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China. Tea. All the tea in China. Rice paddies. Silk. Willow Pattern. Porcelain. Luxury. Royalty. the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square. Communism. Censorship.

I thought I’d try a quick word association game about China. As you can see I have quite conflicted views! I am flying out there shortly and am excited about what I am going to discover. I talked about doing some preparatory reading before I go in a previous post but to add to that here are two books I’m going to be tackling while I’m there.

The Story of the Stone (Book 1)

The Story of the stone Book 1 by Cao Xueqin

The Story of the stone Book 1 by Cao Xueqin

A Chinese classic, also known as The Dream of the Red Chamber. The story of Baoyu, a young man of aristocratic birth and his romantic entanglements with two of his female cousins, but also an allegory about the soul’s journey towards enlightenment. I have heard that this book will help me understand Chinese life and character, even though it was written in the eighteenth-century. I thought I’d start with Book 1 (there are five) to see how I get on before pursuing the others. John Minford wrote this excellent article about The Story of the Stone which persuaded me that I needed to add it to my Chinese reading list.

The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

The story of Lily’s long life, through the turbulent nineteenth century history of China. This is a story about friendship and the abuses women were subjected to. I will let you know what I think of both books when I return.

I’ve got a few posts prepared for while I’m away and I’ll be back properly in a few weeks with some photos and stories from my adventures!

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