Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Two Years in the Forbidden City” as Want to Read:
Two Years in the Forbidden City
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt* *Different edition

Two Years in the Forbidden City

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  109 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The author of the following narrative has peculiar qualifications for her task. She is a daughter of Lord Yu Keng, a member of the Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the most advanced and progressive Chinese officials of his generation. Lord Yu Keng entered the army when very young, and served in the Taiping rebellion and the Formosan war with France, and as Vice Minist ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published August 25th 2008 by Tutis Digital Pub (first published 1911)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Two Years in the Forbidden City, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Two Years in the Forbidden City

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. TolkienThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollDune by Frank Herbert
Geofiction: World building for the love of it
93rd out of 141 books — 39 voters
Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. WodehouseOur Mutual Friend by Charles DickensFrankenstein by Mary ShelleyAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryA Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
LibriVox Audiobooks
43rd out of 154 books — 33 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 621)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Grace Tjan
Apr 05, 2010 Grace Tjan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chinese history buffs
A fascinating record of a vanished world replete with details that are made even more poignant by its imminent passing: the elaborate meals, the hand-embroidered imperial gowns, the oft-flogged eunuchs who were both lackeys and powers behind the throne, the dizziness-inducing kowtows, formal court ceremonies that were contests of physical endurance, the sickly Emperor and his concubines, all which were soon to be rendered obsolete by the 1912 revolution. Der Ling's account of her two years as a ...more
Hayes
A wonderful reading of this fascinating story. Princess Der Ling tells of two years of her life with the Dowager Empress. She became court interpreter, thanks to her education in France and England, and tried delicately to influence the Empress and to push her to make reforms.

Often what was not said by Der Ling was just as important and interesting as what was said; Der Ling treads a delicate line between gossip and revelation with perfect diplomacy.

I enjoyed this very much. www.librivox.org
Tocotin
“Is there a king in England? I had thought that our Empress Dowager was Queen of the world.”

So says one of the court ladies to the author.

It’s a fun book, but through all the considerable effort of the author shines the plain fact that Cixi was horrible and terrifying to be around. The power of her whim was mitigated by nothing. The author had been lucky to be her favorite – that’s all; who knows how it might have ended up for her if this little episode in her life got stretched longer than thos
...more
Josiah
Plot: C (If this was actually Der Ling's journal every interesting, political, controversial, and unflattering passage has been excised, leaving only bland descriptions of clothing, polite conversations, and pass-times.)

Writing: D (The original author, Der Ling, had excellent English, French, and Mandarin. So this edition has either been edited from English or translated from Mandarin by an editor who has very poor English. This edition was also written with the understanding that someone in the
...more
LittleAsian Sweatshop
Der Ling is a controversal figure. She was a lady in waiting for the last Dowenger Empress of China before she left the service to marry an American. After her marriage, she capitalized on her "princess" title (there is some dispute over this; the title is an honorific only within the Imperial court) and touted her friendship with the Dowenger Empress and her "influence" on the Emperor.

Taking all this into account, this "biography" reads more like a stuck-up 16 year old girl's diary than somethi
...more
Josh
May 02, 2015 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librivox, biography
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ramona Tudosa
It was an interesting book, although it won't win any literary prizes any time soon. It is beautiful in its very detailed portrayal of life at the Chinese court where old traditions and superstitions were just as strong in the 1900s as ever before. Having visited the places described in the book myself, I cannot help but relieve the whole experience through the eyes of the Empress Dowager whom I find both fascinating as well as frustrating and narrow-minded (blame it on her being caged in the Fo ...more
Kelley
Jul 27, 2014 Kelley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
This is an insider's view into the royal court of the Dowager Empress of China Cixi from around 1903 to 1905. The book is filled with many mundane details of daily life, which actually composes the bulk of the book. Every detail of holidays and how they were celebrated at court is covered inexhaustibly. Yet there are a few moments of that are interesting from a historical perspective, but those are limited in scope. The Empress's view of the Boxer Rebellion is insightful as is learning more abou ...more
Lily
Jul 28, 2015 Lily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a fansinating vanished true experience in the imperial court. It's good to know more about that history.
Jenny
Jan 27, 2014 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some good first-hand information and stories on Empress Dowager Cixi. Very interesting to see the Qing Dynasty history through Eurasian's eyes.
Ke Huang
Apr 07, 2011 Ke Huang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The description was very detailed, it reminds me of the mother-daughter relationship described in the essay of the ETHNIC CANON. I think she was mean to the eunuchs and she seems to really like the empress dowager. She seemed to be mean to the girls that were jealous of her. she had the goal to change things but couldn't. I guess it's like the girl at DEVIL WEARS PRADA. I liked how she thought she made a difference. The story felt episodic. It could be an interesting cinematic production.
Baron Greystone
Jun 09, 2010 Baron Greystone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book that gives a first-hand account of Imperial life towards the end of the Chinese empire. Pre-dates the events in "The Last Emperor;" the Empress Dowager in this book selected Pu Yi as Emperor while she was on her deathbed.

