The logic behind the fluctuating fortunes of Chinese intellectuals in the early PRC—from hero to scapegoat, prisoner to honored guest—is clarified by examining both the representations of intellectuals in literary and cinematic fictions of the period, and the writing and rewriting of the history of the Anti-Rightist Campaign, an important precursor of the Cultural Revolution. The “revolutionary” intellectual of the 1940s, courted and then spurned by the party, was later refigured as the “patriotic” intellectual of the 1970s and 1980s, whose allegiance was to the ancestral homeland rather than the state. One result of this rethinking of the history of Chinese intellectuals is the emergence of 1957, the beginning of the Anti-Rightist Campaign, as a critical, and tragic, turning point for socialist theory and practice in China and throughout the world.

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