Lao She, author of this short story and one of the masters of 20th century Chinese fiction, eschewed literary complexity in favor of more colloquial prose that focused on the lives of ordinary people. This made him one of the more accessible writers of his generation: anyone who can read this should be able to get through Camel Luotuo, the depressing novel about a downtrodden Beijing rickshaw driver that made Lao an international celebrity two years after he penned this piece.

Although this story is not exactly what we'd call upbeat, the ending is characteristically ambivalent and those of us in the office are torn over how to interpret it. Does the bird die or live? And what - if anything - is the final sentence supposed to mean? If you think you've cracked the puzzle, we'd welcome you to share your ideas by email, or in the comments section below.
 said on
October 30, 2008
excellent story. above my level, but very easy to understand with the popups.
 said on
October 30, 2008
Glad you like it, vladimir. I'm curious myself if the story was intended as social commentary, since assuming the bird makes it the lesson would seem to be "keep your head down and you've got a shot", which squares pretty nicely with the Chinese belief in 打枪出头鸟, but isn't exactly a comforting moral philosophy.

We're planning to release some stories next that don't involve animal or human suffering, since we're 4/4 for misery at this point. We have the next two planned, welcome suggestions on the rest, so let us know if you run into anything you think would be a particularly good selection.

 said on
October 31, 2008
能不能解释一下”便”的用法?我不太了解。
 said on
October 31, 2008
"便"以前跟"就"差不多。现在算书面语。
 said on
October 31, 2008
@weijin,

“便” 是副词,和一般的副词用法一样,它的意思比较像“就、于是”。在《小麻雀》这篇文章中,“自幼便养在笼中的”其中“便”的意思是“就”。

不过现在人们一般很少用这个词了,属于20世纪初、中叶:) 读鲁迅那个年代的作品经常会遇到这个词。

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
November 1, 2008
I made a short video to review some of the vocab words from this lesson

 said on
November 2, 2008
It's a nice video, and Echo complimented your accent as well. Interesting approach to learning too with all of the visual reinforcement of the words (some of the images stuck in my mind, with the translations as well).

Perhaps we should be looking at helping people automate the creation of this sort of thing. How long did it take to put together?

 said on
November 2, 2008
Not too long (once I worked out a workflow). I think the effort to make it has made me remember the words more than actually watching it. Finding appropriate pictures probably took the longest time. Once I had all the pictures in iPhoto, I just had to drop them into iMovie, add some captions and record the audio.
 said on
November 3, 2008
@weijin,

Hey, I have to say that I am very impressed by your excellent video and Chinese pronounce:)

太棒了,都找不到合适的词来形容了!

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
November 4, 2008
老舍的很多小说都特别好,不管是长篇的还是短篇的,程度好的外国朋友可以看看《骆驼祥子》、《离婚》等等。他写的东西特别有北京味。
 said on
November 20, 2008
老舍的故乡在北京,他的故居就在东城区丰富胡同19号,离我们泡泡中文不远,去过一次,是一个很小的四合院。每次读到他的作品,想到他的一生,心里总有些悲凉,这位人民作家出生贫苦,又死于不公,实在令人痛惜。

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
August 14, 2009
anyone can give me an English version etext of Lao Shes the Yellow Storm? (Si Shi Tong Tang?) I have heard so many times about it and I really want to take a look. What a pity that Gutenberg has few Chinese writings.

many many thanks!!!

my email is: dawncomingK@gmail.com
 said on
August 16, 2009
@Dawn,

Hey, welcome to the site, 欢迎你!

I heard that there is one English version published by Harcourt & Brace company in the States in 1951. The translator was Ida Pruitt. Maybe it will help you to find it.

I can't find any online English version of this story, but I personally like Lao She's books a lot, so maybe we can do it in Short Stories in the future too.

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
August 16, 2009
Ahh, I knew Ida Pruitt sounded familiar. One of her books was required reading for a Chinese Culture class I took in college.

"Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman"

I think I was the only one in the class to finish it from cover to cover. That doesn't mean the book was necessarily good, just meant I had a lot of spare time that semester.

 said on
October 14, 2013
The last line is bathos, the comic absurdity of it all, methinks.

Can someone translate the line with gezhe ir seperate in my consciousness. Is this style?
 said on
October 14, 2013
The technique of bathos is comic anticlimax, when the sparrow finally opens his eyes.
 said on
October 14, 2013
Hi Jamie,

I couldn't find the line. Can you tell me the timing?
 said on
October 14, 2013
Its second paragraph, fourth line, with 'gezhe'.

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