Saturday, July 25, 2009
From Beautiful Girls To Propaganda Tools
Our brave Shanghai Girls, May and Pearl, once enjoyed popularity in old Shanghai as "beautiful girls" who posed for calendars and advertising artwork. Such hand-painted posters, calendars, and advertisements depicted lovely young ladies in beautiful dress. Still, this was considered controversial, as is the case in Lisa See's Shanghai Girls. Another name for the women who posed for these paintings was Shanghai girls, which is where, I guess, the author gets her double-entendre title.
Well, MUCH has transpired in the book since May and Pearl's early days, and now the reader has followed the girls through to the early 1950's. No Spoiler Alert necessary here, but the girls are surprised to now see themselves depicted in Maoist propaganda posters. Refer to the UCDavis article for a brief intro to these posters and the Maoist transformation of earlier calendar art into propaganda.
By the way, I finished the book! Will give my thumb's up or down later.