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My rising 9th grade son expressed an interest in Chinese history and literature . I'm trying to put together a course based on the Teaching Company's lecture series From Yao to Mao and some recommendations from this board.

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/497017-chinese-history/

 

However, I'm stumped on Chinese literature. Some of the classics would be too depressing for his relatively innocent mind. Also, my weakest subject is literary analysis. I found some suggestions from WTM board

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/382362-your-ideal-ancient-historyliteraturefine-arts-course-of-study/

 

Openware MIT

 

https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/global-studies-and-languages/21g-044-classics-of-chinese-literature-fall-2011/index.htm

 

But I'm unsure what to do with the books as we read through them.  Great courses do have some isolated lectures on a few Chinese philosophical books.

 

I would love to have some guide to go along with the guide or perhaps I can apply the WEM and the Windows to the World method to these books? Wikipedia helps a little as I pre-read the books. 

 

Appreciate any help given!

 

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I don't know what's on the other link but here's some:

 

Legends of the Jews of Keifeing by Xu Xin

 

The Jews of Keifeing, China: History, Culture, and Religion by Xu Xin

 

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

 

Homesick by Jean Fritz (raised in China After Mao' s Rev.)

 

Some Pearl S. Buck books may be too mature. You'll need to preview or ask of those who have read some.

 

If you can get a hold of Teaching the Classics, new or used, I would recommend that, along with WttW, for lit. analysis.

Edited by historymatters

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Thank you for the list! The books you mentioned are not on the list above. Most of them are Chinese classics like Monkey, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, some Chinese poetry like Mulan, philosophical works like Confucius etc. I'm have to refresh my memory of the other two great Chinese classics - Water Margin and Dream of the Red Chamber. Thank you for reminding me of Pearl Buck; I remember reading her Good Earth book which is appropriate. I'll have to check out Chinese Cinderella and Homesick. They seem less tragic/mature than Wild Swans etc. 

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Three Body Problem is a recent acclaimed science fiction novel by a Chinese author.

 

There is a series of mystery novels written by a Chinese author who now lives in the US.  Death of a Red Heroine is the first in the series.  https://www.amazon.com/Death-Heroine-Inspector-Chen-Investigation-ebook/dp/B004HYHA0S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490138570&sr=8-1&keywords=death+red+heroine

 

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Thank you for the list! The books you mentioned are not on the list above. Most of them are Chinese classics like Monkey, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, some Chinese poetry like Mulan, philosophical works like Confucius etc. I'm have to refresh my memory of the other two great Chinese classics - Water Margin and Dream of the Red Chamber. Thank you for reminding me of Pearl Buck; I remember reading her Good Earth book which is appropriate. I'll have to check out Chinese Cinderella and Homesick. They seem less tragic/mature than Wild Swans etc. 

 

Well, I won't say that Chinese Cinderella isn't sad. My dd said it definitely was, but she also said it was very good.

 

Some others:

Other Voices, Other Vistas

Short Stories 

Barbera Solomon, Ed. 

 

 

A Thousand Pieces of Gold

Growing Up Through China's Proverbs

Adeline Yen Mah 

 

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir

 

 

God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew

I don't know if his smuggling includes China. he just smuggled behind Communist Lines.

 

 

Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman

by Gladys Alward

 

 

Mao Tse-Tung and His China

Albert Marrin

 

 

Hopefully, you have some from prior to the horrible revolution, too. The first two should have some from before the 20th cen.

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Sebastian,

 

Thank you for your suggestions! My son would love some sci-fi and mystery novels thrown in the mix. Perhaps he could even read them in Chinese!

 

HistoryMatters,

 

Yes, I am founding a wealth of books based around the cultural revolution/communism. It is a horrific period in Chinese history but would be akin to studying World War II and the holocaust. I might include one or two books during that time period but won't want to dwell on it for too long. Thank you for reminding me about the missionaries in China as another angle to pursue. Lightening Literature also has the sample of A Thousand Pieces of Gold study for preview!

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I just remembered, my children listened to: 'China's Long March' by Jean Fritz

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0399215123/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490191035&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=chinas+long+march

 

I was trying to find something that would give a little info on Communist China's influence during Vietnam War and the Korean War.

