Interview | Wang Jiafan: Liwa River and “History”

2020-07-08 | By Historian | Filed in: District.

The Private History of Surging News20180516.

“Literature, History and Philosophy” triggered my earliest yearning. Learning history is an independent choice.1957In the autumn of 2005, after several months of dark preparation for the exam, I got my wish and stepped into the literature and history building of East China Normal University. From the year when I officially started my career, I have spent 55 years on the riverside of Liwa, which is not too short. After more than half a century of travel, my deep feeling is: wandering on the sea of history, wanting to penetrate from the sea surface to the bottom of the sea, realizing the true meaning of history, without perseverance and patience to sink down, without exuberant thirst for knowledge and eternal curiosity, I am likely like a good tourist, leaving only “so-and-so to visit here”.

At that time, the History Department of East China Normal University had a first-class position in the country, and the camp of professors of ancient Chinese history was the strongest in the History Department of Normal University. However, it must be frankly said that the old professor who began to teach us ancient Chinese history was not outstanding. He is the deputy head of the department, concurrently in charge of the department’s general affairs and logistics, and leads the department’s sanitation cleaning very well (at that time, the normal university topped the list of Shanghai’s universities in sanitation cleaning). However, the lectures were boring and could not arouse our interest. I read ancient notes and novels in the library to relieve boredom, “Three Words and Two Beats” and so on. I also read Boccaccio’s “Ten Days of Talks” secretly. I read a lot of idle books.

In fact, our fate could have been much better. Only one month after entering the school, Mr. Lv Simian passed away. “Wild geese have already flown past, leaving no trace in the sky.” There are also some famous teachers who have never attended classes in normal universities. For example, Wang Peizheng, a native of Suzhou, is a famous scholar in the southeast. He has a long history of poems, books and catalogues, and textual research on famous paintings and calligraphy. I have seen him before.1958The preface to “Notes on Salt and Iron” published in 1992 declared that he was a teacher of East China Normal University, but said that it was written in Gusu’s “Humble Room”. Another example is Mr. Shi Ji, who has only studied one book in his whole life-Zhuangzi. After graduation, as an assistant professor of ancient history, I heard him talk about Zhuangzi together with graduate students. In the fog, his son-in-law Zhu Weizheng was also present to take notes. Mr. Shi spent his whole life writing “Zhuangzi Exegesis”. I don’t know where things go now.

Liwa River

Mr. Li Pingxin is the most learned person in the minds of the students. Many anecdotes about him are very popular, but he never teaches the students. At the hottest stage of the debate on “Ten Discussions on Productivity”, in the student canteen west of the Literature and History Building (now demolished), Mr. Wang suddenly came to the school to give an academic report. In his speech, he stroked his head from time to time, as if he had a severe headache. After the event, I heard from my senior that he had committed suicide with an axe very early, leaving behind sequelae. I don’t believe it all the time. I think it’s a myth and it’s too exaggerated. At that time, Mr. Wang was very excited and pulled out a letter from his pocket saying that Xue Muqiao supported him. It is impossible for me to fully understand the contents of the report. I just think that the productive forces themselves have the driving force for development and the viewpoint is very novel. Yes, relations of production determine productivity. If productivity has no internal cause, like an inanimate rigid stone, how can relations of production “decide” to achieve something? After that, Mr. Wang never came to Normal University for classes or lectures until1966Year6The moon died unjustly.

