Gao was only 19-years-old when he wrote “On Beauty,” a critical essay about the subjectivity of aesthetics, which was published in a journal in 1957 and hotly contested. Several years later, this “inopportune treatise” leads to Gao, a teacher in a small rural school in the town of Lanzhou, being labeled a “Rightist” and shipped off to a labor camp in the Gobi Desert. There he faces unimaginable hardships as he is forced to dig ditches, till fields, and endure brutal sandstorms while being given barely enough food to survive. Ever the daring intellectual, Gao continues to write, despite the fact that he risks serious repercussions if his work is discovered. He also finds solace in the impressive ancient art in the Mogao Caves. Though what Dorsett and Pollard have gracefully translated is only the second part of Gao’s three-part memoir, it is broad in scope and gives readers a vivid account of Gao’s suffering and endurance. Powerful reading for those curious about what “reeducation through labor” really entailed. --Kristine Huntley
About the Author
Er Tai Gao was born in 1935 in Jiangsu Province, China. A writer, painter, art critic, and scholar best known for his contributions to aesthetics, he has been on the faculty of the Dunhuang Cultural Relics Research Institute and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Philosophy, and a professor at Lanzhou University, Sichuan Normal University, Nankai University, and Nanjing University.
In 1957, after the publication of his article "On Beauty" and other essays, he was labeled a rightist and sent to a labor camp. In 1966, he was again sentenced to hard labor until 1972. He was exonerated in 1978, and in 1986 was recognized by the National Science Council as a "State Expert with Distinguished Contributions." He was again imprisoned in 1989, for anti-revolutionary writings. After his release, he fled China with his wife and now lives in exile in Las Vegas, Nevada.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.