Book Reviews: Chinese Character

Source: Internet
Author: User

Most of the books I recommend to everyone are old books of some years (such as the Mythical man-month

Is your light on?

, 1984

The Chinese character to be introduced today
Characteristics), especially old-it was written by a foreign missionary in the Qing Dynasty more than one hundred years ago. Some colleagues may wonder that such an old book can keep up
Today's trends? Will it be outdated? Next, let's explain why this book is worth reading.


The author of this book is Arthur Smith. Honestly, this guy is not very famous, but more famous by this book. He preached to China in the Late Qing Dynasty and settled in China for decades. During this period, he made in-depth and meticulous observations to the Chinese people around him and finally wrote this book.

Since the publication of this book, both in China and Europe and America are selling well. Because it is the first book to introduce Chinese and Chinese culture from the Western perspective. The book deeply and comprehensively analyzes Chinese characters. There are advantages of introduction, but more is to expose the shortcomings. This book is called "the world's earliest, most detailed, and most practical study of Chinese nationality ".

Some colleagues may think:Even if a foreigner stays in China for decades, he may not be able to understand the profound and profound nature of Chinese culture.

. However, I think it is precisely because he is an outsider who can objectively evaluate Chinese culture. As the saying goes: do not know the true colors of the mountains, just because they are in the mountains. We have lived in the sky for a long time. We have many advantages and disadvantages and are used to them without knowing them.

Lu Xun's comment

To emphasize the knowledge of this book, I moved Lu Xun's old family out again.

This book has a great influence on Lu Xun-it is said that Lu Xun had read the Japanese translation of this book when he was in Japan in his early years (Japanese translated as "zhiren temperament"). Lu Xun has been criticizing the Chinese National inferiority in his article.
Is mainly influenced by this book. It can be said that Lu Xun's Criticism of Chinese people and Chinese culture is in the same line with Smith. One month before his death, he wrote the following text:


In fact, Chinese people do not "have no self-knowledge". The disadvantage is that some people want to "cheat themselves ". For example, if a patient suffers from edema, he will not be afraid of medical treatment. I hope someone else will treat him as fat.
Fat. I think it's a long time, and sometimes I feel obese, not swollen; even if it's still swollen, it's also a very good bloat and distinctive. If someone points out in person: This is not obesity, but edema, and not"
OK. Then, he was disappointed and ashamed, so he became angry and scolded the person who was enlightened and thought he was dizzy. However, I want to scare him, lie to him, and hope that he will fear the anger and scolding of the master. I will look at it again and look for details,
This is indeed obesity. So he was comforted, excited, and swollen.

If you don't watch an image, it's no good for you, but you don't see it, and your eyes are swollen. However, it is not helpful if you do not reflect on it. I still want someone to flip it outSmith's "Man's temperament"

. After reading this, I am introspective, analyzing, and understand the right points, changes, struggles, and self-work. I don't ask others for forgiveness or praise to prove what the Chinese are.


Although it has been more than one hundred years ago, the Chinese character defects criticized in the book still exist widely. If you have not read it, you are advised to take a look. Otherwise, as Lu Xun said, "It is beneficial to read it without reflecting on it ".


The structure of the book is very simple: a total of 27 chapters (the directory is as follows), the first 26 chapters respectively introduce a certain personality characteristics, the last chapter is equivalent to summary. There is not much dependency between each chapter. You can skip it based on your preferences. I will extract some brilliant and interesting comments from some chapters below.

Chapter 2 face Preservation

-- Once you understand the meaning of "face" correctly, you will find that "face" is the key to unlocking many of the most important features of the Chinese.

-- When mediating a quarrel, you must carefully consider the balance between the "face" and the "affair", just as European politicians used to consider the balance of power. In this case, the purpose of mediation is not to implement the principles of justice, but to allocate all relevant "faces" according to an appropriate proportion.

Chapter 4 frugal householder

Chapter 2 hard work

Chapter 2 courtesy

-- The Chinese classics contain 300 etiquette rules and 3000 code of conduct. It seems unimaginable for a nation to carry on with so many courtesy. However, we soon discovered that the Chinese have managed to cast courtesy into an internal instinct, not an external need.

-- Chinese courtesy is totally opposite to (Western. Just like all the technical performances, it is not entirely necessary to show courtesy to people ...... The purpose of the formulation and use of polite terms is to maintain the established relationship of superiority and inferiority. In the opinion of Westerners, even if it is not maddening, it will be confusing. In the view of the Chinese, this is crucial to safeguarding social order.

Chapter 2 indifference to time

-- The Chinese only have 12 hours a day. There is no clear line between one hour and the next hour, but a day is symbolically divided into 12 parts, what they call "Noon" refers to the period from eleven o'clock A.M. to one o'clock P.M.

Chapter 2 indifference to precision

-- There is also an odd thing related to the length of measurement, that is, the distance from A to B is not necessarily equal to from B to! In China, Euclidean's principle of "equal to the same amount" does not work anymore ...... Similarly, the principle of "the whole is equal to the sum of parts" cannot be established in China.

