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China and the Chinese

Herbert Allen Giles

Book Overview: 

Herbert Allen Giles spent several years as a diplomat in China and in 1897 was appointed Cambridge University’s second professor of Chinese. His published works cover Chinese language and literature, history and philosophy.

This series of lectures, published as “China and the Chinese”, was given at Columbia University in 1902, to mark the establishment of a Chinese professorship there. The lectures were not intended for the specialist, more to urge a wider and more systematic study of China and its culture, and to encourage new students into the field.

While many of the observations are just as relevant today, others will remind us how much China has changed since the period of the Manchu Qing dynasty in which he wrote.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .B.C.

Part III consists of eight important and interesting chapters: (1) on the Rites and Ceremonies of the period covered, (2) on Music, (3) on the Pitch-pipes, a series of twelve bamboo tubes of varying lengths, the notes from which were supposed to be bound up in some mysterious way with the good and bad fortunes of mankind, (4) on the Calendar, (5) on the Stars, (6) on the Imperial Sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, (7) on the Waterways of the Empire, and lastly (8) on Commerce, Coinage, etc.

Part IV deals with the reigns, so to speak, of the vassal nobles under the feudal system, the reigns of the suzerains having been already included in Part I.

Part V consists of biographies of the most eminent men who came to the front during the whole period covered.

These biographies are by no means confined to virtuous statesmen or heroic generals, as we might very reasonably have expected. The [47] Chinese historian took a much broader. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Acknowledgements
Introduction
Note on the Text, Translation and Illustrations
Note on Names and Pronunciation

--Homunculus
--An Otherworldly Examination
--Living Dead
--Spitting Water
--Talking Pupils
--The Painted Wall
--The Troll
--Biting a Ghost
--Catching a Fox
--The Monster in the Buckwheat
--The Haunted...more

I've been reading a lot of "difficult" books recently, and a few short books that just weren't very good. Amid that pile, Pu's tales were a glorious reminder of why people enjoy telling stories, why people enjoy reading them, and how many different ways something can be interesting.

Short of list...more

The title, and the fact that this is a Penguin classic, attracted me. I really, really enjoyed this read. The stories were quite short, some only a paragraph in length, and the longest ones being perhaps 4-5 pages. And they were strange indeed, strange is definitely an understatement. They were v...more

Pu Songling (1640 - 1715) collected these tales of the supernatural and uncanny and left them to his sons in the form of 110 handwritten, loose-leaf sheets. They have since been published many times, with additions and deletions, and been drawn upon by other authors (and playwrights, and televisi...more

Each played his
Pipes of Heaven,
Seeking not beauty of sound,
But music that is what it is
For reasons of its own.
-The Author's Preface, Lines 11-13

The 104 stories in this collection (out of some 450+ in the original work) are clearly tales, and they are clearly Chinese. Yet what is in them to make t...more

Lots of fun stories. The most notable theme is sex with fox spirits although there's a good variety of stuff too, with varying morals and conclusions even when the set-up is pretty similar. There's nothing here that made me think "woah that's amazing" hence the 4 star but I enjoyed reading every...more

According to John Minford (whose translation in the Penguin edition of some of these strange tales is my preferred translation of this book: Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio), what readers are about to experience here are

"longer stories with complex plots, often involving relationships betwee...more

《聊齋誌異》的經典選篇,而非全集

nicely terped

although the selected stories are not in the round(you know, at that time, the terp translated this directly from classical chinese, it was so hard, absolutely much more harder than reading old english, such as BEOWULF, for me), but it still gave me a fresh experience...more

Sublime. With every story I read I found myself immersed in the rich life and thought of Ming dynasty China. Here we meet fox spirits, Taoist monks versed in the art of alchemy, magic implements, beautiful women possessed by the ghosts of the recently departed and vexed lovers. Unlike ghost stori...more

This is the kind of book that, when read carefully, can transform the English reader from perfect ignorance of Chinese culture to nerd-like engagement with aesthetics, society, history, mythology, folklore, science, medicine, technology, and the list goes on and on. It's really worth remembering...more

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