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Love in a Fallen City: And Other Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 6 Dec 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (6 Dec. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141189363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141189369
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.1 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Eileen Chang (1920-1995) was born into an aristocratic family in Shanghai. Chang studied literature at the University of Hong Kong, but the Japanese attack on the city in 1941 forced her to return to occupied Shanghai, where she was able to publish the stories and essays (collected in two volumes, Romances, 1944, and Written on Water, 1945) that soon made her a literary star. The rise of Communist influence made it increasingly difficult for Chang to continue living in Shanghai; she moved to Hong Kong in 1952, then emigrated to the United States three years later. In spite of the tremendous revival of interest in her work that began in Taiwan and Hong Kong in the 1970s, and that later spread to mainland China, Chang became ever more reclusive as she grew older. Eileen Chang was found dead in her Los Angeles apartment in September 1995.


Karen S. Kingsbury has lived in Chinese-speaking cities for nearly two decades. She taught English in Chonquing on the Whitman-in-China program, studied Chinese in Taipei and, for fourteen years, taught English language and literature at Tunghai University in Taichung. Her Columbia University doctoral dissertation was on Eileen Chang, and she has published previous translations of Chang's essays and fiction in Renditions and in The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature. She lives in Seattle.


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Format: Paperback
I came to this stunning collection of short stories from a route founded solidly in movies - when Ang Lee's Lust Caution came along & I discovered it was originally a short story I was more than intrigued. I went for this collection rather than the predictable choice of the original of the film and am very glad I did and have now read a number of her works. Chang writes with such brevity and grace but still packs a punch. The intense lives and emotions of her characters are summed up in a very carefully crafted manner and one sentence unlocks a whole world in a moment which, to me, sets it apart from other fiction I have recently read. The first couple of stories take a while to to get used simply to due to her different style but that soon settles to become to my mind an outstanding body of work. I admit I do sometimes struggle to recall some of the exact story lines but the worlds she evokes have stayed firmly embedded in my mind. Give it a go... I don't think you will be disappointed.
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By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In these brilliantly written novellas, Eileen Chang brushes a harsh portrait of the Chinese society between the two world wars. It was based on clan power, wealth, family traditions, status, arranged marriages (matches), reputations, age (wrinkles), battles between old and young and between traditional and Western life style, and last but not least, on opium.

In `Love in a fallen City', all traditional values are crumbling down: `here in this uncertain world, money, property, the permanent things - they're all unreliable. The only thing she could rely on was the breath in her lungs and the person who lay sleeping beside her. He was just a selfish man; she was a selfish woman. In this age of chaos and disorder, there is no place for those who stand on their own, but for an ordinary married couple, room can always be found.'

`The Golden Cangue' is a fierce, merciless portrait of a member of a traditional Chinese polygamous family, who represents `the ancient China he had been homesick for ... His quiet and demure well-born Chinese girl was an opium smoker.'

`Aloeswood incense' tells the story of the sentimental education of a young girl, a king of Chinese `Gigi': `You shouldn't think that just because a person is reasonably good-looking, knows how to make a chitchat and sing a few English songs, that people are going to come running to give her stacks and stacks of money. You are too bashful, too weak, and too bad-tempered; you're indecisive, and you get too emotionally involved.'
Reputation isn't what it was before: `For a woman, there is nothing more important than her reputation. When I use the word `reputation', I mean something a bit different from a fusty old scholar's idea. These days, people don't care that much about chastity.
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Some beautiful writing, but a sad view of life and love. The characters are all trapped in Chinese culture; men and women can only think of how to use each other and there is no true love. The stories do give insight into how Confucianism and Chinese culture bound people into stifling family roles - and how Chinese culture still does today, simply with a Communist slant. However, they present an empty view of life, which ultimately offers little. A talented writer who lacked a real vision of love.
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