Wang Xiaobo’s sarcastically funny wisdom

Quotes of an influential Chinese novelist and essayist

Image credit: Sina

Recently, I read a quote from Wang Xiaobo’s essay. It left me ponder on it for long. I went on read more of his essays, and found them sarcastically funny and still relevant twenty years after they were written.

Wang Xiaobo was a famous Chinese novelist and essayist. His greatest passion was in novel, however, his essays were far more influential. He was renowned for his humorous writing style and liberalism view.

I once read his essays compilation, The Pleasure of Thought, while in college, yet I couldn’t make much sense out of them at that point. This time, I enjoyed them a lot. I would like to share some of his words that worth thinking about.

His essays were not translated into English, I’ll try my best to translate them.


On moral judgement

“In my opinion, among all kinds of human intellectual activities, moral judgements are the easiest. If you are a male rabbit, then you can make moral judgement — that wolves are bad, female rabbits are good. But rabbits don’t know about the multiplication table. The fact tells that why some people who lacks of other abilities like moral judgements so much. If making judgements on oneself still has cost, then making judgements on other people is far too easy and comfortable.” — The Pleasure of Thought

On career suggestions

“From my experience, the toughest problem for a young people is to decide what to do for life. On this topic, I have no specific suggestions. Whatever you do is good, but better don’t write novels, that’s taking bread out of my mouth.” — Work and Life

On writing novel in the age of media technology

“Only writing can she (Marguerite Duras) get the essence of narratology” — Gate’s VR Suits

On Utopia

“Till today, some people still look forward to a philosopher king, who designs an ideal life for them to live. Therefore some people are happy to be the philosopher king, sadly they usually are not some good person. … I don’t want to hand my future to anyone else, especially a philosopher king.” — — Republic and Philosopher King

If you can read Chinese, you can find more of his essays online or as books. English translation of three of his novels were compiled as “Wang in Love and Bondage: Three Novellas”.