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


roddy
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I finally got some time and finished the first chapter. (I'll give myself a big pat on the back now)

One question: One thing that confused me was who shot the bitch's (female dog) eye out? Was it the protagonist or 羅小四? First he said that he was standing next to 羅小四 and saw him do it, then he admitted that he did it when he went up the mountain after borrowing the BB gun.

Edited by ABCinChina
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潮退 and 潮兴 from Chapter 4 are words made up by the author. Asking my GF who is a native Chinese, words like these are used often in books and can only be understood in context. She also said that this book has a lot of words are are not 正規. Something to think about if some people are going to try and memorize some of the terms in this novel.

But in this case, I'm guessing he is describing a gush of wind. Any other thoughts? (Here's the passage)

我聽見浩浩蕩蕩的空氣大潮從我頭頂湧過,正是我靈魂裡潮興之時。正如深山裡花開,龍竹筍剝剝地爆去筍殼,直翹翹地向上。到潮退時我也安息,但潮興時要乘興而舞。

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One question: One thing that confused me was who shot the bitch's (female dog) eye out? Was it the protagonist or 羅小四? First he said that he was standing next to 羅小四 and saw him do it, then he admitted that he did it when he went up the mountain after borrowing the BB gun.
结果是三条一条也不成立.队长家确有一棕色母狗,该母狗的左眼确是后天打瞎,而我不但能持枪射击,而且枪法极精.在此之前不久,我还借了罗小四的汽枪,用一碗绿豆做子弹,在空粮库里打下了二斤耗子.当然,这队里枪法好的人还有不少,其中包括罗小四.汽枪就是他的,而且他打瞎队长的母狗时,我就在一边看着.但是我不能揭发别人,罗小四和我也不错.何况队长要是能惹得起罗小四,也不会认准了是我.

It was done by Luo. Please pay attention to the sentence in blackletter type above, which means “if 队长 dared to offend 罗小四, he wouldn’t bother to take me as the scapegoat.”(It seems that 罗小四 had some kind of background that 队长 dared not to offend him.)

But in this case, I'm guessing he is describing a gush of wind. Any other thoughts? (Here's the passage)

我聽見浩浩蕩蕩的空氣大潮從我頭頂湧過,正是我靈魂裡潮興之時。正如深山裡花開,龍竹筍剝剝地爆去筍殼,直翹翹地向上。到潮退時我也安息,但潮興時要乘興而舞。

潮兴:tide rising

潮退:tide falling

I heard the tide of air overwhelmingly rushing through my head, while the tide of my soul was rising, like flowers opening on hills, or bamboo shoots shedding hulls and directly going up. I could have a rest when the tide (of my soul) was falling, but when it was rising, I should dance with my soul.

Cheers!

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Thank you for the explanation!

Hey guys, after pondering the difference between 交代 & 交待, I came upon this site. It appears that 交待 is commonly misunderstood by native Chinese speakers who think the two words are the same. In this case, 交待 means "to confess (sth)" or "confession". It is also rarely used nowadays. At least this is my understanding.

Edited by ABCinChina
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Where others have had trouble, I am sure to, so really appreciate the nuances that this BOTM whittles out in translation.

...and am so grateful for the pleco2 and word lists, that just helps out heaps

I wonder if we could re-title the thread though ...BOTQ book of the Qtr.

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I've finished the book and thought it was OK. I think 王二 is a bastard because he is the one that caused the whole mess of them having to write the 交代材料. He just wanted to have sex with 陳清揚 and used the excuse of friendship. He is a 流氓. (as many guys are)

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No, because I often miss major points while reading in Chinese stuff. So my brain just makes up the parts I don't understand :)

Actually it seems to me that 陳清揚 liked doing it with 王二 only on a few occasions but for the most part it seemed to me that she was just supporting the 大友誼 between them. Of course, I'm probably wrong...

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Once again, for me the whole theme is 陳清揚's emancipation. 王二 is a supporting character and completely unimportant, in my opinion. His only purpose is to further the plot and help 陳清揚 develop as a character. He himself doesn't develop. He could be replaced by a dildo and the story wouldn't lose much. :mrgreen:

I believe that 陳清揚 didn't want it in the beginning. She was troubled by guilt (being poxie), other people's accusations, and total inability to enjoy sex, with anyone (her husband included). When the novel starts, the only reason she has sex with anyone (including her husband) is a feeling of duty, like washing the dishes. Then a horny virgin youth tricks her into sleeping with him (out of sense of duty), and we think that he's bad and treacherous, but it is exactly this that liberates 陳清揚.

First, she accepts the role of poxie, not caring about what other people say. With time, she actually learns to enjoy sex, for her own sake, and not because of duty. The whole issue with public flogging simply exposes the hypocrisy of others (to us and to her), because these people admonishing her are evidently no better than her. They even get aroused through the process, just like the people reading the reports. In the end, when they finally meet again, we've arrived at a completely different situation. This time, it's not 王二 who is in control, but 陳清揚. The last time they have sex, it's because she wants it, 王二 is once again irrelevant. And this time she finds that she has no regrets, no guilt. She can enjoy it, it's no longer an ugly duty. From this point on, she doesn't need 王二 anymore.

