Gao Xingjian

The Chinese-born author Gao Xingjian received the 2000 Nobel Prize in Literature, for work "of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama." His achievement was all the more remarkable given the obstacles he was forced to overcome. During China's Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, all intellectuals were considered suspect. "To write, even in secret, was to risk one's life," Gao Xingjian says of those years. For his own safety, the young writer burned all his manuscripts. "It was only in this period," he says, that he learned the true value of literature: "Literature allows a person to preserve a human consciousness." The young writer was placed in a "re-education" camp, and was not permitted to publish or travel until 1979. After his "rehabilitation,

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