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The Money Demon

The Money Demon: An Autobiographical Romance

Chen Diexian
Translated from the Chinese by Patrick Hanan
Copyright Date: 1999
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  • Book Info
    The Money Demon
    Book Description:

    “It’s such a pity! I, too used to think of money and love as entirely separate things.” So begins this popular autobiographical novel, written by litterateur, inventor, and business tycoon Chen Diexian (1879–1940), a remarkable intellectual whose life spanned the old China and the new. Chen’s novel is the story of his youth, and in it he chooses to focus on his amorous and erotic development—a rare subject in Chinese literature—revealing his passage from innocent boy, surrounded by females, to young man, armed with a new attitude toward money, business, and the women in his life. Chen’s unusual narrative, intimately combining romance and exhibitionism, unfolds to us an intriguing material reality as well as a powerful emotional world and may well be the first extended account of Chinese childhood and youth. The novel is built on our narrator’s relationships with the central women in his life: his mother; an affectionate nanny; his devoted wife by an arranged marriage; a tragic peasant girl; and above all, the girl next door and his most enduring love, known—after the instrument she plays—as Koto. Patrick Hanan’s graceful translation brings us Chen’s story at its disarming best, a popular romance that is at the same time original and distinctive in both voice and theme. First serialized in Shanghai in 1913, The Money Demon appears in English for the first time; included in an appendix is “The Koto Story,” a short epilogue to the novel. Fiction from Modern China.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6487-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The Money Demon (Huangjin sui), written in 1913, is an autobiography—and also a novel about a youth’s amorous and erotic development during a period of hectic social and cultural change. I hope that this translation will serve to introduce an example of the best fiction of its time as well as a rare, and perhaps unprecedented, kind of Chinese autobiographical writing.

    The author, Chen Diexian (1879–1940), was one of the most remarkable of the intellectuals whose working lives spanned the old China and the new. He had two passions that are seldom found together: a passion for the...

  4. The Money Demon

    • Part 1
      (pp. 15-106)

      I was working on a romantic novel entitledThe Money Demonwhen someone heard about it and scoffed at the idea.¹ “The authors of romantic novels alldespisemoney!” he exclaimed. “How can you evenspeakof it in the same breath as love?”

      “It’s such a pity!” I replied. “I, too, used to think of money and love as entirely separate things. What I failed to realize was that while money cannot be the mediator of love, it can indeed be its nemesis. When a man and a woman fall in love, they see marriage as their ultimate goal....

    • Part 2
      (pp. 107-206)

      It was toward evening when we joined the Canal at Guashan,¹ which not long before had been opened up to foreign trade. There was music and singing along both banks, and a forest of lanterns cast their light on the dark waters, which seemed alive with thousands of writhing golden serpents. Many young men and women from the city had hired boats to come out and enjoy the revelry. There were rows upon rows of their boats, wedged tightly along both banks, and the gentle breath of conversation mingled with the scent of flowers to drift up and form a...

    • Part 3
      (pp. 207-278)

      My mother assumed that I had come back with Awen and she suspected nothing. Nor, since I was ill, did she keep me with her very long or even raise the question of Koto. Only Susu, standing at my mother’s side, cast a lingering glance in my direction from time to time, a glance that seemed mocking as well as sympathetic. Once we got to our bedroom, I asked her the reason for the mockery, but she firmly denied it. After telling Ajin to make up the bed and urging me to get some rest, she sat on the edge...

  5. Appendix: The Koto Story (“Zhenglouji”)
    (pp. 279-284)
  6. Notes
    (pp. 285-292)
  7. A Note on the Translation
    (pp. 293-294)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-295)