Between Power and Knowledge: Defining Moments in Guo Moruo's Career

Jin Qiu
June 2010
Modern China Studies;2010, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p127
Academic Journal
Guo Moruo is one of the most controversial figures among all Chinese intellectuals: while he has received wide recognition in Chinese academic fields, Western scholars have ignored his life and his scholarly works produced after 1949. This paper, through an examination of several defining moments in Guo's life and career, addresses his complex relations with the Chinese Communist Party and its leaders. These defining moments in Guo's life illustrate the dilemma that Guo and many other scholars experienced after 1949. As the leader of the Chinese intellectual community, Guo was constantly forced to give up his own political or scholarly opinions in order to function within the parameters set up by the Party. When Guo complied with the Party's decisions, his choices often cost him his personal integrity, the high regard that had been held of his scholarly works, and, most tragically, the lives of his own family members. Guo, however, was not the only person who experienced this kind of dilemma. In a broad sense, the story of Guo's life and scholarship provide a chilling example of the intense conflict and painful struggle experienced by Chinese intellectuals, who were forced to choose between preserving their special identity, which was defined by Confucian tradition, and surrendering to the Communist power, which demand that they assume new roles as mouthpiece of the Party. Many of these scholars, as in the case of Guo, assumed dual identifies as both the educator and the educated. In the process they also became both perpetrators and victims in the highly politicized society of the People's Republic of China. It is understandable that Guo and other intellectuals made the choices that they did in order to survive. Guo's story illustrates that the Party's control over the Chinese academy has asserted tremendous influence on the intellectuals and their works. That impact continues to this day, and probably will continue to affect the life and research of Chinese scholars in the foreseeable future.


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