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The Sing-Song Girls Of Shanghai / Edition 1

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Overview

Desire, virtue, courtesans (also known as sing-song girls), and the denizens of Shanghai's pleasure quarters are just some of the elements that constitute Han Bangqing's extraordinary novel of late imperial China. Han's richly textured, panoramic view of late-nineteenth-century Shanghai follows a range of characters from beautiful sing-song girls to lower-class prostitutes and from men in positions of social authority to criminals and ambitious young men recently arrived from the country. Considered one of the greatest works of Chinese fiction, The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai is now available for the first time in English.

Neither sentimental nor sensationalistic in its portrayal of courtesans and their male patrons, Han's work inquires into the moral and psychological consequences of desire. Han, himself a frequent habitué of Shanghai brothels, reveals a world populated by lonely souls who seek consolation amid the pleasures and decadence of Shanghai's demimonde. He describes the romantic games played by sing-song girls to lure men, as well as the tragic consequences faced by those who unexpectedly fall in love with their customers. Han also tells the stories of male patrons who find themselves emotionally trapped between desire and their sense of propriety.

First published in 1892, and made into a film by Hou Hsiao-hsien in 1998, The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai is recognized as a pioneering work of Chinese fiction in its use of psychological realism and its infusion of modernist sensibilities into the traditional genre of courtesan fiction. The novel's stature has grown with the recent discovery of Eileen Chang's previously unknown translation, which was unearthed among her papers at the University of Southern California. Chang, who lived in Shanghai until 1956 when she moved to California and began to write in English, is one of the most acclaimed Chinese writers of the twentieth century.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Globe & Mail - H. J. Kirchhoff

[A] richly detailed... colorful cross-section of Chinese society.

Choice

Accurate and readable. The novel provides a comprehensive and detailed description of a courtesan society... Recommended.

New York Times Book Review - Lesley Downer

Its literary and historical significance is indisputable. More important to the average reader, though, [is] its absorbing storytelling.

Globe & Mail - H.J. Kirchhoff
[A] richly detailed... colorful cross-section of Chinese society.
China Review International - Chloe Starr

This is a finely printed publication, and an important novel, but it also provides a provocative study in edition and translation theory.

Taipei Times - Bradley Winterton

The publication of this book is a significant event in the upper echelons of Chinese literary study... Finally a book that's been much talked about is now available to an international readership.

New York Times Book Review
Its literary and historical significance is indisputable. More important to the average reader, though, [is] its absorbing storytelling.

— Lesley Downer

Choice

Accurate and readable. The novel provides a comprehensive and detailed description of a courtesan society... Recommended.

Globe & Mail
[A] richly detailed... colorful cross-section of Chinese society.

— H. J. Kirchhoff

China Review International
This is a finely printed publication, and an important novel, but it also provides a provocative study in edition and translation theory.

— Chloe Starr

Taipei Times
The publication of this book is a significant event in the upper echelons of Chinese literary study... Finally a book that's been much talked about is now available to an international readership.

— Bradley Winterton

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231122689
  • Publisher: Columbia University
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Series: Weatherhead Books on Asia Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 586
  • Product dimensions: 1.44 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Han Bangqing (1856-1894) founded China's first literary magazine and is considered one of the most important writers of modern China.Eileen Chang (1920-1995) was a legendary figure in Chinese literature and the author of the essay collection Written on Water (Columbia, 2005) and the novels The Rogue of the North and The Rice-Sprout Song: A Novel of Modern China.Eva Hung is the editor of the journal Renditions and the translator, editor, and author of more than two dozen books, including Contemporary Women Writers: Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

ForewardTranslator's NoteCast of Major CharactersChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5 Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18Chapter 19Chapter 20 Chapter 21Chapter 22 Chapter 23Chapter 24Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33Chapter 34Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43Chapter 44Chapter 45Chapter 46Chapter 47Chapter 48Chapter 49Chapter 50Chapter 51Chapter 52Chapter 53Chapter 54Chapter 55Chapter 56Chapter 57Chapter 58Chapter 59Chapter 60Chapter 61Chapter 62Chapter 63Chapter 64AfterwordThe World of the Shanghai Courtesans

Columbia University Press

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Masterpiece

    This was a very beautiful story, and highly insightful to the lives of courtesans of the time. I regret not having discovered this sooner! I am on an everlasting quest to learn about other cultures, and Eva Hung has provided footnotes (with a few from Eileen Chang) and even an entire essay dedicated to the explanation of life in a Chinese brothel. Han Bangqing's narrative style pulls you in to the story and refuses to let go, masterfully shifting from one character plot to the next.

    My only warning is that you DO NOT read the Foreword before reading the actual narrative, as Eva Hung has taken the liberty to explain the details in full there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2014

    MagiKK to Song Girl

    Now, this is a very personal thing. It happened to me last year, and as a clueless sixth grader, I felt hopelessly lost in a world of hatred. <p>My year started out great. New teachers, new people, a new chance to prove myself. I met a lot of people, but the one who stuck out to me the most was Aurora.<br>Arooura and I became buddies, like, two days after we met. We had a lot of classes together, so I would always try to sit next to her or very very close. It wasn't much of a problem because seating was usually alphabetical by last name.<br>Two weeks into school, Aurora got sick and was out for a couple of days. I was beginning to wonder how bad it was when, vioala, she shows up, sits down out our normal pre-dismissal table, but doesn't even look at me. I get up to move over and sit next to her, but she moves every time I get close to her. She does this every day, and at lunch too. Finally one morning I get close enough to speak, and I ask why she's been avoiding me. She tells me, "Well, you don't have to act like you're my /shadow!/" in an overdramatic tone, and moves away again. I spent the next week trying to figure out what she meant. Next time I spoke to her, she accused me of stalking her. I don't stalk. I'm just not stupid. If you have a binder that says, "Fifth block math" and I see it, I'm going to know what block you have math fifth block. <br>After that, I spent another month trying to re-befriend her to no avail. Then I ask a couple friends why Aurora hated me. They all gave me the same answer. She thought I had told her crush that she liked him. I then talked to him and found out who really told him. I then passed it on to her when she yelled at me for the false accusation. At this poin I was spending most nights breaking down and crying or staring out the window, imagining myself flying away if I had wings, leaving Aurora an the rest of the world behind.<br>It wasn't until November that I got a final answer. Aurora said to me during a lunch with assigned tables based on seventh block class, "I /hate/ you," with so much anger and hatred that I never wanted to see her face again. Thinking about his now is starting to make me cry. Aurora has probably been spreading lies about me. Just last week she said to my sister, in gym, that I was a stalker. That confirmed my suspicions about the rumor spreading. I know she made fun of me last year because I had a small cough. I could barely breathe either way, and singing during chorus wasn't helping it. I think some of my old 'friends' still consider me an outsider. Maybe it was because of me giving Aurora a nonstop glare saying, "I'm tired of this crap." I wanted to be her friend. But while I was still recovering, she turned Alexis, Matty, Gwen, and Allie into her friends and now just my classmates, rather than friends. I don't hate her, though. I am just appalled at how much she lies to everyone. And I want it to stop. Please. Show me something that is not evil. Something true. Something honest. <p> And now I'm crying again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2014

    Song Girl

    I sort of went through the same thing. When I was in middle school, my best friend through elementary school, just dopped me. She was constantly calling me names, telling my friends I lie about everything I ever told them, and told me I was abusive to y dogs because they are outside dogs, I promise I'm not. It really hurt me, because we has shared so many good things an suddenly they all turned bad. So I will try to write something for you in res four, it should be done by tonight! :) And I just want you to know, that no matter what there will always be someone who needs you. :)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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