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- Finnegans Wake Recently Translated into Chinese
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- Manilamen and Mandarins – Filipinos in 1860s China, Part 4
- Manilamen and Mandarins – Filipinos in 1860s China, Part 3
- Peter Hessler Returns to River Town: Fuling, China
- Confucius Rescues the Kiangyin Mandarins
- Lantern Light – The Pearl Kitchen Photo Challenge
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Camel-back Arch Bridge, Pekin
This blogspace is set aside for author James Lande as a personal journal of subjects pertaining to his novels, historical writing, Chinese history, ongoing discussions with other lights of the blogosphere, and anything else of interest.
More than one reader has asked “when will it be translated into English?” However, late last year the first Chinese translation of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake 芬尼根的守灵夜 was announced and garnered quite a bit of attention for translator Ms Dai Congrong 戴从容. Here’s an example of the reportage:
Finnegans Wake: Huge in China
by Kevin Murphy, Melville House
January 30, 2013
“Imagine the consternation translator Dai Congrong felt when she came across the following passage in James Joyce’s notoriously baffling Finnegans Wake:”
What clashes here of wills gen wont, oystrygods gaggin fishygods! Brekkek Kekkek Kekkek Kekkek Kekkek! Koax Koax Koax! Ualu Ualu Ualu Quaoouauh! Where the Baddelaries partisans are still out to mathmaster Malachus Micgranes and the Verdons catapelting the camibalistics out of the Whoyteboyce of Hoodie Head. Assiegates and boomeringstroms. Sod’s brood, be me fear! Sanglorians, save! Arms appeal with larms, appalling. Continue reading
On this 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre Chinese censors are frantic to suppress all remembrance of what happened in Beijing in 1989. In the West, there is an abundance of coverage recalling that day and its aftermath. Besides the news reports, there is also this video of the Tiananmen “Tank Man,” showing him stopping the line of tanks, climbing up to the top of the turret of the leading tank and, apparently shouting inside, and later being hustled away by security police.
According to the following Voice of America article, many protestors “have already been detained, placed under house arrest, or monitored closely in the lead-up to the sensitive anniversary.” Continue reading
Here is an extraordinary retrospective of Chinese Film from 1922 to the present day. Kevin B. Lee has assembled a variety of Chinese film for this video preview, including many early films from the 30s through the 50s.
These films are of particular interest for what they show of China in those early years, many on a par with the Japanese films of, say, Ozu or Kurosawa from that same period, films that show what life was like for ordinary folk in pre- and post-war Japan. The remake of Spring in a Small Town (1948) I actually have a copy of and, while I’m just a fan and not a film critic, I found it fits the category of films that present life as it was in old(er) China. Continue reading
Just happened upon an interesting and detailed talk on the 19th century photographs of John Thomson. The audio discussion at KERA ListenLive, features host Krys Boyd talking with organizer of the exhibit Betty Yao, MBE of Credential International Arts Management in London, and Amy Hofland, Executive Director at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. The photos were exhibited by the Crow Collection of Asian Art in a program “China Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872,” which concluded its run May 05, 2013. Manchu Bride, John Thompson
We were pleased to come upon a discussion like this – a rare opportunity to hear folks knowledgeable in the arts weigh in on 19th century photography in China. First, because James Lande is formulating his review of Tom Carter‘s China: Portrait of a People partly in the context of earlier photographers of life in China, especially John Thomson, and secondly, because such photographs are a primary source for novels set in that era. Continue reading
Stone carving and engraving were prominent features of Chinese courtyard houses, and a common motif typical of many three-dimensional relief sculptures 浮雕 found in such houses was that of a rhinoceros gazing at the moon 犀牛望月. The story, we are told, is that the Jade Emperor of Heaven once gave an assignment to his Rhinoceros general: go down to earth and tell the people to eat a single meal per day and perform the Kevin Brazier, Plum Flower Mantis Boxing
Heavenly Rites three times so they will respect ceremony and etiquette and restrain themselves from eating too much.
However, when the Rhinoceros general arrived in the human world, he was dazzled by its myriad wonders and countless temptations. He became disturbed in his mind and accidentally changed the message into: eat three meals a day and perform the Heavenly Rites once. The Jade Emperor was so furious that he banished Rhinoceros from Heaven. Rhinoceros descended to earth, where he never stopped longing for his life in the Heavenly palace. Each evening he would look up at the moon and gaze for hours.
