Yaxue Cao, April 16, 2019 In August 1988, two months after receiving his PhD in literature from the Beijing Normal University, Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) left the Chinese capital for a series of academic visits across Europe and the United States. The first place he went to was University of Oslo in Norway. A few months later, he visited University of Hawaii, where he completed the book “China’s Contemporary Politics and Chinese Intellectuals” (《中国当代政治与知识分子》) at its Center for Chinese Studies. It seems that the purpose of his visits was to construct a framework for exploring ways to change China, and it was for this reason that he felt an urgent need to see the West up close. In March 1989, Liu Xiaobo arrived in New York […]
Liao Yiwu, September 27, 2018, New York City I thank the award committee for conferring this honor upon me. The award is named for Vaclav Havel’s first work, his autobiography Disturbing the Peace. When translated into Chinese, however, the title of this work means about the same as “provoking trouble” (寻衅滋事). During the existence of the Czechoslovak communist regime, and under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), many dissidents have been sentenced for these “crimes”. When the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 occurred, I wrote and recorded my poem “Massacre” (《大屠殺》). As the final line goes, “Faced with this unprecedented slaughter, the only survivors are the sons of bitches.” For this “disturbance of the peace” I got four years in prison, […]
— Speech on the Opening Ceremony of Book World Prague By Liao Yiwu, published: December 9, 2013 In the spring of 1994, not long after I had been released from prison, a friend brought me a copy of The Collected Works of Vaclav Havel through underground channels. It was the earliest Chinese translation published by Hong Kong Radical Press and translated by Zhang Yongjin. Up to that point, I had been living in total despair. Because of a poem protesting the Tian’anmen Massacre, I paid the price of being locked up in prison and was cut off from the world for four years, and, upon my release, I found I was totally abandoned by society. In my prison without walls, I read Havel ravenously. I […]
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