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Essay:《爱》Love by Zhang Ailing (Eileen Chang)

A tragic, dreamlike little essay from writer Zhang Ailing (张爱玲, English name Eileen Chang) about love and destiny. This is one of her more well-known works of micro-prose, written in 1944. HSK 5-6.

A tragic, dreamlike little essay from writer Zhang Ailing (张爱玲, English name Eileen Chang) about love and destiny. This is one of her more well-known works of micro-prose, written in 1944. HSK 5-6.

This is the second thing I put up from Zhang this week. The first piece was filed under “advanced” (though I think HSK 6 readers could probably tackle it), but this one is definitely a little easier. I introduced Zhang in that post, so head over and read her bio if you’d like, but the short version is that she was a literary diva whose work garnered a cult following in China in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and is still one of China’s most famous female authors.

Some language stuff

As with much of Zhang’s writing, a couple sentences are deep but a little vague, it’s left up to you to read into them. The last paragraph of this work are along those lines.

小康之家 xiǎo kāng zhī jiā – A middle-class household, or a family that has enough money to cover the necessities but isn’t wealthy.

做媒 zuò méi – Play matchmaker, act as a middleman / negotiator to find a suitable spouse for someone.

作妾 zuò qiè – Be a concubine.

转卖 zhuǎn mài – To buy and re-sell something, or in this case, someone.

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《爱》

这是真的。

有个村庄的小康之家的女孩子,生得美,有许多人来做媒,但都没有说成。那年她不过十五六岁吧,是春天的晚上,她立在后门口,手扶着桃树。她记得她穿的是一件月白的衫子。对门住的年轻人同她见过面,可是从来没有打过招呼的,他走了过来,离得不远,站定了,轻轻的说了一声:“噢,你也在这里吗?”她没有说什么,他也没有再说什么,站了一会,各自走开了。

就这样就完了。

后来这女子被亲眷拐子卖到他乡外县去作妾,又几次三番地被转卖,经过无数的惊险的风波,老了的时候她还记得从前那一回事,常常说起,在那春天的晚上,在后门口的桃树下,那年轻人。

于千万人之中遇见你所遇见的人,于千万年之中,时间的无涯的荒野里,没有早一步,也没有晚一步,刚巧赶上了,那也没有别的话可说,惟有轻轻的问一声:“噢,你也在这里吗?”

Show English translation »
This is true.

There was a village girl from a middle-class family, she was born a beauty, many people came to play matchmaker, but none [of the negotiations] succeeded. That year she wasn’t more than about 15 or 16 years old, and one spring evening, she stood at the back door, with her hand on the peach tree. She remembers she was wearing a moon-white shirt. [She had seen] the young man across the way but they had never greeted each other, but had never greeted each other, he walked over, no great distance, stood still, and in a soft voice said: “Oh, you’re here too?” She didn’t say anything, and he said nothing else, just stood there a moment, and then each went on their way.

It was over just like that.

Later, this girl was abducted by her relatives and sold as a concubine [to a man] in another county. She was resold again and again. After passing through countless dangers and storms, when she had grown old, she still remembered that one thing, and she often mentioned that spring night, under the peach tree at the back door, and the young man there.

Among all the thousands of people you meet, in all the thousands of years, in the boundless wilderness of time, there is no ‘behind’, and no ‘ahead’, there is only coincidental catching up, [and in such moments] there are no other words to say, only a gentle question: “Oh, you’re here too?”

5 replies on “Essay:《爱》Love by Zhang Ailing (Eileen Chang)”

This is so lovely! The last lines are especially haunting. I wonder if you know where to find more of Chang’s essays to read online?

Thx for sharings.
Yes I need to learn Chinese by more and more practices, aiming to extend the field involved in Chinese / Mandarin. I planned to go China two months ago, but suspended by the coronavirus, so learn Chinese at home everyday.

Finally I took the live online lesson to learn it by tuition of native-Chinese teachers (eChineseLearning). https://bit.ly/32i4lVE
As a result, it is good currently. What do you think about this method of learning?

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