Shanyn Fiske Continued from Page 20
“Before the Cultural Revolution, there was quite a bit of an open door between West and East in terms of literary dialogue. And then during the Mao years, everything shut down. Then the open door policy of the ‘80s allowed that to open up again. One of the things I’m working on for the book is the story of how my young mother joined renegade literary folk directly after the end of the Cultural Revolution and tried to revitalize the translation of Western literature in post-Mao China. “My grandfather was educated at Harvard, and for a while after he returned to China, he was head of the Beijing Education Bureau. He and my grandmother were put under house arrest, and all of my aunts and my mother were sent off to the countryside for Mao’s whole reeducation program,” Fiske said. “Because of my family’s connections with the United States, he managed to help get my mother a scholarship to Wellesley to study English literature. I joined her and lived in the dorms with her for about four years.” Raised in a family that loved literature, Fiske said her mother admired the works of the Bronte sisters, as well as a range of 19th-century British literature. “It’s probably no surprise that I’m a Victorianist in my field of study,” she said. With her limited grasp of English and her precocious love of words, Fiske said she spent a lot of time alone when she was young, lost in a world of great books.
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