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Totem of Wolves (Chinese Edition) af Jiang…

Totem of Wolves (Chinese Edition) (original 2004; udgave 2004)

af Jiang Rong (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
6872325,725 (3.78)70
An epic Chinese tale that depicts the dying culture of the Mongols--the ancestors of the Mongol hordes who at one time terrorized the world--and the parallel extinction of the animal they believe to be sacred: the fierce and otherworldly Mongolian wolf.
Titel:Totem of Wolves (Chinese Edition)
Forfattere:Jiang Rong (Forfatter)
Info:Changjiang Literature and Art Press (2004), Edition: 1st, 299 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

Detaljer om værket

Wolf Totem af Jiang Rong (2004)


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Engelsk (21)  Hollandsk (1)  Fransk (1)  Alle sprog (23)
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**Disclaimer: lots and lots of spoilers below.

Wolf Totem is one of those stories that touches you deeply. It went to mysterious places reserved just to my favorite characters. I'll carry these characters with me for a long time, like as in any great story I've read before. Chen, Bilgee, Erlang and Little Wolf were my companions for the last months, and while I was living my own adventures they allowed me to join them into theirs. They brought me into their dens and yurts. They became my companions from another time, and right now I am grieving with their departure. They still are on the beautiful Mongolia's grassland in mid 60's while I am in 2019, Ukraine.

This thrilling tale of man and wolf co living through the centuries by the ecological and social balance that it implicates: wolves keep the plagues controlled on the grassland, men hunt wolves when they are overpopulated, wolves teach men war strategies, men fear and worship the wolves. Both wild and brave, men and wolves survived the natural challenges imposed by the grassland but wouldn't able to survive the Chinese invasion during the Cultural Revolution. Farmers, researchers and militaries from other parts of China were sent to develop the region at any cost. The subtle balance was broken from a macro view, from politicians who intended to rise the crops and flocks to feed its citizens forcing the shepherds on the grassland into a new life style. In a micro view, the balance was broken when one Chinese student stole a wolf cub from its den and raised it among the humans.

What make it sad is that it just a sample from the humanity's ability in all history. I believe in development but not at any cost. And as the book ends, Beijing is covered in yellow dust, Little Wolf was buried in yellow sand and everything that came after the farming turned grassland into yellow desert.

Wolf Totem has majestic quotes that I started marking on the very first hundred pages from a total of 524 pages in English. This book made me wish I could read Chinese just to read the original. Wolf Totem made me cry several times and every time I've opened a page I was pulled down to the winds and herds and mosquitoes of Mongolia. I heard the wolves howling laments from distant mountains when they've noticed a wolf prisoner among the humans. I felt the cold winter and I tasted sheep dishes. I've cried with the cubs slaughtering, I felt joy in Chen's yurt with Little Wolf. I've wished this friendship couldn't be one sided as it was. I begged, in my mind, for the author give me a happy ending, because since the beginning I and Little Wolf smelled something bad in the air was to come: "The little wolf had come to accept his surroundings and was happy to frolic with his puppy friends, even though his nose told him that this wasn't his real home." p. 262

I was sobbing on Jiang Rong's shoulder wondering why Little Wolf had to die. He was a brave wolf king, he deserved free landscapes to run wild. Chen couldn't take out its wilderness within. And Chen regretted his whole life having breaking the grasslands laws, however it doesn't mean that before the Chinese invasion there was peace between wolves and men. "Have you forgotten that grassland is a battlefield, and that no one who's afraid of blood can call himself a warrior? Doesn't bother you that those wolves wiped out an entire herd of horses? If we don't use violent means, how will we ever beat them?" p. 129 (...) "The wolf is their spiritual totem, but a physical enemy." p.333

Bilgee reminds me of my grandfather with all your wisdom of living and his prophecies that nobody cared and silently turned into reality few years after. "We grasslanders eat meat all our lives, for which we kill many creatures. After we die, we donate our meat back to the grassland. To us, it only seems fair, and it's good for our soul when we go up to Tengger" p.125

And the dogs wild submission also taught me about friendship and individuality. Erlang was still his own man. He allowed men boss him. When he and Yellow killed those wolves and were recognized among the other dogs, I could see their happy faces. "The students' arrival had taught the dogs they were more good things to eat in the world than they were used to, and eating candy in front of all those dogs brought Erlang and Yellow canine glory." p. 194

They also required a happy ending. They were true heroes on the grassland. "And their relationship to the humans was closer; they helped to dispel the loneliness of the wildwood." p. 195 (...) "Every yurt has someone whose life has been saved by the family dog". p. 196


"Women had the most unpleasant work - patching up the injured dogs. Men used dogs during a hunt, but women relied on them for watching the livestock at night. And it was they who raised them, almost as if their children. When dogs were hurt, or when they died, it was the women who grieved." p. 195

"Dogs eat peoples shit; wolves eat people. By eating shit, dogs are nothing but slaves to humans. But wolves eat human corpses to send the souls into the botom of Tengger." p. 269


This is a tale of abrupt changes in societies. Of decisions made by people without any respect or empathy for the others. It's the average good who turns into a whole bad, as the secret lake of swans which was turned into grassland for the livestock. While China was taking grassland piece by piece, Chen was taking Little Wolf's freedom, voice and fangs, and Bao was eating a sacred swan. "He surely lacked the strength to move the rocks in order to see his mate one last time. A swan's lamentation over the death of its mate and the heartbreaking cries of the old wolf came together in pulsating waves of mourning." p. 292

I learned a long time ago that novels teach me more about history, culture and politics than any school book. It was the same when I've read Chasing the Flame: One Man's Fight to Save the World. Even if I don't agree with UN's argument, I was able, for the first time, to understand how refugee crisis start and how complicate it is to end. Or best, to have a happy ending.

