Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

More Chinese History


Anyone interested in a short ebook with Chinese stories? Say, 80 pages for $5. Or 30 pages for $2.

The stories would come in two versions: one with fake Western names so you don’t lose track of the story while trying to pronounce Zhang Bangchang. And another with the actual names, and maybe citations of scholarly sources and that stuff.


36 responses to “More Chinese History

  1. Pingback: More Chinese History | Neoreactive

  2. Will April 27, 2016 at 14:17

    Compile what you’ve written and add a bit and shoot for $5-$10.
    If you’re not worth $5 to Somebody, you don’t want them around anyway.

  3. With the thoughts you'd be thinkin April 27, 2016 at 14:59

    Yes that sounds good. Also with the names how are you going to westernise them? Will they be westernised like Confucius, translated like Perpetual Happiness Emperor (Yongle Emperor), thematic or some combination of the above?

    • spandrell April 27, 2016 at 15:06

      Not sure. I could make funny puns. 樂 lè in modern mandarin means “giggle”, so I could call Yongle the “always giggling emperor”. Not that anyone would get it.

      Confucius sorta works for himself, but Zhancius or Lisius are a mouthful themselves.

      For Emperors I could just use numbers, 5th of Song, 3th of Tang. It’s a hard problem. Any suggestions?

      • Jack April 27, 2016 at 18:08

        Use Latin? Since Latin looks cool to people who don’t understand it (me and most people).

        So Han Wudi can be 7th of Han, Martialis or Han Martialis or Han Septimo Martialis
        Hongwu Emperor can be 1st of Ming, Valde Martialis or Ming Valde Martialis or Ming Primum Valde Martialis.
        Yongle can be 3rd of Ming, Perpetuam Beatitudinem or Ming Perpetuam Beatitudinem or Ming Tertium Perpetuam Beatitudinem and just call him Beatitudinem for short when referring to him again.

        A huge mouthful but at least it looks cool on paper I guess?

        • spandrell April 27, 2016 at 18:23

          You had me sold until Perpetuam Beatitudinem. That’s a mouthful. I wonder how Matteo Ricci and the others referred to the Ming emperors.

          • Candide III May 2, 2016 at 07:55

            Perpetuam Beatitudinem is too much, but why not use related Catholic-Latin names? Beatus, Boniface, Celestine, Benedict etc. You can usually find an equivalent at least for the verb/noun (le), even if you have to throw away the adjective (yong).

            • spandrell May 2, 2016 at 10:52

              Beatus or Benedict doesn’t quite make it, does it. Yongle was an overbearing awesome general, making him sound like a pope doesn’t get that through very well. Jiajing made a good change by calling him 成祖. He got things done.

              I think I’ll just respect the originals and try to make the narration more agile by other means.

              • Candide III May 2, 2016 at 12:22

                Many Middle Ages popes weren’t very pope-y, calling for crusades and warring with Italian states. Also, Yongle sounds just as little like “overbearing awesome general” as Beatus. Actually the isolating nature of English language lends itself to providing both variants: a simple search-and-replace (or sed script with all the name pairs) should suffice.

                • spandrell May 2, 2016 at 13:51

                  As unpope-y as some popes were, surely they don’t compare with invading Mongolia and sending a fleet to attack random countries in the Indian Ocean!

                  English is trending towards isolation but it still uses derivation to change parts of speech. Happy and Happiness are different words. Not so in Classical Chinese, so the potential for wordplay is still quite limited in English, let alone the ambiguity of verbs in Chinese.

                  A lay audience might be interested in the what kind of man Yongle was, not what his ministers were trying to signal when he came up with the regnal era name. The temple names at least are a sort of description of what the emperor did, so it’s more or less useful for a biography.

              • Candide III May 2, 2016 at 15:14

                > sending a fleet to attack random countries in the Indian Ocean
                Uh-oh. How about sending a horde of knights, retainers and various rabble to conquer random countries in Asia Minor? Multiple times, at that?

                Personally I am comfortable with Chinese names. The Latinization idea seemed kind of cool, though.

              • spandrell May 2, 2016 at 15:27

                Yongle commanded his troops himself. A Chinese emperor commanding troops personally in Mongolia and winning is the summum of awesomeness of all Chinese history. Doesn’t get any better.

