Wang Shuo & Friends : the Chinese Literature Thread - Xtratime Community
 
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old July 2nd, 2005, 07:27 Thread Starter
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Wang Shuo & Friends : the Chinese Literature Thread

Has anybody read something by him? For me he's some kind of revelation...with a certain passion for communist and official Chinese literature with its typical and quite repetetive patterns, Wang Shuo's books are like a healthy slap in my face.

He's still not allowed to publish as far as I know but preparing a new movie right now.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old July 6th, 2005, 18:37
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I read Please Don't Call Me Human a while back, pretty funny stuff [if you don't have to live under such conditions that is].

Here's more info on Wang Shuo (Chinese, born 1958).




An antiquated article on WS in Asian Week
http://www.asiaweek.com/asiaweek/96/0809/feat2.html

and an equally antiquated review in the Guardian --

Please Don't Call Me Human by Wang Shuo (trans Howard Goldblatt)
http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/...355902,00.html


Btw thanks viola for this thread. I've noticed that you have been reading Ding Ling's stories -- perhaps you are also interested in another author from the May Fourth movement?

If so, I highly recommend Hsiao Hong and her Tales of Hulan River (English version translated by Howard Goldblatt, one of the best non-Chinese May Fourth scholars.) Happy reading

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old July 6th, 2005, 19:34 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the hint! I just checked the book and there is also a German translation available. So far I only read "Flight" by her, also quite good.
Recently I came across "The First Night" by Yu Luojin...an extreme account. Impressive and painful at the same time. Do you know it?
And today I decided that my travels will be accompanied by Lao She - "4 generations under a roof". A big task, but I love this author.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old July 28th, 2005, 20:29
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Viola, like you, I've only read "First Night" by Yu Luojin and still need to follow more of her work to give a lucid review.

But about Lao She. I was fed every one of his books by my grandmother while I stayed with her in Hong Kong every summer during my teens. "The Rickshaw Boy" (what a terribly racisit title! then again the first English edition was published in the 1930s in the west) was of course his most known novels. But I prefer his shortstories and essays as they convey a more powerful sense of satire. Lao was educated in the US and no doubt was inspired by the humourists [S.J. Perlman, Benchley et al] at the time.

So. Still reading that heavy tome entitled "Four Generations"?

After that, perhaps some Qian Zhong Shu's?

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old July 28th, 2005, 22:06 Thread Starter
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I was terribly lazy during my travels, so I still have a long way to go with this book...it's good, well structured and gives nice insights into the "old Beijing" which are particulary interesting for me since I know the city quite well...but most characters are too simple, too stereotypical and below Lao She's usual standard. But there are very few authors able to deal with the Sino-Japanese relationship on a higher level.

Qian Zhong Shu...I have to admit I never read anything by him, although there are some books available here...seems you like him?
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old August 2nd, 2005, 02:21
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Yes I'm quite fond of Qian's work even though he was such an idealist. His widow Yang Jiang [a writer and translator of German novels] published the memoir "The Three of Us" [Wo Men Shan] a few years ago. It documents the couple and their deceased daughter Qian Ren's lives and work from the early 1930s through the 1990s.

Sounds like you too have visited Beijing. Well, I don't know if you read Chinese and if a translated edition is available--but do give "The Three of Us" a try

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old August 2nd, 2005, 08:53 Thread Starter
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I lived in Beijing, but my (horrible) Chinese is 90% oral, so no chance to read a novel in its original language. However, I'll check it out.

But I'm curious - what do you think about Guo Moruo? Many of my Chinese friends see him as nothing else than Mao's chief intellectual, but I think he was absolutely brilliant, my favourite 20th century writer from China. Especially his early autobiographical works are must reads imo.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old August 3rd, 2005, 15:49
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I think us humans cannot help but judge each other based upon their own vast or limited knowledge.

