Pierre-Jean Rémy

A China Diary (1963-2008) Publication date : December 11, 2008

Pierre-Jean Rémy was the Secretary to the French Embassy in Beijing from 1964 to 1966, having spent the previous year in Hong Kong. He thus witnessed China's preliminary opening to the outside world, and then the first six months of the rise of what became the Cultural Revolution. He returned to China many times between 1970 and 1988 and then again in 2000.

After his nomination in 2001 as president of France's Year of China and of China's Year of France, he made annual trips to China until 2006. During his visits, he met with the major representatives of Chinese cultural life and with high-ranking officials.

Over the years, Rémy has seen China's transformation, beginning with the height of Maoism in the 1960s to the emergence and growth of a free-market economy and more liberal culture.

Rémy has kept a diary all his life. The texts gathered here give a fascinating account of his many encounters with China and the Chinese.

Most of Rémy's diary of his first stint in China has been reproduced here. This was a formative period, during which he wrote some of his major works, including Le Sac du Palais d'Eté.

Also included in this volume are shorter accounts of the trips he made in the 1970s and ‘80s; and notes on his travels, encounters and thoughts on modern China, written during his more recent visits, from 2001 to 2006.

This is an enthralling first-hand account of China when it had barely opened its doors to foreigners.

Travel to China has become banal for tourists today. Rémy's overview of the past forty years allows him to unravel the essential from the superficial.

Pierre-Jean Rémy is the author of more than fifty novels and a member of the Académie Française. An opera, theatre and music lover, he is the author of a recent biography on Karajan. He was the recipient of the 1971 Renaudot Prize for Le Sac du Palais d'Eté, and of the Académie Française's 1986 Grand Prix for fiction for Une ville immortelle. Some of his other recent works are: Les Belles du Moulin Rouge (2002), Chambre noire à Pékin (2004), Dictionnaire amoureux de l'opéra (2004), Un grand homme (2005), Chu Teh-Chun (2006) and Le plus grand peintre vivant est mort (2007).