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Farewell My Concubine

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  681 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Beginning amid the decadent glamour of China in the 1930s and ending in the 1980s in Hong Kong, this brilliant novel, which formed the basis for the award-winning movie, is the passionate story of an opera student who falls in love with his best friend, and the beautiful woman who comes between them.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 3rd 1994 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,301)
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Dù là bản phim hay bản truyện thì cơ bản 'Bá vương biệt Cơ' cũng là một câu chuyện buồn.

Cả truyện lẫn phim mình đều chỉ đọc/xem đúng một lần. Đều là bằng tiếng Anh. Truyện có bản txt tiếng Trung nhưng bản tiếng Trung bị cắt xén rất nhiều, không chỉ những chi tiết nhạy cảm mà cả nhiều chi tiết nhỏ đem lại cái hay cho truyện nữa. Không rõ vì sao.

Trước hết mình phải cảnh báo là 'Bá vương biệt Cơ' bản truyện rất khác với bản phim. Mọi chi tiết, mọi tầng lớp ý nghĩa, sự lựa chọn của các nhân vật đều
May-lyn Sio
Jan 07, 2013 May-lyn Sio rated it it was amazing
After listening to the reviews of some online reviewers and some personal acquaintances, I was left with the impression that this book would be dull and I would not be able to get through it- "severely lacking the engaging qualities that the movie possesses" said my long time friend. However, I was itching to read it because it was so out of the norm of the books that I usually read. So I picked up a copy before my 7 hour flight overseas and spent the trip slowly reading every line and breathing ...more
Dec 30, 2010 Erastes rated it liked it
Shelves: gay-historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2011 Lindsay rated it really liked it
Having taken lots of courses on 'gender' in my Latin American lit classes, this was a really interesting take on the roles of all-male theater. Lots of neat symbolism and a nice blend of eastern and western writing aesthetics (although other translations might be different). I also like any book that can teach me a little history through the story rather than vice versa. I'll probably check out the movie and maybe some of the author's other books. Seems like a good way to learn more about China ...more
Jul 27, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it
The movie adaptation of Lilian Lee’s Farwell to my Concubine is widely renowned and celebrated, but the novel perhaps not as much, and that’s a shame. As with all original sources, this is more flushed out, subtler, and more enjoyable in many ways than the movie. While I loved the movie, especially the dynamic between Gong Li’s Juxian and Leslie Cheung’s Dieyi, the movie took certain liberties that I didn’t care for, but didn’t know initially because I watched the movie prior to reading this lov ...more
Vanessa Wu
Feb 03, 2012 Vanessa Wu rated it liked it
This is a poignant, short novella that lasts just over 3 hours in the unabridged version I listened to.

The bare bones of the story form a very potent plot but the narrative is somewhat dry. Since it spans over 50 years and the lives of the main characters are set against the turbulent political changes in China during those years, from the Japanese invasion, through the rise of Mao Zedong to the end of British colonial rule in Hong Kong, it is hard for the author to squeeze in the telling person
Astrid Reza
Dec 18, 2007 Astrid Reza rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-book-shelf
i have to say, when seeing the movie first then reading the book, it always fell beyond expectation. thought having it the other way around, mostly it pissed me off because i always felt that the movie is lack of details than with the book. so, i really enjoy reading the book after. i tried to remember the detail of the film, but it shortly failed me with the sad, short tone of the entire novel.

