Monday, September 13, 2010

Lao She, China's Master Storyteller


Few writers have had the influence of China's Lao She (1899-1966). He is required reading in China schools and was voted by the Chinese of the world their favorite writer. His works appear in over seven languages. He was a Manchu and knew what it was like to be a minority.

His son, Shu Yi, writes in a Hong Kong 2009 Festival Magazine about the need for more of his short stories to be made into films.

Shu Yi and his sister Shu Ji, both writers of renown in China, wrote glowing forwards for my book on the life of their father: Lao She, China's Master Storyteller, published in 1999 in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth. It is also the year the Towery-Lao She Collection was dedicated at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. It houses Towery's vast collection of and by Lao She, outside of China, is the largest to collections in Japan.

His many short pieces, first printed in newspapers during the 1930-1940 era are not as well known as his Rickshaw Boy (Camel Xiangzi), Yellow Storm (Four Generations) and Tea House, but they are filled with his insight and humor for the human spirit.

His work along with Lu Xun's writings helped in plane easy to read language their readers to the plight of the underdogs and led to what is now Modern Chinese Literature.

My book has filled a gap in the study of world literature. It is the only book in English of his life and introductions to his work. University studies in world literature can receive as many as five copies for only the postage. ORDER BY E-MAIL:




Thomas A. Wiebe said...

What work of Lao She would you recommend as a first piece to read as an introduction?

Britt Towery said...

After reading my book on some of his works and life I would recommend "Camel XiangZi" about the toil and trials of a rickshaw boy in Beijing at the turn of the last century (20th). It was earlier (1945) translated poorly with a changed ending and made the Book of the Month Club. Get the newer translation titled "Camel Xiangzi" "Teahouse" is a three-act play that covers the first 50 years in China 1900-1950 in a tea house and the politics of the changing times. I saw it as a musical in Beijing and only wish it were a DVD. Southern Baptist missionary kid (Ida Pruitt, 1888-1985) tranlsated his "Four Generations" and called it "Yellow Storm." Set in Beijing during the Japanese occupation in early 1940s.

Ida's father was colleague with Lottie Moon, SBC most well-known missionary. Ida knew Lao She well and the language so she did an excellent translation.