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Oil for the Lamps of China

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  24 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Oil for the Lamps of China (1934) was a best-selling novel when it was first published, just a few years after Pearl Buck's The Good Earth (1931). The hero of the story is a keen, young American businessman who wants to bring "light" and progress to China in the form of oil and oil lamps, but who is caught between Chinese revolutionary nationalism in the 1920s and the hear ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Eastbridge (first published January 1st 1978)
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Persephone Abbott
Sep 29, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked up a 1946 paperback copy of this book in a thrift shop one day while waiting for a rehearsal to begin. I recognized the author's name as one of a few women who wrote about China in the first half of the 20th century -- Nora Waln, Pearl Buck and Han Suyin being the other authors I have read on the subject matter. I felt the greatest setback to Hobart's book was the isolation that the main female character experienced while in China and how little she interacted with the Chinese community ...more
Nov 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in China
This book was written in 1933 and my parents, who lived and worked in China (my grandfather was a missionary there), found it very accurate. I have an old paperback copy and only recently got around to reading it. It's a fascinating picture of the evolution of China seen through the eyes of an American and may give a bit of insight into its further development into today's looming monster. It also gives a picture of the role of a Western woman in that time period.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
c 1933. Set in 1912? and onward into the 1920s

Fascinating book, the best of it showing the friendship between the main character Stephen and his Chinese agent or business partner Ho, as well as the long-time 'butler' Kin who stays with Stephen through thick and thin.
Stephen learns Chinese [Mandarin, apparently] at the beginning and the author claims he can express himself politely according to local standards, which makes a big impression on Chinese who deal with him. Stephen learns to accept a
Jun 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Largely autobiographical, the story of an American businessman in China and how his and his wife's lives were consumed by the company for which he worked.

Working from a list of books I read years ago.
Frederick Tan
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very inspiring tales of the hardship in China. A must read.
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here are some notes for myself. VERY PRIVATE DO NOT READ
- coming of age
- different cultural conventions
- work-wife balance
- feminism?
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