He Jingfu, a humanist philosopher, and Sun Yue, a professor of modern Western literature and departmental Party Secretary at the University of Shanghai, are lovers whose story forms the background to some twenty years of profound human and social confusion.
Before the lovers can admit to their feelings, their families, friends, and colleagues are also forced into searing introspection and dialogue.
Disgraced for his “capitalist” sympathies, He Jingfu is exiled during the Anti-Fascist Campaign of the late 1950’s to a life of wandering and great privation. Humbled into happiness, he becomes just another “brick” in the Great Wall of China. Permitted to return to the University after the end of the Cultural Revolution, He Jingfu quickly earns the respect and love of both the son of his former tormentor, the university Party Secretary Xi Liu, and the daughter of Sun Yue and her former husband, an ambitious journalist.
Sun Yue’s divorce is the unhappy result of her having sacrificed personal feelings to party loyalty. Although her daughter, Sue Hanhan, longs for her absent “Daddy,” she comes to love He Jingfu (Uncle Hu) for his integrity and charm. Gradually, Sun Yue develops the courage to admit to her love for He Jingfu and to appreciate the ideological vision of his synthesis of Marxism and humanism.
That synthesis, the subject of an important manuscript which He Jingfu submits to the university for publication, provides the focus of this novel’s exciting climax. The political and personal conflicts all merge in He Jingfu’s insistence that true social reform must respect the sanctity of the individual and the folk and avoid the spread of unnecessary class conflict. An astonishing reflection of the new China, STONES OF THE WALL is as fresh as today’s headlines.