|Author||Bangqing Han and Eva Hung|
In the preface it is said that this is a book to be read, re-read and read again. Just so. The stories, characters and nuance are rich and deep. Enjoyable the first time, I wonder how much more will be seen the second time through. Strangely, I look forward to reading it again.
My first reading of "The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai" left me a little confused. I read it again and found that much of it is humorous. An introduction to Shanghai "flowers" and their society/culture through Gail Hershatter's "Dangerous Pleasures" and Catherine Yeh's "Shanghai Love" is helpful if not required to understand much of "Sing-song Girls". "Sing-song Girls" is a translation (Eva Hung)of a translation (Eileen Chang)of the book written by Han Bangqing. It is also slightly abridged. The short forward and prologue from the original are omitted as well as the moralistic introduction. I find this offensive and the presumption that I would need to be steeped in Chinese literati tradition to get it simply rude!!! Han Bangqing wrote this Qing courtesan book in Shanghai (Wu) dialect. "Sing-song Girls" hails from the "Mandarin ducks" genre of novel writing. A lot of reference in the novel is to "The Dream of the Red Chamber" a highly popular classical novel in China. "Sing-song Girls" is not a very popular novel in China. As the introduction implies it does not compare well with more conventional courtesan novels of the late Qing, which were sentimental. It is not sentimental, but Shanghai pragmatic and as I said really funny.