Rainbow chronicles the political and social disruptions in China during the early years of the twentieth century. Inspired by the anti-establishment May Fourth Movement, the heroine, Mei, embarks on a journey that takes her from the limitations of the traditional family to a discovery of the new, modern values of individualism, sexual equality and political responsibility.
The novel moves with Mei from the conservative world of China’s interior provinces down the Yangtze River to Shanghai, where she discovers the turbulent political environment of China’s most modern city. Mao Dun writes with the conviction of one who has lived through the events he is describing.
Rainbow provides a moving introduction to the contradictions inherent in the simultaneous quest for personal freedom and national strengthening. Vividly evocative of the period in which it was written, it is equally relevant to the China of today.