Reflective Statement – To Live

How was your understanding of cultural and contextual considerations of the work developed through the interactive oral?

Prior to the Interactive Orals, my knowledge of China and it’s history was limited, I feel the Interactive Orals helped expanded my knowledge about China and helped me in understanding Yu Hua’s To Live.  While listening to the Interactive Orals I did get slightly confused during the first presentation about The Big Leap Forward, however I feel that it being a group question and answer activity helped me as I better understood The Big Leap Forward.

The presentations given were about The Big Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the life and career of Yu Hua.  As mentioned in above, the first presentation baffled me, but as John worked through his presentation it became clearer to me about collectivization, industrialization and starvation. Having a more in-depth knowledge on these aspects of Chinese culture aided my understanding of Yu Huas, To Live, as I was never quite sure of the effects the history of China had on Yu Huas works.
Similarly, the presentation on the life and career of Yu Hua helped me to understand To Live from a different angle. Before knowing about Yu Huas past, To Live wasn’t very appealing as I was unaware of the cultural effects on the story. However, after learning how he grew up during the Cultural Revolution, how he left his job as a Dentist to become a worker for the Cultural Centre, and how he became a fictional author, I believe that I better understand the story, To Live. As many people’s posts have mentioned, the unnamed, young travelling narrator throughout To Live reminded me of Yu Hua and his job at the Cultural Centre after leaving Dentistry.
To sum up, I feel my contextual and cultural understanding of Yu Hua’s To Live has developed throughout the three Interactive Orals, although I feel I could achieve a better understanding of To Live by re-reading this novel, with my new found insight.