A Dozen Little Red Books


Quotations of Chairman Mao Although tens of millions of this publication were distributed in China  and its contents had to be known by heart, the name of 'little red book' doesn't seem familiar to the Chinese.

This name for the Citations of Chairman Mao was coined in the West, and refers to the handy format and red vinyl cover of the book. Following some earlier editions, Mao Zedongs citations since 1966 have been massively distributed to support the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The inhabitants of China were forced to carry a copy with them, on pain of being flogged or detained. Moreover, in various circles the citations were forcibly studied and discussed.
From 1966 to 1972 the propaganda bureau of the Chinese CP published 33 translations, including Hausa and Swahili. In other countries however, people were particularly charmed by the format of the Chinese booklet. Even today, variants intended to be taken seriously, feeble persiflages and pastiches are being published. A selection of the 'little red books' at the IISH offers a sample of these meaningless words from all continents.

Further reading:
On iconography:
Images of the Cultural Revolution and of Mao

Bibliographical essay:
Sources and Early Printing History of Chairman Mao’s "Quotations" by Oliver Lei Han

Quotations from Chairman Mao

Margreet Schrevel