Ming: A Novel of 17th Century China

Overview

Meihua and Longyan, first daughter and second son of prominent families, discover a powerful bond in their conflict with the centuries-old social codes of the Ming dynasty. Although forbidden education, Meihua secretly learns to read and write. Longyan, beset by a learning disability that dishonors his family and prevents him from becoming a scholar, makes his mark as an outstanding military commander. But soon he must choose between protecting the decaying Ming dynasty and joining the barbarian Manchus from ...
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1995 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Pristine. Never Read. Gift Quality. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 270 p. Audience: General/trade. Pristine. ... Never Read. Gift Quality. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Read more Show Less

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1995 Hard cover New. No dust jacket. lt shelf wear...Book Is New! Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 270 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

Meihua and Longyan, first daughter and second son of prominent families, discover a powerful bond in their conflict with the centuries-old social codes of the Ming dynasty. Although forbidden education, Meihua secretly learns to read and write. Longyan, beset by a learning disability that dishonors his family and prevents him from becoming a scholar, makes his mark as an outstanding military commander. But soon he must choose between protecting the decaying Ming dynasty and joining the barbarian Manchus from beyond the Great Wall. Longyan and Meihua find themselves on opposite sides of this brutal struggle, yet passion compels them to continue their liaison. Torn between fighting the Manchu conquerors and working to heal their divided country, they endure strife, the torments of conflicting loyalties, and ultimately exile.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Oxnam (Cinnabar) animates a tumultuous period in Chinese history with this highly interesting tale of love and adventure in the collapsing Ming dynasty of the 1600s. Longyan is the less-favored second son of a once-powerful scholar who has brought shame on his family because he can't read (he suffers from dyslexia). He falls in love with Meihua, a sheltered young woman who has secretly learned to read and write, but she is betrothed to his half-brother. Befriended by a Jesuit priest whose ``barbarian'' ideas offer alternatives to rigid Confucian beliefs, the would-be lovers communicate through letters (Longyan, now rising in the military, dictates his). They manage to survive the chaotic political and social transition of the Manchu invasion (during which Meihua forms the Ladies' Filial Piety Society into a small, effective army), and ultimately both are exiled to a desolate island where their long devotion is rewarded. Oxnam, who is president emeritus of the Asia Society, brings a wealth of detail to his narrative, depicting the private lives of the 17th-century Chinese elite and injecting the local color of Suzhou and Beijing. But the novel is driven more by Longyan and Meihua's shifting relationships to the world around them than by their relationships to each other, leading the reader at times to feel that Oxman is more adept at illuminating a period of history than he is at creating psychologically motivated characters. (Jan.)
Library Journal
During the 17th century, China faces severe upheaval as the Manchus threaten from the north and the Ming Dynasty slowly strangles on the corruption that pervades the court. For Chinese women of the aristocracy, life in this very traditional society is quite restricted. Meihua learns to read and write by secretly observing the lessons given to her brothers. She later develops a friendship and eventually a love for Longyan. Although Longyan has all the advantages of a male education, he is dyslexic. As these two young people mature, they must overcome myriad difficulties in order to survive. When delving into the historical background, Oxman (The Ch'ing Game, 1972) exhibits a spirited writing style that is sadly lacking when the protagonists are center stage. Their story, however, provides an intimate description of a time and place not usually found in today's fiction. For larger collections.-Patricia Altner, Dept. of Defense Lib., Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C.
Mary Ellen Sullivan
Oxnam brings to life a critical period of Chinese history--the end of the Ming dynasty, just as Manchu "barbarians" from the north conquer China--via a fast-paced, appealing story of star-crossed lovers. Because of a learning disability, Longyan, son of his family patriarch's concubine, cannot uphold the family reputation for scholarship, and his sister-in-law, Meihua, has violated all existing social codes for women by secretly learning to read and write. As war breaks out, they find themselves in opposition yet intensely drawn to each other. They play out their fates with the help of a proselytizing Jesuit missionary seeking access to prominent Chinese families. Their story, though always interesting, at times seems just a foil for a history lesson. But what a history lesson! We're brought inside the Ming and Manchu armies, the women's "Red Chamber," the Forbidden City, the inner workings of a socially conscious family, and even the strategies of the Jesuits. A highly readable, highly informative story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312113155
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/5/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 270

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