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Rickshaw: The Novel Lo-t'o Hsiang Tzu
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Rickshaw: The Novel Lo-t'o Hsiang Tzu

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  556 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Rickshaw is a new translation of the twentieth-century Chinese classic Lo-t'o Hsiang Tzu, the first important study of a laborer in modern Chinese literature. While the rest of the Chinese literary world debated hotly, and for years, the value of proletarian literature, Lao She wrote the novel that the left wing insisted on but failed to produce.
Paperback, 264 pages
Published June 1st 1979 by University of Hawaii Press (first published 1936)
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David Acevedo
A classic of Chinese literature that protratis the simplest of quests: a rickshaw-pulling boy whose sole dream in life is as simple as owning hsi own cart. One could possibly attempt to minimize this classic as a portrait of Chinese economy at the beginning of last century. Or a gripping testimony of poverty. In China...

China: so far and yet so close. And that is precisely my point: what is the difference between a boy who works and wants to own his own way of living, versus a boy who sells his
The Grapes of Wrath set in Beijing, but without the stratospheric commentary from Steinbeck's godlike narrator. Rickshaw is, as the forward points out, the social realist work the Socialists of the 1930s wanted to write but never did. It's a stark and muscular read as well as a great introduction to Chinese culture and literature of the Republic between the two world wars. (If I were to teach economics, I'd have my class read this and Mildred Pierce as clearheaded rebuttals to the dismal scie ...more
Throughout this reading, The Jungle kept cropping up in my mind. This is the Chinese equivalent but it's so much more, as well. I was not fond of The Jungle but Rickshaw Boy tells the story from a Communist & Chinese point of view that shows the sorrow and futility of individualism during those times.
The concept of living for the society, the whole is ever present in this book. Xiangzi is an individualist. He wants to work honestly and hard and for himself. He wants nothing more than to buy
James Nicolay
Having begun his literary career in his five-year stay in England and even modeling his portrayal of Beiping from Charles Dickens’ novels, Lao She achieves a literary feat in “Camel Xiangzi” where the Chinese novel features an authentic Chinese character which seems to be relatable even with Western readers as the prose has limited third person point of view and even Aritotelian unities, and where the main character, Xiangzi, is an embodiment of a very Western ideology, individualism. However, t ...more
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What a cynical, hateful book. As soon as any positive trait or event is dangled out in the story you can place sure money the author will soon get busy trampling it down to ruin. This happens so often and consistently that it's hard not to suspect the author of taking a kind of bitter, gleeful pleasure in grinding everything good down into misery and failure. Nor is this the somber bleakness of a Joyce Carol Oates novel, which at least have a measure of dignity and consistency to their gloom.

"The life of a poor man…was like the pit of a date, pointed on both ends and round in the middle. You're lucky to get through childhood without dying of hunger, and can hardly avoid starving to death when you're old. Only during your middle years, when you're strong and unafraid of either hunger or hard work, can you live like a human being."

This is the essence of Lao She's Chinese classic novel Rickshaw Boy. Xiangzi is an impoverished rickshaw puller in his twenties who is ambitious enough to
I wish I could read Chinese so I could read what the author actually wrote. This translation seemed so dull - at first it was like reading a newspaper article or a primer (see Jane run). But then, there were whole pages spent describing a sunset or a rainstorm. It's hard to tell whether this uneven writing was the translator trying to pad the story or if it was originally written this way by the author. There are a lot of modern expressions used which seemed out of place. If it was written seven ...more
A bleak glimpse into the miserable existence of the poorest in pre-revolution China. The continuous tides of hope, effort and disappointment simultaneously offers the reader an insight into the harsh realities of representing the society's lowest rungs, as well as exhibiting the author's revulsion towards the existing social structure.

Going through the translation, however, is a tedious affair at times. It can be imagined that much of the linguistic richness is lost in the process.
The story of Hsiang Tzu in Rickshaw depicted the hard way of life in Peking during the 1930’s. The story opened my eyes to how harsh life was for the average person in China during these times. Rickshaw demonstrated several themes of naturalistic literature, and I think Lao She did an excellent job of exploring these themes. Hsiang Tzu surrenders himself to fate and believes he has no control over his own life. The harder life gets for Hsiang Tzu the more he gives himself to fate. This is an exa ...more
Mike Bull
This book is a classic of the first half of twentieth century China, after the last dynasty was over and before Mao ruled the country.

Set largely in Beijing ("Beiping" in this book), the story follows a boy who pulls a rickshaw through his naive life on the streets and through hard times.

