The Great Flowing River

A Memoir of China, from Manchuria to Taiwan

Chi Pang-yuan. Translated by John Balcom

Columbia University Press

The Great Flowing River

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Pub Date: July 2018

ISBN: 9780231188401

480 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.00

Pub Date: July 2018

ISBN: 9780231547819

480 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.00

The Great Flowing River

A Memoir of China, from Manchuria to Taiwan

Chi Pang-yuan. Translated by John Balcom

Columbia University Press

Heralded as a literary masterpiece and a best-seller in the Chinese-speaking world, The Great Flowing River is a personal account of the history of modern China and Taiwan unlike any other. In this eloquent autobiography, the noted scholar, writer, and teacher Chi Pang-yuan recounts her youth in mainland China and adulthood in Taiwan. Chi’s remarkable life, told in rich and striking detail, humanizes the eventful and turbulent times in which she lived.

The Great Flowing River begins as a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of China’s war with Japan. Chi depicts her childhood in pre-occupation Manchuria and gives an eyewitness account of life in China during the war with Japan. She tells the tale of her youthful romance with a dashing pilot that ends tragically when he is shot down in the last days of the war. The book describes the deepening political divide in China and her choice to take a job in Taiwan, where she would remain after the Communist victory. Chi details her growth as an educator, scholar, and promoter of Chinese literature in translation and her realization that despite her roots in China, she has found a home in Taiwan, giving an immersive account of the postwar history of Taiwan from a mainlander’s perspective. A novelistic, epoch-defining narrative, The Great Flowing River unites the personal and intimate with the grand sweep of history.
An inspiring life story of unvanquished resilience. Kirkus Reviews
A personal memoir set against the history of modern China and Taiwan. . . . From coming of age during China’s war with Japan to her eventual move to Taiwan, Chi’s story remains both intimate and historically connected. World Literature Today
The Great Flowing River is a grand memoir. It tells a story of loss, suffering, fortitude, and the nobility of sacrifice. It is a personal narrative that reflects the fate of the Chinese nation, especially the fate of those who were driven away from their homeland and managed to survive elsewhere with integrity and dignity. There is a calmness and tremendous power in the wise narrative voice, whose resonance lingers long after the last page is turned. Ha Jin, author of Waiting and other novels
An engaging read for those interested in memoir, 20th-century Chinese and Taiwanese history, and Chinese culture. Library Journal
The Great Flowing River is one of the great memoirs of modern China. Telling the story of one woman's odyssey through the twentieth century, this is not just a deeply moving account of Chi Pang-yuan and her family, but a window into how the Chinese people came through the trauma of war and turmoil, and created a new set of civilized values in their aftermath. Rana Mitter, author of Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945
This is a memoir of epic proportions. Chi’s work is a testimony of this tremendous historical period that is the long twentieth century for the Chinese and the Taiwanese peoples. The English translation of this epochal memoir is most certainly significant. Letty Chen, author of Writing Chinese: Reshaping Chinese Cultural Identity
I don’t know of any other memoir in English that is quite like this. It is of enormous significance because it adds so much for those with an interest in the Republic of China in both China and Taiwan. J. Megan Greene, author of The Origins of the Developmental State in Taiwan: Science Policy and the Quest for Modernization
Preface to the English Edition
Translator’s Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. My Homeland in Song
2. A Journey of Blood and Tears: The Eight Years of the War of Resistance
3. With Me, China Shall Not Perish: Nankai Middle School
4. At the Confluence of Three Rivers: University Life
5. Victory: Empty, Everything Is Empty
6. Taiwan Trials and Hardships
7. Spiritual Descendants
8. University Teaching, Taiwan, and Literature
9. Confirmation of This Life: From the Great Flowing River to the Sea of Silence
Index

About the Author

Chi Pang-yuan (b. 1924) is an internationally recognized educator, scholar, and author. She is professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at National Taiwan University. She is coeditor of Chinese Literature in the Second Half of a Modern Century: A Critical Survey (2000) and The Last of the Whampoa Breed: Stories of the Chinese Diaspora (Columbia, 2003), among other books.

John Balcom teaches at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. His Columbia University Press translations include Cao Naiqian’s There’s Nothing I Can Do When I Think of You Late at Night (2009); Huang Fan’s Zero and Other Fictions (2011); and Yang Mu’s Memories of Mount Qilai: The Education of a Young Poet (2015).