Leninist Legacies and Revolutionary Life Histories in the Chinese Communist Party: A Plutarchian Case Study of Cai Hesen and Zhao Shiyan

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Department or Administrative Unit


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This article explores the political influence of V. I. Lenin and the Russian Revolution on the lives of two Chinese revolutionaries: Cai Hesen (1895–1931) and Zhao Shiyan (1901–1927), who were critical to the early ideological development of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the spread of mass politics. A Plutarchian comparative case study of Zhao Shiyan and Cai Hesen provides a more nuanced view of the commonalities and differences in their youth group experiences, politicization in France, travel to the Soviet Union, political-agitation activities, and martyrdom. One of the key unifiers of these two life histories is the role of Lenin—his ideas and revolutionary practice. In addition to collected writings, archival materials, and memoirs, the article utilizes oral interviews conducted in 1985 and 1990 with relatives and friends of Cai Hesen and Zhao Shiyan and with CCP scholars.


This article was originally published in Twentieth-Century China. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Twentieth-Century China


© 2019 Twentieth Century China Journal, Inc.