, not only with access to several top-level witnesses for the interviews, but also old and extremely rare news reports that really merit a “freeze frame” [un “arrêt sur image”] and detailed commentaries. The latter would take up too much space here, but they would be welcome in upper-level directed-studies or history course at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations.

Much later than the journalists who have had access to the DVD for two weeks, I discovered this long documentary yesterday and the day before yesterday, when it was broadcast on [Arte,] the Franco-German [TV] network. Despite the praiseworthy efforts of Boutang to bring his production to the top, Short’s video is disappointing, not at all at the level of the images that the producer has entrusted to him, nor [at the level of] the documentary efforts that official Chinese organizations made in his favor. By embedding himself in the landscape (like Benny Hill parodying CNN), Short truly adds nothing to the history of cinematographic montage, and his remarks make the subject bland.

I sincerely recommend to the aforementioned high school students that they view this four-hour-long documentary in complete objectivity, and listen attentively to its commentary so as to provide a counterpoint to it. If Short cannot be salvaged, then at least Boutang can, for he united the images and, as a result, offers them up for détournement.

I would suggest to the concerned high school students and their teachers that they replay the images a second time, but with the sound off, without the commentary of the English journalist, and that they determine how to match the filmed sequences with passages from Simon Leys’ President Mao’s New Clothes (now published by Bouqins chez Laffont), Harold Isaacs’ Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution (Gallimard),[22] Guillermaz’s Histoire du Parti Communiste Chinois (Payot), and Chang & Halliday’s Mao, une histoire inconnue (Gallimard).

“Luding Bridge” would be an easy exercise for high school students and the first one that their teachers could actually use in their classroom assignments. Short makes use of the propaganda film shot by actors that was offered to him by China, and he puts himself there, on the spot. On the internet, and in Chang & Halliday, one finds the explanation offered by Deng Xiaoping to his American visitors: the event[23] didn’t take place; it was actually a chromolithograph that the propaganda services printed to create a mythology that was useful to the enthusiasm of the masses and Serge July. To completely avoid speaking of the Long March and the struggles at the heart of the Chinese Communist Party, Maoist mythology launched balloons that deflated over time.

Looking again at this [Luding Bridge] sequence in Short’s video, I think of a famous photo taken by an American reporter during the China of its other civil war (not the Maoist one).[24] In it, one sees a laughing, plump lady standing in front of a window display of bushels of rice. I cannot guarantee the weight of the rice, but everything else (this photo can be consulted), and especially the disgusted impression that this sated shopkeeper made upon me, [seeing] in the foreground, at her feet, a half-starved child, begging.[25]

More than thirty years ago, while in New York, putting together the iconography for Guikovaty’s Mao, Réalités d’une légende, I found a photographer’s contact plate. It showed Doisneau[26] in front of the town hall (with the famous kiss by the two actors): the kid was unquestionably thin and malnourished, but the sated shopkeeper would have laughed because the shots roam around and because the photographer had difficulty finding his angle and framing the kid, moved in front of the window display for a good pose – which made a tour of the world.

For many of the precious elements in the Short video, one also wishes to restore the details of the “complete contact plate” of all that the [Chinese Communist] Party furnished him. These details are available. They are interesting. They merit being explained in class and exceeding the “brain of Arte.”

Short’s work was initially supported by an official Chinese organization that furnished, and perhaps even sold (one is under socialism in the colors of the market)[27] a good part of the documentation. But the DVD, once viewed, makes one think that the responsible comrades from the department concerned wondered how they could pass off this hot potato: a documentary video that is rich in raw and exceptional historical documents, accompanied by interviews, some of which would cause a sensation (the one with Liu Shaoqi’s daughter, in particular). Any owner of a Mac in China could create his or her own version [of Short’s video], with commentary, just like French high school students, and students at history classes at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations will make it, this article in their hands, I hope.

So that one isn’t mistaken, I do not want to appear irritated by Short’s commentary. I find it truly sad that “thirty years later,” Short – rich with documents that, in 1976, one absolutely could not take out of China, into which one couldn’t enter, either – says less and less than Leys did in 1971, and the history of this terrifying despot is badly told. At the same time, Mao, hung up in his crystal preserve, continues to gnash his teeth at Deng Xiaoping and his successors.

