- Series: Asian Voices
- Hardcover: 392 pages
- Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; First Edition edition (September 8, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0742553132
- ISBN-13: 978-0742553132
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,684,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Thousand Miles of Dreams: The Journeys of Two Chinese Sisters (Asian Voices) Hardcover – September 8, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Welland, a lecturer in anthropology and women's studies at the University of Washington–Seattle, reconstructs the lives of her elite Cantonese grandmother, Amy Ling Chen, who in 1925 won a scholarship to study medicine in the United States, and of Amy's elder sister, Ling Shuhua, a writer and painter who remained in China until 1945. Welland balances family sources with meticulous research and insightful reading of Shuhua's fiction. Describing the anti-Communist paramilitary violence targeting Chinese "modern girls" that precipitated Amy's emigration, Welland charts her grandmother's courageous years as a medical intern and her subsequent pursuit of all-American respectability after marriage to a successful Chinese researcher. Welland also recounts Shuhua's frustrated existence as a faculty wife and struggling writer at Wuhan University, sensitively examining records of Shuhua's affair with visiting British lecturer Julian Bell, Virginia Woolf's nephew. Welland also tracks Shuhua's tenuous postwar relationship to the Bloomsbury Group (Julian Bell having died in the Spanish Civil War) and the genesis of her memoir Ancient Melodies—published by Leonard Woolf's Hogarth Press in 1953. This restrained and melancholy biography is filled with fascinating glimpses of 20th-century Chinese women's intellectual history and insights into the Chinese-American and Anglo-Chinese experience. (Sept.)
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The "journeys" of the subtitle point to the multileveled movement of Welland's narrative from China to the U.S., from China to London, from the nineteenth century to and through the twentieth, from old to new. In the persons of two sisters--Welland's grandmother, Amy Ling Chen, and her great-aunt, Ling Shuhua--the book catches a tension between science and art that nevertheless joined the two women as if at the hip in creative processes that then significantly diverged as Amy became a doctor, Shuhua a writer and artist. The book introduces, wonderfully well, the work and the literary circle of Ling Shuhua, an important author whose work came to the West via the mediation of Virginia Woolf's Bloomsbury group. Welland has a sharp eye for the intersections and choices in her great-aunt's life that made her, as well as her English and Chinese mentors, proud; and the intersections Welland are conducive to better understanding of not only contemporary China but also the social construction of race, class, and gender in the U.S. Welland is an anthropologist with a novelist's eye for the art of both making lives and making books. She weaves biography, memoir, genealogy, social history, literary criticism, and theoretical reflection coherently, accessibly, and, indeed, beautifully. Steven Schroeder
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