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Book Review : Wei Cheng (The Beseiged City)


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This review is part of the free chinese book series.

The book is by a famous chinese author Qian ZhongShu. This book is one of the greatest 20th century chinese novels. While the book is about the lives of some intellectuals during the war against the japanese it is a metaphor referring to lives being like a besieged city with those inside wanting to come out and those outside wanting to come in.

The book version under review is an abridged chinese version. The novel has been written to be easily accessible to students who have completed the chinese reader series. It comes with a CD. The book has both pin yin as well as simplified characters.

What makes this book useful in my opinion is that since it is a famous chinese novel it has also been translated into english. So basically you have three versions, the simplified abridged version, the original version and the english version. So you can read the abridged version, check the original version to see what is missed as your chinese improves and read the english to see if your understanding is correct and clear up any fine points.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words I have take a short example of the first paragraph of the book and made three versions. The paragraph from the abridged version, the original and the english version so that you may see for yourself.

To conclude if your chinese is good go with he original otherwise this abridged version is good to improve your reading and when you improve you can move to the original version and see examples of good chinese writing.

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  • 3 years later...

I'm reading this book (围城 - The Besieged City) right now, hopefully when I finished the abbreviated version, I will be more equipped to read the full version - It's actually 汉英对照本 (bilingual, parallel texts in Mandarin and English) and the full audiobook is available! The full version is called "Fortress Besieged".

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