Grandmother’s Footsteps

Penelope Fitzgerald

  • Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
    HarperCollins, 524 pp, £17.50, March 1992, ISBN 0 00 215357 2

Jung Chang’s grandmother, Yu Fang, walked ‘like a tender young willow in a spring breeze’, meaning that she could only totter because her feet had been bound and the arches crushed with a stone. If this was not done, a girl would be exposed to the contempt of her husband’s family and she would blame her mother for weakness. Fifty years later, Jung Chang herself was 14 when the Red Guards were organised in her school. ‘It went without saying that I should join, and I immediately submitted my application to the Red Guard leader in my form.’

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