So she develops very far. In the end, she is a happier person. 王二 is exactly the same hoodlum he was in the beginning, and a story about him wouldn't be all that interesting, probably. So we start when he first meets 陳清揚 and finish when he last sees her. But 陳清揚 at the end of the novel is a very different person from when we first met her. Ironically, she gets far more out of it than 王二.

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  • 2 weeks later...
First he said that he was standing next to 羅小四 and saw him do it, then he admitted that he did it when he went up the mountain after borrowing the BB gun.
Luo Xiaosi shot out its left eye, Wang Er was blamed for that and given a hard time; and since he was given a hard time for shooting out the dog's eye, Wang Er borrowed Luo's gun again and shot out the dog's right eye. And then the dog was blind.

I had to laugh out loud, black humour.

Finished Zhang Jie, started on Wang Xiaobo. It's fun. I know I'm a month late now, hope it still counts.

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I read this while on holidays and enjoyed it. It hadn't previously occurred to me that 凸 could be such a dirty word.

I agree that this is the story of 陈清扬's emancipation. Interesting that she still refers to her time with 王二 as her 黄金时代 though. While as Renzhe points out this was a time of great growth and development for her, I find it a bit lonely and depressing that no other person more meaningful than 王二 was involved in her 黄金时代. There would have been much more of a feel good flavour if she had said instead that her emancipation was just the start and her real 黄金时代 was watching her daughter grow up. As it is, I don't like 陈清扬 much.

I think the more lonely and depressing tone suits the story better though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't like 陈清扬 at all. Sure, 王二 is not exactly serious relationship material, but I still think "做过这事和喜欢这事大不一样。前者该当出斗争差,后者就该五马分尸千刀万剐" is a really sick and disturbing thing to say about sex.

The reason she says that time is her 黄金时代 is "陈清扬说,那也是她的黄金时代。虽然被人称做破鞋,但是她清白无辜。" - really nothing to do with 王二. It is totally convincing to me that she would be shallow enough to describe the high point of her life as having the chance to feel self-righteous and morally superior to a lot of unimportant hypocrites, rather than something more meaningful.

On the other hand, I quite like 王二. In his 黄金时代 he has a lot of character and a really strong sense of self - for example shooting out the dog's other eye. A lot of people want to be told what to do even if it means being treated badly, so it impressed me the way 王二 was prepared to go and live on a mountain instead of taking sh1t. There is a reason 陈清扬 went for him rather than the hordes of other guys who were after her. I trust 王二 to tell it like it is.

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I don't like 陈清扬 at all. Sure, 王二 is not exactly serious relationship material, but I still think "做过这事和喜欢这事大不一样。前者该当出斗争差,后者就该五马分尸千刀万剐" is a really sick and disturbing thing to say about sex.

That's not what she believes but the conventional morality of that revolutionary era, when everything you do is supposed to advance the revolutionary cause and sex was for procreation and not enjoyment.

I see a lot of parallels in this story and Camus's "The Stranger". In both, the basic story is an escape into nature and the primal senses in the midst of an absurd world. "The Stranger" is complicated by colonialism and murder, but I think the similarities are there. Wang Xiaobo read a lot of Western literature like Kafka when he was a "sent-down youth" in Yunnan, and so the influence makes sense. Wang also really admired Marguerite Duras' "The Lover".

See this article about Wang here:

http://cblog.chinadaily.com.cn/port/artlife/14173782376.shtml

Larger than life

By Zhu Linyong

Updated: 2007-04-24 07:14

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I'm going to have to read this yet again and figure out what you lot are on about. Some things such as Renzhe's "a horny virgin youth tricks her into sleeping with him" I find implausible - If I'm remembering correctly she's older than him, been married and has had plenty of men sniffing around. I don't think she'd be that easily tricked, and if she was I hardly think 王二 would have got a look in. She might have played along and let him believe that though.

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The style really did remind me of Kafka. "The Trial" is one of my favourite books and it is a perfect example of how much a translation can affect a book. I read it in Serbian, English and German. The Serbian translation was great, very funny. The English one was dry and boring. The original (German) version was spot on. That story can only be told in German.

I felt the same thing reading some of the translations of this book. Most of them were dry and pretentious. I liked gato's translation the best, as it was the closest to the original tone, but nothing beats the original. I guess that this is a story that had to be told in simple Mandarin with cultural revolution terminology throughout.

That's why I like reading things in original.

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Some things such as Renzhe's "a horny virgin youth tricks her into sleeping with him" I find implausible

What I meant is that this is what it appears to be on the surface -- he tells her a story about wuxia honour and whatnot, and (it seemed like) she feels obliged to go along. Perhaps that's how 王二 sees it too.

But I feel that she needed it. Not because of great friendship, and not because of 王二. She needed it because she was ridden with guilt and basically mobbed and needed to break free so she said "what the hell". Gave her a good excuse. So it comes down to her emancipation, and sleeping with 王二 is the first step.

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