A Latter-day Bluestocking

For the love of reading

Month: December, 2011

The Rape of Nanking December 13, 1937

Cover of "The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgot...

Cover via Amazon

Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Rape of Nanking, an event so horrific that to even peripherally think on it brings feelings of anger, sadness, and horror to me.  Growing up as an American with Chinese ancestry I never heard of this “forgotten” atrocity.  It wasn’t until college when I took an Imperial Chinese history course that I began to delve into the history of my mother’s country and even later than that did I happen upon Iris Chang‘s seminal book on the subject of the massacre in Nanking which began December 13, 1937.

The Rape of Nanking:  The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II tells of the massacre and atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army after the fall of the former capital of the Republic of China, Nanjing (Nanking).  Iris Chang, in writing and publishing this book, brought to light a neglected bit of history and opened my eyes to the horrifying events that took place.  The book is written in three parts:  the first, telling of the events leading up to and during the massacre; the second, describes the aftermath and western perception and reaction to these events; and the third, chronicles Chang’s theories of why this extreme barbarism committed by the Japanese still does not make it into the public consciousness.  This is some intense reading.  It has been some years since I’ve read this book but the memory is still very vivid of the detailed descriptions of rape, mass murder, live burials, mutilations, and torture.  I remember reading this book with feelings of intense horror and most of the time found myself weeping.  I kept asking myself why and how humans could commit such cruel acts on other humans.

And my disbelief doesn’t end with the tragic particulars of this dark part of Chinese history but the continued revisionist history coming from the Japanese government.  In 1995, the Prime Minister and Emperor offered speeches giving apologies for Japan’s merciless role but there has never been a formal written apology by Japan for the Nanking Massacre where approximately 300,000 Chinese were brutally murdered.  In 2007 Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party flat out denied the massacre ever happened, arguing that the events in Nanking are a fabrication.  The controversy continues to this day.

This book stands as a touching memorial, a strong testament, to those Chinese men, women, and children who were murdered during the Japanese occupation of Nanking.  These gruesome events are not to be swept under the carpet and denied, to forget would be a disservice to the victims dehumanized in a time of war.  I, for one, am reflecting on the victims and their murderers because to forget dooms us to repeat such savagery.

Jane Austen Knits

I picked this magazine up because clearly I am crazy.  This Jane Austen obsession is becoming all consuming.  I can’t even knit but the projects in this magazine are so enticing that I could not resist.  I want to learn and I am told that learning to knit is not that difficult.  So perhaps I will give it a go if only because I really, really want a knit Spencer to go with my Regency day dress.  But perhaps, it is best if I start off simply beginning with a scarf or a pair of mitts.

Did Jane Austen knit?  And if she did, what would she have knit?  In a period before industrialization it is not unlikely that women knitted blankets, shawls, scarves, cushions, and stockings.  Austen makes mention in Sense and Sensibility Mrs. Jenning’s plans for a knitting project and in an 1807 letter she describes her own knitting of a lap rug.

Martha’s rug is just finished, & looks well, tho’ not quite so well as I had hoped.  I see no fault in the Border, but the Middle is dingy.–My mother desires me to say that she will knit one for you, as soon as you return to chuse the colours & pattern.

The knitting of stockings was an undertaking easily employed by the poor to supplement their meager incomes.  It is probably not an unlikely supposition that Jane Austen and her sister, as daughters of a clergyman, may have knitted stockings for charitable distribution amongst the impoverished members of their village.

And besides, how can one not want to undertake some of these very beautiful pieces?

Quote of the Day: Mary Wollstonecraft

“Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.”  Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759–1797

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