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Rachel-K
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Questions for Lisa See?

Hi All,

Please use this space to pose any questions for Lisa!
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bentley
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?

Lisa, Baba referred to himself as a Ming loyalist. What did that mean for Baba with a Manchu government. What were the differences?
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LisaSee
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?



bentley wrote:
Lisa, Baba referred to himself as a Ming loyalist. What did that mean for Baba with a Manchu government. What were the differences?




During the Ming Dynasty, men aspired to become imperial scholars with imperial appointments in the government. When the Ming Dyanasty fell, most men retreated home. They didn't want to work for the new government, which was run by foreign invaders. Those that went home were considered loyalists. Those like Commissioner Tan to work for the new government. This was a process, and after so many years of Baba staying at home (16 or so years), he also decides to go back to the government. Partly it's a practical move, but there's another reason that will be revealed later.
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bentley
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?



LisaSee wrote:


bentley wrote:
Lisa, Baba referred to himself as a Ming loyalist. What did that mean for Baba with a Manchu government. What were the differences?




During the Ming Dynasty, men aspired to become imperial scholars with imperial appointments in the government. When the Ming Dyanasty fell, most men retreated home. They didn't want to work for the new government, which was run by foreign invaders. Those that went home were considered loyalists. Those like Commissioner Tan to work for the new government. This was a process, and after so many years of Baba staying at home (16 or so years), he also decides to go back to the government. Partly it's a practical move, but there's another reason that will be revealed later.




Thank you for your explanation. Was Baba independently wealthy to stay at home for 16 years of so without working (aside from the opera)?

Was his staying at home a strain or a blessing to the women at home?

And could you elaborate further on the role of the imperial scholar (their duties and how one became an imperial scholar). And what did a Commissioner of Silk do? (oversee the silk cocoons???)
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LisaSee
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?



bentley wrote:


Was Baba independently wealthy to stay at home for 16 years of so without working (aside from the opera)?

Was his staying at home a strain or a blessing to the women at home?

And could you elaborate further on the role of the imperial scholar (their duties and how one became an imperial scholar). And what did a Commissioner of Silk do? (oversee the silk cocoons???)




Each gereation of imperial scholar was given gifts of land, money, and businesses, so after nine generations the Chen Family was extremely wealthy.

Was staying at home a blessing or a curse for the women? I suppose that depends on the woman and the man, doesn't it? I often hear women complain when their husbands retire home.

The Commissioner of Silk oversaw production and shipments for the empire, in this case, probably just for the province.
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bentley
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?

[ Edited ]

LisaSee wrote:


bentley wrote:


Was Baba independently wealthy to stay at home for 16 years of so without working (aside from the opera)?

Was his staying at home a strain or a blessing to the women at home?

And could you elaborate further on the role of the imperial scholar (their duties and how one became an imperial scholar). And what did a Commissioner of Silk do? (oversee the silk cocoons???)




Each gereation of imperial scholar was given gifts of land, money, and businesses, so after nine generations the Chen Family was extremely wealthy.

Was staying at home a blessing or a curse for the women? I suppose that depends on the woman and the man, doesn't it? I often hear women complain when their husbands retire home.

The Commissioner of Silk oversaw production and shipments for the empire, in this case, probably just for the province.





Thank you, Lisa. In terms of staying at home and was it a strain..I guess I was thinking of Baba being at home that long. I appreciate your explaining how the imperial scholar gained enough money to stay at home (gifts, etc)..but what exactly did he do. Was he an adviser like the President's chief of staff? Like a Cabinet member?

Message Edited by bentley on 09-09-2007 06:16 PM
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Pat_T
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?

Lisa,

Now that we're in part 2 of the book, can you tell us a bit more about the custom of dotting the ancestor's tablet? I haven't heard of this before and am not clear about its significance, who can do it, and why it is so very important. Thank you, Pat
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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?

[ Edited ]

Pat_T wrote:
Lisa,

Now that we're in part 2 of the book, can you tell us a bit more about the custom of dotting the ancestor's tablet? I haven't heard of this before and am not clear about its significance, who can do it, and why it is so very important. Thank you, Pat


Pat, if it will help, there is one post on here somewhere with pictures of tablets and some info and if you have not read all of Part II yet, there is a lot of it explained as you go along. :smileywink: It may be on the part one thread, because I do remember Lisa addressing this before. Hope that helps some.

Ah yes, check several of the posts in the community room :smileyhappy:

Message Edited by vivico1 on 09-10-2007 12:17 PM
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Fozzie
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?



vivico1 wrote:

Pat_T wrote:
Lisa,

Now that we're in part 2 of the book, can you tell us a bit more about the custom of dotting the ancestor's tablet? I haven't heard of this before and am not clear about its significance, who can do it, and why it is so very important. Thank you, Pat


Pat, if it will help, there is one post on here somewhere with pictures of tablets and some info and if you have not read all of Part II yet, there is a lot of it explained as you go along. :smileywink: It may be on the part one thread, because I do remember Lisa addressing this before. Hope that helps some.