So, maybe add in that angle (International Communism)

 

Oh yeah, and Thailand. Also, how Hong Kong and Singapore differ from the rest of the country based on their history of being formerly British colonies. I find it fascinating how you can see the evidence of freedom in those two cities which do not exist elsewhere.

Then, there's the one-child only policy, which resulted in more males ( more higly valued), when it was initiated, the preference for males, and the policy's unintended consequences. Now, I think they've changed it. So, the issue of forced abortion would come up in this context, as well as, the (essentially) forced removal of children from their homes (poor family gets government financial compensation)for sporting and musical training.

 

Anyway, those are some cheery ideas.

Edited by historymatters

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Our next unit of World Literature (10th grade) this year will be Chinese literature. I picked Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (note: first published in French). If we have time, we will also read The Art of War.

 

 

 

(A nod of thanks to Laura Corin for mentioning Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress in an old thread - I was not familiar with that novel.)

Edited by Penguin
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When I pulled together a course on exploring culture through world literature, we used some readings from the Norton Anthology of World Literature. http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nawol3/section/volD/overview.aspx has some resources and the Annenberg Invitation to World Literature video course has a section on Journey to the West.

 

Other potential resources (that I haven't used):

https://www.brown.edu/academics/east-asia-resources/research-and-teaching/language-literature/chinese-language-literature

http://study.nightlynoise.com/home/language/chinese/chinese-literature  outline from a class, looks like a good resource for names of authors and works to look for in various periods

http://quatr.us/china/literature/ has a video of a performance of a Tang dynasty poem ("The Song of Everlasting Sorrow") in Chinese with a link to an English translation, as well as some background on ancient Chinese literature

http://www.hackingchinese.com/the-10-best-free-reading-resource-collections-for-learning-chinese/ looks promising

 

This Coursera course started two days ago and might have downloadable resources or be offered again https://www.coursera.org/learn/classics-chinese-humanities

 

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Sebastian,

 

Thank you for your suggestions! My son would love some sci-fi and mystery novels thrown in the mix. Perhaps he could even read them in Chinese!

 

HistoryMatters,

 

Yes, I am founding a wealth of books based around the cultural revolution/communism. It is a horrific period in Chinese history but would be akin to studying World War II and the holocaust. I might include one or two books during that time period but won't want to dwell on it for too long. Thank you for reminding me about the missionaries in China as another angle to pursue. Lightening Literature also has the sample of A Thousand Pieces of Gold study for preview!

 

This is another science fiction option.  It is a short story collection.  https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Planets-Contemporary-Chinese-Translation-ebook/dp/B01E3PFTXK/ref=pd_sim_351_15?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B01E3PFTXK&pd_rd_r=CF2JWMCXXDSGDX059657&pd_rd_w=4QVKt&pd_rd_wg=K5Nkm&psc=1&refRID=CF2JWMCXXDSGDX059657

 

Three Body Problem is a pretty long and complicated book.  Cixan Liu also has several short story collections.  (The Paper Menagerie is a collection by Ken Liu, who translated The Three Body Problem into English.)  

 

I did find Years of Red Dust: Stories from Shanghai by Qui Xiaolong, who is the author of the Inspector Chen Cao series.  He has lived in the West since around the early 1990s.

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A number of the suggestions here seem off to me if the goal is recommendations for "Chinese literature" and not children's books about China or nonfiction books about China or books by white people about China (like Jean Fritz or Pearl S Buck... both of whom, to be fair, grew up in China, but are American).

 

Seconding The Three Body Problem, which is in my Kindle at the moment.

 

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is perfect for this - perfect for a high schooler, not a hard read, short, but with plenty to discuss and a great translation with writing that shines. It takes place during the Cultural Revolution and there are an insane number of Cultural Revolution memoirs out there - many of them are extremely compelling. You could easily get lost in doing a lot of them, but I'd stick with this little book and not go too far down that path if your goal is a general look at Chinese literature.

 

Soul Mountain is the only Chinese novel to have won a Pulitzer. But it's a bit dense and heady. Just to note. I feel a bit the same about a lot of the other classics of the last thirty years or so... Like, Red Sorghum is not a light read. Nor is To Live. But those are the other two books that are probably the most famous of the last few decades.

