The Wit Of Qian Zhongshu, Author Of Fortress Besieged

Qian Zhongshu

The top-ten-list format has its limitations as a vehicle for instruction and dialectic, but The Nanfang has a great one you should check out: top 10 translations of quotes from the novelist Qian Zhongshu (yesterday was the 15th anniversary of his death). Our favorites come in a clump, Nos. 5-7:

  • If you’re not crazy when you’re 20, you’ll never amount to anything. If you’re still crazy when you’re 30, you’ll never amount to anything.
  • Can pigs experience joy the way people can? We don’t know. But we see evidence every day that people can be as content as pigs.
  • Foreign scientists make progress, Chinese scientists make social capital.

Also check out Brendan O’Kane’s case for why Qian should’ve won the Nobel Prize in literature, and this oldie but goodie from The China Beat that calls Qian “the best Chinese writer you’ve never heard of.”

Buy Fortress Besieged.

China marks 15th anniversary of novelist Qian Zhongshu’s death (The Nanfang)

    2 Responses to “The Wit Of Qian Zhongshu, Author Of Fortress Besieged”

    1. Bruce Humes

      You left out my favorite! The sharp-tongued Qian Zhongshu is reputed to have said this to a reporter who was eager to interview him about his much beloved novel:

      “Is it necessary for one to know the hen if one loves the eggs it lays?”

    2. Joe

      I read a great book by him called “The Marginalia of Life”, it is translated into English, I think I got it at a Xinhua about nine years ago, and haven’t been able to find it again. That is a really great read!


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