Whether you are a fan of memoirs, history, or Chinese literature, the book A Thousand Pieces of Gold: a memoir of China's past through its proverbs contains a wealth of literary interest for you. Adeline Yeh Mah, author of bestseller Falling Leaves, uses proverbs ingrained in the chinese language to tell a threefold history.
She uses incidents from her own life in which certain proverbs or saying are exemplary of the situation in her mind. From her unhappy childhood to piercingly hurtful times in adulthood to the comforting and hopeful memories of her aunt and grandfather, she uses times that her life closely reflected that of China's past. Many can relate to these times in her life. The reader is left reflecting on their own life and sees that these wise sayings of Chinese ancients ring true in one's very own life today.
China's modern history of the rule of Mao Zedong, communism, and the cultural revolution is vividly portrayed as parallel to that of the ancient rule of the first emperor. While many in the west focus solely on Western history, the present shows that China's recent history may very soon become an area of great interest. Adeline Yen Mah's portrayal of this modern history is filled with similarities to the past that are best described by the same proverbs used thousands of years ago. This account is written by a woman who lived during the time of the events she records. She has a unique view from her family background, her life in the United States and Great Brittain, and her deep scars from her step mother and siblings.
The true treasure of this book, though, is the record of the ancient history found in Shiji, a historical writing of the first emperor and those who followed him. These stories are littered with the sayings used by the author to describe her life and china's modern history. The stories are actual documented accounts, not fairy tales. She uses this ancient book to show that the proverbs and metaphors used by her that are so essential to the Chinese language are rooted in a deep and rich history. Thousand's of years ago these sayings were coined and have since that time been used to describe events in lives of many people.
Whether history repeats itself or parallels can simply be found in any age and in any life, this book is a great treasure of Chinese proverbs that have been used throughout history up even until the present. The author wonderfully explains her thought process and that typical of the Chinese mind. Her linguistic insight to the Chinese language is superb. This book is truly a literary gem benefiting all who read it.
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