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Love in a Fallen City (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – October 10, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Since the release of Ang Lee's Lust Caution which was based on one of Zhang's short stories, interest in this unusual and reclusive writer has been revived. This collection of short stories is a collection of characters whose fatal flaws and their circumstances conspire against them to shatter any illusion of love. They are so sad and you are thrilled when there is a glimmer of love and softness between them.
The stories all have a common theme: that love will never triumph between lonely people - that their loneliness brings them together for the wrong reasons and will also ultimately keep them apart.
The translator has done an amazing job of preserving the spartan nature of the prose and maintaining the author's voice - these stories are emotionally draining - but not heavy going. The characters are finely drawn and there is a lightness of language that evokes the fragility of love.
Her characters don't care for women equality or political agendas, they have enough on their plates when they are free to pursue their own love lives rather than to be arranged married, which is radically new for that era. Armed with elitist ammos of idealism and wit, these heroines are able to charm their lovers and seducers to be their eventual husbands. And through their quest for romance, the heroines overcome heavy obstacles of archaic traditions, portrayed by old-school fathers or menacing mother-in-laws.
Love in a Fallen City can be appreciated more in the backdrop of Chinese history. Shanghai is the frontier of modernizing China, struggling to break free from the feudalistic traditions of the past, particularly confining to women. As an introspective, intelligent, hopeless-romantic woman writer, Elieen Chang has already overcome barriers by creating characters that are just learning how to play the game of love.
Love in a Fallen City contributes to a view of love that might leave the reader a little disillusioned with love, but is certainly worth reading, as her stories make a rich impression. Each features a heroine often burdened by social and familial expectation when she encounters love, as in the titular story. Because of such burdens, love becomes an escape or even an illusion built in her mind and becomes a fascinating study of the female psyche as well as of the female voice during the development of the modern China.
Chang's prose is lyrical and the stories will go by quickly if read for pure pleasure, but take a moment to slow down and absorb the characters and settings. The symbolism is sometimes raw and sometimes subtle, but the stories always rich with emotion and sincerity.
There are many themes that consistently run throughout Chang's works, however on of the most notable themes, is the idea of old versus new or young versus old. In the first story of the book Aloeswood Incense, right from the beginning description of the main character, Weilong, she's described as having a "'powder-puff face' that would be considered old-fashioned nowadays." (9).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book! So compelling. The translation is right on, it did its job of creating amazing images.Published 3 months ago by Jacqueline Dreager
Unexpectedly original and unique writing. And an insight into a world that previously I'd only viewed from outside. Eileen Chang has given me a view of that world from inside .....Published 14 months ago by Ross Vassallo
Ailing Zhang/Eileen Chang's Love in a Fallen City is a collection of works by the author--full of beautiful prose and characters. Read morePublished 17 months ago by K. Kennedy
Ms. Chang's historic short story fiction gives insight to the emotions and joys and pressures of pre-war Chinese romance. It is a mystic adventure.Published 17 months ago by Douglas L. Red
I got into this book. China. The 20s. A narrative and relationships different from our own but told in a way we can digest and understand, thinking too that just around the corner... Read morePublished on August 9, 2013 by PARSLEYSAGE
This book was published in 2007 and collected two of Chang's short stories and four 60-to-70-page novellas, all from the 1940s. Read morePublished on December 12, 2012 by Reader in Tokyo
Love in a Fallen City is a collection of stories by Eileen Chang. The stories take place in China and Hong Kong around the 1940s. Read morePublished on October 10, 2012 by Jacob
Lu Xun is often referred to as China's literary father. He and other academics during the May 4th movement dominated literature, attempting to encourage revolution. Read morePublished on October 7, 2012 by DM2015