For high school students and young history professors who want to go into filmmaking at just about the age that I did, thirty years later, it is easier and quicker. Final Cut Pro for the Mac has replaced the 35 mm editing table and its splicers smelling of acetone. We do not speak here of special effects, which are available to all. The documents are there, more numerous [than before] and even available through the Chinese Communist Party.

History has settled down a little, even if French Sinologists lag behind. One can travel to China (which wasn’t the case at the time). And the high school students can even use Dr. Domenach of the Céri as a punching bag. I offer them a title, with my best wishes for Short’s video, revisited, commented upon anew and rescreened: The Curse of the Mummy.

 

[1] Translated into English as President Mao’s New Clothes.

[2] When Viénet worked at Editions Champ Libre.

[3] In 1977. The English version is entitled Peking Duck Soup.

[4] Centre national de la recherche scientifique.

[5] Alain Geismar. We have been unable to find the quote mentioned by the author.

[6] Now called Beijing.

[7] Phrase in italics: English in original.

[8] The French here is Accrochez-vous au pinceau, on retire l’échelle!

[9] Author’s note: In September 1971, Les neufs habits du Président Mao was published in the “Bibliotheque asiatique” collection. The first printing was sold out before the first positive review appeared in the press. The editors of Le Nouvel Observateur at the time demanded that a Maoist, in a hostile manner, balance the favorable review written by Etiemble. This first book by Simon Leys explained in a clear and sensible fashion a story full of sound and fury that, thirty years later, still hasn’t settled down in France. The standard work on China at the time was a best-seller by a student-teacher, a Maoist in his fashion, entitled Quand la Chine s’éveillera, a title inspired by Jack Belden’s book, quoting the famous phrase by Napoleon.

(This allusion revives the memory of an immigrant high-school student whose great-uncle left Bordeaux for Germany, and his fellow student whose uncle was thrown in the Seine in October 1961. They went to sleep at the bottom of the class at the bottom of the class, and they preferred a film with Shu Qi in the role of Marie-Olymphe de Gouges, which I understand.)

Note by translator: it isn’t clear who wrote these last two lines, which in the original appeared between brackets, not parentheses, as if added by someone other than the author. And yet Marie-Olymphe de Gouges is a figure important to him; in 2003, Editions René Viénet published a book about her.

[10] The pun-filled title of a book composed of press clippings about the Chinese Red Guard, edited by Guilheim Fabre and published in 1974 by Viénet’s imprint, “Bibliotheque asiatique,” which was first sponsored by Editions Champ Libre and then, after Viénet was fired from there in early 1973, by Union générale d’editions, Coll. 10/18.

[11] English in original.

[12] Word(s) missing in original; we have filled in a likely choice.

[13] Phillippe Sollers and Julia Kristeva, author and critical theorist, respectively; both closely associated with Tel Quel in the 1970s.

[14] The location of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris.

[15] One of the founders of Libération, closely connected with the French Communist Party.

[16] Centre d’études et de recherches internationals.

[17] Centre national de la recherche scientifique.

[18] It isn’t clear who authored this set of parenthetical remarks. Viénet himself?

[19] It isn’t clear who inserted this question, which appeared within brackets, not parentheses.

[20] Boris Souverine (1895-1984), a Russian-born French anti-Stalinist.

[21] As in, “here’s something you will be interested in.”

[22] See this link for Viénet’s preface to this book.

[23] The 1935 battle at which Mao and the Communists beat Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists.

[24] The civil war of 1927. See this link for more on the subject.

[25] Awkward grammar in original.

[26] Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), a pioneering French photojournalist. “Kiss By Town Hall,” taken in 1950, was one of his most famous pictures.

[27] We do not know if the author or his editor(s) inserted this parenthetical remark.

 

(Originally published under the title "Mao, arrets sur images" [Mao: Freeze Frames] in Le Figaro on 7 September 2006. Translated by NOT BORED! 14 July 2012. Except where noted, all footnotes by the translator.

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