Chinese Writer Cements a Legacy

Roland Soong’s only memory of Eileen Chang, one of modern China’s most celebrated novelists, was when she stayed at his family home in Hong Kong in the early 1960s. “I was 12,” Mr. Soong said. “Eileen Chang took over my room, which was located off the kitchen, and I had to sleep on the sofa in the living room, which was filled with mosquitoes. She didn’t pay attention to me or talk to anyone. She locked herself away to work.”

In 1962, the enigmatic writer left for the United States, and the Soongs never saw her again. She died as a recluse in California in 1995, at the age of 74. Today, the boy who was once barely a footnote in Chang’s life is the executor of her works and the greatest promoter of her legacy, which was almost lost in the turmoil of 20th-century China.

Mr. Soong, 61 and the blogger behind the popular site EastSouthWestNorth, still lives in the apartment he once shared with Chang, his parents, his sister, his grandmother and two servants. It was there that he discovered “boxes and boxes, dressers and dressers” of neglected documents sent to the family after Chang’s death. His father, Stephen Soong, was her literary agent.

“It was like searching through an avalanche,” he said. Among the papers he unearthed were several unpublished works that he is now making public.

“Small Reunions,” a Chinese-language novel written in 1976, was released last year and has sold nearly a million copies in China. “The Private Sayings of Eileen Chang,” a collection of notes and correspondence, was released at the Hong Kong Book Fair in July.

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Two English-language novels from the 1960s, “The Fall of the Pagoda” and “The Book of Change,” were published by Hong Kong University Press this year. Chinese-language translations were released in Taiwan and Hong Kong last month. Chang is probably best known for “Love in a Fallen City,” and the short story that was transformed into Ang Lee’s sex-filled spy film “Lust, Caution” in 2007. But she was regarded as a literary giant long before.

Her New York Times obituary quoted Dominic Cheung of the University of Southern California as saying that, had it not been for politics, Chang would have almost certainly won a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Restricted in her homeland, she moved to the United States hoping to break through internationally, but she could not arouse the interest of publishers there.

“These manuscripts were meant to be her calling card,” Michael Duckworth, publisher of Hong Kong University Press, said of the two English-language novels released this year. “But she never made it in the New York publishing scene in the ’60s and ’70s.”

Mr. Duckworth added: “She was not just a brilliant Chinese writer, she also deserves credit as a thoughtful, provocative writer in English. It’s unique that a writer can be dominant in two languages.”

Blocked in China and a failure in the United States, Chang became increasingly isolated. When Chang died, all of her files were sent to Mr. Soong’s parents according to her wishes, even though she had not seen them for three decades. Stephen Soong died a year later and the documents languished in storage. Roland Soong had “no idea” that he would someday become a promoter of Chinese literature. He spent most of his adult life in New York, getting a doctorate in statistics and working for a research company. It was only when he returned to Hong Kong in 2003, after his mother suffered a stroke, that he was approached about making a film from one of Chang’s novellas.

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Roland Soong showing photos from Eileen Chang at his home in Hong Kong. Credit Lit Ma for the International Herald Tribune
He acknowledged that he had not read it. “So I dug out a copy of the old story in Chinese,” Mr. Soong said. “The first four pages are about some women playing mah-jongg. And I thought, ‘What kind of film is someone going to make out of this?”’ The result was “Lust, Caution,” a thriller set in wartime Shanghai that was so racy that it was given an NC-17 rating in the United States, which restricts the movie to viewers 18 and older.

“When the film came out, all the fuss was about the three sex scenes,” Mr. Soong said. “But there is no sex in the original. Eileen Chang just glided over those things, hoping that the reader could use his imagination. Ang Lee inserted them, but I can understand, and I think Eileen Chang could have, too. She once worked as a screenwriter.”

The film was reworked for the mainland — the sex scenes were cut. The ending was also changed slightly, to make it more ambiguous that the main character, a Chinese agent assigned to assassinate a Japanese sympathizer, may have betrayed her country.

Chang was not particularly political, but her works were often interpreted as such. “She might not have gone looking for politics, but politics had a way of finding her,” Mr. Soong said.

David Der-wei Wang, an Asia scholar at Harvard, wrote that Chang was “forced to the margins of literary respectability” after the Communists took power in 1949. Before then, she was the most popular writer in Shanghai. She made her debut at 18 when she published an essay, “What a Life! A Girl’s Life!” in an English-language newspaper, telling of how her father locked her in the house and denied her medical treatment.

Many of her works are thinly veiled autobiographies that draw on her family’s glamorous, turbulent life. Characters are based on her free-spirited mother and opium-addict father. Chang’s own life plays out repeatedly, particularly how she escaped her family to attend the University of Hong Kong and how she returned to wartime Shanghai, where she fell in love with a Chinese man suspected of collaborating with the Japanese.

“Strange Country” is about a 1947 trip Chang took to the countryside to visit her husband, who was considered a traitor and in hiding. “Of course it wasn’t published, because she couldn’t tell people where she was,” said Mr. Soong, who published the story in Taiwan and Hong Kong this spring.

“She was accused of being a traitor after World War II,” said Perry Lam, who edits Muse, a magazine here that in 2008 published a Chang short story for the first time. “By Communist standards, she wasn’t politically correct. She wasn’t a nationalist, and patriotism was not a major theme in her works.”

It did not help that her stories, with their opium dens, concubines and bound feet, were considered bourgeois. To make things worse, she did translation and other work for the U.S. Information Service. Her Hong Kong novels of the 1950s, “Naked Earth” and “The Rice Sprout Song,” were tarred as “anti-China and C.I.A.-funded,” Mr. Soong said.

