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我没有我自己的名字 - Short Story for 2014


Meng Lelan
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我没有自己的名字 is one of the short stories for the Advanced readers here. This short story by Yu Hua was selected for several reasons. Yu Hua is a prominent writer in China. He wrote this particular story to illustrate how Chinese society deals with those who are disabled (in this case, a villager with mental retardation) and does this from a first person narrative style that is simple, stark, and striking. If you are sensitive be forewarned that the cruelties presented in this story are difficult on the reader. Then again maybe that is exactly what Yu Hua intended. When you read this think about how Yu Hua shows the passage of time (how does he do this through the thoughts of a person who is mentally retarded?) and think about Chinese attitudes towards someone who has cognitive challenges. Who is the only person who tries to "save" and "defend"  the narrator of the story? 

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li3wei2 posted this in an old thread so I am going to put old threads in new threads and here is the question:

 

I'm resurrecting this thread because it's about one of our current stories-of-the-month (我没有我自己的名字), but I don't see a current thread for it. I read this story some time ago, and am now rereading it. I had trouble with this line:

“你们这么说来说去,倒是便宜了他,是不是?这么一来他睡过的女人几卡车都装不下了。”

Does the last part mean 'a few trucks wouldn't be enough to hold them all'?  What's 这么一来? 'He's slept with so many women . . .', or 'If he'd slept with so many women'?

 

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I've read that story about 1 year ago. I probably won't re-read it but I just want to confirm what Meng Lelan says: it's sad. This is the note I wrote after reading: "余华 at its harshest. It seems that his world is primarily inhabited by lonely fools tyrannized by a bunch of sadists."

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That is about right laurenth, a harsh read but the way Yu Hua writes this from the viewpoint of a person with mental retardation makes this a piece of excellent story writing. Very few authors can or would do this. 

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As luck would have it, The Economist has just published an article about a translation in English of Yu Hua's collection of short stories that includes  "我没有自己的名字".

 

I'm considering interrupting  鬼吹灯 for a while, so I can reread Yu Hua's story. 

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I did see your thread about 鬼吹灯 , looks like fun reading though it seems too long to be a short story?

 

I am thinking about following roddy's example by posting the introductory paragraph from the story in here followed by some questions to ponder. Maybe will do that this weekend. 

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 So I broke my promise not to read this story again. I reread the first few pages.

 

When I read "我的名字比谁都多", a detail struck me. In the first pages of  the novel 活着, Yu Hua also plays with names. The main character throws different names at his one and only ox, to make it believe that there are in fact several oxen, so to entice it to work less begrudginly. I thought this could interest any  余华-logist around.

 

About the text itself: I *think* I know what 挑煤 means. Is it collecting bits of coal that have been thrown away or already burn for reuse?

 

There's one sentence I don't get at all: 他一还一知道一汗水。

 

Then if 许阿三 and  来发 are among the names that the main character is called, is it because he misunderstands something? Do these characters have a meaning that I don't get or am I completely off track?

 

@Meng Lelan, yes 鬼吹灯 is fun and addictive, but it is indeed very long.

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有一天,我挑着担子从桥上走过,听到他们在说翘鼻子许阿三死掉了,我就把担子 

放下,拿起挂在脖子上的毛巾擦脸上的汗水,我听着他们说翘鼻子许阿三是怎么死掉的, 

他们说是吃年糕噎死的。吃年糕噎死,我还是第一次听说,以前听说过有一个人吃花生 

噎死了。这时候他们向我叫起来: 

“许阿三……翘鼻子阿三……” 

 

Ok, let's do an intro here followed by questions. Starting at the beginning here. This is from douban so maybe some typos and maybe not. 

1. What is the narrator doing in the opening line?

2. Who has died?

3. How did that person die, according to 他们?

4. Then the narrator hears them beckoning him over to join the conversation. What name are they using to call him over? (important detail because Yu Hua is using names as a recurring theme throughout this story)

 

挑煤 - laurenth raised this question. I think it's simply carrying coal to eventually sell to others, though I hope others can comment on this point to help out here. 

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挑煤 - Oh yes Meng Lelan, you're right. That's because I only considered one meaning of  (to select, to pick) and not "carry on a pole, on the shoulders", which should be obvious, as He-who-has-no-name is carrying a 担子. (In addition I was misled by the fact that such an activity, i.e. picking up coal residue to reuse it, actually existed in my coal-producing country)

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I think when we continue through this story, some things like the names and the job of carrying coal will become more understandable. I will post the next section of the story soon with more questions and the questions will get us thinking about names used in this story. 

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