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When will Chinese-style love tragedy move world?

(People's Daily Online)

10:54, August 27, 2012

(People's Daily Overseas Edition)

"She had a high fever and dreamed of spending one night with the cowherd. In that dream, she sat in his arms, surrounded by a halo that she lost 11 years ago and would lose again tomorrow. She may have to wait several months or several years, or until old age or death to meet him again."

This is the ending of the novel The Legend of Cowherd and Weaving Maid by Klara Blum (1904-1971), who was a German-speaking Jew born in Romania and whose Chinese name was Zhu Bailan. She became a Chinese citizen in 1954 to look for her beloved Chinese man.

Is it true that foreigners cannot understand Chinese love tragedies until they have similar experiences? While Western festivals are gaining worldwide popularity, will Chinese festivals ever be celebrated outside the Chinatown in Western countries? This depends on China's national strength.

Westerners interpret Chinese love tragedy as freedom and romance

Blum met Chinese man Zhu Xiangcheng at the International Labor Service Center in Moscow in the 1930s. The two people from two ancient yet oppressed ethnic groups met in a foreign country, and soon fell in love with each other.

Blum wrote in her novel that the cowherd "did not have a passport, and cannot tell outsiders his real name or address." In fact, even she herself did not know his address during the four months they had been together. However, Blum felt that the house where they got together "has shining walls, outside which are the golden evening, silvery-white night, and rosy morning."

Unfortunately, Zhu went missing one day. Blum then spent the rest of her life looking for him. In this sense, she is more unfortunate than the weaving maid, who can at least meet the cowherd once a year.

Song Hua, a full-time mother who used to study in Paris, said that Blum's experiences cannot represent Westerners' overall view of Chinese love stories. At the Qixi Festival in 2005, Song told a French friend about the love tragedy between The Legend of Cowherd and Weaving Maid. "But he told me that the two people live across a river every day, and each has their own life, not to mention their once-in-a-year romantic meeting. He considered it to be the greatest happiness of life," Song said.

Westerners interpret the classic Chinese love tragedy as freedom and romance because they do not understand it. When French people want to say they do not understand what you are saying, they sometimes say, "It sounds Chinese to me."

Giving up whole forest just for one tree

Blum was the German language teacher of Yang Chengxu, who served as a diplomat in West Germany, East Germany, and Austria, when he studied at China's Fudan University.

"We rarely met, and had to suffer from long separations. I asked him, ‘Where are you going?' He said, ‘I cannot tell you.' He never told me his address, so I just could not find him. I had been expecting him. Every time I complained, he would tell me the story of The Legend of Cowherd and Weaving Maid. I could understand him. He was participating in a revolution, which required strict secrecy. He is highly disciplined, modest, and gentle. I miss him so much," Blum once told Yang about her love experiences.

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