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“A Many-Splendoured Thing” and the Community in Popular Culture database

I’m charged up about the popular culture databases we’re developing–we have a couple online, and they’re great, but bigger things are in store—because I keep picking terrible movies. Now I am not exactly known as the popculture diva, but I ought to be able to do better than this. Last night’s failure was in a good cause: learning more about China. A Chinese-Dutch doctor called Han Suyin was a sensational success in the early ‘50s with a book about her love affair in Hong Kong during the days when the Communists were taking control of the mainland. It’s a beautifully written book and has many sensitive observations about China and Chinese perspectives. When I discovered an old Penguin copy of A Many-Splendoured Thing in a bookshop in London, I was terribly excited and thought I might revive this wonderful memoir. Only later did I find that it had been turned into a multiple Academy-Award-winning movie, so it was hardly obscure. And that’s what we watched last night, Love is A Many-Splendored Thing, made in 1955. It was dreadful. David was quite right to comment that the heroine’s lines were non-stop echoes of an American “Confucius say.”

I can’t count the times someone has said, “Have you seen….?” and I’ve had to say, “No, but I’ve the book.” This is yet another case where my advice is to read the book and forget the movie. Click here to visit one of our popular culture sites, this one of books, movies, TV shows, and drama related to community.

Incidentally, HAN Suyin returned to China and went on to write favorable biographies of MAO Zedong and ZHOU Enlai. (I’ve capped the family names, a style we are thinking of using in our China publications, because many Asian people use western name order or switch between the two, and we want to ensure that we get it right. The author was Dr. HAN.)

P.S.: I just checked on Amazon and it looks as though the book is out of print! Maybe there’s something in my idea of reprinting it, after all.

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