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China: Empire of Living Symbols

China: Empire of Living Symbols [Kindle Edition]

Cecilia Lindqvist
4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)

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Guardian 7/5/08 "An evocative, compelling celebration of language as a carrier of culture." Toronto Globe & Mail 7/5/08 "[A] delightful cultural and linguistic history." Boston Globe "Deserve[s] special mention...Lavishly illustrated." London Review of Books, 2008 "A fascinating introduction to Chinese language and culture. Beautifully designed and illustrated with photographs, calligraphy and drawings." Shelf Awareness's "Top Ten of 2009," 12/15/2009 "For those of us fascinated by Chinese, this offers detailed histories of many basic characters, showing their earliest forms, which often were representational, and their stylized modern versions."


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 exploration of the 3000-year-old sources of the written characters still used in China today. In this unparalleled and deeply researched book, Cecilia Lindqvist tells the story of these characters and shows how their shapes and concepts have permeated all of Chinese thought, architecture, art, and culture.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 16699 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 424 Seiten
  • Verlag: Da Capo Press; Auflage: Reprint (27. April 2009)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #317.831 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Genial! 22. Mai 2014
Von SusanneZ
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Ein äußerst interessantes und reichlich bebildertes Buch für jene, die sich nicht nur für die chinesische Schrift bzw. Sprache, sondern sich auch für die chinesische Kultur mit all ihrem Traditions- und Facettenreichtum interessieren!

Warum sehen die chinesischen Schriftzeichen so aus, wie sie aussehen? Und warum sind sie häufig so schwierig zu entschlüsseln oder einzuprägen? Die chinesische Schrift entstand aus Bildern bzw. Zeichnungen; dabei handelte es sich nicht um Skizzen oder grobe Symbole, sondern ausgeklügelte Zeichnungen mit Liebe zum Detail! Ein typisches Beispiel ist das Zeichen für "Frau", das aus einer Abbildung eines gewickelten Kimonos entstanden ist. So kann man sich die chinesische Schrift in der Tat einprägen!

Die Autorin greift die Hintergründe zu allen Schriftzeichen auf und beschreibt mithilfe zahlreicher Illustrationen und Fotos, wie die einzelnen Schriftzeichen entstanden sind.
Die Kapitel sind nach Lebensbereiche bzw. Themen sortiert und stellen die wichtigsten Schriftzeichen vor. Mao tse Tung liess seinerzeit die Schrift reformieren und vereinfachen, um auf diese Weise mehr Leute zu alphabetisieren. Deshalb erscheinen in diesem Buch zum Teil auch frühere Schriftzeichen, die komplexer sind, aber auch noch näher an den rusprünglichen Illustrationen und Bedeutungen der Wörter sind.

Ergo ein klasse Buch - ob man es als Informationsquelle über die chinesische Kultur oder als Ergänzung zum Sprachunterricht verwendet.
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0 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Living Symbols 15. Februar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
+ Topic very interesting with vivid illustrations on the development of the characters.

- Overly simplistic & colloquial writing style
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.7 von 5 Sternen  19 Rezensionen
33 von 33 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A superb beautifully illustrated introduction to China. 27. Juni 2001
Von tepi - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
CHINA : Empire of Living Symbols. By Cecilia Lindqvist. Translated from the Swedish by Joan Tate. 424 pp. New York : Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1991 (1989). ISBN 0-201-57009-2 (hbk.)
Although Cecilia Lindqvist is a professional scholar of Chinese and was in fact a pupil of Bernhard Karlgren, one of the greatest sinologists of the 20th century, she is one of those rare scholars who, instead of devoting herself exclusively to academic publications, has not been afraid to produce a book designed for the general reader.
Her book, though founded in a specialist knowledge of both Chinese and China, where she lived for many years, is written with a light and engaging touch, is magnificently illustrated with numerous photographs, both black-and-white and color, line drawings, maps, Chinese characters, etc., and is so beautifully produced that it could be read or browsed with interest by anyone.
Her book attempts so many things, and succeeds so well in them all, that it would be difficult to overpraise it. It introduces us to the pictorial element of the Chinese script in a more engaging way than has ever been done before, and becomes in fact a painless way of acquiring a vocabulary of the basic building blocks which go to make up Chinese characters.
It relates these basic pictograms to a wide range of topics in Chinese cultural history in a sumptuously illustrated series of chapters dealing with - Oracle Bones and Bronzes; Man, Mankind; Water and Mountains ; Wild Animals; Domestic Animals; Carts, Roads, and Boats; Farming; Wine and Jars; Hemp and Silk; Bamboo and Tree; Tools and Weapons; Roofs and Houses; Books and Musical Instruments; Numbers and Other Abstract Characters. It also includes a chapter on Meaning and Sound which traces the development of Chinese writing from the early pictographs through to phonetic compounds.
The book is rounded out with a gallery of superb color photographs; a section on Character Stroke Order; a really excellent Bibliography of both Western and Chinese books (which unfortunately gives only the pinyin and lacks the sinographs for the latter); a table of Dynasties and Periods; and a full Index.
The book is a curious size, having been made 8.5 by 8.5 inches to accomodate its many photographs, is bound in full linen, stitched, and beautifully printed on a very strong smooth ivory-tinted paper.
Anyone who, after reading the book, would like to learn more about China's culture or writing system, will find that the fully annotated Bibliography with its extensive list of interesting works for further reading will provide many leads. These range from general books on the science and civilization of China up to such things as specialist Chinese dictionaries of the ancient bone and bronze forms of the characters.
Lindqvist's love of China, its people, language, and culture shines through on every page, and her book is clearly a labor of love. It can be recommended without reservation as a marvelous introduction to one of the richest and most fascinating cultures on earth.
30 von 30 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen This book took the author 35 years to write 23. Februar 2007
Von Harald Groven - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
When I was a kid I though that the Chinese written language was impossible to learn (unless you were born there) and that the signs were just a bunch of arbitrary strokes impossible to remember.

