tirsdag 13. februar 2024

In Retrospect: The Sincere Indignation of Simon Leys

Simon Leys was actually Pierre Ryckmans, a scholar of ancient Chinese art and literature at the Australian National University in Canberra. His essays, published first in French and soon after in English, exposed in lucid, unflinching prose the uncomfortable realities of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Leys aimed many of his harshest barbs not at the regime itself, but at the phalanxes of Western intellectuals and journalists who marched in unison to blindly praise Mao. What these observers celebrated from the comfort of their European and American homes, Leys suggested, was neither cultural nor a revolution: it was a political struggle that had destroyed the achievements of Chinese culture while preserving the feudal despotism of the past. Chinese communism, he once said, “breaks eggs without ever making an omelette.”