The Dream of Confucius

Jean Levi, Author, Barbara Bray, Translator
Jean Levi, Author, Barbara Bray, Translator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $22.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-15-126570-1
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
The confusion and chaos of China in the third century B.C. percolates throughout French sinologist Levi's second novel, in deliberate contrast to the portrait of the austerely ordered world third-century B.C. China presented in the author's Prix de Goncourt-winning The Chinese Emperor. Whet-Iron, the eventual founder of the Han dynasty, struggles with his rival Plume to assert his power after the fall of the Ch'in order. An unlikely victor, Whet-Iron is neither particularly talented nor shrewd; addressing the riddle of Whet-Iron's victory, Levi attributes his success to fate, a vehicle represented here by hexagrams taken from the I Ching. The intellectual underpinnings of this novel are unassailable, but the historical turbulence and disorder that Levi hopes to convey spill over into the narrative itself--a profusion of minor characters and minor story lines floods the work. Levi demands much of his readers, and his rewards may not justify their efforts. (Oct.)
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