Cat Country

Welcome to Cat Planet

Welcome to Cat Country!

In 1932, Lao She, the famous Chinese writer, penned a book about a Chinese astronaut crashing into Mars and finding the planet populated with Cat People. These Cat People are a way for Lao She to satirize the Chinese. Let the craziness begin!

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Brian L Hayes

Does the protagonist (and/or the Cat People) spend any time criticizing the foreign policies of the other countries on Mars (especially in terms of aggression towards the Cat People)?

As I see it, China in the early stages of the 1900s confronted two macro problems: 1) finding social/political/cultural identity, stability, and direction in the modern world 2) the less then benign intentions of foreign powers in and around China’s borders.

While these two problems are not unrelated, I still see them as distinct. In today’s excellent podcast, most of the discussion revolved around the first of these issues…so I am curious as to how the other countries are portrayed.


Your diagnosis of China’s problems is astute, but Lao She does not address problem #2 in his text much. The text does acknowledge that there are countries on Mars outside of Cat Country, but it is a surprisingly interiorly-oriented critique of China, with no effort to blame foreign powers. Maybe this is because Lao She meant it to be consumed only by Chinese-speakers, so he didn’t see any point to thinking about China’s external problems…that’s just my guess. Still, thanks for the great question.


To amend my comment a little, you’re comment was even more astute than I had realized. Though it never occupies a major portion of the narrative, Lao She is cued into the problem of foreign encroachment on Chinese territory. On page 173 of the English edition, the novel passingly alludes to the problem. Old scorpion, the warlord is trying to figure out why his troops lost, and he is told it is because “the foreigners invaded.” Thanks for pushing me to look back at the text.

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