Introductory Note

Dong Leshan’s short story, “The Topsy-Turvy World of Professor Eu,” which is featured in the following material, was selected for publication in the Paris Review not for its literary value, but rather for being an interesting and illuminating example of contemporary Chinese short fiction. Perhaps the scene of Professor Eu and his wife agonizing over what objects of Western culture to keep and what to throw away as “degenerate” during the difficult times of the Great Cultural Revolution would excite the imagination of a western-world author, but the resolutions as revealed in Dong Leshan ’s story are utterly foreign to a non-Chinese. To help set the story in an understandable perspective, Timothy Tung, who translated the story, has provided not only an introduction, but also a postscript-interview in which he talks with Dong Leshan about “The Topsy-Turvy World of Professor Eu.”


by Timothy Tung

Traditionally, Chinese readers have always had a fondness for short stories. In the five years since October, 1976, which marked the end of the Cultural Revolution and the beginning of a new era, some 10,000 short stories have appeared in some 150 periodicals, published in localities all over China, a few even in the languages of national minority groups such as Uighur, Mongolian, and Tibetan. Readership of some of these magazines is astronomically high, the most popular being Tianjin’s Story Monthly, carrying short stories exclusively, with a circulation of well over a million. Another monthly magazine that prints short stories and sells over a million copies each issue is People’s Literature, an organ of China’s Writers’ Union. Other similar journals include Peking Literature, Shanghai Literature, Anhui Literature, and Canton’s Flower City, all with circulation in the hundreds of thousands.