History and Literature: The Historicity of Yu Hua’s To Live

Aaron Joseph S. Medina

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/
Submitted Date: Mar 26, 2022


This academic journal article is based on the undergraduate thesis paper that the author wrote in partial fulfillment of the degree of Bachelor of Arts, Major in Chinese Studies (Specialization in Arts and Culture). The novel To Live was written by Chinese author Yu Hua. Primarily set in some of the most tumultuous times in modern Chinese history — when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took over China in 1949 and named it the “People’s Republic of China” — To Live is the fictional story of a farmer named Fugui. Fugui experiences everything: from being wealthy to losing all his money because of gambling, from being conscripted by the Chinese Nationalists to being set free by the CCP, from being a father to a lowly farmer. All of which was set in a historical context that happened in real life. However, while the novel is based on a real-life historical context — a context that encompasses Chairman Mao Zedong’s reign — it is still a fictional work. So, this article proposes the following main question: “How influential were Mao Zedong-era historical terms in establishing the historical context of Yu Hua’s novel To Live, and in what ways?” It proposes the following thesis statement: “Even though Mao Zedong-era historical terms were not influential in Yu Hua’s To Live insofar as a ratio to total word count is concerned, they were very influential in establishing the historical context of the novel because they are mentioned in a very direct way, they played a significant role in the lives of the characters in the novel, and because they uphold the five elements


Historicity, word count

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