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What are you reading?


skylee
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The reading has continued at a pretty consistent pace.


First, I've read 中国哲学简史 by 冯友兰. Really fascinating material written at a layperson's level. The book covers ancient schools of thought, like the Confucianists, the Daoists, the Legalists, the Mohists, etc. It reminds me of the days I read Western philosophy, like Plato's Republic. The parallels are strong, and Eastern philosophers were asking many of the same questions that Western ones were, from slightly different angles. The one lamentable thing is that the author quotes a lot of classical source material, which was extremely difficult for me to understand. It didn't totally destroy the experience for me, but it probably would have been better to get a bilingual edition of the book, like this: https://www.amazon.com/Short-History-Chinese-Philosophy/dp/7513561281. The book motivated me to learn some Classical Chinese, which I might do later in the year. I'll never be comfortable reading it, but it would be great to grasp the basic vocabulary/grammar conventions. The classical/semi-classical style shows up in so many modern works of fiction. So much 之, so much 也, so many single-character words instead of compound words.

Next, I broke one of my own rules (don't read English works translated into Chinese), and I read the illustrated edition of 时间简史, by Stephen Hawking. In terms of grammar and vocabulary, a very easy read. In terms of the scientific concepts....not so simple. Really challenging.

Currently, I'm about to finish a small, recently-published novel called 秋园, by 杨本芬. It's touted as the female version of Yu Hua's "To Live," and it has rave reviews on the internet. I think it's definitely more literary/difficult to read than "To Live," and I found that Yu Hua's book was more emotionally impactful. Perhaps "To Live" has better character development--I'm not sure. The author is an amateur writer who got started when she was about 60 years old, if I remember correctly. It fits pretty well within the genre--it talks about the struggles of rural Chinese life through political upheaval, poverty, and starvation. It's interesting enough. I'd say I like it, and the author's use of words can be really striking and memorable. It can get extremely gruesome and graphic in some places (more so than any other books I've read). The author doesn't hide the ugliness and brutality of life in that time and place. 

Meanwhile, I am slowly working my way through Taiwanese magazine/news articles online, so I can learn traditional characters. Not too hard. Just hard enough to be awkward. I think I'll have a decent (not perfect) grasp on reading traditional characters in a month or so.

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On 1/13/2023 at 9:55 PM, Woodford said:

It can get extremely gruesome and graphic in some places (more so than any other books I've read). The author doesn't hide the ugliness and brutality of life in that time and place. 

Interesting that a female author does that too. The violence and grue are a pretty constant feature in the works of Mo Yan Yu Hua Su Tong and that generation, much less in the work of later authors. I guess I don't know much work by female authors of that generation.

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On 1/13/2023 at 3:55 PM, Woodford said:

It didn't totally destroy the experience for me, but it probably would have been better to get a bilingual edition of the book, like this: https://www.amazon.com/Short-History-Chinese-Philosophy/dp/7513561281.

 

I went ahead and purchased this edition of the book. 

 

Looks really interesting, and something that I am also deeply interesting. Should be "review" for me because I've read extensively about some of this in my native English, which hopefully will translate to me feeling a bit less lost. 

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I just started reading 乡土中国, having heard about it from a recent Ezra Klein NYT podcast.  It's supposed to be a well known book written by a Chinese sociologist explaining the rural (?) origins of Chinese culture.

 

I'm about a third of the way through it.  It's not that long, only about 60k words, and I'm happy that I've mostly kept an acceptable level of language fluency despite laxness in my reading routine.  Although now I'm hitting a section talking about Chinese philosophy (孔子, 杨朱, 杨朱, christianity) vs. selfishness that requires some slowing down, and googling.

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On 1/21/2023 at 12:48 PM, PerpetualChange said:

Despite much threatening to quit this language, I've managed to not totally do it. 

Just keep at it. In Welsh, we would say "Dyfal donc a dyrr y garreg." ("It's steady tapping that breaks the stone.")

Don't give up.

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