Located next to the main campus of National Tainan University in an old residential neighborhood, Bo Yang Museum (柏楊文物館) is a two-story building celebrating the life and work of writer and cultural critic Bo Yang (柏楊). Bo, born in mainland China in 1920, lived in Taiwan between 1949 and his death in 2008.
Bo is best known in the English-speaking world for a collection of essays titled The Ugly Chinaman and the Crisis of Chinese Culture, originally written in Chinese and first published in Taiwan in 1985. In it, he attributes China's ills in recent centuries to what he describes as the nation's "stagnant soy-paste vat culture." The book was an immediate sensation in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. On the Chinese mainland, pirated editions sold hundreds of thousands of copies long before an authorized version appeared in bookstores. Many of Bo's other books took a fresh look at China's long history.
Downstairs in the museum there are photographs, letters and manuscripts, but very little is in English. Works of calligraphy presented to Bo by friends and admirers are also on display. Upstairs, there's a recreation of the living room and study of the Taipei apartment in which he spent his final years with his wife, plus a mock-up of the cell he shared with other dissidents on Green Island in the early 1970s. He was imprisoned after his translation of a Popeye cartoon was construed as an attack on Chiang Kai-shek and his son. After his release, he became one of Taiwan's most respected human-rights campaigners.
Despite his experiences, Bo was upbeat in his old age, once telling a reporter from The New York Times: "China has 4,000, maybe 5,000, years of history, but it has never had an era like Taiwan today. There has never been a time when people were so wealthy or so free. Living conditions are so great! I'm just glad that my wife and I have lived to see this period. It's a golden age."
From Tainan TRA Station, take city bus no. 2 to Great South Gate. Walk eastward along Shulin Street until you reach the National Tainan University campus.