Su Yuanlei, who was graceful and talented in Wei and Jin Dynasties, was the teacher of our first grade “Selected Readings of Ancient Chinese History” and only took two classes. When Mr. Wang stepped into the big classroom, the students sitting in the front row (I sat in the first row) immediately smelled a smell of wine. I saw his face reddish, probably just tasted half of Tu Su before coming. The teaching plan is “Records of the Historian, Xiang Yu’s Biography”. Mr. Wang swept through the new students and immediately turned to write on the blackboard. There was no manuscript and he wrote all over the blackboard. Mr. Wang’s calligraphy, even a few words, is now difficult to buy. You can imagine how beautiful the chalk characters on the blackboard are. This blackboard writing is especially free and easy and wild, and its style is even different from that of the past. It was written silently by Qing Dynasty poet Wang Tan’s long poem “Sacrificing the Overlord of the Western Chu State” (the original poem has a long title, a total of three poems, slightly). It was written by “Lao Wang Lang, Yu Zi of Jiangdong, to hold the pipa and cry to the king.” If my article was hit by a ghost, the skill of Jie Qu was lost in heaven “, I remember that there was” Qin people all over the world Chu people bow, waste to give the head to the horse boy “. Did God ever take sides with Liu Ji? The king lost his plan to love Jiangdong”. After writing, he read aloud again from beginning to end, still drunk. It was the old way of reading aloud. His body swung slightly and he had a long drag sound. The whole classroom was silent. Before long, Mr. Wang was made up a missed lesson and became a “rightist”. From then on, he never heard his wonderful lectures again.

Mr. Guo Shengming taught the history of the Middle Ages in the world and handed out his own lecture notes in advance. He did not have any foreign flavor, but felt that he had the elegant demeanour of Chinese prose. The lecture notes are carefully chosen, the words are carefully refined, and the brushwork of “history” and “Han” is integrated. It can be seen that all efforts have been exhausted. Mr. Wang cherishes his words to the extent that it is difficult to say a word. He has been reading his lecture notes aloud in class, with few interludes of explanations. In this way, we have read his masterpiece word by word. It is by no means too much to say that China has not yet had such a localized and classical “World Medieval History”.

I still remember the first class. Mr. Wang exceptionally took off the manuscript and said the opening remarks: “What is history? History is a long river of time.” Everyone was subdued. When we meet again 50 years later, the students all said that many contents in the textbook may be forgotten, but this sentence will not be forgotten. This is the first time I have heard the definition of history. How many years have passed and I have come into contact with many kinds of “historical definitions”. I still believe that Mr. Wang’s perception has the most Chinese flavor, picturesque and gives people endless reverie. Compared with some subjective and arbitrary Chinese and foreign dogmas, I don’t know how many times the connotation should be vivid and rich without profound philosophy. To80In the s, British Carl said that “history is an uninterrupted question-and-answer between today and yesterday, and an endless dialogue between historians and historical facts”, which also touched me. Their wisdom is a bit like Confucius standing on Sichuan and saying, “The dead are like husbands, who do not give up day and night!”

Before Mr. Guo’s class, Mr. Chen Zuyuan once gave us a period of ancient world history, which was not long. His Suzhou accent is authentic and very soft and glutinous, and he often expresses the causal relationship in history with “so, so, so”. Mr. Chen was kind and mischievous classmates imitated “so he said so”. He was not angry when he heard this. We learned from our senior that Mr. Chen studied in France (19291832University of Paris and its affiliated research institutes), received a doctor’s degree, wrote several books, and saw him double reverence again, although his lectures were not wonderful. Later, I learned from a passage of materials that Mr. Chen was the first old president of my alma mater Kunshan province (19461948In, because he was dissatisfied with the Kuomintang government’s request that he track down students suspected of the Communist Party of China underground party in the school, he sternly refused and angrily left. This matter has now been recorded in the school history of Kunshan Province and has become a permanent memorial.