Guo had aspirations to become the Chinese counterpart of Alfred de Musset; unfortunately he had to get his hands dirty [in blood shall we say?] Personally I prefer Xu Zhi-mo. Then again Xu died young thus becoming the real romantic revolutionary, much like Che, no?

But I do like this one by Guo becuase it is not sweet but punkish -- Tiangou (Heavenly Dog), again, lost and destroyed in translation.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old August 3rd, 2005, 17:20 Thread Starter
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I get your point but I don't think you can compare Guo and Xu...I'm well aware of Guo's involvement in some of China's history darkest chapters but what always fascinated me was his universal approach which (sadly) also included politics.

And thanks for the link.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old August 3rd, 2005, 18:20
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No, there's no comparisons between the two and each was brilliant.

Politics always gets in the way of the arts. Should Xu Zhimo, Lu Xun or Xiao Hong lived as long a life as Guo, one wonders what would happen to them? And their work?

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old August 3rd, 2005, 21:06 Thread Starter
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Maybe the same as to most Chinese writers. They would have stopped producing interesting works after '49. Actually I'm happy Lu Xun didn't have to witness the Cultural Revolution...
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old August 26th, 2005, 14:59
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Speaking of Lu Xun, I found this passage recently and--withstanding my translation --thought that you would appreciate his wry sense of humour and oh so bourgeois taste.

"... Lu Xun xin xen was just receovering form an illness, smoking and sitting on a recliner. I was wearing a brand new blouse with very wide sleeves the colour of wild fire ...

I said, 'Zhou* xin xen, isn't my outfit pretty?'

Lu Xun xin xen glanced at me from head to toes and said, 'not very pretty.'

After a while, he added, 'your colour coordination is wrong. Not that the red blouse isn't pretty. All colours are good looking but a red blouse matches a red skirt, or a black skirt. A brown skirt makes a bad match because, against red, the two colours become an ambiguous mess ... You would have see a forigner walking around with a green skirt and
a purple blouse; or a red skirt with a stark white blouse ...'

He continued to looked at from his recliner, 'your skirt is brown and with a grid pattern. That combination alone is confusing. And it spoils the good looks of your red blouse.'

'... thin people look their worst in black clothes and overweight people are shamed by white garments. Women with long legs should wear black shoes; with short legs it is much better to have light-coloured shoes. Overweight people should not wear square-patterned clothes although squares are much better than oblongs--for oblongs widen the body
ever more--and in both directions! Vertical lines on a dress tend to flatter a wide torso ...' "

-- Xiao Hong, "Remembering Lu Xun xin xen," October, 1939

----------

* xin xen has two meanings: "mister" or "teacher."

** Zhou xin xen: Lu Xun's family name is Zhou (his brother was also a well known author in the May Four movement.)

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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old August 28th, 2005, 19:20 Thread Starter
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Amen.

Thanks for the nice passage.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old August 31st, 2005, 19:53
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Sometime back I read a book called "The Family" written by "pa chin" , and it was worth reading. I would like to know more about him and his works. Do any one know anything about him ?
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old August 31st, 2005, 20:40 Thread Starter
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I guess you mean Ba Jin? Very interesting figure and author, from Sichuan. His pseudonym combines the syllables Ba (Bakunin) and Jin (KropotKIN). His vita is a typical Chinese mixture of persecution and honours. Destruction, Spring and Autumn are other novels.
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post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old September 1st, 2005, 15:55
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As promised, here are some images of the May Fourth movement writers.

To commerce, Ba Jin (born Chengdu, 1904)




Ba Jin's family portrait, 1907

This photograph was taken 4 years before the Chinese revolution in October, 1911 that overthrown the Qing Dynasty. Ba Jin [toddler on lap]was 3 years old.




Book cover of "Destruction." Note the trendy 1920's minimalist design.




A rare handwritten draft of Ba Jin's shortstory "Spring Dream."


http://myweb.hinet.net/home11/zha4b5...s_DSCF0666.jpg

Book Covers, "Family" and "48 Hours in Shanghai"
Published by Cai Ming, Shanghai, 1949.