The sadness of Rhinoceros over his loss, for being parted forever from his home, would not be difficult for Chinese to feel, considering how many generations of Chinese have left family and home behind to go abroad to seek fortune in foreign lands, perhaps never to return until sent back in a coffin. The tale of the cowherd and the weaving maiden embraces the same themes of separation and loss. Continue reading
Balla Crazy Gumarang and Palaso Arrow Salangsang
Balla Crazy Gumarang was a common criminal, a tulisan – a brigand – or had been in the eyes of the Spanish gaolers at the Mantamang penal colony, called Cervantes by the Spaniards, in Ilocos Sur. Balla was born on the west coast of Luzon in 1828, at Santa Maria in Ilocos Sur, north of Vigan at the mouth of the Santa Maria river.
“My village woke to bell in tower of church, Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion.”
“When I small, they send me to run errands for parish priest, Augustinian Cordano, walk along beside friar, up and down broad stone steps, from plaza to church and around village, visit sick people.”
Balla’s father was away for six months or so each year sailing a large two-masted outrigger prahu on trading expeditions around the South China Sea. In Manila he loaded Chinese porcelain and textiles – silk, linen and finished cottons – to carry south to Panay and Zamboanga. He sold the imports in the provinces and loaded rice, sugar, and tobacco for the Sulus, picked up edible bird’s nests, shark fins, bêche de mer, and mother-of-pearl, then stood north for Hong Kong, Singapore, or south for the Moluccas, smuggling the cargo past the Dutch authorities to avoid import duties. Continue reading
Tata Grandfather Viray
Tata Grandfather Viray was born in 1821 or 1822, he was not sure which, the son of an Ilocano boat-builder.
“I grew up playing in Cavite and Vigan boatyards. Those yards build vessels native to our islands, small chatta, covered cargo boats, casco, flat-bottomed barges, and twenty-oared viray surf boats.”
“No one remember huge Spanish galleons once built in Cavite. That was centuries ago – for trade with Mexico and Spain.”
Drawings in the Spanish friars’ old books showed Tata the tall prow and stern, many decks crowded with great cannon, towering masts, and broad sails of the old 1500-ton galleons. Tata’s father told him of the thousands of natives that slaved for the Spanish, in the earliest Spanish polo, to cut trees and haul timber for the shipyards to build the galleons. Before the Spanish trade monopoly collapsed, and the last of these treasure ships sailed in 1815, the galleons carried millions of pesos in gold coin, the wealth of the Philippine Islands, between Manila, Acapulco and Madrid. As a boy, Tata imagined one day constructing magnificent vessels like the Spanish galleons, but until then was content to fashion small outrigger bangkâ, bilog, and barangay, and vessels for the coasting trade.ngkâ, bilog, and barangay, and vessels for the coasting trade.
When Tata was ten years old his father left Cavite and took his family back home to Caoayan, south of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, on the west coast of northern Luzon. Vigan looked west out over the South China Sea toward China, and north toward Japan, and had long been a center of Asian commerce, competing with Manila in the trade of tobacco, indigo and pearls for silk and pottery, when the Spanish arrived in the 16th Century and imposed their language and religion on the “heathen” Ilocanos. Continue reading
“The river looked better in the old days.”
RETURN TO RIVER TOWN, Peter Hessler
Readers of Peter Hessler’s River Town, or who take an interest in how China is changing – and what remains the same – will enjoy this retrospective of the Yangtze River town of Fuling and how the town and its people fare today after the extraordinary growth and change that has come with the completion of the Three Gorges Dam and the rise of the river.
“The new mind-sets impress me even more than the material changes.”
As ever, Hessler’s sensitivity and discretion remain the best example for other China expats and travel writers (similar to Larry Durrell) of fine writing about what has always been his very personal experience of life in China.
Read Return to River Town at National Geographic.
The Pearl Kitchen weblog has posted some very fine photographs of the subtle illumination given off by Chinese paper lanterns, which come in all sizes and shapes. I remember fondly the lantern festivals in Taipei in the 1960s and 70s, with hundreds of glowing round yellow lanterns strung out around the Lung Shan Temple in the Wanhua district, and the lantern-making contests with amazing characters and creatures from Chinese life and myth hung in the temple courtyards. Inspiring for a writer to try to capture in words the ambiance of light from lanterns like these.
Here’s an example.
The Pearl Kitchen: A journey of food, family and culture in Penang
Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination, Posted on January 16, 2013
Today I am taking up the Weekly Photo Challenge of the Daily Post. The word ‘Illumination’ reminds me of the Chinese Lantern, which plays an important role in the culture I grew up in. It symbolizes the brilliant culture of China that was brought along by the early Chinese migrants to Penang.
In ancient China, floating sky lanterns were strategically used as ‘blimps’ in wars as early as the 3rd century BC. Then lanterns made of oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame with small candles were used to light up entrance-ways and as portable lighting when walking around at night…
Visit the Pearl Kitchen and see the illumination given off from their other lanterns.