By the way, I would like to add some anecdotes about Mr. Chen: After I became a teaching assistant, I seldom heard Mr. Chen speak at the teachers’ conference of the whole department. On one occasion, as if to give advice to the school leaders, he blurted out that he was “the school authority”. When everyone laughed, his speech came to an abrupt end and he stopped talking.1966Year8Month4On the 2nd, in the name of “overthrowing the reactionary academic authority”, nearly 100 old teachers of East China Normal University were escorted by the Red Guards to kneel down on the rostrum of the “Gongqing Playground” and accepted “criticism”. After the “criticism”, they were also escorted by the Red Guards to “parade through the streets”. Some even wore high hats and black cards on their chests, calling them “the 1984 Red Storm”. Mr. Chen has always been low-key and inconspicuous, and has not given classes to students for a long time, so the Red Guards of the History Department omitted to include him in the list. Unexpectedly, Teacher Chen ran out of the crowd, took the initiative to walk to the stage and knelt at the back. Perhaps he felt that his old colleagues had suffered together. How could he be “special”? Some of our young teachers were shocked to see this scene and hurried to pull Mr. Chen to the audience to let him go home as soon as possible. As a result, Mr. Chen was lucky not to be humiliated by the “parade” with the team.

In the second semester, in line with the Great Leap Forward, the national education and academic circles blew the wind of “pulling out white flags and inserting red flags” to encourage young people to dare to despise authority. They did not fail to do so, but they did not think of it. I was in Class 2. At the group meeting, some students suddenly thought that they would catch up with Guo Moruo in three years and surpass Chen Yinque in one year. I can’t remember what I said. I only remember to insert a few words. I didn’t say much, but I did have the flavor of cynicism and sarcasm. As a result, I received a small-scale criticism of “gentle breeze and drizzle” to help me “make progress”. In fact, we had not read Chen Yinque’s book at that time. All of us expressed our determination to recognize Guo as a progressive historian and Chen as a decadent and backward bourgeois expert, so it was easier to surpass him. I was influenced by “Literature, History and Philosophy”. A big professor mentioned Chen’s awe and said that his textual research skills were very good. First-year college students could surpass it in one year. How is it possible? Fortunately, I have learned this lesson. Since then, I have clamped my tail and studied honestly, seeking a safe journey in four years. With the light of “white specialization” tendency, writing articles criticizing teachers will not come to you. At that time, there were two articles criticizing their teachers in the grade, which were published on “History Teaching Problems”. Anyway, today it seems somewhat like “History Stain”.

I would like to tell a somewhat funny story: the most radical one in the class is the branch secretary who was born at the company level in the army. When criticizing me, he said the most, believing that I just don’t want political progress. Things have changed and things have changed. About here80In the mid-1990s, he taught in a local education college. He needed to rely on his department’s magazines to publish articles and asked me to help polish the words. On one occasion, when he met the secretary of the department’s teachers’ branch in the office, he criticized him very seriously: “what’s wrong with you? If you don’t include him in the party, people are already big experts!” The secretary was dizzy and had to say, “He hasn’t made an application report yet.” The man was still adamant: “This is your job that has not been done at home!” The secretary’s face began to look a little ugly. No, don’t become a “suckers” inexplicably. I hurried into the roundabout: “No, I feel that I am a little far from the criteria for joining the Party and have a long journey, but I have the confidence to accelerate progress slowly!”

2005In the summer of 2002, Phoenix TV’s “Century Lecture Hall” was filmed live in Shanghai. There were many performances, and the host was Ceng Zimo. When one of my shooting started, she hastily turned over my “resume” and stood in front of the stage. Without saying hello in advance, she immediately asked questions on the spur of the moment, and the questions were somewhat mindless, which made me very embarrassed. One of the questions is: “What were your considerations when you chose to teach ancient Chinese history?” Obviously, she is still young and does not know the historical scenes of that era. I answered very bluntly: “When I was in college, I was in the era of planned economy. The leaders decided to stay in school, and the leaders also arranged to enter the teaching and research group of ancient Chinese history. If you want to ask me my personal intention, my favorite in university is modern Chinese history, but the leaders put me in ancient Chinese history. Once I enter, I cannot get out.” The words sound just fell, and the students listening below laughed. I don’t know what they are laughing at, isn’t it true?

It is true that my favorite in the four years of college is the modern history of China. However, the reason for the recovery was gradually realized later. It was actually a coincidence of several factors.

