Colin Thubron ( kindle / Pdf ) Behind the Wall

Colin Thubron Ù 5 Summary

Ical paradise near the Burmese border to the windswept wastes of the Gobi desert and the far end of the Great Wall What Thubron reveals is an astonishing divers. A travelogue around China in mid 80s I think annoyingly it doesn t specify There are some wonderfully poetic passages and plenty of prosaic and disjointed encounters He does at least speak Mandarin so was able to talk to real people relatively easily and seemed good at picking out interesting ones He covered much of the tourist trail albeit independently and even slept in Mao s old bed

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Behind the Wall

Ity a land whose still unmeasured resources strain to meet an awesome demand and an ancient people still reeling from the devastation of the Cultural Revolution. I was completely and utterly taken in by this book From he first little annecdote that had me laughing aloud on the trainway to school to the end that turned me into a one time philosopher Colin Thubron goes to China after the death of Chairman Mao after the Cultural Revolution and after Deng Xiopeng has introduced new reform through out the country Thubron tells us that he for the purpose of this trip has learned Mandarin Chinese and throughout the book it becomes very apperant why he did so He wants to talk to people wants to understand them and wants to understand the country s history especially the Cultural Revolution This is something he has heard a lot about at home in England and he has his own opppinion of this which is certainly not good but he is constantly met my indifferent Chinese people Well perhaps not completely indifferent but they have certainly accepted that this is the wayy life is for them Though there is one Chinese woman who makes a big impression on Thubron She tells him that everybody in town thinks her mad but that s only because she isn t like them She doesn t conform she doesn t follow the stream Thubron himself is only sporadically visible in the book Most of the book is made of small annecdotes about things he s seen and retellings of conversations he s had It s not often that he himself his feelings thoughts or opinions become visible to the reader Instead he has a very uniue and likable approach I felt anyway In his conversations with the Chinese he often asks about the Cultural Revolution and though his uestions are careful and slightly guarded his contant need for answers about this subject shows just how much he wishes to know about it He doesn t volunteer any informations about himself We know only that he is English because he is asked where he comes from We know only that he s 46 because he s asked about his age We know only that he s single because he invents a wife at one point Another interesting thing about Thubron is the way he travels Alone Many Chinese people he meets wonder about this seeing him as almost strange Some even offer to go with him but he turns them down We also never learn why he has embarked on this journey but a good guess would be curiosity This is just after the opening of China so this country is virtually only a fantasy to a lot of people At one point Thubron has a chance to sleep in Chairman Mao s bed one of them anyway and when he is in this enigmatic mans room he refers to him as goldlike calling him He and pondering over His life To Thubron Mao is an exhaulted being Towards the end we start to see of Thubron He starts one chapter with melancholy drabblings he is tired of traveling his tired of China but most of all his tired of the Chinese and the sameness Before this points he has willingsly spoken to those who approach him After this he becomes rude and even ignore certain people until they go away A little after this towards the end of his journey he oversees a public trial and it is here that we learn of his psycological journey of his his travels have changed him Because though he is still outraged about this public display of power and humiliation he has finally come to accept that that is the Chinese way In punishment and even in death the individual serves the masses It is also very easy to tell that Thubron has an interest in China In between tellings of his own journey he has little paragraphs of history about the places he visits og the things he sees

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Having learned Mandarin and travelling alone by foot bicycle and train Colin Thubron sets off on a 10000 mile journey from Beijing to Tibet starting from a trop. Interesting but dated view of China as seen through the eyes of a British traveller in the 1980 s Not only has the country changed enormously since then but also the way the West looks at China The condescension and borderline racist statements by the author would be strange and unacceptable in a contemporary book about China


10 thoughts on “Behind the Wall

  1. says:

    Brilliantly lovely engaging travel book about China before it became the roaring supercharged capitalist success story it is today Or has their capitalist dream gone bust too like ours? It's hard to keep up these daysTwo an

  2. says:

    Interesting but dated view of China as seen through the eyes of a British traveller in the 1980's Not only has the country changed enormously since then but also the way the West looks at China The condescension and borderline racist statements by the author would be strange and unacceptable in a contemporary bo

  3. says:

    I've been reading this book on and off now and then over a long period I finally decided to just finish it It's not that I didn't like the book It is excellent really Thubron is a very observant outsider and he is very kno

  4. says:

    This is my favorite book about China and I've read uite a fewThubron is an endlessly sympathetic narrator as he travels through 'classical' C

  5. says:

    A travelogue around China in mid 80s I think annoyingly it doesn't specify There are some wonderfully poetic passages and plenty of prosaic and disjointed encounters He does at least speak Mandarin so was able to talk to

  6. says:

    When I first opened this book I was afraid a 30 year old tome would perhaps not be worth the effort and time What could Colin Thubron possibly write about China and the Chinese that was still relevant today? But I was soon reassured and highly impressed here's a man who really earns the accolade travel writer erudite fearless and sensitive Thubron patiently and poetically describes the numerous landscapes and c

  7. says:

    I was completely and utterly taken in by this book From he first little annecdote that had me laughing aloud on the trainway to school to the end that turned me into a one time philosopher Colin Thubron goes to China after t

  8. says:

    One thing I've noticed in the four Colin Thubron books I've read so far all involving travel somewhere in Asia is that he seems to have a knack for discovering the most unpleasant people in whatever country China in this case he's touringHe is in Nanjing I think on Page 101 when he makes an ill fated call on the

  9. says:

    I've visited China on numerous occasions since the late 90s I've watched the downtown areas of its cities morph into malls full of Chanel and Cartier and its inter city travel become a network of comfortable high speed rain links Colin Thubron travelled the length and breadth of China in the mid 80s He writes about another planet a desperately poor country still putting itself back together after the disaster of the Cultural Revolution t

  10. says:

    A fascinating and beautifully written account of a journey around China as it recovers from Chairman Mao’s policies the Cultural Revolution It is a book of poetry humanity and clear eyed observation

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