I see on Wikipedia that some of the author's statements are disputed. That's as may be. I didn't read anything that would give me cause to doubt what she put down in this book.

In any case, highly recommended.
Brom Kim
Jul 01, 2008 Brom Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I downloaded this from the UVA E-books site. This is a nifty look into a vanished world. The author spent two years as a court lady to the Empress Dowager, one of the last Chinese monarchs, around 1900. The depictions of rituals, culture, architecture, food, history, and dress will interest those with a historical bent. Generally, this was a relaxing, low key, interesting read.
Kathy
May 01, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating inside look at life in the Chinese court at the turn of the 20th century. The author seemed very taken with the Empress Dowager. The woman was complex--selfish, very kind to Der Ling, but later had her nephew, the Emperor, poisoned. Easy to read.
Bettie☯
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Wanda, Hayes, Sandybanks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jams
Nov 17, 2012 Jams rated it it was amazing
A free LibriVox download.

As historically important as anything written by Laura Ingalls Wilder or Willa Cather. A very interesting description of life at court at the end of the Manchu Dynasty.

laipeen
Feb 22, 2016 laipeen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
the last empress of china is perceived and depicted by historians as a tyrant, but this memoir paints the 'dragon lady' in a different light
Wendy
Apr 06, 2015 Wendy rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook, 2012
Free ebook from Gutenberg. Interesting historically and inciteful as to day to day court life. 1903 and 1904.
Travis
Mar 13, 2010 Travis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Interesting perspective of what it was like in China at the turn of the 20th century.
Dewi V
May 18, 2012 Dewi V rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, english
downloaded this ebook from Project Gutenberg Library while I was reading The Last Manchu.
Corbin
No wonder the bloody peasants revolted.
Caleb
Jun 15, 2008 Caleb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dowager Empress Ci-Xi has proved to be a mysterious, yet infamous woman. Much has been written of her, portraying her as a ruthless & corrupt woman who had family members, including 2 emperors, her son & her nephew, murdered. However, in 1903, the western educated Lady Yu Derling, the daughter of the Chinese minister to Paris, as well as her mother, sister & brother begin serving in the dowager's court, with Derling filling the job as lady-in-waiting as well as intepreter, as she ...more
Velvetink
Jun 24, 2013 Velvetink marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
epub version
Alex McCall
Alex McCall is currently reading it
May 16, 2016
Natalie Ling
Natalie Ling marked it as to-read
May 12, 2016
Gloria U.
Gloria U. marked it as to-read
Apr 30, 2016
Huang Yanping
Huang Yanping marked it as to-read
Apr 19, 2016
Huichi Chin
Huichi Chin marked it as to-read
Apr 18, 2016
Huichi Chin
Huichi Chin marked it as to-read
Apr 18, 2016
Carol
Carol marked it as to-read
Apr 16, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 21 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Great Wall of China and Beijing Travel Guide 1 2 Feb 07, 2015 06:46PM  
  • The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (History of Imperial China)
  • Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West
  • The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams, and the Making of Modern China
  • Inventing the Middle Ages
  • The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Return to Dragon Mountain: Memories of a Late Ming Man
  • Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze
  • The Pessimist's Guide to History: An Irresistible Guide to Compendium of Catastrophes, Barbarities, Massacres and Mayhem
  • 1912: The Year the World Discovered Antarctica
  • The Fatal Impact
  • Twilight in the Forbidden City
  • Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (Dodo Press)
  • The History of King Richard III
  • Dangerous Days
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England
  • China's Wings: War, Intrigue, Romance, and Adventure in the Middle Kingdom During the Golden Age of Flight
  • China's Last Empire: The Great Qing
2071927
"Princess" Der Ling (Chinese: 德龄, pinyin: Dé Líng) (1885 – 1944) was a Han bannerwoman, the daughter of Yu Keng (裕庚). Yu Keng was a member of the Hanjun Plain White Banner Corps(正白旗) and according to his daughter was a Lord. This is of some doubt. After serving as Chinese minister to Japan he was appointed minister to the French Third Republic for four years in 1899. He was known for his progressi ...more
More about Der Ling...

Share This Book



“Her Majesty to the theatre. The performance took place on a stage erected in the courtyard, and Her Majesty closed in one part of her veranda for the use of the guests and Court ladies. During the performance I began to feel very drowsy, and eventually fell fast asleep leaning against one of the pillars. I awoke rather suddenly to find that something had been dropped into my mouth, but on investigation I found it was nothing worse than a piece of candy, which I immediately proceeded to eat. On approaching Her Majesty, she asked me how I had enjoyed the candy, and told me not to sleep, but to have a good time like the rest. I never saw Her Majesty in better humor. She played with us just like a young girl, and one could hardly recognize in her the severe Empress Dowager we knew her to be.” 2 likes
More quotes…