Unlike some aristocratic family children who have read original historical materials such as “History”, “Han” and “Tongjian” at home, I have aroused my interest from reading “papers” of “Literature, History and Philosophy”. I am more sensitive to “problems” and “opinions” arising from history and have a curiosity to discuss how to explain and analyze history.20Century50The s were the hottest time to discuss the issue of the stages of ancient Chinese history. The History Department of East China Normal University was an important camp for Fan Wenlan’s “Western Zhou Dynasty Feudalism Theory”. When I was a teaching assistant, my instructor Shu Shicheng was a master player in the debate. He was very active and published many articles, advocating that the Western Zhou Dynasty was a “lord society”. Strangely enough, the atmosphere of these debates and the teachers involved in the debates did not enter the class. We were completely put out of the picture, and the teachers in the class talked about trivial historical facts blandly, as if there had never been any argument (so when I was a teacher, when I told the students about the general history of China, I often collected some materials with different views for the students’ reference. Now there is a pleasant term called “Guidance of Academic History”). At that time, it may be that the fire candle was careful, and the teachers were not willing to speak out. For example, in the early Western Han Dynasty, Huang Lao’s politics “did nothing but do nothing”. We in unknown so asked how “did nothing” could achieve the effect of “doing nothing”. Until the end of the course, no positive reply was received. I have little interest in this course except memorizing notes and coping with exams. Two years later, “La Lei Pei” joined the teaching and research group and “got married first and then fell in love”, which ended in the same way. From this, I know that old-style marriage can also achieve conjugal love. There is no absolute thing in the world.

In the second school year, in addition to going to the countryside to work in factories, refining steel, digging the “Silver Hoe Lake” in Changfeng Park and building the “Tiebi Mountain”, a young teacher presided over the pilot “posters teaching” in our grade. First, let the teacher talk about the main points (actually acting as a target), and then encourage the students to post “posters” to criticize. Students can also argue with each other, which is called to carry forward the spirit of “little people defeat big authority”. Many ropes were pulled up in the classroom and hung everywhere. God knows, without the necessary reference books, how much more can students know besides the teaching books? It is correct to turn the old-fashioned views upside down by relying solely on “thoughts” to dominate history. The only thing that can be called a success is that some students have written articles criticizing Xu Dejag’s idealist view of Sui and Tang Dynasties. Department leaders have promised to publish them in “History Teaching Issues”. Halfway out of Cheng Yaojin, the senior grade also wrote an article with better skills. Our grade was replaced and the “posters teaching” failed.

1959After the autumn of 2005, the domestic sports became noisy and lively for a while, and the teaching order began to return to normal. In his junior year, he began to take two courses in modern history. Teacher Xia Dongyuan gave a lecture on modern history of China. The teaching reform replaced “posters teaching” with classroom discussions. The class discussion made me stand out and began to be noticed by my classmates and teachers. My enthusiasm for learning has also been aroused.

Teacher Xia Dongyuan initially taught political economics in the Department of Politics and Religion, and later transferred to the Department of History to teach modern Chinese history. This experience made his curriculum have distinct personality, paying attention to economic history and economic analysis, and he had many unique views on the occurrence and development of early capitalism in China and the role of the “Westernization Movement”. Later, he indeed became the most famous expert on the history of the Westernization Movement in China. His views are sometimes very risky. For example, when it comes to primitive accumulation of capital, he thinks that in China, one pole accumulates poverty while the other pole does not accumulate capital. This “famous saying” brought him a lot of trouble and was criticized later, but he still insisted. All this made me admire to the ground.

