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Per Wiersinga s The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines is an impressively ambitious novel He is using The Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the world s great works, as the basis for his exploration of 18th Century China s history His central character Lady Cao Baoqin is The Imperial Interpreter Second Class When we first meet her, she s in prison in the Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines She has been wrongly accused by the Emperor s Grand Vizier of complicity with a British visitor s refusal to k Per Wiersinga s The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines is an impressively ambitious novel He is using The Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the world s great works, as the basis for his exploration of 18th Century China s history His central character Lady Cao Baoqin is The Imperial Interpreter Second Class When we first meet her, she s in prison in the Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines She has been wrongly accused by the Emperor s Grand Vizier of complicity with a British visitor s refusal to kowtow to the Emperor Wiersinga s ability to bring us into the world of court intrigue and high politics in 18th Century China through a series of letters between Lady Cao, the Emperor, and Heshen is a very impressive achievement He uses Lady Cao as a means to explore his own fascination with The Dream of the Red Chamber, and this fascinating character becomes a mouthpiece for his meditations on Chinese literature, language, linguistics, the nature of literature, and history itself The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines, by Pim Wiersinga, is a novel about love and hate and intrigue But it is also about power political and personal Lady Cao, toward whom all action trends, in this novel, is a mistress of the arts of love all kinds of love, not just romantic love She loves words, elegance, honesty, beauty, and freedom, most of all And, yet, despite her wealth, power, and connections, she is forced, much of the time, into silence Sometimes, others silence her but ofte The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines, by Pim Wiersinga, is a novel about love and hate and intrigue But it is also about power political and personal Lady Cao, toward whom all action trends, in this novel, is a mistress of the arts of love all kinds of love, not just romantic love She loves words, elegance, honesty, beauty, and freedom, most of all And, yet, despite her wealth, power, and connections, she is forced, much of the time, into silence Sometimes, others silence her but often she silences herself Self censorship is an important theme in the novel But Lady Cao is such a powerful person and also such a powerful writer that even her silences echo ominously through the corridors of power in the China of her time.This is a novel that shows how much a person can achieve with the help only of words and of friends There are no battles here and no dangerous romantic liaisons The danger lies in words, in the beauty, the power, and the majesty of words And what better way to help the reader focus on words than by constructing the novel as a series of letters The conversations are always written, always beautifully crafted, and yet often about ugliness and humiliation and so on The tension between absolute control and absolute chaos is always there in the novel and holds the reader spell bound.But the novel also introduces the reader to many strange and beautiful places, persons, and customs The descriptions are always relevant to the story but also captivating in and of themselves This is a novel that weaves together, seamlessly and beautifully, history, geography, culture, and personality, in one vast yet tight pattern.This is a novel to be read multiple times You will always find something you had not seen before, no matter how many times you read it I will admit that I had to go to the publisher s website for the novel to learn things about the persons and events in the novel, after I read it the first time But you can enjoy it without that information also I look forward to reading this writer s next novel s This is a fascinating book, even for somebody like me, who does not naturally gravitate to information about that part of the world and that time frame I knew nothing about China or, in fact, the Dream of the Red Chamber and its writer, or the Dutch diplomat, all of which became alive while reading this book Pim manages to portray many interesting personalities and allows us to get into their head through the letters they write each other The epistolary form of writing has always intrigued me This is a fascinating book, even for somebody like me, who does not naturally gravitate to information about that part of the world and that time frame I knew nothing about China or, in fact, the Dream of the Red Chamber and its writer, or the Dutch diplomat, all of which became alive while reading this book Pim manages to portray many interesting personalities and allows us to get into their head through the letters they write each other The epistolary form of writing has always intrigued me and I am sure it is not easy, but Pim pulls it off wonderfully The book is interesting from start to finish and its main character, a strong and feminine woman, who manages to survive and make her mark in a very difficult time, while giving us a look at the political and philosophical climate of the time, is an example of the pen being mightier than the sword De brieven van Cao Baoquin zijn met veel omzichtigheid geschreven, Zij probeert zoveel mogelijk de keizer te eren maar evengoed zegt zij in alle voorzichtigheid en met veel egards wat zij op haar hart heeft De taal die zij gebruikt is voorzien van vele bijzinnen en uitweidingen om vooral de keizer niet te ontrieven Er spreekt een grote intelligentie uit haar brieven.Het is verbluffen hoe Pim Wieringa zich heeft weten te verplaatsen in de taal, tijd en omstandigheden van Cao Baoquin Als lezer De brieven van Cao Baoquin zijn met veel omzichtigheid geschreven, Zij probeert zoveel mogelijk de keizer te eren maar evengoed zegt zij in alle voorzichtigheid en met veel egards wat zij op haar hart heeft De taal die zij gebruikt is voorzien van vele bijzinnen en uitweidingen om vooral de keizer niet te ontrieven Er spreekt een grote intelligentie uit haar brieven.Het is verbluffen hoe Pim Wieringa zich heeft weten te verplaatsen in de taal, tijd en omstandigheden van Cao Baoquin Als lezer moet je de tijd nemen om de brieven goed door te lezen en te beseffen wat Cao Baoquin in feite allemaal vertelt In deze tijd van korte twitter en korte sms berichtjes en snelle taal in hapklare brokken zal het voor menigeen wennen en lastig zijn om dit boek in de voorzichtig gekozen taal en de omtrekkende bewegingen te lezen Toch loont het de moeite want er ontvouwt zich uiteindelijk een erg