      • With the thoughts you'd be thinkin April 27, 2016 at 19:15

        I guess it depends on the tone you want to bring across maybe just simplified translations like “Laughing emperor” for Yongle, “Martial emperor” for Wu, although emperors with the same name like Wu might cause you trouble. Honestly though I don’t know enough to help you, my knowledge of Chinese history is through talks with enthusiastic relatives, games and online sources (blogs, wikipedia and you). Honestly just try and figure one that is the least awkward to read and clashes the least tonally.
        “The Yongle emperor overthrew his uncle, the Jianwen emperor”
        “The Perpetual Hapiness emperor overthrew his uncle, the Establishing Civility emperor”
        “The Laughing emperor overthrew his uncle, the Civil emperor”
        “The 3rd Ming emperor overthrew his uncle, the 2nd Ming emperor”
        “The Beatitudinem emperor overthrew his uncle, the Humanitatem emperor”

        • spandrell April 27, 2016 at 19:49

          I think the awkwardness comes from using the regnal era name instead of the temple names. Yongle is also Chengzu, and many in China call all emperors up to Puyi by their temple names.
          I guess I’ll translate the 庙号 into latin and add numbers to help. So Martialis (the 5th Emperor) of Han or something like that.

  4. Porphy's Attorney April 27, 2016 at 15:32

    I’d buy that for a dollar.

    More actually but I couldn’t resist the joke-reference.

    I agree with The Thoughts tho: Don’t *just* use numbers for the Emperors tho use amusing-but-appropriate appellations. It possibly doesn’t matter if people would “get it” as such if the appellation fits.

  5. MT April 27, 2016 at 15:40

    I’d buy a Kindle version ($5 to $10) for sure, with Chinese names preferably. I think a Westernized version would be kind of silly? It’s all plenty readable given your narration.

    Proper footnotes or a bibliography would be handy.

    • Porphy's Attorney April 27, 2016 at 15:58

      +1 to the footnotes/bibliography but if it’s to stuff in Chinese most of us will be lost in a fog.
      Still, it would be useful.

      • spandrell April 27, 2016 at 16:03

        That’s the thing, I tend to rely on Chinese sources. Honestly Wikipedia has plenty of references of history books in English.

        • Porphy's Attorney April 27, 2016 at 16:49

          Yes, but judging by the modal Wikipedia source materiel, I’m betting the references have a certain, um, take, that is probably not what you express here based on your source materiel.

          Except maybe in posts that are largely contributed by Chinese patriots with lots of time on their hands because not enough gfs.

  6. Bran April 27, 2016 at 17:39

    A lot of lurkers like me will probably buy, I will. Fascinating stuff, especially because there’s no other way to hear this stuff unless you know Chinese.

  7. Toddy Cat April 27, 2016 at 17:50

    I’d buy it in PDF format, $10 – 15

  8. Redwolfe April 28, 2016 at 00:10

    I never comment, but I do love your writing, and your Chinese history stories are great. I’d buy them.

  9. lalit April 28, 2016 at 08:26

    Bring it on, mate. I already paid for Mencius Moldbug’s books as well. I will pay for yours. We reactionaries gotta watch each other’s backs and gotta make each other prosper. We’re like a tribe. An international tribe.

  10. Weltanschauung April 28, 2016 at 08:36

    Lurker. Will buy.

    As to the names, thank you for acknowledging that Chinese names are an obstacle. I really liked your stories in which you tried giving everyone a random classical Greek name: that made it much easier for me to follow. Be eclectic. Would the play have been better if Claudius and Polonius and Laertes and Ophelia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Horatio had been given Danish sounding names?

  11. deltakyklos April 28, 2016 at 09:16

    will buy

  12. Erebus April 28, 2016 at 11:06

    Somewhere around $12.99 would be, I think, a fair price. I’d definitely buy it.

    If possible, PDF format would be preferable to Kindle — more versatile.

    Also, Chinese names and footnotes/references would be very much preferred. What you’re relating is history, not fiction. To use fake Western names would be confusing and would give your work the appearance of “Chinese Historical Accounts for Dummies.”

    Aside: You might want to consider setting up a Patreon account. I’d be glad to support your efforts on a monthly basis.

    • spandrell April 28, 2016 at 14:28

      That’s very generous of you, I’ll look into it.

      There’s a demand for more casual historiography and I’ll like to provide for all tastes. Of course the main version will have original names.

      As for references, I’ll put primary sources because it’s good historiographical practice and I like to track the source claims, but that probably won’t be of much use for the average reader. I’ve really not read that much Asian history in English.

  13. Karl April 28, 2016 at 14:21

    I suggest keeping the Chinese names, but to add nicknames. I read “The Water Margin” and indeed found the Chinese names difficult to remember. The nicknames like “Black Whirlwind” or “Stumpy Tiger” made it at lot easier. Just give the important persons a nickname, or maybe a title. I wouldn’t like to read Chinese history (or even fiction) with European names, it would just sound silly.

    Oh, and you could add a “dramatis personae” to your book, so we could look up any names if we get confused.

  14. Vendetta May 1, 2016 at 17:48

    I’d but it. When you say a version with Westernized names, why not just use the arbitrary Greek names like you did with Cassandra?

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