Say It Right Series

王小波 -《黄金时代》Wang Xiaobo - The Golden Age (1)

Posted by bokane December 19, 2007 in the Group General Discussion.

王小波 Wáng Xiǎobō was one of the most influential writers to come out of the 1990s in China. A voracious reader, Wang developed a writing style - and at times a worldview - reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut or Murakami Haruki. He died of heart failure at a young age in 1997, but left behind several novels, of which the current work, 黄金时代 Huángjīn Shídài, was his favorite.

Here's the beginning of chapter one of that novella, along with some vocabulary notes that will hopefully prove helpful. This is one of my favorite works of modern fiction, and I hope that everybody else will enjoy working through this as much as I enjoyed reading it!

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about the reading!





插队 chāduì Generally used of the Cultural Revolution; to join a production brigade, to be rusticated, or to otherwise be sent to the countryside.
破鞋 pòxié “Broken shoes” -- an offensive term for a women who has “been tried on too many times.” If you must use this one, do so carefully.
不大 bú dà Like 不太, but more colloquial.
偷汉 tōuhàn A slang term, somewhat dated, used to refer to a woman who “steals” another woman’s husband or boyfriend.
简直 jiǎnzhí “Simply.”
逻辑 luóji “Logic.” A phonetic loanword.
从逻辑上证明 cóng luóji shàng zhèngmíng “Prove by logic.”
“That is,” “i.e.” Here and below with 则, Wang is having fun by using very formal, pompous-sounding language.
如果陈清扬是破鞋,即陈清扬偷汉   “If Chen Qingyang were a slut, id est a stealer of men.”
Therefore; thus. Like 即, it is a more formal word used primarily in written language.
起码 qǐmǎ “At least.” Similar to 至少 but more colloquial. Also used as a noun meaning “a minimum.”
某, 某人 mǒu, mǒurén “A certain,” “A certain person.” Example: 王某 “A certain [Mr.] Wang.” Also 某某人: “So-and-so,” “Who’shisname,” etc.
为其所偷 wéi qí suǒ tōu This is a formal construction used in writing and derived from classical Chinese. 为 here is functioning like 被 would in ordinary modern Mandarin -- as a passive marker. 其 is acting as a pronoun -- in this case, as a stand-in for Chen Qingyang. 所 is acting the way it often does in classical Chinese -- as something that turns whatever verb comes after it into a noun. 所偷 therefore is “what [was/is] stolen.” Taken as a whole, these four characters 为其所偷 mean “who was stolen by her,” like 被他偷的东西 in modern spoken Mandarin.
成立 chénglì Usually this means “to establish.” Here, as applied to a logical argument, it means “stand up” or “hold together.”
piān Something like “stubbornly.” As a general rule of thumb, whatever verb comes after 偏 (sometimes 偏偏) is not what had been wanted.
毋庸置疑 wúyōngzhìyí A fixed expression: there need be no doubt.





打针 dǎzhēn Give or get a shot
农忙 nóngmáng The busy season in farming
犁田 lítián Plowing fields
插秧 chāyāng Planting rice seedlings
旧伤 jiùshāng An old injury
打封闭 dǎ fēngbì Get a shot to temporarily relieve pain or symptoms.
Plating or cladding
剥落 bōluò To flake off or peel off
倒钩 dàogōu Hooked barbs or jags
霰弹 sǎndàn Buckshot, shrapnel.
针头 zhēntóu Hypodermic needle
勾针 gōuzhēn Darning needle

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