Chang has long been popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where there have been films, ballets and other works created in her honor. But it was only in the 1990s that there was a revival of interest in her work in China, partly through unauthorized copies. “In 1980, nobody knew who she was,” Mr. Soong said. “By 2005, she had become one of the top five Chinese authors selling in the mainland.”

In 2003, he went to a major bookstore in Beijing and found what he called “the Eileen Chang special pirated section, with works by 30 different publishers, none of them authorized.” Mr. Soong plans to bring the definitive, complete set of Chang’s works to the Chinese market. But while many of her books have been allowed into mainland China, some are still available only from publishers in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

A vestige of the politics that hounded Chang still follows her works today.

“All these issues were left unresolved in her lifetime,” Mr. Soong said. “They were deferred. I could defer it, too, but then what would happen?”

By JOYCE LAU

我对你的爱是平淡是疯狂——观电影《我的国王Mon Roi》

我想—到了最后

我对于你的爱,也只不过是,我,坐在你的身旁。
我,看着你胡渣出神,我的心里不禁微笑了,爱是平静里的波澜,我的心随你潮起潮落。

爱是什么?

看完电影我不禁感慨道。

Tony在经历了滑雪事故后,膝盖严重受伤,在恢复中心接受治疗,依靠于治疗团队和止痛药,她终于有了一些时间,回忆起曾经的与Georgio之间的爱情点滴。

我看到IMDb上有一个电影评论的标题写着”Great film_The price we pay for love”
何尝不是。

看完后我沉默了很久。

也许是因为

这曾是我们的一切。

You the only man that’s ever touched me.——观电影《月光男孩》

You the only man that’s ever touched me.
You’re the only one.
I haven’t really touched anyone since.

你为什么要跟我打电话。
你知道吗
你是至今,唯一碰过我的人。

你过的怎么样?
not match
不怎么样。

小黑成长在一个黑人社区,妈妈是一瘾君子,经常与男人厮混嗑药,小黑小时候有家无法回,遇到了一个名叫胡安的男人,带小黑回家,小黑寡言,内向,老实,也很少说话。胡安教他游泳,胡安的女朋友教他自尊自爱。
小黑在学校经常受到欺负。
在中学时代,一个夜晚,小黑的朋友,凯,亲了他。
一切发生的那么自然
那么年少
那个吻,到了我的心里去。
从此以后,我再没爱过其他人。
爱是爱过。
只是
也不一样。
你是唯一。
说来有些俗套
但对于小黑来说,你是我的only one
却一点也不俗套
但这话从小黑心里吐露出来。
是最真诚的爱。
但这世界好像视真心如粪土。
但又如何,无所谓了。
别看着我。
Don’t look at me.

我,不低头——观电影《我,丹尼尔·布莱克》

近日因为感冒的缘故,味觉和嗅觉消失了一阵子,吃什么都如同嚼蜡。拿起一个葡萄柚来闻,也没有了那酸甜清香的葡萄柚香味。真怕再也闻不到那味道了。桌上的香水,我拿起来,我自然也闻不到那味道了。真叫人伤感,人的生命,原来这容易被破坏,打败一个人,不必看他强的地方,只要找到一个最柔软的地方。

我以为的人生天久地长,在这阳光照不到的,朝北的屋子里,风透不过来的日子里,我的感冒痛症,使我一度以为人生竟然不过如此,死固然是难堪的,只是难堪一直都是没有下限的。对,想起来,堕落总是没有下限的。

痛苦,竟,也是没有下限的。

想起来,电影人工智能(AI)里,人类杀害无用的机器人的时候,倒也不愿关闭机器人的疼痛感知系统,旁观者,总是希望看看那痛苦到底是有多痛得……毕竟不是在自己身上,就算是,也好像不是现在。

快乐竟是有上限的。不过我们,总是痛着也快乐着的。

总是这样活着的。

电影《我,丹尼尔·布莱克》讲述的这个故事,也使我更感到深刻。

电影讲述了一个经历了心脏病的老人——丹尼尔-布莱克,失去了工作,为了生活,他不得不去申请失业支持补助,他遇到了许多的困难,但在生命的最后岁月里,他也是不懈的坚持着他的心。

想起来,《玉熙的电影》里面有人问

应该坚持什么活下去?

答曰:应该自己去寻找。

现在只想坚持肯定的语气,说一句:应该坚持什么活下去。

电影中,丹尼尔-布莱克帮助过的小女孩黛西,来看望他,他有些不愿开门,因为他的situation有点糟糕。有点mess,他求小女孩回去吧

小女孩问道“我有一个问题,丹尼尔,你是不是帮助过我们呢?”

“I suppose so….”丹尼尔答道

“那……为什么我们不能帮助你?”

……

“I’m sorry …. I’m sorry …. I’m so sorry”

丹尼尔打开门,抱着黛西说道。

I’m so sorry……

After having suffered a heart-attack, a 59-year-old carpenter must fight the bureaucratic forces of the system in order to receive Employment and Support Allowance.

我望着你的眼神里永远充满了无限柔情—观电影—《只是世界尽头》

印象最深是……美丽的苏姗妮,和她母亲在那“烂音乐”下,跳着美丽的健美操,我最深爱的一幕,仿佛人生总是需要一些烂音乐的。

最深爱的哪一个镜头,是路易斯望着苏姗妮出神,目光之缥缈,仿佛已经不再人世间,可世界照常。美丽的音乐照耀着那独自的末日光景。

我爱你,不再此刻,在这烂音乐下的健美操的时间里,我就爱你这一会儿,何妨。

爱总是爱过的,活,总是活过的。人生,总是,存在过。

只是——世界-尽头。

Juste la fin du Monde.

泽维尔·多兰的电影《只是世界尽头》,讲述了一个蒙(误)患绝症的作家Louis (Gaspard Ulliel饰演),准备告诉家人他将不久于人世的消息。