Sun Yat-sen’s Shade 革命尚未成功

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The Analects Fortnightly 論語半月刊, a magazine founded by the essayist and translator Lin Yutang (林語堂, 1895-1976) in 1932, promoted the concept of humour 幽默 (a neologism in Chinese of Lin’s invention), while also publishing essays and art work that reflected the urbane, as well as the often scurrilous, world of Shanghai letters.

As Chris Rea notes, ‘In 1936 [the magazine] experienced an overwhelming response to its call for submissions on the topic of ghost stories and ended up doing two special issues.’

‘The revolution has not yet succeeded. Work hard, comrades!’

From right to left: Lu Diping 魯滌平, Xu Xilin 徐錫麟, Chen Qimei 陳其美, Zhang Taiyan 章太炎, Huang Xing 黃興, Hu Hanmin 胡漢民, Li Yuanhong 黎元洪, Sun Zhongshan 孫中山, Tan Yankai 譚延闓, Song Jiaoren 宋教仁, Cai E 蔡鍔, Liao Zhongkai 廖仲愷, Wu Chaoshu 伍朝樞, the journalist/ artist Huang Wennong 黃文農.

This cartoon by Huang Wennong 黃文農 which was published in The Analects shows Sun Yat-sen (孫中山, 1866-1925), a man celebrated as the Founding Father of the Republic of China, holding a meeting in Fengdu 酆都, Sichuan, famed as China’s City of Ghosts 鬼城. Titled ”The revolution has not yet succeeded. Work hard, comrades!’ 革命尚未成功同志仍須努力, a line taken from Sun’s political will, it shows the ‘shades of revolution’ — men who all contributed to bringing an end to dynastic China and the founding of a democratic republic — gathered around a table. Their spectres meet in Fengdu, a sad comment on the failures of the revolution to which they had devoted their lives, and which they still impotently serve in death.

Next to the crossed flags — one of the Nationalist Party, the other the new national flag, stand the Ox-head 牛頭 and Horse-face 馬面 spirits of the Netherworld. They stand guard dressed in modern military grab, holding rifles with bayonets.

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Sun Yat-sen’s portrait was first hung on Tiananmen Gate in Beijing (then renamed Beijing 北平) following the end of the Northern Expedition of the 1920s, a military campaign that avowedly unified China under Nationalist Party rule. It was also displayed on the open space in front of Tiananmen during the ceremony at which Mao Zedong announced the founding of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949.

His is still honoured in China as the Father of the Nation 國父, and a mammoth portrait of him is annually erected north of the Monument to the People’s Heroes (facing the picture of Mao that dominates Tiananmen Gate and the Square itself) on the 1st of May and again on the 1st of October.

Sun Yat-sen in Tiananmen Square.