Alber, Charles J.
Alber, Charles J.
PERSONAL: Male. Education: Indiana University, Ph.D., 1971.
CAREER: University of South Carolina, Columbia, director of the Chinese program.
(Translator) Vladimir Ivanovich Semanov, Lu Hsuñ and His Predecessors (translation of Lu Sin'i ego predshestvenniki), M.E. Sharpe (White Plains, NY), 1980.
Enduring the Revolution: Ding Ling and the Politics of Literature in Guomindang China, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2002.
Embracing the Lie: Ding Ling and the Politics of Literature in the People's Republic of China, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Charles J. Alber, a professor of Chinese studies, may be best known for his work on Ding Ling, a Chinese writer who lived from 1904 to 1986. Alber "probably knows more about [Ding] than any other Westerner," according to Times Literary Supplement contributor Jonathan Mirsky, and he chronicles her life for an English-speaking audience in two volumes. Enduring the Revolution: Ding Ling and the Politics of Literature in Guomindang China covers Ding's life and work from birth through 1949, and Embracing the Lie: Ding Ling and the Politics of Literature in the People's Republic of China examines the rest of her life. As Alber shows in his first volume, Ding was always a controversial author, writing stories that dealt explicitly with women's sexuality in the 1920s and daring to openly criticize the sexism of the Communist military leaders in the 1940s. As chronicled in Embracing the Lie, Ding briefly made her peace with the Communist authorities in the early 1950s and became a powerful member of the literary bureaucracy. However, she then spent much of the next twenty years branded as a right-wing traitor, which earned her beatings and time spent in prison and labor camps. After she was rehabilitated in the late 1970s, she chose to "embrace the lie" of the Communist Party line to attempt to ensure her continuing safety, a decision that Alber had trouble accepting. As he wrote in Embracing the Lie, "The tragedy of Ding Ling is that she traded her own integrity for legitimacy in the [Communist] Party. Except for self-satisfaction, if indeed there was any, there was little reward…. No reward can compensate for the loss of one's integrity; there is no honor in embracing a lie."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Alber, Charles J., Embracing the Lie: Ding Ling and the Politics of Literature in the People's Republic of China, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2004.
Times Literary Supplement, June 24, 2005, Jonathan Mirsky, review of Embracing the Lie, p. 24.
Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, http://www.cas.sc.edu/ (February 22, 2006), "Chinese Program."
University of South Carolina Web site, http://www.sc.edu/ (February 22, 2006), "Languages, Literatures, and Cultures."