We always come back to Pu Songling. This week, we are looking at his story "The Magic Sword and the Magic Bag," which actually has little to do with either, but rather is a story about love, prostitution and a ghostly woman...join us for a spooky episode of the Chinese Literature Podcast.
This week, we take a look at on of the great writers from Shanghai's 1930's modernist moment. Shi Zhecun is one of the New Sensationalist (新感觉派), and his story, "One Evening in the Rainy Season" follows the story of a man who is following a woman one rainy Shanghai night. Is he a creeper? Is he just a normal person in this metropolis? We stay inside the character's head, but we never really get a grasp on what is going on.
This week, Rob and Lee go back to the very first poem in all of Chinese literature. The first poem in the Classic of Poetry, "Guan, Guan Goes the Osprey" has been interpreted and reinterpreted so much that it has become a staple of the canon. Rob and Lee discuss this, though, of course, this cannot be done without a few Beatles references.
Today, Rob and Lee change the format and have a debate about China and innovation, with Rob defending China and Lee arguing that there is something in Chinese culture that does not value innovation. Lee references Huang Tingjian and Su (Dongpo) Shi. Su Shi, the famous Song poet they did podcasts on before here and here.
This week, we take our final look at the Journey to the West, fast-forwarding all the way to the end. Today, we will look at the last three chapters of the novel, Chapters 98-100, thinking about how this passage sums up the journey, and discussing questions of Chineseness in the novel.
Part 5 in our Journey to the West Series, Rob and Lee take a look at Chapters 59-61, one of the most important fights in the book. In these chapters, Monkey struggles to take the fan from the aptly named Princess Iron Fan. With the fan, he can extinguish the fire on the, again, aptly named, the Fire Mountians and continue his journey west. But there are lots of complications. Take a listen to Rob and Lee's discussion of the episode, gender and colonialism in this scintillating podcast.
In this third part of the series on Journey to the West, Rob and Lee discuss the characters in the novel other than Monkey (but they still end up mostly talking about Monkey...he is just that much fun).
By far the most well-known part of Journey to the West is the first 7 chapters. A quasi-divine monkey figures out how to get nearly limitless power, has a whole lot of fun with it, then starts a war with heaven. And almost wins. Join us for a discussion of one of the most beloved figures in all of Chinese literature: the Monkey King (Sun Wukong).
Today, we begin our series on on of the most influential novels in the history or China, really in the history of Asia. Today, we begin the Journey of the Journey by contextualizing the novel.
Today is the last in our podcast series on the Song (we think...). Our subject, Ouyang Xiu is one of the most famous literatis of the 11th century, and he helped inspire the turn towards antiquarianism in Chinese culture. He was obsessed with collecting old stuff, particularly epigraphs (writing carved into rocks or other medium). This is a short prose passage/poem where we see Ouyang Xiu beginning to develop this obsession. The passage is taken from Stephen Owen's Anthology of Chinese Literature.
Brandon Folse joins us in our next installment on our Song Dynasty series. Today, we are discussing what is definitely the greatest female writer of the Song dynasty and is possibly the greatest female writer in all of Chinese literature, Li Qingzhao. Some might even consider her the greatest poet in Chinese history, though this would be a controversial claim. Still, what is not controversial is that Li is one of the greats of the Song Dynasty.
This week, Rob and I are travelling, so we have decided to go back into the vault and dig up one of our first podcasts ever...the sound quality is bad, our explanations are even worse...but the story is great. A man falls in love with a very young boy and things take off from there. This story has everything: an execution, a castration and a spontaneously-growing vagina.
Did you know writing a poem could get you exiled? Well, it could and it did, in Su Dongpo's case. Join us in our ongoing accidental series on Song Dynasty poetry!
This is part of our accidental series on the Song, and this is also our second episode on the poetry of Wang Anshi (王安石). Today, we look at a ballad that Wang wrote upon the death of his wife and continue our debate about the merits of Wang.
This week, we decide, in the middle of doing the podcast, that the Song has so much interesting stuff going on during it that we have to make this series into a longer series. Today, we are going to tackle a single poem by Su Dongpo. The poem we are looking at is Su's "Waking up on a Boat at Night."
This week, we explore Jing Tsu's fascinating exploration of the history of language in her book Sound and Script in Chinese Diaspora.
On today's podcast, we go all the way back to the Northern Song Dynasty, one of the highpoints of Chinese culture, but also a point in which consensus was breaking down. Infighting in the 1070's began a process that would weaken China to the point which it could not face up against its external threats and would collapse in 1127, losing half of Song territory. Today's podcast is on Wang Anshi, one of the scholar-politicians who was at the heart of this infighting. We'll look at three of his poems in a part of a mini-series on Song figures.
Today's podcast is an interesting poem that functions less as a beautiful poem but more a historical artifact. In 1793, the English Ambassador met with the Chinese Emperor. After their meeting, the emperor, Qianlong, wrote an interesting poem about the encounter. In today's podcast, we dissect that poem. Below is also Lee's English translation of the poem, along with the original, straight from the pen of Qianlong.
This week's episode is a Supplement, where we will talk about China's Good War, Rana Mitter's latest book. Mitter is a historian, but a lot of the content he analyzes is literary or filmic. Mitter's argument is that China today is trying to rethink World War II in a way that is advantageous to contemporary politics, both domestic and international.
In today's podcast, we interview author Yang Huang about her new book looking at the intersection of China, the US, and the politics of family and gender. The book is titled My Good Son, and it is her third work of fiction. The book's plot revolves around two father-son pairs, one Chinese, one American. In the Chinese pair, the son does not meet the father's academic standards, while in the American pair, the father is religious while the son is gay. Join us for a fascinating talk with one of the people who actually does the hard work of making literature.
Today, we dig back into a podcast recorded several years before but never before aired. The topic is Nie Zheng (聂政), a story in the biography of the assassins, in Sima Qian's Shiji. The story may be one of the early predecessors to Kung Fu film and literature.
This is it, this is the end of our decade-by-decade exploration of Chinese Literature in the 20th Century. Lee explores Mo Yan, while Rob chooses Xi Chuan. Join them for the final episode in this series.
This week's episode looks at a Tang Dynasty Poem that cost Meituan Dianping, one of China's unicorn internet companies, 26 Billion dollars off its market capitalization. In this episode, we take a look at the Zhang Jie's "Book Burning Pit" and explore the full story behind the poem that the media is not explaining.
Today, we are rebroadcasting an episode that we did on the Three-Character Classic in honor of Chloe Zhao's quoting of the text during the Oscars. The audio quality is a little...well, you'll hear. We apologize. Just think, it has only been a year since we recorded this and already we are this much better.