22 April, 2015

Lin Yutang (林语堂) - Moment in Peking (京华烟云) First Edition

First editions of Moment in Peking (京华烟云), A Leaf in the Storm (风声鹤唳), The Vermillion Gate (朱门) - collectively known as the Lin Yutang trilogy (林语堂三部曲) – and The Gay Genius (苏东坡传).

--- 《道》在太极之先而不为高,在六极之下而不为深,先天地生而不为久,长于上古而不为老。庄子·内篇·大宗师

开始这部落格主要是为了更系统性的记录自己的藏书,次之是为自娱,其三是为自己创造书写已落下多年的中文。虽然近年看的以英文书刊为多,但年轻时阅读的中文书籍,对我成年后的价值观影响颇深。 鲁迅的孔乙己,张爱玲的半生缘,冰心的小桔灯,饮冰室主人的敬业与乐业都在不同时间点上给了我启发与安慰。
影响最深的,我想,该是金庸先生的武侠小说。小时候喜欢的尽是令狐冲的不羁,段誉的优柔,和韦小宝的狡猾。重看,才体会到虚竹的无奈与狄云的悲惨经历在现实中不是不无可能的 – 人生的际遇往往与一些局外人的决定有着莫名的关。 这不禁让人连想起"宿命"与"决定论"(determinism)的关系。再重看,也就不觉得岳不群有多可耻了。毕竟,这样的戏码在现实职场中日复一日的易角演练,时而拍案,时而生涩,屡见不鲜。这就是心理学里的desensitization吧。

本想说这首贴可以介绍第一修订版的金庸小说,但找了三个月才知道自己好傻好天真。第一修订版已绝版二十余年,收藏价值高,赝品又多,所以正版是一册难求。去年有幸在coursera 修了李欧梵教授的中國人文經典導讀,其中提及了苏轼,教授推荐了林语堂先生的The Gay Genius为参考书。恰巧我放长假,闲来无事就把原著与译本都看了。年末,又看了李晟版的新京华烟云。这戏拍得有点唯美,感觉有点象偶像剧。那时我在波士顿,便顺道买了京华烟云的原版初本:1939年由John Day出版社出版的Moment in Peking. 这首贴就谈谈京华烟云吧。

京华烟云通过曾,姚,牛三个的背景各异的家族反映了中国清末到民国初期的动荡,也陈述了新旧派别在世代交替中的矛盾。书中主要的灵魂人物是姚木兰。林语堂先生的长女林如斯提到:‘木兰的生活变迁,也很值得研究:从富家生长享用一切物质的安适,后变为村妇,过幽雅山居的生活,及最后变为普通农民,成为忍苦,勇敢,伟大的民众大海中的一滴水。父亲曾说:“若为女儿身,必做木兰也!”可见木兰是父亲的理想女子。我个人总觉得姚木兰象是个人生际遇比较不幸的林徽因。倘若木兰的自我注意再强些,和她厮守终身的或许就是孔立夫而非曾荪亚了。当然,嫁给曾荪亚应该是种写作手段,为的是体现当时对家族的重视。木兰在游无字碑那一篇就说了,人有情却难免一死,而得以留传的只有家族了。除了木兰之外,记忆较深的还有银屏的坎坷与不幸和牛素云的堕落。林语堂先生的这本现代石头记还刻录了无数的浮沉,但笔风之间蕴含庄周哲学,提醒着读者人生不过是南柯一梦。京华多绚丽亦不过烟云。看清了,云淡风轻近午天,傍花随柳过前川。时人不识余心乐,将谓偷闲学少年。

The intent of starting this blog is to, mainly, catalogue my book collection methodically, and then to amuse myself, and to provide an opportunity (and excuse) to write something in Chinese, something that I haven’t done for a while. Although my reading tended to be Anglo-centric in the past decade, it has been those Chinese literature that I read in the younger days that mold and influence my categorical imperative today. The works of Lu Xun, Eileen Chang, Bing Xin, and Liang Qichao, for example, had, at various times, provided solace and motivation.

The greatest influence, though, have to be the pugilistic novels by Louis Cha. In the younger days, my affinity tended towards characters who are nonchalant, whimsical or plain wily. Rereading them several years later, I began to appreciate the vicissitudes of life, and that a series of unfortunate events is not just a fictitious construct conceived by Daniel Handler, and that it can actually happen to real people in real life. On third read, the villains no longer seem so despicable anymore, if only because we see similar acts rehashed by different actors in reality all the time. That’s desensitization in psychology.

For this first Chinese post, I had wanted to introduce the first revised edition of Louis Cha’s work, but gave up after 3 months of search: Authentic copies are just impossible to come by at a reasonable price because the books are well read and, therefore, are usually in poor conditions; fine sets, when they appeared, would be snap up at exorbitant prices for their collectability. In place, I’ll start with Lin Yutang’s work, which I acquired during a sabbatical leave spent in Boston early this year.

Moment in Peking was published by John Day Company in 1939 and became an instant best seller in America. This is evidenced by the book’s Book-of-the-Month Club  selection in December 1939. The book chronicles the turmoil in Peking during the dynasty-changing period in early 1900s through three families. The protagonist is a smart, responsible, and family-oriented girl by the name of Yao Mulan who gave up the man she truly loved, mainly because her younger sister liked him too, but also to honor her family’s arrangement for her to marry another man. Despite the trials and tribulations of the characters through tumultuous times, the author surreptitiously infused a substantial dose of Zhuangzi-an philosophy, if only to remind that life is but a dream.

Front of dust jacket of the 1st edition Moment in Peking. The girl is likely Yao Mulan, and the young boy her brother, Yao Fei. Lin Yutang, was a best selling author who introduced Chinese culture to American audience, and his two earlier books, My Country and My People and The Importance of Living, sold very well. Moment in Peking, Lin's magnum opus, was written in Paris, and published in 1939.
Pearl Buck admired Lin Yutang's work and encouraged and helped him published in America. A Nobel Laureate for her work depicting the lives of peasants in China, most notably in The Good Earth, she nominated Lin Yutang for the Nobel Literature Prize twice. Their relationship deteriorated in the end, allegedly over monetary issue. 
The front board of the first edition. Note the Lin Yutang seal in red on the board. This is important to distinguish the true first edition from the Book-of-the-Month Club edition that was issued in December of the same year, which does not have this seal. The board colour of the book club edition is in red.
This first edition has a signature of Lin Yutang on the front free end page (FFEP). While it looks like Lin's signature (see a copy of his signature on the Chinese translation copy in the first picture), there is no good way to authenticate it. This is why I don't consider signature when valuing a book.
This is the full title page, again with Lin Yutang's seal, and John Day as publisher.
The copyright page is another important check for the first edition. It should shown "Copyright, 1939" with no mention of further print. At the bottom, it should only read "Printed in The United States of America" with no mention of the printer. The Book Club edition has an additional line "By H. Wolff, New York". It is a common practice for Book Club edition to include printer information (see, for example, The Old Man and The Sea). 

This is the short preface by the author.
 
Character tree and a guide on how to pronounce the names come after the copyright page.
A quote from Zhuangzi on the nature of Dao.
The first page of the novel starts on page 3.

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