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Re: "may you live in interesting times"

Poster: einar@cvn.net (einar)

At 08:36 AM 12/10/97 -0500, you wrote:
>From: Emily Caldwell <pacificnw@eni.net>
>To: atlantia@atlantia.sca.org
>Subject: a new topic?
>To all here:
>Does anyone konw the origin of the saying
>May you live in interesting times
>Is it oriental in origin or anglo-saxon?
>I do not know at all and I was hoping that someone here might know;)

Oh yes, I do know and can expound on the cultural context briefly (thanks
to my East Asia prof this past spring).  "May you live in intersting times"
is an ancient Chinese curse.  Understand that imperial China was an
incredibly stable entity for centuries, even millenia, and disruption of
the status quo was greatly feared.  This was a Confucianist society in many
ways, with an amazing bureaucracy based in large part on the merit of the
scholars who ran the imperial government.  Right relationship is the key to
understanding this society:  when an individual in this society understands
his place in this society and his proper relationship to all the people
with whom he must come into contact, then social peace and harmony can
continue to exist.

The Warring States period, the Mongol era, the period of European colonial
power (particularly British influence and the Opium Wars) as well as the
upheavals of the 20th century all qualify as "interesting times."

A good basic text for understanding the region, its culture and history is:

	Fairbank, John K., Edwin O. Reishauer and Albert M. Craig.  _East Asia:
tradition and transformation_.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Co., 1989.  	Pps.
1027.  ISBN 0-395-45023-3

This was the course text.  It's dense, but it's thorough.

Anybody else want to add to this?

Elen Prydydd

unofficial home of the "Bring Back Ivanova Club!"


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