Insinuating “Mao Sun” “100,000 reasons” was criticized

When it comes to the popular science book series “100,000 Reasons”, many Chinese are no stranger to it, because many people have read some or all of it when they were small. To what extent was it once a hit? According to mainland media reports, the series published by China Children’s Publishing House has more than 100 million copies.

In 1964, there were 240 million people with elementary school education (including elementary school education) or above, which is equivalent to one “Why” book for every 40 literate Chinese people. “. Sales of several of these individual volumes even exceeded those of “Selected Works of Mao Zedong”.

The Children’s Publishing House first conceived the idea of publishing “One Hundred Thousand Whys” in 1959. At that time, when the editors conducted a survey in schools, they found that students liked to ask “why”, so they decided to start compiling a large series of natural science books in a question-and-answer style. However, the title of “One Hundred Thousand Whys” was not the first one created by the Children’s Publishing House, but was borrowed from the title of a book by the famous Soviet science writer Ilya Yakovlevich Marschak.

From April to October 1961, “100,000 Questions” was published in five fascicles: physics, chemistry, astronomy and meteorology, agriculture and physiology and hygiene, which caused a rush to buy. 3 more fascicles were published in 1962: geology and minerals, animals and mathematics. 8 volumes containing a total of 1,484 questions and 1 million words.

From 1964 to 1965, according to the problems mentioned in the readers’ letters, the editorial office made a comprehensive revision of the series, and the second edition of “100,000 Questions” was released, with reviewers including Li Siguang, Zhu Kezhen, Hua Luogeng, Mao Yisheng, Qian Chongshu, Su Buqing and others.

After the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, “One Hundred Thousand Questions” was branded as a “big poisonous grass”. A pamphlet reads: “(The series) has won the ‘admiration’ and ‘appreciation’ of Yang Shangkun, Hu Qiaomu, Hu Yaobang and other cadres of Liu Ji’s Black Command, the counter-revolutionary revisionists. …… Hu Yaobang was hesitant and did his best to tout “One Hundred Thousand” …… The Jiefang Daily published an editorial entitled “Raising Children to Love Science” with front-page status. As we all know, the only editorial published for a book was the publication of the fourth volume of Mao Zedong’s Selected Works in 1960, while “One Hundred Thousand” could be ranked alongside it, and with greater momentum …… is tolerable, which is unbearable!”

The Hundred Thousand Questions was forced to be re-revised and a third edition came out. At that time, 23 volumes were planned, and then the last two books did not come out because of the end of the Cultural Revolution. In the crazy era of extreme scarcity of books, the “100,000 Questions” “Cultural Revolution Edition” was published and distributed 37 million copies. The revised third edition was completely changed to analyze everything with “class struggle” and “line struggle” as the guide, and added military, sports and other sub-volumes to meet the political requirements of the time, and every question had to be answered by first quoting Mao’s quotations and Maen’s works. In addition, the top of the yellow cover shows the workers and peasants holding up the Red Book, and the name of the subvolume is written below.

According to Ye Yonglie, the writer who wrote most of the book’s titles, the reason why “100,000 Reasons” was classified as a “big poisonous grass” was very funny and ridiculous. For example, the sun has a black son, at that time is to insinuate that “Mao Sun”, “Mao Sun” how can have a black son? Is this not a naked curse?

For example, in the Chinese Communist Party’s fabricated movie “White Hair Woman”, Yang Bailao committed suicide by drinking salt brine, and Ye Yonglie also used this as the introduction in his book; but during the Cultural Revolution, Yang Bailao became the revolutionary Yang Bailao, so he could no longer drink salt brine, therefore, “One Hundred Thousand Questions” is slandering the poor peasants ……

The calamity of the editor of “One Hundred Thousand Reasons Why

Ye Yonglie’s relationship with “One Hundred Thousand Reasons” was when he was a sophomore at Peking University. At that time, his father and brother were both branded as “rightists”. In order to finish his studies and share his parents’ pressure, he used his spare time to write popular science essays to earn money. Since he was only 20 years old at the time and had been a reader of the Soviet version of “One Hundred Thousand Reasons” since he was a child, his articles written in a lively style were well received by the editor. As a result, Ye Yonglie wrote not only the chemistry fascicle, but also the astronomy and meteorology and physiology and health fascicles. Of the 947 “whys” in the five fascicles published in 1961, Ye wrote 326. As a result, he earned a substantial income of more than 1,600 yuan.

In 1962, he met Yang Huifen, a young Russian teacher. It is said that when he came to the house to propose marriage, he gave a set of “100,000 Reasons” as a gift. The Yang family was very appreciative of this. A year later, they got married.

However, when “100,000 Reasons Why” was branded as a “big poisonous weed” during the Cultural Revolution, Ye Yonglie also suffered. At that time, dozens of rebel groups in Shanghai formed a “Liaison Station for Criticizing The Hundred Thousand Reasons Why”, and Ye Yonglie, as the author of “The Great Poisonous Herb” and a “black cadre of literature and art”, also bore the brunt of the criticism. He was constantly criticized. In 1967, he was raided by the Red Guards, and many of his photos, letters and manuscripts were taken away. After spending three years in the “May 7 Cadre School”, he was sent to “dig deeper” – digging bomb shelters and making cinder blocks. After that, he returned to work in Shanghai Film. It was not until the end of the Cultural Revolution that Ye Yonglie’s life got back on track, and he later embarked on the path of documentary literature, becoming a “writer of the Cultural Revolution”.

In October 1970, Zhang Chunqiao, then secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, caused 14 publishing houses in Shanghai to merge into one, and the Children’s Society was among them.

In the same way that Ye Yonglie’s life changed radically after the Cultural Revolution, a fourth edition of 100,000 Questions was published after the Cultural Revolution, negating the “Cultural Revolution” version, and a fifth edition was published in 1999, with an index and additional information.


Stories like the absurdity of the criticism of “100,000 Questions” were not uncommon during the Cultural Revolution. There is another story about Yang Coix, a Nanjing translator who translated famous books such as Wuthering Heights, who in 1959 had set up a children’s song for a set of children’s painting samples published by the Shanghai Children’s and Teenagers’ Publishing House, which preached the importance of hard work and independence from childhood. During the Cultural Revolution, she was accused of “viciously attacking the Red Sun in our hearts” and was criticized. In one of her children’s songs, she wrote: “The sun and I will race to see who gets up faster than the sun. Dare to compare with the “red sun”, is not a bear’s heart and leopard’s guts?

Obviously, the “100,000 Reasons Why” and the editor’s encounter in those absurd years make us clearly understand that the only way to avoid repeating the same mistake is to completely eradicate the root cause of such a disaster.