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92 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Pang-Mei Natasha Chang. Bound Feet and Western Dress. New York: Doubleday, 1996. xx, 215 pp. Hardcover $22.95, isbn 0-385-47963-8. Although barely remembered today (save by historians and relatives), the Chang (Zhang) family from the Shanghai area cut a wide swath through the political, economic, and intellectual life of Republican China. There was Chang Chia-sen (Zhang Junmai), the political-party leader and philosopher; Chang Chia-ao (Chang Kia-ngau), the banker and government minister; and Chang Chia-chu (C. C. Chang), a successful businessman and close friend of the renowned poet, Hsu Chih-mo (Xu Zhimo). Dissertations have been written on Zhang Junmai and Chang Kia-ngau, while a book on the former is in press.' With the publication of Bound Feet and Western Dress by Pang-Mei Natasha Chang, we now have the fascinating and poignant story of their sister, Yu-i (Youyi). In the early 1920s, she was as famous as her brothers, thanks to an arranged marriage gone awry. Most of Pang-Mei Chang's book is a reminder that while love marriages often collapse, even the best-planned arranged marriages could also be abysmal failures. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Yu-i and Hsii Chih-mo were incompatible from the start; whereas Hsii was a passionate romantic and dreamer, Yu-i had the soul of a practical and dutiful Confucian wife and future businesswoman (as inconsistent as that might seem). Yu-i ruefully—and accurately—remarked, when she recalled bidding Hsii farewell in 1918, "he seemed already gone. Perhaps he had never been there." In 1922, Hsii divorced her, an act described in Pang-Mei Chang's book as "the first modern divorce in China." The parting ofways was complicated by the fact that the Chang and Hsii families were entwined in other ways. Zhang Junmai and C. C. Chang were close friends with Hsu. Moreover, it was Chang Kia-ngau's Bank of China that handled all arrangements for recovery and removal to Shanghai of Hsii's remains, after his death in an airplane crash in Shandong, as well as for the funeral. Finally, in a bizarre twist (even in traditional terms), Yu-i continued to be a dutiful daughter-in-law, and took care of her former husband's parents , as well as Hsu's second wife and lover, for years following the divorce. Whether or not the breakdown of Hsii and Chang's marriage was the "first" modern divorce, it was certainly the most famous at the time. In the popular press, as well as elite circles, Yu-i was known as the wife spurned and then cast aside by Hsii so that he could pursue glamorous women. It was perhaps fitting© 1998 by University mat the divorce took place not in China, but in the West (Berlin) that was the ofHawai'i Pressfont of so many influences on China during those days of the May Fourth Movement . Hsii's side of this story has been ably told in Jonathan Spence's The Gate of Heavenly Peace and Leo Ou-fan Lee's The Romantic Generation of Chinese Writers. Reviews 93 In essence, Hsü, the romantic poet, lived out his ideals, and pursued two other women—one while still cohabiting with Yu-i—in the spodight ofthe modern press, before his tragic death in 1931. With the publication ofPang-Mei Chang's book, we now have Yu-i's side of the story. It gives an inside view ofa "celebrity" marriage and ofthe Chang family , and Pang-Mei Chang is to be commended for telling the story, warts and all. A grandniece ofYu-i's, Pang-Mei Chang is the granddaughter ofC. C. Chang. Hence, Yu-i's story is part ofher own family history, although the stimulus for the book came from her studies ofChinese history at Harvard and, evidenüy, her reading ofSpence's account ofher grandaunt's marriage in The Gate ofHeavenly Peace. In a way, this book is also part of Yu-i's tragedy, for it virtually ends with the death ofHsii, when Yu-i was only thirty-one. The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 92-94
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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