“With the paper hat lowered over the eyes” by Elisabetta Ferraresi

With the Paper Hat Pulled Over His Eyes: A Play Dedicated to the Victims of All Ideologies, set in Beijing in 1949

Publishing house: The Erudite
Genre: Historical novel
Pages: 145
Price: €17.00

«With equal and opposite force to that used to level society’s mores and its artistic expressions, the propaganda is fed which presents the soldier of the People’s Liberation Army Lei Feng as a model of generosity and devotion towards the figure of Mao Zedong. Schools are the beating heart of this new campaign, thanks to which thousands of children and young people are educated to respect Lei Feng’s Four Seasons. Serve the people and Never forget the class struggle become the slogans of the new youth, reshaped on a real adoration of the figure of the Great Helmsman». Elisabetta Ferraresi tells us about the great proletarian cultural revolution in the work “With the paper hat lowered over the eyes”.

There history it is set in Beijing between 1949, the year of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, and 1976. One of the protagonists of the story was also born in 1949. In fact, sixteen-year-old Ma Jingying gives birth to her son Xiaohong, without having any idea that her fate will be deeply linked to that of China.

Fourteen years pass and Xiaohong grows up rebellious and tormented. His mother gets some respite when she makes the acquaintance of Li Yongjie, a flautist and music teacher, who seems to have a great influence on the boy.

The man introduces him to European literature. He helps him study and tries to open his mind in a historical moment in which Mao Zedong is trying to manipulate the consciences of the population, and to limit their free will.

Unfortunately Xiaohong becomes a victim of this ideological propaganda: the musician is frightened because the boy is taking more and more seriously the idea of ​​participating in the class struggle against the devotees of the old political order.

While violence against dissidents progresses and especially culture and intellectuals are targeted, Xiaohong gets absorbed by communist doctrine and Li Yongjie suffers the harassment reserved for free thinkers.

Elisabetta Ferraresi tells us with emotion of those difficult years, in which originality and inspiration were erased as well as the very colors of nature and the beauty of diversity. When even grass and flowers are uprooted, as they are considered despicable bourgeois habits, the limit is now exceeded.

And especially naive young people like Xiaohong and those who wanted to assert their freedom of thought like Li Yongjie paid the price. Their stories make us indignant and suffer but they also speak to us of the courage and at the same time of the fragility of us human beings.

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“With the paper hat lowered over the eyes” by Elisabetta Ferraresi