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Fortress Besieged by Qian Zhongshu

Fortress Besieged (1947)

by Qian Zhongshu

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Deemed one of the greats of modern Chinese fiction, this comedy of manners is excellent at satirising the faux-intellectual manners of the "returned students" (Chinese students returning from study overseas) during the 1920s and 30s. The translation is good, though the reviewer has not yet read the original text, but unfortunately owing to its era-specific satire, many of the jokes and pastiches of intellectual currents are somewhat lost on the modern reader. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
If this book had been written by a foreigner, the writer would have been accused of racism at worst, or cultural chauvinism at least. In reviewing it, I am conscious that I will lay myself open to the same charges because Qian Zhongshu sees many of the same features and voices many of the same criticisms that foreigners do about Chinese culture. Published in 1947 at the height of the civil war in China, Qian Zhongshu’s classic Chinese novel is an extended examination of Chinese mores and culture, in which that culture is subjected to a savage critique which is at once bitterly accurate and very funny...

Read the full review on The Lectern ( )
5 vote tomcatMurr | Jan 31, 2014 |
Someone told me I should not read this book till I get married because this book is all about Chinese people’s marriage. However I do not think so after I read this, because I found it is also about careers, social life and the matter of class. This book is named Wei Cheng. It literally means encircle a city, but it actually implies the way that people think about marriage, study abroad, social networks—how outsider people want to get inside while insiders want to come out. Main character Hongjian Fang encountered three steps after he came back from abroad. First, he was born at a lower class which means he has not only to live on his own but also be responsible and raise the whole family, this leads him wanted to be successful badly. Second, though he is determined to be successful, he had to come back home and get a fake diploma due to his failure of getting the degree on his own. Third, he flirted around and had to marry a girl whose parents offered him a job and later found out that is not what he wanted. I deemed the author was trying to say that everyone had a dream, but is everyone truly happy about what they have had accomplished. Zhongshu Qian described the different scenarios at society which works for me. However he used a lot of humor and sarcasm which is hard to follow sometimes.
  FolkeB | Jan 15, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Qian Zhongshuprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kelly, JeanneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mao, Nathan K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spence, JonathanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811215520, Paperback)

The greatest Chinese novel of the twentieth century, Fortress Besieged 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.

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 Tom Jones in its farcical litany of misadventures and Flaubert's "style indirect libre," Fortress Besieged is its own unique feast of delights.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:33 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

'Fortress Besieged' recounts the misadventures of Fang Hung-chien. This masterwork of world literature plays with Western traditions, picaresque humour, tragic-comedy, satire, Eastern philosophy and the mores of middle-class Chinese society to create its own unique feast of delights.… (more)

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