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BotM Proposal for December: Wang Xiaobo's 黄金时代


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Right, having almost finished rereading Wang Xiaobo's 黄金时代 (10 pages to go) I'm going to propose it as a possible Book of the Month for December for anyone who's interested.

Reasons being:

*It's not too long - the edition I have in front of me is 100 pages, and not very dense pages at that.

*It's digestible - divided into 10 easy to consume chapters.

*It's accessible - Wang Xiaobo's satire and black humour come across relatively easily to the foreign reader, I think it's fair to say. The language isn't too challenging - there's certainly some stuff that may require a dictionary or some thought, but Wang is writing from the point of view of a 21 year old looking after pigs and hiding in mountains - it's mostly simple narrative.

*It's got lots of sex in. Sex sells.

*It's available online.

*It's important - Wang remains remarkably popular a decade after his death, and he described this as his 宠儿. If you're going to read Wang Xiaobo, you should read this.

*There's English - although not available online, there is an English translation. I haven't heard good things about it, but if you want to read in parallel, it's there. There's a partial, but rough-looking, translation here - set encoding to GB2312. It doesn't go past Chapter 4 or 5.

Having read it twice, including yesterday, I won't be rereading in December. However I will be participating in any discussion and helping out with any questions I can answer.

Anyone interested? Try the first two sentences:

我二十一岁时,正在云南插队。陈清扬当时二十六岁,就在我插队的地方当医生。我在山下十四队,她在山上十五队。有一天她从山上下来,和我讨论她不是破鞋的问题。
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Unfortunately those first chapter translations were taken down due to copyright issues when the new translation came out. Interesting to see how everyone deals with 破鞋 though.

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Interesting to see how everyone deals with 破鞋 though.

I used "tramp". Other possibilities are "slut", "loose woman". I chose "tramp" as it seemed a little more bookish to me and seem to fit better on paper.

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I will make an effort to read this, it looks ok, not too long and not too complicated... thanks for the links Roddy... I have attached a utf/text file and the word doc incase anyone wants to use it with Pleco2 or on their pc... not sure if this will have any Copyright issues if it does please take them off...

黄金时代 王小波.txt

黄金时代 王小波.doc

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Slag, slut, whore, tramp between the paper republic versions and Gato's, damaged goods in the published translation. I've been thinking about what I'd prefer. For a while I was thinking of just using 'loose' as an adjective, but I don't think that has enough impact.

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There's no English term for something that has been used and now isn't good anymore? In Dutch I'd use 'afgelikte boterham' (slice of bread with the topping licked off).

I'll find the book and read along.

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I'm reading other stuff at the moment, but after seeing how short this actually is, I'm in. I've read the first chapter and collected some trickier words (for me). I don't have my paper dictionary handy, so these are my best interpretations:

插队 field labour (I assume that 插 is from 插秧)

破鞋 tramp

偷汉 have a lover

置疑 doubt

插秧 transplant rice seedlings

剥落 peel off

藐视 despise

观察 perspective

钦佩 admire

自在 comfortable

拖鞋 slippers

捉模 = 捉摸 to ascertain

指称 label

乳房 breast

耳光 slap across the face

碎纸 torn paper

烟丝 tobacco leaves ??

败棕 beaten palm tree ??

汽枪 air gun

粑 tsamba (food in Tibet eaten by Zhu Bajie)

处女 virgin

天阉 castrate?

恶棍 villain

性交 sexual intercourse

I realise that most people reading this will be better than me, so this is probably not very useful, but perhaps it will help someone.

I really like the style, it's very funny.

For the record: I much prefer gato's translation to the other online one. I think it better conveys the blunt, matter-of-fact way the story is told, which is why it is so funny. The other translation reads like Moby Dick :mrgreen:

Edited by renzhe
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For the record: I much prefer gato's translation to the other online one. I think it better conveys the blunt, matter-of-fact way the story is told, which is why it is so funny.

Thanks. I'm sure that's what I was going for. :wink:

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ABCinChina

Hello Renzhe, 插队 means cutting in line or queue jumping.

Edit: Apparantly, my definition above only applies in Taiwan 國語. After asking my gf, it seems that 插队 means to go to the countryside to live the life of a farmer. This is done as a test to oneself to see how strong one is. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Edited by ABCinChina
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See here - basically it's the sent-down movement of the Cultural Revolution, with city youths being sent to the countryside to learn from the peasants. It's not a queue you're being 插‘d into, it's a 生产队, or production team.

偷汉 - not just to have a lover, but for a woman to steal a man from another woman.

捉模 - typo for 琢磨, I suspect.