It is in the Community Room.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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LisaSee
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?



bentley wrote:
I appreciate your explaining how the imperial scholar gained enough money to stay at home (gifts, etc)..but what exactly did he do. Was he an adviser like the President's chief of staff? Like a Cabinet member?

Message Edited by bentley on 09-09-2007 06:16 PM




I don't know what he did exactly, because that wasn't part of the story I wanted to tell. But these scholars became all kinds of things: advisors to the emperor, magistrates in towns and counties, commissioners for different parts of the government.
KPL
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KPL
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?

Lisa—
In your response to Bentley, you say that, after nine generations, the Chen family was extremely wealthy. In another thread, a question was made regarding the Chen villa. In the book, we hear about the pavillions, the hill that Ren's home occupied, visible from Peony's father's study, etc. I'm wondering, could Peony's home be at all like the Yu Garden in Shanghai? I remember seeing it two years ago, and somehow it seems that there might be a similarity. I know that it's a classical Chinese garden, built approximately 400 years ago, and that it has several pavillions. I was interested to learn from our guide that the reason the many bridges (I think there were eight or nine) zig-zagged so sharply was to fend off evil spirits, since they can't negotiate corners. Little did I know that I'd be reading about Peony and her difficulty as she swooped widely...
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LisaSee
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?



KPL wrote:
Lisa—
In your response to Bentley, you say that, after nine generations, the Chen family was extremely wealthy. In another thread, a question was made regarding the Chen villa. In the book, we hear about the pavillions, the hill that Ren's home occupied, visible from Peony's father's study, etc. I'm wondering, could Peony's home be at all like the Yu Garden in Shanghai? I remember seeing it two years ago, and somehow it seems that there might be a similarity. I know that it's a classical Chinese garden, built approximately 400 years ago, and that it has several pavillions. I was interested to learn from our guide that the reason the many bridges (I think there were eight or nine) zig-zagged so sharply was to fend off evil spirits, since they can't negotiate corners. Little did I know that I'd be reading about Peony and her difficulty as she swooped widely...




The Yu Garden is beautiful, but I based the Chen Family Villa on some of the big garden estates in Suzhou and Hangzhou. There was one in Hangzhou right on the lake that particularly inspired me.

By the way, the bridges have more zigzags according to how important you are. Only the emperor can have nine zigzags. Then it drops all the way down to three zigzags the more common or less important you are.
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Pat_T
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?

vivico1 wrote: Pat, if it will help, there is one post on here somewhere with pictures of tablets and some info and if you have not read all of Part II yet, there is a lot of it explained as you go along. :smileywink: It may be on the part one thread, because I do remember Lisa addressing this before. Hope that helps some.

Yes, it helps a lot. Thank you all for pointing out the community room. I hadn't looked at it before, but it is just the background I was looking for- it looks like I have more reading to do :-)
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bentley
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?



LisaSee wrote:


bentley wrote:
I appreciate your explaining how the imperial scholar gained enough money to stay at home (gifts, etc)..but what exactly did he do. Was he an adviser like the President's chief of staff? Like a Cabinet member?

Message Edited by bentley on 09-09-2007 06:16 PM




I don't know what he did exactly, because that wasn't part of the story I wanted to tell. But these scholars became all kinds of things: advisors to the emperor, magistrates in towns and counties, commissioners for different parts of the government.




Thank you, Lisa.
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bentley
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?



LisaSee wrote:


KPL wrote:
Lisa—
In your response to Bentley, you say that, after nine generations, the Chen family was extremely wealthy. In another thread, a question was made regarding the Chen villa. In the book, we hear about the pavillions, the hill that Ren's home occupied, visible from Peony's father's study, etc. I'm wondering, could Peony's home be at all like the Yu Garden in Shanghai? I remember seeing it two years ago, and somehow it seems that there might be a similarity. I know that it's a classical Chinese garden, built approximately 400 years ago, and that it has several pavillions. I was interested to learn from our guide that the reason the many bridges (I think there were eight or nine) zig-zagged so sharply was to fend off evil spirits, since they can't negotiate corners. Little did I know that I'd be reading about Peony and her difficulty as she swooped widely...




The Yu Garden is beautiful, but I based the Chen Family Villa on some of the big garden estates in Suzhou and Hangzhou. There was one in Hangzhou right on the lake that particularly inspired me.

By the way, the bridges have more zigzags according to how important you are. Only the emperor can have nine zigzags. Then it drops all the way down to three zigzags the more common or less important you are.




