Friday, June 22, 2012

Paperback 542: A Many-Splendored Thing / Han Suyin (Signet D1183)

Paperback 542: Signet D1183 (2nd ptg, 1955)

Title: A Many-Splendored Thing
Author: Han Suyin
Cover artist: Stanley Zuckerberg

Yours for: $8

Best things about this cover:
  • "Frankness"! It's a worldwide phenomenon!
  • Jerry begged Suyin for a rematch: "Best two out of three! Come on, please! Oh man, the guys in my arm-wrestling club are never going to let me live this down..."
  • Can you splendor (?) other things besides love? Sorrow? Boredom? Pork?
  • I am having trouble thinking of clever things to say because I can't get the first verse of this song out of my head:

And the back cover ...

Best things about this back cover: 
  •  "Flemish"! Well there's a word you don't see much any more. The Flemish are the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of northern Belgium. They had some success with painting and money-lending back the day (the day being "the Middle Ages and Renaissance") 
  • Ah, the good old days, when interracial love was a matter that required delicacy, understanding, and, above all ... Frankness. 
  • It's telling that the lady on the cover is way more hyper-Orientalized than the photo of the actual woman here. The Asian signifiers / stereotypes on the cover must run to over half a dozen. If there's one things paperback buyers like more than frankness, it's Exotic Frankness. 

 Page 123~ 
Up these steps came the people I had always known. Not small Cantonese with light bones and clean faces, but squat, ugly people with flattened faces and heavy peasant legs, the varicose veins standing out in twisted knots like a brood of snakes. Men and women, dirty and poor. Nearly every one had a physical defect of some kind or other: harelip, a finger missing, deformed chests; and on all those naked coolie shoulders one could see the large round lumps raised by the pressure of the bamboo pole. 

 "Take me back to the small Cantonese with light bones and clean faces this instant!" I snapped at my rickshaw driver. 


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Deb said...

I thought you couldn't get the first verse of "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing" out of your head, then I clicked on the video. NOT what I was expecting! said...

I can't get the names of Rubens and van Dyck out of my head.

NomadUK said...

Well, maybe in the US you don't hear the word 'Flemish' very often anymore -- but, then, in the US you don't hear much about anything (other than maybe vague throwaway references to whoever you happen to be bombing at the moment) anyway, so that's not surprising.

'Flemish' and 'Walloon' do crop up from time to time, even here in the UK, separated from Belgium by the vast, boundless waters of the English Channel / North Sea. I imagine they crop up quite often on the Continent.

DemetriosX said...

For anyone who pays attention to European politics for the last couple of years, Flemish is a very familiar word. All the Belgian political parties have Flemish and Walloon factions and there are also parties exclusive to one or the other language group. It's a big reason Belgium went so long without a government and even now only has a provisional government. There's lots of talk about Belgium breaking up into Flanders and Wallonia.

Michael5000 said...

But back to the book cover: I don't like that junk in the background.