Imperial Woman The Story of the Last Empress of China


Imperial Woman The Story of the Last Empress of China Imperial Woman is the fictionalized biography of the last Empress in China Ci xi who began as a concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor and on his death became the de facto head of the ing Dynasty until her death in 1908Buck recreates the life of one of the most intriguing rulers during a time of intense turbulenceTzu Hsi was born into one of the lowly ranks of the Imperial dynasty According to custom she moved to the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen to become one of hundreds of concubines But her singular beauty and powers of manipulation uickly moved her into the position of Second ConsortTzu Hsi was feared and hated by many in the court but adored by the people The Empress's rise to power even during her husband's life parallels the story of China's transition from the ancient to the modern way I read this book for the first time when I was in fifth grade My mom wasis an avid reader and Pearl S buck is one of the authors she really enjoyed She encouraged me to read it thinking I believe it would keep me out of her hair for a month or so as a kid this seemed a pretty fat book at the time She could not have been wrong I devoured it like a Little Debbie cake It is packed with drama intrigue history fashion military prowessand on top of it all a major female figure She is strong manipulative sexy and feared This book drew me to read a slew of Buck books that summer Each one of them only made me want to read another one Of course most of the story is fiction spooned from truth which makes it a fascinating read but also a fictionalized account on many levels If you are looking for a complete history of the last empress of China this is not the book but if you are looking to learn some important facts about China at the time and read about a fascinating woman I highly recommend this book Before I attempt to say anything about this novel I simply wish to note that I do not in any way award these five stars out of some misguided sentiment that this book accurately portrays China and all its entailing history as its own cultural members would The most concrete experience I have with the country is having been taught the Chinese phrases for 'left turn' 'right turn' and 'straight ahead' during a road trip many years ago and I assure you neither my intercultural credibility nor my accent has improved since then What I do award these five stars for is the wonderful piece of work that Buck created a fictional recounting of the life of the last Empress of China It wasn't too long ago that I read Memoirs of Hadrian another novel concerned with the fictional portrayal of a historical personage who ruled for much of their life over a vast and complex culture Both that novel and this reuired my reader self to step back a moment from their usual outpost of critiuing from the realms of factual accuracy and moral codes and instead plunge headfirst into the lives of these individuals both of whom entire empires held in reverence Within this respective novel the girl Orchid the imperial concubine Yehonala the Empress Mother Tzu Hsi and the venerable Old Buddha play out their shared life within the bodily confines of a single woman A woman who grew from one of millions to be one of the chosen hundreds to finally the one venerated above all others who stayed that way through thriving peace and cultural upheaval until the end of her days A woman who never needed full approval from neither her kinsman nor the reader but simply a willingness to follow her And follow her I didThe ease with which I immersed myself in this fictionalized biography of a foreign land is a credit to Buck and her lovingly thorough storytelling For the difficulty with historical fiction a difficulty that only increases when the fiction chooses to follow a single personage of notable fame is the ever present competition between the enraptured gaze of the reader and the desire to fact check What worsens the latter distraction even so is when the cultural setting is completely foreign and as noted previously tempts the reader to view the book penned by an outsider as a true glimpse of the inside And with the feeling of reading truth comes the ease of subseuent judgment and all too freuent condemnationThus I could have tired of Buck's page after page of detailing the life of this young Manchu girl who grew to become the Empress of China the traditional values the cultural artifacts the countless court proceedings that meandered as slowly as was needed to recount the days with full insight into the visual splendor and historical significance I could have become frustrated with the Empress herself achieving such power and all the self righteous confidence that often accompanies it adhering to standards of living that seem so strange in comparison to my own I could have turned the final page with a feeling that my time would have been better spent with an accredited biography or even a book written by an actual denizen of that far off mainlandBut I didn't I watched this Empress grow from the impetuous courage of youth to the venerable wisdom of old age and I rooted her on in every page I delighted in the beauty of both the aesthetic and the erudite contained within the walls of the Forbidden City as well as the sheer wealth of this culture that despite my long familiarity with I in truth know so little about I watched as the future took its horrific toll on the heartfelt desire to maintain the value of the past and mourned the tragedy of one world power colliding with another in an overwhelming miasma of violent misunderstanding From this fictional seat in the so called East I watched as the West and its drastically different histories flung itself upon these shores so foreign to its inherent sociocultural natures From the mind of an Empress I understood the disparity between the power a ruler has and what is truly reuired of them in order to successfully rule In short while the setting was foreign and the facts perhaps not in full adherence the story was a human one something I can recognize in any form I felt for this Empress and the country she cherished in her own brilliant and steadfast ways and perhaps even learned a few things about an ancient world that exists alongside my own to this day And when it comes to the realm of historical fiction that's all that I ask for Rating 35 of five rounded upThe Publisher Says Imperial Woman is the fictionalized biography of the last Empress in China Ci xi who began as a concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor and on his death became the de facto head of the ing Dynasty until her death in 1908 Buck recreates the life of one of the most intriguing rulers during a time of intense turbulence Tzu Hsi was born into one of the lowly ranks of the Imperial dynasty According to custom she moved to the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen to become one of hundreds of concubines But her singular beauty and powers of manipulation uickly moved her into the position of Second Consort Tzu Hsi was feared and hated by many in the court but adored by the people The Empress's rise to power even during her husband's life parallels the story of China's transition from the ancient to the modern wayMy Review Few women in China's very long history have been as well documented as rulers as has Cixi I suspect that Mrs Buck daughter of missionaries to China and a reluctant missionary herself wrote of this larger than life figure because she felt great kinship with her Cixi was an outsider in a closed world the Imperial Court but whose sterling native ualities gave her tremendous influence over that closed world Buck was in much the same situation vis a vis the Chinese culture she was native to for the first forty years of her life Her parents raised her to be bilingual in Chinese and English gave her no model for a racist view of the Chinese and allowed her to mingle with the children of their Chinese converts to Presbyterianism mostly without interference This made her a fish out of water everywhere but also gifted her with an amazing insight into the cross cultural communication disasters that have plagued China's relations with the world foreverCixi was an intelligent young woman of relatively modest though not humble birth gifted with great personal grace and beauty Her enormous elevation to the relatively modest in Imperial Court terms position of Imperial Concubine afforded Cixi the opening to become a powerful woman; her excellent fortune in giving birth to the Emperor's only son allowed her to move well beyond the considerable but constrained power of a favored concubineconsort into a full governing partnership as a Regent for her son with a council appointed by her late Imperial masterBuck portrays Cixi as a schemer but not a wastrel as she is often portrayed Her intrigues had at their heart a sincere and abiding belief that dynastic continuity was the sole means by which the Chinese body politic could be served by their government as foils against the colonial depredations of the Western powers All the pomp and the excess Cixi loved was put on for the demonstration of her dynasty's power and dominance All the machinations she undertook were meant to keep her position—but so that she might continue to fight against China's diminution and beggarmentFundamentally Cixi behaved no differently than the Communist Party has since Chairman Mao's death in 1976 She was a strong leader and a flawed person; she was also too late to do much about the long slow fall of her form of government History's tides catch up with all governments eventually; the Party's current grandees know this and are behaving in their stewardship of China as Cixi herself did 125 years agoAs all Pearl S Buck novels are this gracefully told tale is a pleasure to read and a treasure house of outsideinsider information and opinions now irreplaceable with the death of the author It is an exciting story a well told tale and a still invaluable look into a difficult life lived in service to a misunderstood ideal A must read for all Sinophiles Imperial Woman The Story of the Last Empress of China Pearl S BuckImperial Woman is the fictionalized biography of the last Empress in China Ci xi who began as a concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor and on his death became the de facto head of the ing Dynasty until her death in 1908Buck recreates the life of one of the most intriguing rulers during a time of intense turbulenceTzu Hsi was born into one of the lowly ranks of the Imperial dynasty According to custom she moved to the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen to become one of hundreds of concubines But her singular beauty and powers of manipulation uickly moved her into the position of Second ConsortTzu Hsi was feared and hated by many in the court but adored by the people The Empress's rise to power even during her husband's life parallels the story of China's transition from the ancient to the modern wayتاریخ نخستین خوانش سال 1984 میلادیعنوان آخ‍ری‍ن‌ م‍ل‍ک‍ه‌ چ‍ی‍ن‌؛ نویسنده پ‍رل‌ س‌ ب‍اک‌؛ مت‍رج‍م‍ م‍ه‍دی‌ ش‍ه‍ش‍ه‍ان‍ی؛ ت‍ه‍ران‌ س‍رن‍ا‏‫، 1362؛ در 747 ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، پگاه، چاپ سوم 1369، 1370؛ در 747 ص؛ چاپ ششم 1365؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، چکاوک؛ 1371؛ چاپ دوم 1373؛ چاپ دهم 1388؛ شابک 9789648957167؛ چاپ دیگر 1390، شابک 9789646503052؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی سده 20 م‬تسوهسی آخرین ملکه ای بودند، که بر چین حکمروایی کرد ایشان زنی فوق العاده باهوش، با استعداد، و ثروتمند، و دارای شخصیت پیچیده ای بود در مخالفت و یکدندگی، شهره بود، به گونه ای که توصیف همه جانبه، و قطعی شخصیت ایشان بسیار مشکل است دورانیکه او زندگی میکرد، نقطه ی عطفی در تاریخ چین محسوب میشد و کشور به درگیری، و منازعه با بیگانگان، از راه قوای نظامی کشیده شده بود در این زمان، انجام یک سلسله اصلاحات، و رفورمهای اجتماعی، اجتناب ناپذیر مینمود «تسوهسی» اندیشه های محافظه کارانه، و نیز عدم وابستگی خود را، کماکان حفظ کرد دشمنانش از او میترسیدند، و از وی نفرت داشتند آنان دوستان او را سرزنش میکردند، و از احترام به «تسوهسی» بر حذرشان میداشتند او با هرگونه نوآوری، تا آنجا که میتوانست، مخالفت میکرد، چون بنیادهای کهن را، از هر چیز نویی بهتر میدانست، ولی با این حال هنگامیکه میدید دگرگونیها اجتناب ناپذیر هستند، نسبت به آن، روی موافق نشان میداد مردمانش او را دوست داشتند البته انقلابیون، و افراد عجول، از او خوششان نمیآمد، چون باور داشتند روند پیشرفت خیلی کند و آهسته است آنها از او نفرت داشتند، و ملکه نیز با همان شکل، نفرت خود را به آنها نشان میداد دهقانان و طبقات محروم ساکن شهرهای کوچک، به او احترام میگذاشتند ا شربیانی

  • Paperback
  • 384 pages
  • Imperial Woman The Story of the Last Empress of China
  • Pearl S. Buck
  • English
  • 06 March 2014
  • 9781559210355

About the Author: Pearl S. Buck

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck was a bestselling and Nobel Prize–winning author Her classic novel The Good Earth 1931 was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and William Dean Howells Medal Born in Hillsboro West Virginia Buck was the daughter of missionaries and spent much of the first half of her life in China where many of her books are set In 1934 civil unrest in China forced Buck back to the United St


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