Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Love Must Not Be Forgotten is a collection of five short stories and two novellas set in China in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. The stories are connected by explorations of two general subjects: the elusiveness of romantic love and the meaning of friendship. The title story uses the device of a daughter’s discovery of her dead mother’s diaries to show the devastating impact of sacrificing individual needs for the greater good. The diaries reveal that the mother had spent the better part of a lifetime devoted to a man she rarely saw, a man who had married a worker’s daughter out of allegiance to the ideal of a classless society. This notion of unfulfilled but undying love inspires Shanshan to reject her handsome, not-too-bright suitor. The story’s insistent didactic message—that it is better not to marry at all than to marry without love—takes aim at societal pressure to marry as well as at arranged marriage, a lingering ghost of China’s past.

Self-sacrifice is added to the theme of unfulfilled love in the novella “The Emerald.” Zeng Linger, a brilliant mathematician, has repeatedly put herself in harm’s way, even suffered persecution, to protect her feckless lover, Zuo Wei. Now she is asked to be the brains behind a computer group to be formally headed by him. The request is complicated by two factors: first, that it is made by his wife, who is a Communist Party leader; second, and more sensationally, that Zuo Wei is the father...

(The entire section is 606 words.)