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Fortress Besiegedby Zhongshu Qian
Synopses & Reviews
Set on the eve of the Sino-Japanese War, our hapless hero Fang Hung-chien (á la Emma Bovary), with no particular goal in life and with a bogus degree from a fake American university in hand, returns home to Shanghai. On the French liner home, he meets two Chinese beauties, Miss Su and Miss Pao. Qian writes, "With Miss Pao it wasn't a matter of heart or soul. She hadn't any change of heart, since she didn't have a heart." In a sort of painful comedy, Fang obtains a teaching post at a newly established university where the effete pseudo-intellectuals he encounters in academia become the butt of Qian's merciless satire. Soon Fang is trapped into a marriage of Nabokovian proportions of distress and absurdity. Recalling Fielding's in its farcical litany of misadventures and Flaubert's "style indirect libre," is its own unique feast of delights.
The greatest Chinese novel of the twentieth century, is a classic of world literature, a masterpiece of parodic fiction that plays with Western literary traditions, philosophy, and middle-class Chinese society in the Republican era.
About the Author
Qian Zhongshu (Ch'ien Chung-shu, 1910-1998) was born into a literary family in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. Possibly the last in a line of Chinese thinkers that began with Confucius, he spent two years at Oxford, majoring in English and learning Latin and modern European languages. During the Cultural Revolution he was sent to a re-education camp with his wife, Yang Jiang. By 1974 he was presumed dead, but he later reappeared at a sinological conference in Italy. Qian wrote some of the most important texts on classical Chinese poetry and literature, essays, short stories, a second incomplete novel that was lost in the mail, and edited various groundbreaking anthologies.Jonathan D. Spence is Sterling Professor of History at Yale University, where he has taught for thirty years. He has been awarded MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. The Search for Modern China won the Lionel Gelber Award and the Kiriyama Book Prize.
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