Another reason was that I was already interested in economics. This should be attributed to the enlightenment of teacher Chen Yuru. Now that it is said, people probably cannot believe that the public politics course “Political Economics” in the foreign department is actually taught by China’s most famous international financial economist. Thanks to this opportunity, I finally worked as an irregular “student” for half a year in my life, and my results were also acceptable. In short, I was much earlier than Chen Qiwei! (Joking) To our classmates’ surprise, Mr. Chen never brought his speech notes. He pulled out a few small cards from his pocket and started to speak. His thinking was clear and his words were precise and concise without any polishing, just like published works. He was talking about the “capitalism” part. Later, he read the books of Wang Yanan and Hu Rulei again. Only then did he understand that Mr. Chen was completely based on the internal argumentation logic of Volume I of Das Kapital. He analyzed them layer by layer and linked them together, like a book on the introduction of Das Kapital. This is where my study of Marxist economics began. More than 20 years later, I began to read “heresy” books such as Samuelson’s Economics.

In Mr. Xia’s class, as mentioned earlier, there are very few sharp cases. In fact, he is already more cautious. In terms of historical evaluation, he sometimes cannot bear to throw out his own proud views, but in the end he will add restrictive words. For example: “In a sense, the Westernization Movement objectively played a certain historical role in promoting the development of Chinese capitalism.” As students, we have slowly learned to speak in the teacher’s format, but when we speak, we will laugh out loud. After all, we have little experience and do not understand the bitterness. Teacher Xia not only has his own independent opinions, but also encourages students to dare to express their opinions and argue. Classroom discussions are arranged in each unit. After a long drought and spring showers, I felt like a duck to water, so I devoted myself to it and spoke actively every time. The strong opponent of argument is often Wang Yiyao, an alumnus of Class B of my high school (from the city), so he is called the “Two Kings of Kunshan” in his grade. Sometimes, like the “College Students Debate Contest” after the reform and opening up, he is the positive side, and I deliberately act as the negative side.

I remember discussing Hong Rengan’s “New Chapter on Senior Officials” in the late Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Needless to say, Mr. Xia was positive and appreciated Hong Rengan very much. Brother Yiyao agreed with the teacher’s point of view and sorted out his ideas in an orderly way, ready to show them. In order to be the opposite of him, I went to the library to find the “Chinese Modern History Data Series, Taiping Heavenly Kingdom”, read the “Senior Minister’s New Chapter” carefully, took notes, and also read the books of Luo Ergang and others. This series is compiled under the auspices of the Chinese Historical Society. It collects the original data of ten important events and compiles them into ten kinds. The first eight are published in19511958Years, so it was quite fresh at that time. According to people engaged in modern history, the ten kinds of “series” have nurtured a group of experts, who have become60The authority in various related fields of modern Chinese history, which began to rise continuously in the s. In order to play against each other, I put forward a very unique view, saying that Hong Rengan was obviously influenced by imperialist ideas in Hong Kong and tried to lead the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom regime to the capitalist road, which violated the original intention of the peasant revolution. Moreover, just as Chairman Mao said, taking the capitalist road, China will eventually become an imperialist colony. If this is done, the vast number of peasants will not only not be liberated, but will also fall into new disasters and sufferings and become “proletarians”. Fortunately, Hong Xiuquan still had the mind to shelve his plan and avoid the occurrence of historical tragedy. The “success” of this debate lies in the direct quotation of the original historical materials, the posture of speaking on the basis of historical materials and looking far ahead, and the weakness that most of the students did not look at the original (including Yiyao), mainly because they gained the upper hand in momentum. I know in my heart that this sophistry has overwhelmed Brother Yiyao and shocked four people, but it cannot deceive Teacher Xia. I’m afraid he may not agree with this arbitrary subjective reasoning. Unexpectedly, Teacher Xia was not only tolerant, but also appreciated that I dared to put forward my own views and said that I had insight. Later, I heard that when discussing my stay in school, there was a heated debate (“both red and expert” was an important standard). Both Mr. Xia and Mr. Feng Jixian, who taught modern world history, spoke for me vigorously. They are the real teachers who I was lucky to stay in East China Normal University to teach.

This article is reprinted from the public number: history is really interesting.


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