All this changed when I picked up this book in the 1990s. I then discovered the connection between the Chinese culture and history, and the written Chinese language. It is thick with carefully chosen and categorized stories, often experienced by the author herself, about how a Chinese character reveals something about Chinese history, thinking, or everyday life in ancient times. The Chinese themselves are often strangely unaware about the etymology of their Hànzi characters, since the school system encourages rote learning. Its richly illustrated by drawings and photographs that shows similarities between something and the character representing it. E.g. how the character for "well" resembles the ancient Chinese way of constructing wells, quite different from western ones.

What this book is not:

- Its very, far from anything like a textbook in Chinese writing. But it may be the best soft introduction to such a topic. Its well suited for people that want to know something about the Chinese language, but don't want to spend time studying it.

- Its not a dictionary. It covers 500 characters in 350 pages. The characters are not selected because of word frequency, or usefulness in everyday life etc. Many characters covered are really rare.

- It doesn't say anything about how the signs are pronounced. It is strictly about how the Chinese culture embedded in the written language.

- If you stop reading before the last chapter you will believe that the Chinese language are mostly made up of ideographs or pictograms (a picture of something in the real world). In fact more than 90% of Characters are made up of Radical-Phonetic signs (explained in the final chapter) and character do not resemble anything "in real life". To "unlearn" this misunderstanding I will recommend J. DeFrancis: "The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy"

Because of this book, I moved to China and studied there in 2005. Without getting inspiration from this book a few years ago, I would never have thought it was worth even trying to understand the Chinese language.
13 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen One of the best introductions to Chinese culture available! 21. September 1998
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
If you only have time or money to get one book as an introduction to Chinese culture--try this! Cecilia Lindqvist shows the reader how Chinese characters are derived from reality. As she does so, Lindqvist describes Chinese history, geography, art, music, customs. The book includes excellent reproductions of Chinese art and pictures of everyday life. Reading this book feels like touring China with a knowing and chatty guide. She takes you not only around an enormous territory, but through 6,000 years of civilization.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen What a book 13. Dezember 2007
Von keepaway from tmobile - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I cannot believe how beautifully this book was written. Even as a Chinese educated in China, I was fascinated by this little book. It is not only about Chinese language but also about a people, a nation, and a civilization. This book made me re-think about my cultural heritage that I am extremely pround of already. I recommend this book to anybody who is interested in China and humanity in general.
Thank you Cecilia Lindqvist. Your professional expertise inspired me and your lovely sense of humor made my days.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Useful reference work 21. März 2009
Von Thom Mitchell - Veröffentlicht auf
Cecilia Lindqvist's book is wonderful mix of history, culture language and art. Her discussion of objects showing how characters evolved as well as showing examples of each character adds a depth that can't be found in most books about language. In fact this book is more about culture than language although both are covered in detail. For example her discussion of the character for the word "Well" is interesting and it would be hard for the reader to not be able to remember this character quite clearly forever.

My only complaint is that she doesn't provide any pinyin to help the reader pronounce the characters discussed. To learn how to pronounce the characters the reader has to go to a character dictionary and look them up by stroke count. That quibble aside, this is a great book.
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