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China: Empire of Living Symbols
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China: Empire of Living Symbols

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  124 ratings  ·  14 reviews
This book presents a fascinating and stunningly beautiful introduction to Chinese language and culture.The origins of Chinese ideographs were not known until 1899 when a scholar went to an apothecary for some medicine made of "dragon bone". To his surprise the bone, which had not yet been ground into powder, contained a number of carved inscriptions. Thus began the ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 6th 2008 by Da Capo Press (first published August 1st 1989)
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Jerome Baladad
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Lindqvist's book, as translated by Joan Tate, is a superb learning book on Chinese characters. After having read it, I was reminded by a remark of a friend, who is Filipino Chinese, who snobbishly told me, "being able to write those characters would not actually mean much -- and that it's more important to be able to speak the language (he spoke Fookien, and I learned in subsequent talks that he really had to struggle learning to draw Chinese characters, as he was also studying Mandarin)." He ...more
Jul 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: china
really fascinating... This book shows the pictorial development of characters so as to teach their meaning.... the author is a scholar with the heart of a poet...
Karen Chung
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I originally happened upon an abridged Chinese translation of this book in a local mainland Chinese bookstore, then decided to try and track down an English version of it – it was originally written in Swedish. Happily I was able to get the book through Amazon. It was a very welcome new work for me to tackle since I'd just read a number of books on the etymology of Chinese characters. I approached it like a textbook, reading just a bit every day, so I could better absorb the content.

I've been
Ocean Gebhardt
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent dive into the development and progression of Chinese characters, from the oracle bones, through the Shang and Zhou dynasties to the modern day (the author doesn't seem to like simplified characters all that much, and I sympathize). I've read a couple books on the origins of Chinese characters, and this is definitely the one I will be recommending from now on.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: valodas
Četras, nē, piecas. :)
Zhang Tao
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I can find on Chinese language and characters, strangely written by not a Chinese, but Cecilia, the Swedish Sinologist.

The best part of China or Chinese culture is the language, which is so much more than just a mean to communicate with each other. Instead, many characters carry "meanings" and they also evolve from time to time. Having lived in China for many years, the author did a wonderful job bringing those beautiful and artistic languages (as well as its culture and
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
very informative. considering the pace of research about origin of Chinese letter, this book still works really well as an introductory material.
Wei Zhang
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
sometimes, we just take for things for granted, like a Chinese kids memory thousands of Chinese characters which has so many interesting stories behind them... Cecilia using her passion and knowledge to show that to a Chinese native. Thanks so much.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is nothing short of amazing. I can recommend it not only for people interested in learning in Mandarin, but for anyone who’s either interested in language/linguistics in general, the history of China or early human life and civilization. A fascinating read on every page.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully translated and illustrated book tells about the origins of Chinese characters against the background of Chinese culture, customs, and, at times, even art and architecture. On he one hand, it helped me to improve my character memorisation skill. On the other hand, it only worked because of bringing a strong emotional, aesthetic even, component into the learning process.
Dominic Wong
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Chinese civilisation is all inside these mysterious looking Chinese characters. This book really gets me to understand why specific characters are written in certain ways and to appreciate the greatness of ancient Chinese wisdom.
Viktor Nilsson
Intressant, lättläst, välresearchad! Ger förklaringar till de kinesiska skrivtecknens historia, dels som företeelse men främst den unika historia som ligger bakom varje tecken. Kinesiska skrivtecken har utvecklats långt från de ursprungliga bilder som de föreställer och parallellen är inte alltid självklar. Att lära sig om tecknets historia är inte bara intressant, det hjälper också när man ska komma ihåg dess betydelse! Författaren skriver om sina egna historier från besök i Kina, och vad ...more
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Cecilia Lindqvist - Chinese name: Lin Xili 林西莉 - is a Swedish Sinologist. She is a professor and author of several books on China.