boeiend en ontroerend verhaal dat je lang zal bijblijven The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines, the foreboding title of Dutch author Pim Wiersinga s English language debut, aptly leads into an archaic and enigmatic world of intrigue, dark deeds, and the crushing hand of absolute power In the opening chapters, we find this Pavilion , a designation suggesting luxury and gaiety, to be a grim place of lifetime confinement for the cast off sexual toys of an aging Emperor of late 18th century Imperial China, now declining in a haze of opium gladly supplied The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines, the foreboding title of Dutch author Pim Wiersinga s English language debut, aptly leads into an archaic and enigmatic world of intrigue, dark deeds, and the crushing hand of absolute power In the opening chapters, we find this Pavilion , a designation suggesting luxury and gaiety, to be a grim place of lifetime confinement for the cast off sexual toys of an aging Emperor of late 18th century Imperial China, now declining in a haze of opium gladly supplied by his scheming Grand Councillor.After a grave offense to the person of this Emperor on the part of a British ambassador, leading character Cao Baoqin, crivaine extraordinaire and holder of a coveted Imperial Court position of Second Class Translator, is held to blame for the Englishman s willful failure to prostrate himself before the very Son of Heaven Baoqin, stripped of all save her name and the clothes on her back, at the duplicitous mercy of Grand Councillor Heshen, finds herself the recipient of a reprieve at the hand of the Emperor himself in lieu of the dungeon and possible execution, she is sentenced to indefinite incarceration within The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines Captive in this dismal environment, surrounded by bitter and bickering former courtesans, Baoqin, seeking to exonerate herself and bring a great lost work of literature to light, embarks upon written correspondence with the Emperor, who yet holds her in small favor.For review purposes, little is to be gained by further summarization suffice to say that Wiersinga has chosen the venerable means of the handwritten letter, fast becoming antiquated in our own times, as the canvas on which to present an extraordinary, exotic, and utterly captivating tale.Outstanding historical fiction is usually wrought by gifted and diligent storytellers who occasionally display flashes of literary brilliance With every page of Pavilion , Wiersinga takes the genre to another level this is storytelling at its best as well as literature of the highest order, a book to be savored page by page, all the while appreciating the author s masterful translation of his own Dutch into the most exquisite of English.Needless to say, I eagerly await Pim Wiersinga s upcoming works in English, as well a pleasurable reread of The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines is a luscious book that transports the reader back to 18th century China, right from the first page When the British lord, George McCartney fails to kowtow for the Emperor, Imperial Interpreter Lady Cao Baoqin is sent to prison for improperly preparing the envoy After the strongman at Court, Heshen, takes her to the dungeon, the Emperor intervenes and transfers her to the Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines to serve her sentence Thus begins the rich correspon The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines is a luscious book that transports the reader back to 18th century China, right from the first page When the British lord, George McCartney fails to kowtow for the Emperor, Imperial Interpreter Lady Cao Baoqin is sent to prison for improperly preparing the envoy After the strongman at Court, Heshen, takes her to the dungeon, the Emperor intervenes and transfers her to the Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines to serve her sentence Thus begins the rich correspondence between Lady Cao Baoqin and the Emperor, and branches out to the many characters of the book, whose lives intertwine with hers in the effort to preserve the original copy of the book The Dream of the Red Chamber, written by her former lover, Xuequin, and in which she appears as a fictional character Author Pim Wiersinga, creates a multi layered world within the tightly controlled life of Lady Cao Baoqin, through the letters that travel to and from the Pavilion This rich, authentic storytelling swept me away into a world so far from my own that I truly felt I was escaping Wiersinga expertly weaves a multi dimensional story with an authentic voice, reflecting the customs and manners of this ancient Chinese culture The voice and viewpoint of Lady Cao Baoqin are so well constructed I was impressed that the author, a male, was able to capture the female perspective so well I loved the sections of the book where Lady Cao Baoqin relaxed her tough exterior and reflected on the gentle and passionate nature of her love for Xuequin Some of the sections I read over several times as they were so evocative and doing so moved me to near tears This is a book I plan to read again, as I feel many of thesubtle nuances escaped me It will be an absolute joy to revisit this book and the characters again in the near future This book will not disappoint the historical reader it has everything one could want lyrical language, a rich historical backdrop, love, political intrigue, passion and a twist ending A fabulous work `Free Kindle ✗ Het paviljoen van de vergeten concubines ⇮ Het paviljoen van de vergeten concubines, een roman in brieven, spelend in China aan het eind van de de eeuw, belichaamt een tragisch treffen tussen Oost en West De Britse gezant Macartney weigert inom voor de keizer neer te knielen en krijgt vervolgens nul op het rekest om handel te drijven Voor deze inbreuk op de etiquette wordt de tolk gestraftDie tolk is Vrouwe Cao, verwante van en in haar jonge jaren minnares van de overleden auteur Cao Xueqin , wiens meesterwerk Droom van de Rode Kamer net voor het eerst in druk is verschenen een roman waarnaar door velen is uitgezien en die gretig aftrek vindtHet Hof is hierover verontrust, het vreest onlusten, en die vrees is niet ongegrond het regime is door en door corrupt en perst arme boeren uit De oppercensor legt zijn functie neer en sluit zich aan bij de rebellen Vrouwe Cao wordt boegbeeld van het Mingloyalisme, een beweging onder geletterden die de zittende dynastie weg wil hebben De machtigste man in China ziet in haar welbespraaktheid een gevaarMaar het begint ermee dat Vrouwe Cao beleefde smeekschriften naar de troon stuurt en zich de chicanes van hoge hofdignitarissen laat welgevallen Haar troef is dat zij de eerstvolgende gezant, Isaac Titsing, te Deshima een handelspost bij Japan heeft gediend haar misdaad is dat zij als vrouw de ambitie koestert om een roman te schrijven, in de geest van haar vroegere leermeester Cao Xueqin