Four Sisters of Hofei: A History
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The true story of four sisters born between 1907 and 1914 in China, Four Sisters of Hofei is an intimate encounter with history. The Chang sisters lived through a period of astounding change and into the twenty-first century. Unusual opportunities and an extraordinary family education launched them into varied worlds -- those of the theater, modern literature, classical studies, and calligraphy -- but their collective experience offers a cohesive portrait of a land in transition.
With the benefit of letters, diaries, poetry, and interviews, writer and historian Annping Chin shapes the Chang sisters' stories into a composite history steeped in China's artistic tradition and intertwined with the political unrest and social revolutions of the twentieth century.
consumption, and entrusted her to Ts’ung-wen. Until Little Ninth married, which was more than fifteen years later, she was her brother’s joy and appendage. They made merry together, just like when they were children, carousing and eating from restaurant to restaurant, and often buying meals on credit. Chao-ho recalls: Little Ninth was bubbling over with new ideas about spending money. So Shen Ts’ung-wen’s monthly salary would be gone in a week, leaving me to worry about how to pay the cook and
sought reeducation See the discussions in Kinkley, Odyssey of Shen Congwen, p. 267; Spence, The Gate of Heavenly Peace, p. 324; and Ling Yü, Shen Ts’ung-wen chüan, pp. 423–25. Chao-ho as an athlete Chang Yun-ho in Tsui-hou, p. 63. Chao-ho in a cadre suit See appendix to Shen Ts’ung-wen, Wu-ts’ung, p. 197. “Dad was stricken . . .” Ibid., p. 201. Shen and music See Shen and Chang, Chia-shu, pp. 160–64; See appendix to Shen Ts’ung-wen, Wu-ts’ung, p. 199. “looked like Jesse James . . .” See
provincial degree in 1884, possibly just before Hua-chen sat for the lower exam, and then the metropolitan degree six years later, thus fulfilling his parents’ and his ancestors’ highest expectations. Next to him, his two younger brothers seemed unremarkable. Ch’ung-ho recalls only one story about Hua-chen. This was a strange story with some critical gaps and an incredible ending. Once, while he was traveling downstream on the Yangtze River, Hua-chen’s boat capsized. He either swam or kept afloat
have plenty to cry about after she is gone. Dad has already returned from Shanghai. I don’t know if he remembers what day is the day after tomorrow. Ten years ago this time, he was sitting by her bedside, gazing at her. How deep was his sorrow then! What is he thinking now? I don’t understand. . . . Tsung-ho’s diary does not tell us what happened on the anniversary of his mother’s death, whether his father made any gesture to show that he was aware of it. But the day after, Tsung-ho wrote: “Dad
series of three benefit performances the students gave before a Soochow audience. A few years earlier, such things would have been unimaginable for young women. But in 1925, students worked with teachers, deciding what to stage and how to do it. They adapted earlier dramas to produce their own short plays. Two professional actors were brought in from Shanghai to spruce up the show. But on the whole, those three days belonged to the students. The scenes they put on were from classical sources: