Read Once on a Moonless Night by Dai Sijie Free Online
Book Title: Once on a Moonless Night|
ISBN 13: 9780701182458
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 781 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2260 times
Reader ratings: 5.8
The author of the book: Dai Sijie
Edition: Chatto & Windus
Date of issue: March 1st 2009
Read full description of the books:
This is a story told many by a young woman, a language and literature scholar from France, who is living in the “Peking” of the late 1970’s. This is set in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, so everyone has lost loved ones and is damaged in some way. She falls in love with a young Chinese man who is a green grocer by day but in his spare time is obsessed with the history of China and discovering supposedly lost scrolls written by a non-Chinese ethnic group revealing the earliest days of Buddhism in China.
I say supposedly because historical fact and historical fiction are notoriously mixed in this book. You really must be scholar of Chinese history or spend many hours of the web researching to see what is true and what is not. Yes, many of the recent Chinese emperors mentioned and their various idiosyncrasies are correct. There was a Dowager Empress Cixi (ruled 1861-1908) and yes Puyi, the last Emperor, fled to Manchuria in 1932. One emperor was obsessed with art and calligraphy and another with his traveling aviary.
But all the scroll stuff is fictitious as is the French scholar who wrote a book about Marco Polo referred to many times in the story. So, the story is a mystery (where is the other half of the scroll containing the Buddhist sutra?) and a love story. At time it follows the Chinese man at other times the woman as she leaves China to travel to Paris, Mali and Burma before returning to China. The story weaves together the yin and yang of fact and fiction, East and West, man and woman.
The author, better known for his novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, is Chinese but he writes in French and this novel is translated from the French. He knows first-hand about the cultural upheaval he writes of. Dai Sijie was born in 1954 and spent four years of hard labor in a “re-education” camp in the 1970’s before leaving for France in 1984.
This is a good read. Although slow in places, it kept my interest. I gave up worrying about what was fact and what was fiction (there will be no quiz!) and decided to just enjoy the story.
Photos from top: Empress Cixi from Wikipedia
Chinese scroll from thecobbs.com/auction
Dai Sijie from wikipedia
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Read information about the authorDai Sijie was born in China in 1954. He grew up working in his fathers tailor shop. He himself became a skilled tailor. The Maoist government sent him to a reeducation camp in rural Sichuan from 1971 to 1974, during the Cultural Revolution. After his return, he was able to complete high school and university, where he studied art history.
In 1984, he left China for France on a scholarship. There, he acquired a passion for movies and became a director. Before turning to writing, he made three critically acclaimed feature-length films: China, My Sorrow (1989) (original title: Chine, ma douleur), Le mangeur de lune and Tang, le onzième. He also wrote and directed an adaptation of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, released in 2002. He lives in Paris and writes in French.
His novel, Par une nuit où la lune ne s'est pas levée (Once on a moonless night), was published in 2007.
L'acrobatie aérienne de Confucius was published in 2008.
His first book, Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse chinoise (Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress) (2000), was made into a movie, in 2002, which he himself adapted and directed. It recounts the story of a pair of friends who become good friends with a local seamstress while spending time in a countryside village, where they have been sent for 're-education' during the Cultural Revolution (see Down to the Countryside Movement). They steal a suitcase filled with classic Western novels from another man being reeducated, and decide to enrich the seamstress' life by exposing her to great literature. These novels also serve to sustain the two companions during this difficult time. The story principally deals with the cultural universality of great literature and its redeeming power. The novel has been translated into twenty-five languages, and finally into his mother tongue after the movie adaptation.
His second book, Le Complexe de Di won the Prix Femina for 2003. It recounts the travels of a Chinese man whose philosophy has been influenced by French psychoanalyst thought. The title is a play on "le complexe d'Oedipe", or "the Oedipus complex". The English translation (released in 2005) is titled Mr. Muo's Traveling Couch.
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