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basically it's the sent-down movement of the Cultural Revolution, with city youths being sent to the countryside to learn from the peasants.

Is this similar/related to the concept of 知青? In some series I've seen, 知青 were depicted as idealistic volunteers, and that doesn't exactly fit here. EDIT: Apparently yes, the term 知青 shows up soon enough.

捉模 - typo for 琢磨, I suspect.

The meaning fits, but that would be the most spectacular typo I've ever seen. :mrgreen:

I'm collecting the vocab I run into for my own use. Should I post them here are I collect them (allows for discussion), or should I attach them as one file when I'm finish the whole thing?

Edited by renzhe
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Checked my printed version - it has 捉模. However he also uses 琢磨. Can't find 捉模 in any dictionaries, but it seems common enough in 捉模不定 and 难以捉摸。

I'd just post wordlists as you make them - if they get particularly lengthy maybe attach as .txt files.

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I don't think the wordlists will be too long. Here's chapter 2:

芭蕉 plantain / banana

亚热带 subtropical

耀眼 dazzle

勃起 erection

涎 saliva

阴囊 scrotum

阳具 penis

挑衅 provoke

阉 to castrate

公牛 bull

即可 that will do / sufficient

生性 natural disposition

锤骟术 coin-forging skill

睾 testicle

奢望 excessive expectations

戽 bucket for irrigation

拎 to lift / to carry

鸡巴 penis

薅 pull out

景颇 Jingpo ethnic group

傣 Dai/Thai minority

片子 movie

日 to screw

水泵 water pump

好色 lustful

附合 answer

倾心 to fall in love / serious

小器 petty / narrow-minded

义气 code of loyalty and self-sacrifice

水浒 Water Margin (famous novel)

革莽

赦 to pardon

发愣 to daydream / look distracted

道儿 = 道理 ??

搡 push back

着迷 fascinated

懊侮 = 懊悔 ??

兑现 to honour a cheque or agreement

晾 airdry / stand sb. up

径直 directly

伏案 bent over one's desk

瞌睡 have a nap

砸塌 crush, to collapse something into pieces

饿纹入嘴

怦然 on impulse, instinctively

爱抚 caress

避孕套 condom

I'll try to get through this relatively fast. December will be a very busy month for me.

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That makes sense - I was starting to wonder if my version was trustworthy. I can see I've also confused the issue by not paying attention to what Sogou Pinyin was outputting. I have this edition (or a copy of it). Has this interview with 李银河 at the back, which was quite interesting.

Bought two books in the last week, and both have had some printing issues - the other one has a box in place of what is presumably an obscure character. Annoying. Do I need to start figuring out which publishing house actually has the rights to the work before purchasing or what?

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I borrowed it at the library yesterday, and today another student here requested it. Fortunately we have (at least) two copies.

The student was a bit surprised when he saw the size of the book. They told me it was about 100 pages, he said. That sounded familiar. Turns out he, too, had decided to read it as BOTM. This is the very first time I met a fellow Chinese-forums person IRL, and we met over a book. How apt :-)

The edition I have is about 400 pages. I now find myself in the even for me unusual situation of reading 5 books at the same time, two of which are Chinese. And there's a Zhang Jie book that I also have to read. Not sure how far I'll get with Wang Xiaobo, even though I like it so far (5 or so pages in).

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The edition I have is about 400 pages.

The 400 pages include other "short stories" in the collection. The first story in the collection is 黄金时代 and is only about 100 pages.

The student was a bit surprised when he saw the size of the book. They told me it was about 100 pages, he said. That sounded familiar. Turns out he, too, had decided to read it as BOTM. This is the very first time I met a fellow Chinese-forums person IRL, and we met over a book. How apt :-)

Just like Oprah's book club.... :mrgreen:

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Don't be scared away, this is really not that long and reads well. I've finished four chapters in three days, without really putting in much effort.

Having said that, here's the vocab for the third chapter (EDIT: see below......)

Oh yeah, and I'd appreciate some help with the following passage:

我听见浩浩荡荡的空气大潮从我头顶涌过,正是我灵魂里潮兴之时。正如深山里花开,龙竹笋剥剥地爆去笋壳,直翘翘地向上。到潮退时我也安息,但潮兴时要乘兴而舞。

Seems like gato wasn't sure how to translate it, and my girlfriend didn't quite get it either (not exactly helped by my excellent langdu-over-the-phone skills either.) Is this figurative, in the sense that he is going through emotional highs and lows of the spiritual type, or am I overthinking here, and he's simply playing with himself out of boredom?

Edited by renzhe
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