In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

132 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 John Fitzgerald. Awakening China: Politics, Culture, and Class in the Nationalist Revolution. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996. xi, 461 pp. Hardcover $45.00, isbn 0-8047-2659-0. As with the work of scholars through the ages, John Fitzgerald's book is inspired by the issues and concerns of his times. And Fitzgerald's times appear to be the sixties, when college students were much concerned with the issue ofliberation, which he equates with awakening. As he notes in his Preface, the glimmerings of personal liberation that he and others of his generation experienced resonated with the contemporaneous struggle for national liberation in Vietnam and the development of a new society in China. Both were revolutionary societies where personal emancipation appeared to be intimately intertwined with national independence , proving that the personal was indeed political. Fitzgerald's interest in the link between the personal and the national moved him to write this cultural study of China's gradual awakening. Fitzgerald's original contribution is a history of the metaphor of awakening in China from its inception in the late Qing to its maturity in the 1920s. His main aim is to show how a "'politics of awakening' came to be institutionalized in a mass revolutionary movement" (p. vii). Naturally, an unusual undertaking of this sort requires that the author look for his information to a variety of cultural sources such as fiction, fashion, and architecture, and to delve into the lives of a seemingly disparate array of "awakened" Chinese, ranging from intellectuals to revolutionaries, to tell his story. Being awake, these individuals had the responsibility of raising the political consciousness of others. And as Fitzgerald shows, among the Chinese no one was more awake than Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Though a dreamer and visionary, Sun became the icon of an awakened Chinese nation. Fitzgerald takes the comparatively simple trope of "awakening" and invests it with complicated meanings, tracing its evolution in China. His method is manifested in the main titles of his chapters 1-7: "Awakening and Being Awakened," "One World, One China," "One China, One Nation," "One Nation, One State," "One State, One Party," "One Party, One Voice," and "Awakening Inc." While conceptually systematic and factually inclusive (the usual historical events are covered, with an emphasis on those revolutionary episodes that contributed to an awakened society such as the 1911 Revolution, the May Fourth Movement, and the May Thirtieth Movement), his work suffers from the absence of a standard his-© 1998 by University torical narrative. Indeed, he is less interested in a historical narrative than in hisofHawai 'i Presstorical problems. To appreciate what Fitzgerald has wrought, it would be advisable for readers to be familiar with the history ofmodern China, for his work reads like a series of Reviews 133 digressions into aspects ofChinese culture and society. Indeed, Fitzgerald more or less admits as much when he refers to the early chapters as an "expanded footnote " (p. vii). And as scholars and students know, die (content) footnote is usually the place reserved for "juicy" information that is inappropriate in the body of the text. In other words, the author has cobbled together a lot offacts and figures about the awakening ofthe Chinese and China. As such, his work mayprove confusing to the uninitiated. Regardless ofone's level ofknowledge about the subject, diere is much to be learned from Fitzgerald's enlightening excursions into Chinese culture and society and history. Perhaps his most intriguing historical comment is about Mao Zedong's little-known role as the head ofthe Nationalist Propaganda Bureau in Guangzhou from October 1925 until March 1926. It is a contribution that he places on a par with Mao's better-known role as lecturer at the Peasant Movement Institute. Calling him Sun Yat-sen's successor in the politics ofmass awakening , Fitzgerald argues that as head of the Nationalist Party's propaganda bureau , Mao was instrumental in awakening the masses to the revolutionary cause. It is an assertion that will probably make the guardians of Sun Yat-sen's legacy squirm a bit. More importandy, from this briefexperience Mao learned how to operate a propaganda apparatus, which...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 132-134
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.