Art And Culture

‘Private Life of Chairman Mao’ in Persian

Dr. Li Zhisui (L) and Mao ZedongDr. Li Zhisui (L) and Mao Zedong

‘The Private Life of Chairman Mao,’ the memoirs of the Chinese ruler’s personal physician Dr. Li Zhisui, is now available in Persian.

The book is a biography of Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the Chinese communist revolutionary, poet, political theorist and founder of the People’s Republic of China.

It is rendered from English in Persian by Iranian essayist, translator and expert in political strategy Mohammad Javad Omidvarnia, 75, specializing in the regions of Asia and Eurasia, Mehr News Agency reported.

The book was first published in 1994, and recently in Persian by the publication of Jahan-Ketab institute of art and culture.

From 1954 until Mao’s death 22 years later, Li Zhisui, now 75, served the Chinese ruler as a personal physician. For most of the period, Mao was in excellent health. He and the doctor had time to discuss political and personal matters. Zhisui recorded many of these conversations in his diaries, as well as in his memory. In this book, he reconstructs his extraordinary time with Chairman Mao.

The Persian edition comes in 244 pages. It is in fact some excerpts from the original book which is contained in nearly 700 pages in various English editions.

  Tyrant, as Told by his Doctor

Zhisui , who has lived in the US since 1988, has written the memoir of the imperial court, in absolute contrast with the official image, and portrayed it as a place of boundless decadence, licentiousness, selfishness, relentless toadying and cutthroat political intrigue, according to the article ‘The Tyrant Mao, as Told by His Doctor,’ published by the New York Times.

In outer appearance, Mao was very easygoing, easy to contact, Dr. Li said in an interview at his home in suburban Chicago. “But when you stayed longer with him, you found that he was a merciless tyrant who crushed anybody who disobeyed him.”

Dr. Li’s memoir contains very little in the way of major revelations about the political or diplomatic history of the Maoist epoch. No new light, for example, is shed on the most mysterious event of the period, the abortive coup engineered by Defense Minister Lin Biao, in 1971, or on such matters as Mao’s role in the Korean War or the diplomatic opening to the United States.

But Dr. Li’s book, even in focusing on the private side of Mao, contains numerous new details about the nature of his rule, including his associations with other major figures. Jiang Qing, Mao’s third wife and later the head of the radical faction known as the Gang of Four, is portrayed as a flatterer and a hypochondriac who, by the time Dr. Li arrived on the scene, no longer had conjugal relations with Mao. Other major figures of the time are seen as reliably sycophantic toward Mao. Those very few who were not so, were purged as a result.


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