Suzhou and Hangzhou are beautiful. I never knew about the nine zigzags or that the more zigzags you had the more important you were.
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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?/ reading the Peony Pavilion and life

Lisa, your book cover says very few women of this time ever actually got to see the opera The Peony Pavilion, but how common was it for them to have read it? These women who would write commentaries on it... was the Three Wives' Commentary popular at the time and read by both men and women? I have written on earlier posts what I think the term "lovesickness" in these girls really was but if they really did blame it on the reading of such operas and especially this one, just how popular a book was it and why was it not banned from reading? I guess I could have asked this earlier but it just really struck me as I was reading about the "lovesick" girls all together on the Viewing Terrace and thinking to myself, it was not lovesickness brought on by any book that put you here. It was lifesickness, which if the book was to fault at all, it was not for just putting romantic ideas in a girls head that would keep her from eating and die. It was for putting freedom of choice in these girls heads and suddenly making them sick for life, for what they now really understood was out of their control and always would be.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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LisaSee
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Re: Questions for Lisa See?/ reading the Peony Pavilion and life



vivico1 wrote:
Lisa, your book cover says very few women of this time ever actually got to see the opera The Peony Pavilion, but how common was it for them to have read it? These women who would write commentaries on it... was the Three Wives' Commentary popular at the time and read by both men and women? I have written on earlier posts what I think the term "lovesickness" in these girls really was but if they really did blame it on the reading of such operas and especially this one, just how popular a book was it and why was it not banned from reading? I guess I could have asked this earlier but it just really struck me as I was reading about the "lovesick" girls all together on the Viewing Terrace and thinking to myself, it was not lovesickness brought on by any book that put you here. It was lifesickness, which if the book was to fault at all, it was not for just putting romantic ideas in a girls head that would keep her from eating and die. It was for putting freedom of choice in these girls heads and suddenly making them sick for life, for what they now really understood was out of their control and always would be.




Women and girls typically weren't allowed to see the opera, only read it. Men and women loved reading the opera. It was a huge success -- The DaVinci Code of its day. The writing of at least 20 of the lovesick maidens have survived to today. This means that there were probably many, many more who had lovesickness and died or had love sickness and survived.

You're absolutely right in your assessment of what was so attractive and alluring about the opera to girls and women. Liniang was the first character in all of Chinese literature to actually chose her own destiny. This was inspiring to girls and terrifying to men. Of course, the way she got to chose her own destiny happened only after death. So living girls thought, If I starve myself to death, maybe in death -- perhaps only in death -- will I be able to chose my own destiny too.
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Wrighty
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book cover

Lisa,
I haven't noticed if anyone else has commented on this before but I wanted to mention what a striking cover your book has. I really like the simplicity, the soft colors of the flowers and the sharp contrast of the black silhouette. Did you have any say about the cover or does an artist offer possibilities and then one is chosen? Who makes the final decision? I've also noticed that the paperback version of a book sometimes has a different cover. What are the reasons for the change?
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LisaSee
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Re: book cover



Wrighty wrote:
Lisa,
I haven't noticed if anyone else has commented on this before but I wanted to mention what a striking cover your book has. I really like the simplicity, the soft colors of the flowers and the sharp contrast of the black silhouette. Did you have any say about the cover or does an artist offer possibilities and then one is chosen? Who makes the final decision? I've also noticed that the paperback version of a book sometimes has a different cover. What are the reasons for the change?




Oh my gosh, we went through a lot of discussion about the jacket and I was very lucky that Random House cared what I thought. I hated the first jacket, which looked like some contemporary potboiler. I loved the second jacket, but they didn't. The third one was this jacket, only the background was a deep red. I thought it looked too "Chinatown." We all loved this version. I think it's beautiful.

I don't know why exactly the jacket is changed for a paperback. My guess is that they're trying to reach a different -- broader -- audience. Also, it's smaller, and sometimes the design doesn't work as well.
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Wrighty
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Re: book cover


LisaSee wrote:


Wrighty wrote:
Lisa,
I haven't noticed if anyone else has commented on this before but I wanted to mention what a striking cover your book has. I really like the simplicity, the soft colors of the flowers and the sharp contrast of the black silhouette. Did you have any say about the cover or does an artist offer possibilities and then one is chosen? Who makes the final decision? I've also noticed that the paperback version of a book sometimes has a different cover. What are the reasons for the change?




Oh my gosh, we went through a lot of discussion about the jacket and I was very lucky that Random House cared what I thought. I hated the first jacket, which looked like some contemporary potboiler. I loved the second jacket, but they didn't. The third one was this jacket, only the background was a deep red. I thought it looked too "Chinatown." We all loved this version. I think it's beautiful.

I don't know why exactly the jacket is changed for a paperback. My guess is that they're trying to reach a different -- broader -- audience. Also, it's smaller, and sometimes the design doesn't work as well.



I'm glad they cared about your feelings too because it sounds like you held out for the right choice. It is beautiful. The cover can make such a difference. That's often what gets your attention in the first place.
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