i felt sad finishing the book. tragic is more fitting i believe. it's like seeing another version of
João Roque
Mar 20, 2016 João Roque rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gays, narrativa
Eis um dos raros livros adaptados ao cinema, de que gostei mais do filme do livro.
Esta novela de Lilian Lee, cujo verdadeiro nome é Li Pak-Wah, que vive em Hong Kong, foi adaptada em 1993 ao cinema por Kaige Chan, um filme notável.
A narrativa fala-nos da difícil vida na China no século XX, principalmente até aos anos 80, com o final da dinastia Qing, a revolução nacionalista, a ocupação japonesa, a guerra civil entre nacionalistas e comunistas, a libertação, a Grande Revolução Cultural e o poste
Ana Silva Rosa
Jul 27, 2014 Ana Silva Rosa rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
(view spoiler) ...more
Nov 23, 2012 Cupofcha rated it liked it
As with many translated novels, some of the subliminal beauty of descriptions gets lost when translators may tend to focus on literal meanings rather than implied impressions. It was a quick read with most of my joy found in the writer's passion towards the same point as the book's main protagonist, Dieyi. This story shines at the start where an animated childhood and the love of opera are colorfully painted. I would love to have experienced China during this time of unrestrained artistic freedo ...more
Nella Cina del 1929, Xiao Douzi ha solo nove anni quando la madre, prostituta per disperazione, lo cede al maestro Guan con un contratto di apprendista per dieci anni. Sono anni in cui Douzi imparerà a fare l’attore, in particolare diventerà una dan ( e stringerà un forte legame di amicizia con Xiao Shitou, quasi suo coetaneo e che rappresenterà per Douzi una figura a cui aggrapparsi in un’infanzia difficile. Questo legame per Douzi diventerà un po’ morbo ...more
Oct 14, 2015 Caro1106 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me encantó, me parece una novela hermosa llena de nostalgia. Nostalgia por el pasado, por los amores perdidos y por los amores que no se conquistaron. En todas las novelas de relacionadas con la época de la revolución cultural China, no deja de impactarme la tremenda violencia que sacudió a este país, como el régimen logró convertir a las personas en enemigas unas de las otras, siempre temerosos de que cualquier cosa que pudieran hacer o decir se volviera en su contra.
Mar 15, 2015 Flazia rated it it was ok
Shelves: narr-cinese
Ho letto questo libro grazie ad un corso di teatri orientali in cui ho affrontato lo studio dell'Opera di Pechino (forma di teatro tradizionale cinese praticato dai protagonisti maschili del libro). La lettura è stata una sorta di preparazione al film che vedrò a breve. Purtroppo il mio interesse per la lettura s'è limitato all'intento documentaristico -per le rappresentazioni teatrali, descritte minuziosamente- e storico, dato che la narrazione si colloca lungo tutto il XX secolo della Cina, da ...more
Melissa Embry
May 29, 2015 Melissa Embry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“. . . life is just a play. Or an opera,” Lilian Lee writes in her 1992 novel of hopeless love set against the backdrop China’s 20th century struggles. “It would be easier for all of us if we could watch only the highlights. . . but the players have no choice. Once the curtain goes up they have to perform the play from beginning to end. They have nowhere to hide.”

The two young boys who will become known as Cheng Dieyi and Duan Xiaolou meet for the first time in 1929 (the 18th year after the over
Helen Lind
May 11, 2009 Helen Lind rated it it was ok
I read this after seeing the movie. It was OK, kind of hard to read at times. I did learn a bit about the Cultural Revolution, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.
Cláudia Dias
Jun 11, 2011 Cláudia Dias rated it liked it
It was a good book. I remember having read it when I was around 10 years old, but at the time I couldn't grasp all of what was really happening, all of the emotions, all the violence.

In the end, I was sad to see that Cheng Dieyi couldn't fullfil his love, even though Duan Xiaolao was always protecting him. Can't really say I favor Dieyi over Juxian as well, I think they both struggled and tried their hardest to make Xiaolao love either one of them.

I was really shocked though, to witness, in th
Aug 23, 2013 Erin rated it liked it
This book would be a perfect supplement for anybody studying 20th century China. History is told through the lives of two Peking opera stars, starting with the two characters meeting at an intense Peking opera training school as young children. All the boys at this school are basically orphans - their families died or could not support them. As the two boys grow up, they must endure the Japanese occupation, civil war, the establishment of The People's Republic of China, Chairman Mao's Campaign t ...more
Tom Meade
Sep 25, 2013 Tom Meade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, historical
"Give her a ying-and-yang haircut". Dieyi is ying, Xialou is yang, Juxian is the woman caught between them. 20th Century Chinese history is, as Lee points-out, the story of several hundred millions of people dragged from the middle ages to the 21st Century in the space of eighty years purely on the basis of the motives of powerful individuals in a society where the citizen must fight for the right to individuality - and even this slim hope was denied under the Maoist regime and the Gang of Four. ...more
Feb 27, 2008 Holly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's not often a book falls short of fulfilling the promise of a movie. Where the film "Farewell My Concubine" was lush, rich, nuanced, brightly colored, emotional, layered, and beautiful, the book was flat, affectless, emotionally distant, uninspiring.

