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《平凡的世界》- Highly Recommended Reading


imron
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Part 2, chapter 22 starts with:

连绵不断的秋雨刷刷地下着,城市一直笼罩在阴冷的水雾之中(...)

and ends with

好,天一晴,明天就可以出工了!

I bought the book a while ago, I can learn a lot from it I think, if only I found the time to read it. Ah well.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I started this last month after finishing 流星•蝴蝶•剑 -- thanks for the recommendation Imron & others, I'm enjoying it, should finish Part 1 by Christmas.

 

Don't think I'll go straight on to Part 2 but will do before long. So Lu: thanks for pasting those sentences, I see several sites have them correct so I will use one of those to take the text.

 

 

It's also very nice to know the measure word for 'cave dwelling'.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Alright. I'm interested and ready to take the plunge. I've read the first chapter on www.pingfandeshijie.com 

 

Has anyone read it there and can it be confirmed as a complete and accurate copy? I've found the words in Part 2, Chapter 22 posted just above are in Chapter 21 on that site: http://www.pingfandeshijie.com/di-er-bu-21.html Seems to be the same deal here as well: http://www.cnnovels.com/xdwx/luyao/pfds/075.htm

 

Chapter 22 there seems unusually long and I'm not sure if it's the extra story people said might be from another book.

 

I'd hate to get into it and find that I've missed full chapters. But I do like reading online for instant look-up of unknown words.

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  • 1 month later...

Chapter 3 is missing from book 2 in many online sources...leading to an extra chapter 22.

 

Chapter 3 should begin with 从一九七八年到现在,田福军借调到省委组织部已经一年零三个月了。

 

Then the previous chapter 3 is chapter 4, 4 is 5... until 23 when all is back to normal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Grrr, stopped reading this last year and I've still got a few chapters of Book 1 to go but after the break I realise I simply couldn't care what happens to anyone or anything in that grotty/grottoey village. If I could read faster I'd have finished it already and probably quite liked it but as it is, this one goes down as a Did Not Finish.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Finally got around to watching this.  It's really interesting that they recommend the new TV drama based on the book as a good way for young Chinese people to understand how China was back then, which mirrors quite closely what I said about the book back in the first post.

 

Interesting also the claim that tv dramas are the new novels, at least for the majority of young people these days.

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I watched a few episodes of this new TV adaptation. The acting is quite awful. Very stagey.

There's been quite a few rural-themed drama series recently. It seems to fit with Xi's 群众路线. Less shows about palace intrigues. More shows about rural folks.

Aside from 《平凡的世界》, I've also watched 《老农民》 and 《我的二哥二嫂》. Both were much better than 《平凡的世界》.

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The acting is quite awful. Very stagey.

I haven't seen any episodes, but QQSRX picked up on this too - pointing out how the countryside portrayed in the show is not really the real countryside and these were not people who had grown up in rural areas.

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I'll guess I'll read the book, but not watch the TV show.

The new 红高粱 TV show is terrible too. One more reason to explore 1975-85 culture.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Finished the book. Here's my review. I think it's going to really piss Imron off...

 

 

Originally I thought this book would take me 8 weeks max. In the end it took much longer, but not because it was linguistically difficult. It was an easy read.

 
I began the book thinking it would be the equivalent of the Lord of the Rings, except that the hobbits never leave the shire. All in all I wasn’t far out. 
 
There were various scourings of that Chinese shire. Characters grew and developed, the two dimensional sketchings slowly grew z-axes. The book progressed, the characters bumbled about and I, the reader delighted in their minor victories and was saddened by whatever calamities befell them. 
 
About 250 pages in (out of 1200), I put the book down, and the next day I had completely forgotten I was reading it. A month of real life passed before I saw it sitting forlornly on my shelf I picked it up again and read another 200 pages over three days. The book progressed, the characters bumbled about and I, the reader delighted in their minor victories and was saddened by whatever calamities befell them. 
 
Volume 1 under the belt and I returned it to its perch on the book shelf, and the next day I had completely forgotten I was reading it. A fortnight of real life passed before I saw the three volumes sitting there forlornly on my shelf, so I picked up volume 2 and read another 200 pages over five days.  New characters were added and their various stories progressed, they all, old and new, bumbled about and I, the reader delighted in their minor victories and was saddened by whatever calamities befell them. 
 
But then I put volume 2 down, and the next day I had completely forgotten I was reading it.
 
5 months passed. My own 平凡的世界 progressed in its own manner. In my free time I read several other books some English, some Chinese and each time I took or returned a book from the bookshelf, I’d see the 3 volumes on the shelf and would have to momentarily repress a wave of irritation. As there was always something better to read, computer game to play, friend to see, or just simply something else to do.
 
The new year came and went, I started reading a sci-fi novel, one I had been looking forward to for quite some time. But it was without doubt the worst novel I had read for quite some time. One hundred pages in, I realised that it could not hold a candle to 平凡世界. After an awkward reunion with the Chinese peasants, I picked up where I had left off.
 
And today, finally it is finished. How did the final 700-800 pages go? Well, the book progressed, the characters bumbled about and I, the reader delighted in their minor victories and was saddened by whatever calamities befell them. 
 
The Chinese hobbits never left the shire, Chinese Dorothy and Toto never felt that they weren’t in Kansas anymore. The book really does what it says on the tin. 
 
Some of the threads were good, some of the descriptive passages were moving, I felt attached to some of the characters and was always mildly pleased when 路遥 had the courage to kill or maim someone important 300 pages into each book. 
 
But it was a long road and that ground was covered in increments. I was never left wondering what might happen next, because the answer was obvious, life would. There were moral dilemmas, but none that ever felt more pressing to the reader than, should I walk the dog before dinner or afterwards?
 
The problem I think, is not with 路遥‘s intellect, I’m sure he was a pretty clever guy. I imagine his target readership, was likely a young person living in 1980s China. He holds their hand, he ensures there are never any blind alleys, spots or luck. He constantly intrudes, reminding the reader that it is he, the benevolent uncle-esque story-teller, who is there, whispering into their ear, informing of every single detail, asking us what do we think, before providing guidance on how we should think and how we should feel. 
 
He breaks one of the cardinal rules of story telling - don’t drop major characters for extended periods of time, though others have done this too, 路遥‘s characters are never interesting enough to counter-balance any over extended absences. 
 
Another major fault is his language. Occasionally delightfully, but overwhelmingly pedestrian;obvious metaphors and tired idioms abound. The lack of linguistic variety ultimately becomes unsustainable over 1200+ pages. 
 
He exhibited all of these flaws in 人生, but at only 1/10th the length of 平凡世界 it is a much shorter work, and its flaws all the more forgivable and forgettable. 
 
With a book of this length, it’s impossible not to be moved and also become emotionally attached, and some, sometimes many, of the characters were moving, some of the stories gave pause for thought and caused me to reflect upon my own life and at times, I genuinely looked forward to the next episode in their lives. And for times when I was tired, miserable or otherwise mentally indisposed, the book was an enjoyable escape.
 
I’ve got Middlemarch on my reading list, when I’ve finished that I’ll be in a better position to assess this book on village life  narratives continuum, but for now I give the book 3/5.
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I think it's going to really piss Imron off...

 

Well, you're unlikely to piss me off just because you hold a different opinion from me, but that being said, but in actual fact from your review I can see we actually hold many similar views about the book.  From my original post..

 

"The book isn't a page turner as such" .. "and there's not really one overarching plot," .. "the author has created characters that you can really take an interest in and care for," which seem to be common ground.

 

For me though, the strength of book is not in the writing, or the plot, or even the characters, but rather the insight it gives you in to Chinese society at a time that China was going through massive social upheaval.

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I once started reading a bit of 平凡的世界 and felt that I could learn a lot from it but it would require frequent looking up of words. It seemed quite a bit more difficult than 活着, vocabulary-wise at least. I haven't actually read it though. But if I'm not mistaken there's a link to a digital version somewhere in this thread, so you can just go and take a look.

 

Thanks Basil for the review, that was insightful. As an aside, what was the disappointing scifi book?

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but it would require frequent looking up of words

I think you'll get a bit of that at the beginning of most books if you don't already have a very broad vocabulary.  As you get familiar with the common vocab from that book, then it gets easier.

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