Fortress Besieged, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Set on the eve of the Sino-Japanese war, "Fortress Besieged" recounts the exuberant misadventures of the hapless hero Fang Hung-chien, who after aimlessly studying in Europe at his family's expense returns to Shanghai armed with a bogus degree from a fake university.

On the liner back, Fang's life becomes deeply entangled with those of two Chinese beauties - while when he does finally make it home, he obtains a teaching post at a newly established university, encounters effete pseudo-intellectuals, and falls into a marriage of disastrous proportions.

A glorious tale of love, marriage, war, calamity, disillusionment and hope, this is one of the greatest Chinese novels: combining Eastern philosophy, Western traditions, adventure, tragicomedy and satire to create a unique feast of delights.




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Deemed one of the greats of modern Chinese fiction, this comedy of manners is excellent at satirising the faux-intellectual manners of the "returned students" (Chinese students returning from study overseas) during the 1920s and 30s. The translation is good, though the reviewer has not yet read the original text, but unfortunately owing to its era-specific satire, many of the jokes and pastiches of intellectual currents are somewhat lost on the modern reader.

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