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René Leys

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3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  82 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
In this entrancing story of spiritual adventure, a Westerner in Peking seeks the mystery at the heart of the Forbidden City. He takes as a tutor in Chinese the young Belgian René Leys, who claims to be in the know about strange goings-on in the Imperial Palace: love affairs, family quarrels, conspiracies that threaten the very existence of the empire. But whether truth-tel ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 31st 2003 by NYRB Classics (first published 1971)
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(showing 1-30 of 248)
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Van
Nov 27, 2015 Van rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Không hẳn là truyện viết không hấp dẫn, nhưng đọc không thực sự bị lôi cuốn và đắm chìm. Đọc hết rồi vẫn có cảm giác nửa thật nửa hư, không biết cả câu chuyện vừa đọc là sự thật mà Rene Leys đã trải qua, hay tất cả rốt cuộc đều chỉ là những tưởng tượng của anh theo lời nói được Segalen dẫn dắt. Cảm giác bị xỏ mũi dẫn đi suốt cả câu chuyện và rồi cuối cùng vẫn không nhận được câu trả lời.

Ít ra thì đọc cũng có thêm đôi chút hiểu biết về thời kỳ cuối của triều đình nhà Thanh trước cuộc cách mạng Tâ
...more
Justin Evans
Aug 21, 2013 Justin Evans rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
My edition of this book, an old 'Quartet Encounters' (they specialized in Euro lit that wasn't published in the U.S. or U.K., and many of their titles are now published by NYRB), features a blurb from Publishers Weekly on how the novel "probes the frustrations of man's inability to grasp the unknown." But I must disrespectfully disagree, because if the book was that, I would have been bored stupid, and also not able to concentrate, because quotes from every important philosopher since Kant would ...more
Victoria

Pierre Ryckmans, whom I admire more day by day as I read his essays collected as The Hall of Uselessness, took his pen name of Simon Leys from the title character of this book, and one wondered why, and who Victor Segalen is.

Rene Leys is a well-wrought, innovative, and consistently compelling novel about the way China can capture a westerner's imagination, a certain kind of westerner, open to the culture and history of the ancient kingdom, and with a touch of romance to the soul.

The novel imme
...more
Peter Crofts
Apr 28, 2014 Peter Crofts rated it liked it
After reading the recent Wesleyan University edition of Steles, which, for me, is certainly one of the most fascinating texts of early French modern poetry, I immediately got ahold of Rene Leys. Leys is a fairly well known piece of French literature which has developed something of a cult following as one of the forgotten masterpieces of early 20th century writing. The atmosphere and the general sense of incompleteness that pervades the text has been likened to Kafka. I suppose I should have pai ...more
Huy
Jul 07, 2012 Huy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Đọc tới những trang cuối cùng mới thấy rằng nó rất là thú vị.
Jennifer
Aug 04, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I can't even begin to describe how thoroughly enthralled I was by this novel. (And how happy I was to not have read the introduction before reading the book.) An entrancing account of China in 1911 from a European perspective, this is a book of being on the outside looking in, and of romanticizing the unknown. And was absolutely a pleasure to read. Recommended very highly, this is the best fiction I've read in quite a while!
Michael Castagna
Jul 18, 2015 Michael Castagna rated it really liked it
The "Pei-kin" of Segalen's narrative feels like a typical 19th c. orientalist parody in many ways but the evocative (and economical) prose builds up a sense of mystery and tension that is truly impressive. It reads a bit like Huysmans (who, as the introduction makes clear, was an early literary influence on Segalen) without all the references to the occult.
James Hale
Feb 17, 2016 James Hale rated it it was amazing
It's so hard to logically choose yes or no at the end of this book, and that is a testament to the talent of Victor Segalen. He presents you with a hypothetical entrancing mystery for mystery's sake. Why? Because mystery in his eyes is the essence of life. The question is not only, "can we know?" but it extends itself to the debate of "should we know?" making this piece an ever evolving and relevant read.
Aqil Dhanani
Nov 26, 2012 Aqil Dhanani rated it liked it
An interesting read. A little bit slow to start and a little bit fast to finish. It's really just an insight to a mysterious character and hi exploits.
Elizabeth Bradley
Apr 12, 2009 Elizabeth Bradley rated it liked it
the snobberies of french colonialists in Peking...a little dreamy and stilted so far, but I like it...

...strange, decadent, fun.
Arthur
Jul 20, 2013 Arthur rated it it was amazing
Great novel on the impossibility of knowing. I think it will be added to my list of favorite NYRB Classics.
Jeanette
Jan 10, 2009 Jeanette marked it as to-read
Shelves: classics
recommended by alberto manguel
Scott
Dec 14, 2007 Scott rated it it was amazing
Written in the early 1900's, but has a very contemporary ironic voice. Story of a French ambassador to Beijing who meets a young Belgian who apparently has unprecedented access to the Forbidden Palace.
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NYRB Classics: René Leys, by Victor Segalen 1 3 Oct 29, 2013 09:23PM  
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Victor Segalen was a French naval doctor, ethnographer, archeologist, writer, poet, explorer, art-theorist, linguist and literary critic.

He was born in Brest. He studied naval medicine in Bordeaux. He traveled and lived in Polynesia (1903–1905) and China (1909–1914 and 1917). He died by accident in a forest in Huelgoat, France ('under mysterious circumstances' and reputedly with an open copy of Ha
...more
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