What I liked about this novel was its stark description of the reality of life for many people struggling to make a living in this period, when China was in transition between the ancient and the modern, and whe
I thought this book was a great window into a very different and interesting culture. I felt empathy for Xiangzi in his unlucky turn of events. The book started to drag toward the end, but I very much enjoyed reading it... I found myself putting it down and picking it back up again.
Beware: extremely depressing.. do not read if you are feeling depressed already. But this book is AMAZING and one cannot come away from it without a clear picture of oppression.
Ala'a  Muhammad
هذة ليست تجربتي الأولى مع الأدب الصيني ولذلك كان يجب أن أكون مستعدة لما سوف أواجه!
ولكن في حالة " الأرض الطيبة" كان عزائي بأن الأب لم يقم ببيع ابنته الصغيرة تحت اي ظرف. لندع هذا جانباً الآن وننتقل إلى رواية " لاو شو" " فتى عربة الركشة". تدور الأحداث حول "الفتى السعيد" الذي يرحل عن قريته بالتوجه إلى بكين رغبة بإقتناء عربة ركشة خاصة به وجمع أموال كثيرة تمكنه من العودة لقريته وإنتقاء فتاة صالحة لتصبح زوجة ومعاونة له بأمور الحياة. ولكن تجري الرياح بما لاتشتهي السفن، وهذا هو ابن القرية الساذج يحاول ال
Lao She was apparently one of the most widely read novelists in China in the early twentieth century and even today is widely read. This novel is one of his best and most often read.

The author writes about a young country boy, Xiangzi, who moves to the city and becomes a rickshaw boy. His life is filled with tragedy and sadness, mirroring the society in which he lived. His idealism moves to acceptance of his life to just surviving.

He detests his wife who trapped him into marriage by feigning p
Lao She expresses the hardships of the Chinese common man: A Rickshaw puller. The story tells of the main character and the hardships he must constantly endure for his quest to permanently own a Rickshaw. Constantly conflicted by perils and poverty, the protagonist is forced to constantly adjust to a new life while remaining at his same goal of purchasing a Rickshaw. Lao She uses beautiful imagery to described the joyfullest to the most devastating scenes and settings throughout the novel. Ricks ...more
This is an excellent novel. A sort of Chinese Dickens. Lao She describes the life of a poor (average) Chinese man in the days of chaos and foreign humiliation, between the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and the victory of Mao Zedong over Chiang Kai Shek and the KMT in 1949. I've not yet encountered a book that more perfectly evokes the hopelessness of life in those days than this one. Reading this will make anyone get on his/her knees and thank the God that he/she may or may not believe in that ...more
I love Lao She's writing even though it's true I didn't really like this story of him. I find it impressive because I wasn't really interested in the story, I wasn't in a hurry to know what would happen of the characters and yet I could put the book away. Lao She's writing gives you the need to read until the last word, his writing can seem dull sometimes but it's this calm I, in a way or another, find soothing - even if the subject isn't an easy one.

I felt strange after my reading of this book,
Incredibly depressing towards the end but still a good book. She understands well how to craft a story to drive his point home that we are not meant to lead selfish, "individualistic" lives. His protagonist demonstrates the failures of this modus operandi and uses it to point out that we are meant to live for others in a more communalistic sense.

Lao She was one of the prominent leftist writers in twentieth century China, hence his social focus in this novel on communalism and the ability of envi
This is a nice book..If you are the one who takes interest in reading literature about the downtrodden section of society, it would serve the purpose for you. Besides, it is funny too.
This book was depressing and seemed almost pointless. I liked reading a book from another culture, but I wasn't really impressed with the story. I would like to know the reasoning behind its being on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. Maybe because it is so depressing? Who knows. Anyway, the story is about a rickshaw puller living in Peking who can never advance in the world. Each time he makes a little headway in life, he gets knocked down lower and lower. It reminded me a little of Re ...more
An interesting account of a rickshaw and therefore poor man in Beijing. Lao She has a knack for capturing the mundane details with a beautiful spin. The detrimental length of Camel Xiangzi was exacerbated by the circular nature of the plot. By the third spin of defeat, I was bored and depressed and could hardly continue to read even for the delicate prose. I think Lao She should have stuck with satire. The first half gets 4 stars, the second half gets 2.
This book was super amazing. Emotional, realistic, tragic, all with an undercurrent of Naturalism and the theme of get up, try again, get up, try again. The novel gives a compelling look into the life of a poor Chinese rickshaw puller at the beginning of the twentieth century. The protagonist's story and daily life is probably the same of those who really did live in that time frame under those circumstances. It's a sad thought.
Fred Daly
Chinese novel, written in 1937. It's about a man's struggles to survive in the city as a rickshaw puller. He never gets anywhere. The plot is repetitive, which is sort of the point. It ends up as an indictment of individualism, so it's interesting if not exactly pleasurable to read.
This was a very interested book that offered a peek into Chinese culture. I enjoyed the beginning of this story very much; however the end seemed to drop off quite dramatically around the last chapter. I wish it would have eased off the way we eased in to the story.
First published in 1937, this is a great book about the life of a Rickshaw Boy between the wars. It is an interesting look into helplessness and hopelessness of that class of citizen in Beijing. It's wonderful to learn about other times and cultures and people!
Xiangzi works really hard every day, he tries to be a good man, he doesn't spend his money indulging in pleasures... all for nothing, the world has other plans for him. What a depressing book, I almost had to force myself to finish it (rating not related).
Diane Pollock
Xiangzi is everything you would want your son to be, strong, determined, honest, ambitious and filled with hope. Within a decade his soul has been destroyed. A fascinating glimpse into another time and culture that has many lessons for us both here and now.
Jan Madden
Although well written, the message of this book seems to matter how noble your intent, or how hard you suffer through life and then die. Definitely not a pleasure read!
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Rickshaw Boy 6 9 Jul 10, 2014 08:50PM  
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