Mind-Dancing the Loneliness of Freedom: The Life-dance-story of “Sanmao”1943-1991

I here wish to put before you a very recent and for that reason still piercing narrative of the self-willed decline and suicide of a Romanticist, prolific and often inescapably charmingly warm woman writer not much known outside of Taiwan and urban China. She has always gone by the name “Echo” (in english), but when in a lighter mood addresses herself an Sanmao., after a popular Shanghai cartoon character: from mythical to mickeymouse ideations. Her “real” name is Chen Maoping (bn, 1943), but after first changing it she has since discarded as per above. In most Chinese context, for an unmarried woman to drop her family surname while still in her teens is a breach of communal regulus; for her then to marry with no surname (a foreigner whose family name she never mentions or used) would seem even more so. But, strangely, her mother and father are beginning refused to banish her, in fact becoming her posthumous spokesmen–defenderin chief. Abandoned ancestors returning to dis-abandon. Such are the confusions of life in the New China. It is they who remain the priest-guards of her memory, again disgregarding that the killed herself age 48, with no offspring, nor siblings, nor cousins, to carry on the family name. There will be no one – no one legitimately – to visit their graves in the spring. Qingming.

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