 

But that brings up another thing... watching Chinese cinema might be another component to a study of Chinese literature. There have been some very good film versions of literature... Not Soul Mountain, but both To Live and Red Sorghum have acclaimed film versions. So, instead of trying to bog a kid down in reading them, I'd watch the movies.

 

The short stories from the early 1900's by authors like Lu Xun and Lao She are a must. It seems to me that you absolutely shouldn't do "Chinese literature" without having read The True Story of Ah Q, which is a very short novella (or long short story depending).

 

Journey to the West, The Dream of the Red Chamber, and The Romance of the Three Kingdoms are the long ones that are the big classics. Think of the most famous few books in English and this is the Chinese equivalent. I've never read Three Kingdoms so I'm not sure about that (back when I was avidly reading Chinese lit, I burned out after a summer spent on Dream of the Red Chamber in its entirety). But there's shortened versions of Journey to the West and Dream of the Red Chamber. But "shortened" is still pretty long. So... I'm not sure where you go with that.

 

Definitely get a good volume of poetry to read as well. That's short and much easier to tackle!

 

Edited by Farrar
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Laura,

 

Thank you for reminding me of your list. I'm currently building a short course on ancient China for my sixth grader. I never thought to check out the more mature works.

 

historymatters,

THank you for another good suggestion. I just wanted to add that SIngapore had "insert number" child policy. The number varied according to the government's agenda. ANother cheery thought.

 

Penguin,

 

Definitely including Art of War. I'm toying with adding a few more philosophical books like Anatelects. 

 

KarenNC,

 

Thank you for reminding me to check out Norton editions. I'm going to see whether they have good critical essays on CHinese literature. I also signed up for the COursea course and am taking notes now just in case it isn't offered again next year.

 

Sebastian,

 

Thank you for more science-fiction books. My son and I are toying about comparing CHinese sci-fi with Western ones. Are they different? Do they reflect different philosophical thought? He's right now devouring Lewis' Space trilogy.

 

Farrar,

 

I really appreciate you focusing my thoughts on this course- literature written by Chinese and their self-reflection of their culture and philosophy. That is why I"m leaning towards the MIT courseware. The syllabus has you reading Chinese poetry and excerpts from the Classics. Those Classics are long! As least the excerpts are taken through the books so you can see the progression of the novel as oppose only the first book. I'm toying with spending a quarter on Chinese poetry, another on the Classics, another on Philosophical works like Art of War and Analects, with the final quarter on science-fiction and modern novella that you and Sebastian recommended. It seems a lot. But then again, my son might just want a more narrow focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I don't want to hijack the thread, but if Farrar or someone else would like to recommend a book of Chinese poetry that has a manageable length, I would be grateful for that.

 

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I don't want to hijack the thread, but if Farrar or someone else would like to recommend a book of Chinese poetry that has a manageable length, I would be grateful for that.

 

I don't! I read a bunch of that stuff in college and I don't even remember what we used. I'd just get something and not worry too much about reading *everything*. Just a glance at Amazon - there's one that's an Arthur Whaley translation and one that's edited by David Hinton. Those are two big names in American China scholarship, but both volumes are all classical. I'd probably go with this one:

https://www.amazon.com/Anchor-Book-Chinese-Poetry-Contemporary/dp/0385721986/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490370517&sr=8-1&keywords=chinese+poetry+anthology

because it's more comprehensive, though I don't have experience with it. And then I'd just skip around within it. I feel like poetry is something that doesn't have to be read in a very formal way though, so I'm definitely coming from that perspective. Just read and discuss.

 

If I had a kid who was studying Mandarin though, I might get this:

https://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Version-Classical-Chinese-Poems/dp/1468559044/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1490370794&sr=8-16&keywords=chinese+poetry+anthology+for+children

All short, all in Chinese and English. Or another work that has classical poetry for children... A glance turned up one that has the poetry in pinyin as well, which would be useful for any learners, especially if they're not hot with that dictionary and radicals yet.

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I don't want to hijack the thread, but if Farrar or someone else would like to recommend a book of Chinese poetry that has a manageable length, I would be grateful for that.

 

I would think a World Literature Norton Anthology would have that available.

 

http://books.wwnorton.com/books/courselist.aspx?tid=1390&cid=1390&sortparam=Featured&browseid=az&currentpage=1&lastpage=4

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