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randall_flagg

Book of the Month, April 2009, 巴金's 家

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randall_flagg

So, are there any plans for a book of the month of April?

If its available online, I'm in!

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roddy

Renzhe's mentioned elsewhere he's about to start reading 家 by 巴金 - maybe that could be April's BOTM? I've read it so I'll be on hand for all those incredibly difficult questions that nobody will ever ask.

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renzhe

I'd be perfectly fine with that!

But it might be a bit of a short notice for people who need to get their hands on a copy, as it might be too long to read online.

Then again, it must be one of the easiest Chinese books to get your hands on. At least in China.

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randall_flagg

Cool, I'm find with that! Let's read that one。 We should start a new thread though, right? (Don't really know what the novel is about, just hope its not too depressing!)

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roddy

Split these posts off into a new topic.

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renzhe
(Don't really know what the novel is about, just hope its not too depressing!)

It's about a large, well-off family in Chengdu, and it challenges the strict and oppressive traditional family structure. So yeah, it is somewhat depressing.

On the other hand, it is a true classic of modern Chinese literature that not many others can compare to, and it is surprisingly easy to read. Ba Jin is known for an accessible writing style, but his books still offer an incredible depth.

The whole novel is available online, though getting your hands on a paper copy is more enjoyable, as it is about 350 pages long.

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randall_flagg

Alright, then let's to this! Can't argue if its a classic, right? Hehe! Thanks for the link, Ninja!

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wushijiao

I could always help, if need be. :D 家油!

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randall_flagg
家油

嘿嘿!

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roddy

There is an English translation (by everyone's favourite naturalized PRC citizen, Sidney Shapiro) but I can't find it online at all.

It's certainly worth reading, the family are beautifully portrayed, and the descriptions of the festivals and rituals are great. The exorcism is particularly fun.

I wouldn't call it depressing. At least, i wouldn't call it utterly depressing.

It's also divided into 40 fairly bite sized pieces, which is always good.

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randall_flagg

Just looked at the online edition and I'm not sure I want to do that to my poor old printer. Or do I? I'll go to the library next week. If they don't have it there, I guess I'll have to print it out.

Exorcism? Sounds interesting already. After this one, I'd love to read something Tom Clanyish, but I don't what that would be.

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roddy

As I've said before, if you want to read something like Tom Clancy in Chinese, read Tom Clancy in Chinese. I re-read Red Storm Rising (in English) on a 48 hour train ride last month, great fun. Meant to read 家 as it happens, but it wasn't much of a competition.

Some of the best / funniest parts of the book are the conflicts between the different generations, but you do end up really feeling for those caught in the middle.

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renzhe

For those wishing to read the English version, it can be ordered for about $2 from amazon . I can't find information about the translator, though, so I don't know if it's the Shapiro version or not. Amazon also has a decent description:

An essential work for anyone interested in the society and history of modern China! The first half of the twentieth century was a period of great turmoil in China. Family, one of the most popular Chinese novels of that time, vividly reflects that turmoil and serves as a basis for understanding what followed. Written in 1931, Family has been compared to Dream of the Red Chamber for its superb portrayal of the family life and society of its time. Drawn largely from Pa Chin's own experience, Family is the story of the Kao family compound, consisting of four generations plus servants. It is essentially a picture of the conflict between old China and the new tide rising to destroy it, as manifested in the daily lives of the Kao family, and particularly the three young Kao brothers. Here we see situations that, unique as they are to the time and place of this novel, recall many circumstances of today's world: the conflict between generations and classes, ill-fated love affairs, students' political activities, and the struggle for the liberation of women. The complex passions aroused in Family and in the reader are an indication of the universality of human experience. This novel illustrates the effectiveness of fiction as a vehicle for translating the experience of one culture to another very different one.

I don't think that it's possible to order the original version online (and get it soon) outside of China. I got my version for 20 yuan in China. Got to love the book prices over there.

I guess that every Chinese who wanted to read this book has already done so, so I expect that it will be mostly learners participating in this one.

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wushijiao
It's certainly worth reading, the family are beautifully portrayed, and the descriptions of the festivals and rituals are great. The exorcism is particularly fun.

I wouldn't call it depressing. At least, i wouldn't call it utterly depressing.

I think it's also knd of a nice book to read from a historical point of view. One can really imagine what it must have felt like to be a young person back in the day when China's major institutions and ways of thinking were really starting to open up.

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Lu

I actually have the Shapiro translation, haven't read it yet though. Jia always seemed too hard, but perhaps I'll read it later then. Right now I'm too busy reading other stuff (this is the first time since high school that I have to read certain books, and even in high school I mostly got around that by reading only what I wanted to read anyway...).

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Shadowdh

HI all, as the exam period is upon us (woo... hoo :cry:) I might not get to this book (like I have ever managed to read a full BOTM) but its stored for later reading... with that in Mind I have made a .doc copy and a .txt copy (UTF8) so those who wish to view it on pc/ppc etc can do so... It doesnt look too difficult so I might read it in conjunction with the many articles on immigration, environment and security (personal) I have to read for the exams... woo... ah sod it...

家.txt

家.doc

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randall_flagg

OK, I wasn't even aware of the fact that Tom Clancy is available in Chinese -- After all, there is a lot of Cold War anti-communism rhetoric, as far as I remember. Plus, I don't like reading works translated from English into Chinese. It just doesn't work. Tried it with Stephen King once and was hugely disappointed.

I finally managed to order 巴金 at my local library today and it should be in in a couple of days! Yeah, can't wait to get started!

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renzhe

All right!

So we're on!

I've read the foreword, which was interesting, given Ba Jin's extraordinary life. I'll start reading the book these days.

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Altair

I've read the forward and a couple of pages and was wondering if I was correctly understanding the family structure so far.

三哥、二弟、二少爷

If I call someone 三哥, does that mean that he is the third oldest of three elder brothers?

If I call someone 二弟, does that mean that he is the second oldest of two younger brothers?

If the above propositions are correct, how does 二少爷 fit in?

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imron
二少爷
This is used as a respectful term for the second eldest son of a wealthy family, usually by servants, non-family members etc. 三少爷 would be used for the third eldest, and 大少爷 for the eldest.

For the other two, if you call him 三哥, he would be your elder brother and the third eldest son in the family. If you call him 二弟, he would be your younger brother, and the second eldest son in the family.

P.S. In 家, you commonly see 二哥 and 三弟, as this is how the 2 younger brothers refer to each other.

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