-- The number of villages distributed around a city ranges from 1 to 6, but each village can be called "Sanlitun ".

-- The scale maker hangs on the street and inserts a star on the pole according to each customer's preferences. Each buyer has at least two types of scales, one for buying and the other for selling.

Chapter 2 easy to misunderstand

Chapter 2 turning

-- When Chinese people abuse each other because they are angry, they make full use of their respective literary talents and proudly express a vicious meaning with an exquisite sneer. Its high level of ridicule makes it impossible for people to hear the true meaning on the spot. You need to think carefully, just like sugar pills, it will be disgusting.

-- For example, "things" (literally in the direction of things) mean an item, while "things" means swearing. Similarly, it means that a person is not a "North-South", meaning that he is a "thing "!

Chapter 1 follow

-- Compare Chinese with bamboo, which is the most accurate. Bamboo is elegant and can be used everywhere. It is soft and empty in the middle. When the east wind blows, it turns west, and the west wind blows, it turns east; when there is no wind, it does not bend at all. Bamboo seedlings are like grass. However, the grass is easy to knotted, while the young bamboo is not knotted even though it is soft.

Chapter 4 Thoughts

Chapter 2 is not too slow

Chapter 2 contempt for foreign users

-- Foreigners come to China for whatever purpose, and the Chinese usually treat them as "barbarian. Even in official Chinese documents, I have been accustomed to using "barbarian" instead of "foreigners" to reference foreigners.

-- China's neighboring countries have long been some of the worst countries, so they are flattered.

Chapter 2 lack of public mind

Chapter 2 Regular

-- Chinese people believe more than any other people that the past age is their golden age. The Ancient Saints talked about the ancient "Ancients" with incomparable reverence ".

Chapter 2 Security

Chapter 4 tenacious survival

-- If a nation has the same physical qualities as the Chinese, it can survive under the influence of war, hunger, plague, and opium. If they can pay more attention to physiological and health rules, there are good foods to ensure nutrition, so there is no reason to believe that they are enough to occupy the world's major regions and there will be more.

Chapter 2 tolerable and tough

For a foreigner from a Western country, it is very familiar with the revolutionary slogan "bread, bread, otherwise it will bleed. But it is hard to understand why Chinese refugees who are homeless and desperate are better at suffering floods and hunger.
It is also unwilling to unite and request rescue from local officials in a region that has been destroyed by land shortage ....... We repeatedly asked the Chinese during the Great Famine, why not do that? The answer must be a word: "No
Dare ". If you still need to talk about it, it is better to say that a person will not starve to death to fight and be killed. Even if it is not just, there is nothing bad, then the answer is still "dare not, dare not ".

-In China, we can see the most depressing situation: thousands of people can easily win a lot of food, but they have to let themselves starve to death silently.

Chapter 2 zhicule

The Chinese are a people who believe in fate ...... In Chinese classics, there are a lot of arguments about "destiny", and the so-called "God" is often mentioned between people ". This is often the same as what we call "God is omnipotent"
Extremely similar. But there is a fundamental difference in the basic idea: for us, "God" means a Creator who has full possession and creates everything in the world and brings us care and predictions; for the Chinese
In other words, "day" actually refers to a general non-personal thing, and it is still completely unclear. In fact, it is fate.

Chapter 2 filial piety first

-The purpose of transmitting generations in filial piety is the root of a series of ills. It requires that no matter whether you have any conditions to support your children, you must have them. It has led to early marriage and the proliferation of people, causing people to suffer from poverty. It is also the root cause of the polygamous and concuous system, and it will always be a curse.

Chapter 4 heart of benevolence

The same is true for "Laban porridge", which is a typical Chinese-style charity activity. It only focuses on the surface of the activity. On October 16, lunar December 8, people who do not have the opportunity to do well are ready to give generously. According to their customs
The sky will give a hand to anyone who asks for porridge. However, these porridge are the cheapest and most difficult to swallow. This is the so-called "good deeds". People use this to accumulate morality. If a year happens to have a good harvest, no one may ask for porridge.
Because even if you are at home, you can have the same or better meals. Even so, it is not enough to stop the porridge donor or replace it with better food. One day has passed, and no one will discuss porridge.
It is dumped into the slot. The rich people who are doing well also go back to the house to go to bed with their leisurely satisfaction. He has fulfilled his obligations this year, and his conscience has been satisfied. He is a kind of benevolent person.

Chapter 2 lack of sympathy

Attitudes towards the disabled can also prove the lack of sympathy among the Chinese. The Chinese generally think that dummies, blind people, especially dual-eyed dragons, deaf children, bald children, and doujiyan should all be avoided. It seems that there are physical defects and there is a certain degree of morality.
Defective ....... Unfortunately, people with disabilities, both innate and acquired, cannot survive without patience and ridicule ....... These unfortunate people must survive for the rest of their lives. Only when he hears the constant ridicule for many years
When you are angry, you can live your life.

