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BOTM March 2008 《围城》by 钱钟书


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巴金 is only a so-so novelist. He himself admitted in a preface to one of the many editions of his novel 家.

He was more a literary enthusiast and deeply interested in politics, particularly anarchism. Because literature was linked to politics and social change, he started writing fiction. Lu Xun started writing fiction for similar reasons.

I have mentioned in a previous thread.

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I remember being told by a Chinese literature teacher that 巴金 was highly regarded not so much for the works themselves (which were considered ordinary) but because of the huge effect they had on society of the time, causing many to 'follow' in 觉慧's footsteps.

I also find that I enjoy novels from this period more for the insight they provide in to society at the time (and how little some things have changed from a modern perspective) rather than for the story and characters.

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I read an article about Ba Jin's translation work recently and apparently he also wasn't the best translator - for one, he only knew a few of the languages he was translating - but he was an important one anyway. I like how in those times, enthusiasm counted for so much, there was room to just go and do the things you believed in, it wasn't about writing/translating those things well, it was about writing/translating them in the first place.

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  • 10 months later...

Well it's been almost a year, and I still haven't got round to 秋...


I finished 人-兽-鬼 by 钱钟书 last week. 


It's a short book of four stories, around 100 pages. The first story is a retelling of the story of God, Adam and Eve, it's quite amusing, man was made in God's image, God has all too human flaws. 2 of the stories feel very much like 钱钟书 practising for 围城,so appropriate for this thread, and useful I think for anyone considering reading 围城, much shorter read so a good way to test if you're ready for this (relative) biggy. 



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  • 3 months later...

May I bring this discussion back to Qian Zhongshu's "Fortress besieged" for a moment? 


It's just that I found a bilingual version of the novel in pdf here:

Qian Zhongshu' "Fortress Besieged"
The Chinese is very readable. Surprising how clear and direct it is, at least what I've read so far of Chapter 1. I like having the English translation side by side.
The 10 episodes 1990 TV series is also available online, unfortunately no subtitles Chinese or English - but it seems to be so faithful to the book that it may be a good thing to practice listening comprehension. The You Tube version is here:
It's available also in Youku but I don't have the link handy.
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