A few days ago it struck me that too little is known about Achilles Fang, aka 方志浵, the man on the far left above, who wrote the introductions to several of Ezra Pound’s more important works, incl. Confucius, the Confucian Odes, and others. Turns out he was a brilliant, eccentric polyglot Chinese scholar at Harvard who taught famed sinologists like Arthur Wright, Francis Woodman Cleaves, and others how to read and interpret classical Chinese. Moreover, he was one of Qian Zhongshu’s (錢鐘書) few friends at Tsinghua University in the 1930s, so it’s really a pity so little has been written about him, especially considering he held major influence across a number of fields and intellectual undertakings in both China and the US during the 1950s. Plus, he’s just a fascinating personality who is central to American and Chinese Modernism. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but the story goes that he was hired by Harvard’s East Asian studies program to work on their Chinese-English dictionary but got sacked for making too many cryptic references to James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. He didn’t publish very much, but Fang’s papers and letters, archived at Yale Univ. in Connecticut, would probably reveal a dissertation’s-worth of important cross-cultural material.
I live in the slums. I didn’t settle firmly on one place to live. I
could stay anywhere as long as it had a stove. This area produces coal:
all the homes used coal to keep fires burning at night. I just lay in a
corner of the kitchen stove to keep warm. I was afraid of the cold at
“Bleak reality confronts the Chinese dream in Yan Lianke’s gruesome, gripping novel, The Day the Sun Died” – SCMP review (Aug 1 2018) “The comparison between ancient and modern China is a little too close for comfort, and perhaps explains … Continue reading →
Tristan Shaw unpicks the controversial authorship of Jin Ping Mei For over 400 years, the Ming-era novel Jin Ping Mei – known in English as The Golden Lotus – has been celebrated by some readers as a literary masterpiece, while others condemn it as a salacious influence. Chronicling the life of a decadent merchant named Ximen Qing in the Song dynasty, the book’s notoriety comes from its graphic descriptions of sex, covering everything from adultery to sado-masochism. As Ximen rises up the social hierarchy, his lust for power and sex becomes increasingly depraved. Over the course of the story, he takes six wives and numerous concubines and servants, before eventually dying during the passionate raptures of sex from an overdose of aphrodisiacs. READ MORE
A tale of crime and punishment from Shen Congwen – translated by Jeffrey Kinkley During a year in the reign of the Guangxu Emperor, 1875– 1908…. Horses were being raced in this little county town, across parade grounds drenched by the sun in shimmering yellow. Meanwhile men in military garb, outfitted in all the colors of the rainbow, gathered before the Martial Demonstration Hall to rehearse the eighteen different disciplines of the martial arts. It fell to the circuit intendant in this season of Frost’s Descent to inspect the drills as tradition required, set the ranks in order, announce promotions and demotions, and confer rewards and punishments. And so this army, of the Military Preparedness Circuit commanding the frontier prefectures of Chenzhou, Yuanzhou, Yongzhou, and Jingzhou, was stepping up its drills in preparation for examinations. Seated on folding chairs in front of the Martial Demonstration Hall, the patrol commander and drill instructor drank tea from covered bowls and called the roll from a register in red covers. Each soldier could select the gear that best suited him and have a crack at wielding his weapon, solo or against an opponent. When it came to the competitions on horseback, the mounts were given free rein to gallop like the wind, while the men demonstrated their skill at knocking off balls with long lances or revolved in the saddle to show off their archery – “puncturing the willow leaf” from a hundred paces. Each won hurrahs or jeers according to his prowess. READ MORE