Chapter 1 social storm

-It is hard to understand Chinese people. Instead of exposing the actual mistakes of their opponents, they would rather humiliate their ancestors and laugh at their humble origins. The scolded person thinks that this is a serious injury to his dignity. The reason is not in front of others, or even because he is scolded, it is because the words that scold him make him too "face.

A complex social machine, such as China, will often scream and be distorted under great pressure, but Chinese society has been safe and sound. These pressures did not make China's society go bankrupt or destroyed. China's political body
Like a human body, there are a lot of lubricating fluid sachets. In the most needed and most needed places, it is often a drop of leakage in time for lubrication ....... Among all Asian nations, the Chinese are the easiest to govern.
The method conforms to their habits.

-- Other civilizations ,...... There are very few people who can withstand such great pressure as Chinese society.

Chapter 2 law-abiding

-- In the West, individual is the basic unit of society, and society is a collection of individuals. In China, society is composed of families, villages, and clan.

-- The responsibility concept of the Chinese people is most in conflict with the Western concept: one person breaking the law and killing nine people

-Officials at all levels are penalized for anything they have never participated in or are not aware of. This cannot help but undermine the principles of justice, and it directly led all the officials above and below to master a set of fraudulent means. To truthfully report the situation, we must be severely punished, totally reversing the principles of justice and violating human nature.

Chapter 2 mutual suspicion

-- Although theoretically, the Emperor is the father of the people and his courtiers are also called "parents", all people know that it is just a saying ,...... The real relationship between people and rulers is the relationship between children and stepfathers.

-- Chinese people are full of suspicion in ordinary social life, and officialdom is no exception. It cannot be another situation, but it is actually the nature of the Chinese. Superiors are afraid of lower-level competition and always guard against lower-level competition. The lower-level eunuchs are always affected by their superiors, and they are also skeptical about their superiors. The entire bureaucratic hierarchy has a sense of warning for the strong literati and ordinary people.

-- China is a country where rumors flood, and they are often filled with fear ....... Uncontrolled trust and mutual suspicion are a fertile ground for the spread of terror.

Chapter 2 lack of integrity

-Few Chinese can consciously keep their promises. This is related to their misconceived talents and weak concepts of time. No matter what the real reason is, you will find interesting that they will look for a variety of excuses.

-- What best demonstrates Chinese hypocrisy is their attitude towards children. The children learned to be dishonest since they were young, and they did not realize this either by themselves or by their instructors. When the child is still talking and talking, the adult will tell him that if the child is not obedient, the monster hidden in the upper sleeve will come out to bite him.

The life and official documents of Chinese politicians are similar to those of Rousseau's "regret". They have a high emotion and mean behavior. He cut down 100,000 heads, but cited the words of Mencius to describe the sacredness of life. He pushed the money for dam construction into his waist.
Bao, causing the river to drown a province, but laments for the people to leave their home. He shouted at the swearing man, but after signing an agreement, privately said, that's just a real joke.

-- Chinese people think that they do not trust others as a natural thing, and they understand the reasons. This situation makes China's future full of uncertainty. This nation is not ruled by elites. On the contrary, it is the most mean and shameless guy in the Empire who holds all power.

Chapter 2 multi-faith

-- Any God department that seems to benefit people in one aspect will be favored by people, just like a person who occasionally needs an umbrella and meets an umbrella store, he would never ask when the umbrella was invented or when it began to be widely used. The Chinese also do not ask their families and experiences about the gods they worship.

Who wants to ask the monk to do things, and can afford to pay for it, then ask the monk, so he became a "Buddhist ". If he wants to invite the Taoist priest, he can also invite him, which will make him a "Taoist ". If
Shang, also invited the Taoist, it does not matter, people can say that he is both a Buddhist, but also a Taoist. Therefore, there is no discord between a person who can be a Confucian, Buddhist, or Taoist at the same time. Buddhism integrated
Taoism and Taoism combine Confucianism and Confucianism, and finally combine Buddhism and Taoism ".

-- Two different forms of belief are often mutually exclusive. It is not easy for Chinese to believe this. They do not understand what logical conflicts are and seldom care about them. They instinctively learned a technique to reconcile different propositions. They can ignore the relationship between two inherently incompatible propositions and forcibly drag them together.

Chapter 2 China's reality and affairs

-- The Chinese do not lack wisdom, patience, reality, and happiness. They are all outstanding in these aspects. What they lack is personality and conscience. Many Chinese officials have failed to accept the temptation of bribery and have done something wrong. They thought they would never be discovered, because: "tianyzhi, geozhi, you know, I know ."

-- Attempting to reform China without "using external forces" is like building a ship in the sea. The uncontrollable sea water and sea breeze will make all of this a dream. At last, the force inside the machine cannot make the machine forward.

-- Repeat it again. China needs very little, only personality and conscience. It can also be said that the two are one thing, and the conscience is the personality.


Finally, let me remind you a little bit. Because the author is a Christian missionary, it is inevitable that some Christian things will be mixed in the text. If you are like me, you just need to take these as float clouds.

In addition, in order to save everyone's trouble in buying paper books and searching for e-books, I made a special Chinese electronic version of this book. Please go to "here


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