Mao Dun is our author of choice for this week. He is a contemporary of Lu Xun and Zhu Ziqing which means he was also writing during the May Fourth Movement. The May Fourth Movement is also called the New Culture Movement and was a time when authors were searching through writing the best way for China to modernize and to highlight China's problems. The movement gets its name from the day the Chinese government tried to sign the Treaty of Versailles which was marking the end of WWI. China was not in a very good bargaining position and hence got quite a bad deal from the treaty. Shandong which had belonged to Germany did not return to China, but instead was ceded to Japan. Student protests followed. Mao Dun writes in the vernacular Chinese and so that makes his works more accessible to Chinese language learners breaking in to reading Chinese short stories and literature. The best way to learn to read Chinese is to read as much as you can. Well, the best way is with our advanced Chinese readers of course, but the second best is to read as much as you can. Mao Dun (矛盾) meaning "contradiction" is obviously a pen name. His real name is Shen Dehong (沈德鴻) and was born in 1896 and lived until 1981. Silkworms or "春蚕" (Chūncán) in Chinese is a story about the rural life in China which is unique during this time period. Most stories during this time focused on urban life. The villagers in the story are hoping to profit from their silkworm business, but find that they are only getting deeper and deeper into debt. Mao Dun highlights the many troubles that peasants have while trying to make some money and run a business. Silkworms is part of a triology. The other two books are called with Autumn Harvest and Winter Ruin. Silkworms is dated as November 1, 1932. Enjoy and do your best to learn Chinese through stories with Mao Dun's Silkworms.
We are going back to the famous author, Zhāng Ailíng (张爱玲), this week and introducing her most famous piece of literature called "Love in a Fallen City" (倾城之恋 Qīngchéng Zhī Liàn). Zhang Ailing is popularly known in the West as Eileen Chang since she spent so much of her life living in America. She left China in the 1955 for America at age 35 and died in 1995 in LA. Love in a Fallen City was first published in 1944 in her first collection of short stories. A Hong Kong film was made of the story in 1984 by Anne Hui starring Chow Yun-Fat and an English translation was published in 2006. The English translation is available on Amazon for those interested. Love in a Fallen City (New York Review Books Classics) A good review of the movie can be found here: Love in a Fallen City (the movie) The fallen city is Hong Kong and the war is the Japanese invasion of China. The story's heroine is a divorced woman who then falls in love with a Malayan businessman based in Hong Kong. The two find love in the war torn city. Please enjoy. Zhang Ailing (Eileen Chang) - Love in a Fallen City
Happy Chinese New Year! February 3rd marks the official start of the year of the rabbit. People say that the year of the rabbit will be an easy one where we can kick back and relax. The year of the tiger (2010) is known as a very challenging year with lots of ups and downs. Chinese-American relations certainly had a rocky year so maybe with the year of the rabbit relations will be peaceful. Lu Xun was no fan of the new year superstitions. He thought many of these ideas were holding back China to modernization. This week's short story is his 祝福 (The New Year's Sacrifice). Lu Xun recounts the tradition of 祝福 as he remembers it in his hometown while showing some of the ugly sides of superstitions. Enjoy. We wish you a happy Chinese New Year and please continue to join us in 2011 for our weekly Learn Chinese through Stories postings. 鲁迅－祝福 Lu Xun's The New Year's Sacrifice
In this week's reading sample, we are changing gears a little bit. While our first three selections were essays by Zhu Ziqing, this week we are introducing our first piece of fiction. The piece is called "Sealed Off" and was written by Zhāng Ailíng. Zhāng Ailíng is one of the most famous authors in modern Chinese literature and is most famous for her story, Love in a Fallen City . She is more frequently referred to in English as Eileen Chang since she spent much of her life living in the US. She lived from September 30, 1920 to September 8, 1995. Learning Chinese through real stories is one of the best ways to improve your reading skills in Chinese so enjoy! 封锁 Fēngsuǒ Sealed Off Written by 张爱玲 Zhāng Ailíng Eileen Chang
We are going to continue with the pieces of work by Zhu Ziqing. Here is a nice short work of his called Haste. It was first published in 1922. Enjoy. Zhu Ziqing - 匆匆 Haste