Ba Jin in his study [undated photograph, probably taken in the 1990's]

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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old September 1st, 2005, 18:15
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Cheers for the info people. I am very much delighted. He is certainly my favourite author and "Family" is my favourite book. Once agian thanx for the info.
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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old September 8th, 2005, 01:37
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You're very welcome, blitzkreig.

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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old September 8th, 2005, 02:05
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8 September 2005 : Remembering Zhang Ailing

.
Ten years ago, on September 8, 1995, the writer Zhang Ailing [aka Eileen Chang or Eileen Chung] was found dead on the floor of a seedy apartment in downtown Los Angeles. Her death signaled the passing of a bygone era as well as the emergence of a new generation of Chinese novelists.

Humble as it may be, this post pays hommage to Zhang Ailing, the first post modernist Chinese writer.


Zhang Ailing (also known as Eileen Chang) was born in Shanghai in 1921. She spent her childhood in Beijing and Tianjin, but returned to Shanghai in 1929. Since her parents were divorced, she first lived with her father and then ran away to her mother's home. She studied at Hong Kong University. In 1942 when Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese, she returned to Shanghai before completing her education. At the age of 23, she married Hu Lancheng, a traitor. After the victory of the War of Resistance against Japan, they were divorced. In 1952, she moved to Hong Kong again, and three years later she moved to the U.S. where she married a friend of Bertold Brecht and managed to publish three novels including "The Rice Sprout Song," (1955) and "Naked Earth" (1956) about the life under communist rule. Her works are known for their skeptical portrayal of Europeans, Eurasians and upper-class Chinese, as is her famous early novella "The Golden Cangue." (1943)



Sign outside Zhang Ailing's former residence in Shanghai.



Zhang Ailing's drawings, 1936-1946.

Zhang Ailing's cover design for her book "Rumours."



Zhang Ailing at age 5 (?)

For those who reads Chinese, a rare collection of Zhang Ailing quotes
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Square/9871/quote.html

In the September 2005 issue of Ming Pao Monthly, there is an article by Chen Zishan, professor of Chinese language at the Shanghai Huadong Normal University. In that article, Chen reported on his excursion to the address Number 195, Changde Road in Shanghai. What is so special about that address? From the summer of 1942 to September of 1947, the writer Eileen Chang resided here. Most of the works collected in the two volumes of short stories "Rumors" and "Legends" were written here. Chen stated that this was undoubtedly a blessed piece of turf in the contemporary history of Chinese literature. Fortunately, this building is designated with an "exceptional historical building" status or else it would surely have been demolished to make way for a bland steel-and-concrete skyscraper.

At the location, Chen found this small plaque titled "The former residence of Eileen Zhang." He took a photo of the plaque. He noted that there was another elderly person from Taiwan also taking photographs of the same plaque, and they exchanged smiles because they knew why the other was there for. The words on the plaque explain in Chinese and English just who Eileen Chang was. The plaque begins with the dates of her birth and death (1921 and 1995), and stated that she left for the United States in 1952.



.

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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old October 24th, 2005, 22:03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viola
I guess you mean Ba Jin? Very interesting figure and author, from Sichuan. His pseudonym combines the syllables Ba (Bakunin) and Jin (KropotKIN). His vita is a typical Chinese mixture of persecution and honours. Destruction, Spring and Autumn are other novels.
Ba Jin died on Oct. 17, 2005. RIP.

Of all those great Chinese intellecturals, he is the only one, IIRC, has said publicly and openly that we need to set up a museum in memory of all the mistakes and sufferring of the tragedy of Culture Revolution.

He said he had a wish: "I wish everyone gets a house, everyone gets food, everyone gets the comfort he needs. I want to wipe the tears faway from everyone's face, noboday will ever hurt another one."

The loss is not only the death of a great man but also the demise of social consciousness and compassion that this modern China so much needs.


BTW, it is a pleasant surprise for me to find some ppl here are interested to discuss Chinese literature.
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