“Even If You Cut It, It Will Not Come Apart”

  • Weili Ye
  • Xiaodong Ma
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)


Ma Xiaodong and I have felt a growing need to reconcile ourselves with the realities of our grandparents’ existence. Now that we have come a long way from our naïve youth, we want to dig deeper into our roots, piecing together family histories that were broken by political exigencies. Learning about our grandparents has helped us understand our parents more fully. Growing up at a time when revolution was taken for granted, we never felt it necessary to ask our parents, “Why did you join the revolution?” We raise this question now, at a moment when the appeal of revolution is receding worldwide and some leading Chinese intellectuals have bid it farewell.1 We ask the question with the realization that revolution not only shaped the lives of our parents but also left an indelible imprint on us. “Even if you cut it, it will not come apart”—this line from a tenth-century Chinese poem captures the reality of our inseverable connections both to our grandparents whose class identifications made them targets of the revolution, and our parents who forged much of their lives with the revolution.


Chinese Communist Party Cultural Revolution Private Tutor Black Soybean Chinese Intellectual 
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Even If You Cut It, It Will Not Come Apart

  1. 1.
    Li Zehou and Liu Zaifu, Gaobie geming [Farewell to Revolution] ( Hong Kong: Tiandi tushu, 1995 ).Google Scholar

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© Ye Weili with Ma Xiaodong 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weili Ye
  • Xiaodong Ma

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