This book remained me of The Secret Garden, Jane Austen, Jack London, Thoreau. And obviously, The Steppenwolf. Legends of the Fall. Mongolia and even The Lion King. "Suddenly, a long howl cut through the darkness. It was a gentle tender, and mournful sound filled with the pain, sorrow, and longing of a mother wolf. (...) A mother's song to her child, echoing through the ancient, desolate grassland. Chen was unable to hold back his tears; Yang Ke's eyes were also glistening. (...) It was as if the mother wolves wanted to vent their accumulated bitterness of losing cubs years after years over the millennia, submerging the vast, dark grassland into thousands of years of sadness." p. 386


As my friend Gesiel passed Little Wolf to me, I feel I have to let my travel mate go. It doesn't belong to the chains of steady shelves. Its story must be read thousand times. This is an essay of my grief after the book's end. Also, this is me stretching my English vocabulary, which is a bit narrow, a bit weak and a slightly skinny (we both must attend the gym soon).

This essay is still being revisioned until I finish processing Wolf Totem. Please, feel free to comment if you see any typo or misspelling. ( )
  Laryssa.Caetano | Dec 28, 2019 |
Lizzy Z's rec -- v famous in china
  SamMusher | Sep 7, 2019 |
Importance of wolves in steppe culture; importance of steppe culture to China. ( )
  pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
What a wonderful book! I loved it!
The combibation of the events that occur in general in nomadic life in Inner Mongolia, combined with almost life like descriptions of the environment and the development of the students and the wolf.

It a great book, that depicts the end of an era. A sad book too, because nomadic life and mechanisation do not go together, they clash.

It's a pity the book is finished, but I'm so happy to have read it! ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Nov 25, 2015 |
Chen Zhen is a Chinese student, volunteers to spend some time in the countryside at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Sent to the grasslands of Inner Mongolia to live and work among the nomadic people whose way of life hasn't changed in centuries. Taken under the wing of Bilgee, a tribal elder, Chen learns of a natural order of balance that has successfully provided for the existence of these people which is now under threat from the new way of doing things that the Chinese have brought with them. The intended destruction of the wolves, the largest predator in the region could have devastating effects on the ecology. Who is it that keeps the gazelle's from stopping in one place until that area of grass has either been consumed or trampled into oblivion so there will be none left for the Mongols own herds of sheep, cattle and horses? Who keeps the marmot and rabbit population in check so that their burrows won't proliferate across the land causing untold devastation? Chen's fascination with wolves grows with the more he sees and learns of these creatures and formulates a plan that may have dire consequences. He wants to get hold of a cub and raise it so that he can study it at close quarters. Raising a natural predator within a camp surrounded by livestock, what could possibly go wrong?

This is a semi-autobiographical novel based on the author's own experiences of the time. It explores the socio-political expansionism of the Chinese at the expense of their neighbours as well as providing a very strong ecological message where removing one part of a delicately balanced ecosystem could spell disaster that may be impossible to recover from. It's not a subtle book and does bang you over the head with its message at times. Its also not an easy book to read, I personally couldn't just sit and read large chunks of this novel reading just one or two chapters at a time before having to set it down. It's not that it isn't a fascinating tale, it is, but the narrative doesn't flow and I'm not sure whether that's the fault of the author or the translator or possibly a combination of both. What most appeals about this book though is the way in which the grasslands existence is brought to life for the reader. It's quite an insight into an often brutal reality. An epilogue chapter, where Chen Zhen returns to the grasslands some thirty years later, is quite damning on what has happened in those intervening years. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Jul 23, 2015 |
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» Tilføj andre forfattere (12 mulige)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Jiang Rongprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Goldblatt, HowardOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Hasselblatt, KarinÜbersetzermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet

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Now he understood how the great, unlettered military genius Genghis Khan, as well as the illiterate or semiliterate military leaders of peoples such as the Quanrong, the Huns, the Tungus, the Turks, the Mongols, and the Jurchens, were able to bring the Chinese (whose great military sage Sun-tzu had produced his universally acclaimed treatise The Art of War) to their knees, to run roughshod over their territory, and to interrupt their dynastic cycles.
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An epic Chinese tale that depicts the dying culture of the Mongols--the ancestors of the Mongol hordes who at one time terrorized the world--and the parallel extinction of the animal they believe to be sacred: the fierce and otherworldly Mongolian wolf.

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