It could be that the richness of the story was lost in the translation from the Chinese, or that the subtleties of an oppressed Chinese life in the 40s, 50s and 60s are just too subtle for me to grasp. But it felt like not enough time was given t
Mikey L
May 09, 2015 Mikey L rated it it was amazing
This story is just deeply moving. The most valuable point of the book is how it uses the gloomy, horrible history to portrait the dramatic changes in the protagonists' lives and how it uses the changes to portrait the unchanging love. I love the theme for the movie too.
Read in Chinese in one afternoon a year ago. Maybe it's because I did not read a lot of love stories, I think Lee's love story is the best I've read so far.
Dec 31, 2015 Kimball rated it it was ok
Recommended to Kimball by: Larry Hansen
I don't read Chinese books very often. It was hard for me to tell what parts of the book were part of the Play and what were real life. Wikipedia did a lousy job assisting me too so I am at a loss. My reset button needs to be pushed. Jana help.

Last completed book for 2015! This puts me at a new company record - 114.
El Segoviano
Interesante novela llevada al cine con bastante éxito, aunque yo no recuerdo haberla visto.
El libro es interesante y trata la vida en la opera de Pekín y la relación entre dos de sus componentes.
Me gustó bastante, el mundillo que expone es curioso y al final el libro se lee bien y es entretenido.
Andreia Silva
Estou dividida para dar pontuação a este livro. Entrei sem conhecer nada do livro e nada da autora. Fui assim à aventura, coisa que até gosto nas leituras! Mas não sei. Adorei a parte inicial até metade, depois achei chato e gostei mais ou menos do final! Não é um livro muito fácil, nem muito leve. Faz-nos entender as grandes diferenças que existem entre Ocidente e Oriente. Mas não é mau! A história é forte mas não é de fácil trago! As personagens são tipicamente orientais e algumas com ideias q ...more
Aug 04, 2008 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You'll have a better understanding of how performers of the Beijing Opera were developed years ago after reading this book. Boys were selected from the dregs of society, treated brutally in the early years, and then chosen to play the parts of women or warriors as they continued to progress while supporting the troupe in performances on the streets. The main character played women's roles, and it had a great
affect on his life. He had strong feelings for a fellow performer who was always cast as
Jan 08, 2008 Snoo rated it it was amazing
Okay, I have to say this is one of the few books that has ever made me cry. It is a beautiful moving story about the life deep inside the world of Peking opera during the twentieth century. The story centers on a love triangle involving two opera singers and a former prostitute, providing an emotionally charged view of major historical events in China during the century of the oppressive communist rule of Chairman Mao.

Lee explores themes of survival, sex, and love and uses the transformation an
June Tupua
Apr 23, 2015 June Tupua rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Penny Soo
Oct 13, 2015 Penny Soo rated it it was amazing
This is still one of the most touching books I have read to date. The original book is in Chinese and I could imagine so much were lost in translation.
Jan 13, 2012 Becky rated it liked it
This piece reads like a ready-made screenplay. Unfortunately the author doesn't go past the surface with the characters so the book feels like it is lacking in depth. But, what is interesting is the survey of the Chinese political weather that takes us from the fall of the Qing Dynasty to the Red Revolution. It is worth a read to experience the mystery behind the culture and the political upheavals of the 60's and on. The author references traditional Chinese operas which are worth researching, ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Lester rated it liked it
Yep..I liked this book. Fiction mixed with fact is always a 'good read'.
Jan 05, 2015 Darcy rated it it was amazing
The movie was fantastic!!!
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born Lee Bak (李白) or Li Pi-Hua, she is also known by Li Bihua, and Li Pik-Wah.
The last name is often what her English language novel translations are listed under regarding copyright.

She is a graduate of True Light Middle School, Hong Kong.
More about Lilian Lee...

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