Family

An essential work for anyone interested in the society and history of modern China! The first half of the twentieth century was a period of great turmoil in China. Family, one of the most popular Chinese novels of that time, vividly reflects that turmoil and serves as a basis for understanding what followed. Written in 1931, Family has been compared to Dream of the Red Chamber for its superb portrayal of the family life and society of its time. Drawn largely from Pa Chin’s own experience, Family is the story of the Kao family compound, consisting of four generations plus servants. It is essentially a picture of the conflict between old China and the new tide rising to destroy it, as manifested in the daily lives of the Kao family, and particularly the three young Kao brothers. Here we see situations that, unique as they are to the time and place of this novel, recall many circumstances of today’s world: the conflict between generations and classes, ill-fated love affairs, students’ political activities, and the struggle for the liberation of women. The complex passions aroused in Family and in the reader are an indication of the universality of human experience. This novel illustrates the effectiveness of fiction as a vehicle for translating the experience of one culture to another very different one.

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3 Comments

JLind555 on October 12, 2014 at 5:54 PM.

A family and a country in turmoil Pa Chin’s “Family” is an excellent, absorbing account of one family in early 20th century China; through the conflicts between the generations, we see the larger conflicts about to engulf the entire country. The family is the Kao clan, five generations living in one complex headed by the Venerable Master Kao, the ultimate autocrat, monarch of all he surveys within his walls, unwilling and unable to admit that his country and his family are changing before his eyes. The story centers around…

Morgan Vandagriff on October 12, 2014 at 5:58 PM.

A Moving and Beautifully Written Book I read this book for a college class on East Asian History. I don’t often enjoy required books, but this was an exception. “Family” filled me with many emotions; while reading it I cried (or would have if I hadn’t been in a public library), I was overjoyed, hopeful, despondent. Pa Chin is especially good at showing how his characters influence and are influenced by society. He makes you really care about his characters and believe what they believe. “Family” is a good choice…

Anonymous on October 12, 2014 at 6:28 PM.

One of the Generation’s Great Books 0