The Evolution of the Three Teachings of China

July 25, 2017

China may be the only ancient culture that survived the spread of Islam and Christianity and managed to keep its unique identity. The following passage comes from My Splendid Concubine, my first published novel was historical fiction based on a real life story and it earned fifteen literary awards. In the novel, Guan-jiah is Robert Hart’s servant.

 

– the following scene is from CH-4 of My Splendid Concubine

“Guan-jiah,” Robert said, “before I came to China I read The Travels of Marco Polo. Do you know who he was?”

“No, Master,” Guan-jiah replied.

“He came to China from Europe more than six hundred years ago and served Kublai Khan during the Yuan Dynasty. Polo wrote that Hangzhou was the finest and noblest city in the world.”

“Hangzhou was the capital of the Southern Sung Dynasty, Master,” Guan-jiah said. “I’ve heard it is beautiful. Sung philosophy says that we have the power in our minds to overcome our emotions.”

“Marco Polo believed it was God’s will that he came back from China so others in the West might know what he’d seen.” Robert turned to his servant, who was the last in line. “Do you believe in this Sung philosophy, Guan-jiah?”

“The Sung said that if you know yourself and others, you would be able to adjust to the most unfavorable circumstances and prevail over them.”

“That’s admirable, Guan-jiah. You never mentioned you were a scholar. If the Sung Dynasty was that wise, I want to see Hangzhou one day.”

“I am no scholar, Master, but I must believe in the Sung philosophy to survive. I have read and contemplated much literature. However, I am like a peasant and have never mastered calligraphy. It is a skill that has eluded me.”

“How old were you when you studied this philosophy?”

“I was eleven, Master, two years after I was sent to Peking.”

The 3 teachings of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism have been the backbone of Chinese culture since the bronze age, and are still intertwined strongly with today’s China. They are different interpretations to China’s core philosophies of life. Over time, different dynasties favored different ideas, if only to define themselves against their predecessor. Ultimately though, it’s all about the philosophy of combining spirituality with the reality of everyday life.

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Meet the Last Empress-Regent of China

June 20, 2017

The Last Emperor of China was Pu-Yi, but he never had the power of an emperor. Pu-Yi was born in 1906 and became emperor in 1908 when he was two-years old. His Empress was Wanrong and she was also born in 1906.  Pu-Yi married Wanrong in 1922 when they were both 16, ten years after the end of the Qing Dynasty. Wanrong might have technically been the last empress of China but she never had the power of one.

The real Last Empress of China was the Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi (Cixi). She ruled the Qing Dynasty as a coregent after her husband, the Xianfeng Emperor died in 1861, because her son, The Tongzhi Emperor (1856 – 1875), was too young to rule.

Tzu Hsi was the last empress to rule China as a regent. Pu-Yi was in a branch of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan with close ties to Empress Dowager Cixi, who was from the Manchu Yehenara clan.

Sterling Seagrave, the author of Dragon Lady, wrote, “Absurdly little was known about her (Cixi) life. The New York Times printed a long, error-filled obituary calling her Tzu An, the title of her coregent, who had died twenty-seven years earlier.”

Many current history texts have slandered the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (1835 – 1908) without much evidence as one of history’s most monstrous women, a ruthless Manchu concubine who seduced and allegedly murdered her way to the throne in 1861 to rule China through perversion, corruption, and intrigue.

She was even accused of murdering her son and then years later her nephew, who died the day before she did.

Instead, the evidence suggests her son died of syphilis because it was alleged he preferred prostitutes to the hundreds of concubines that were his property, young virgins that were selected for their beauty.

The allegations that Tzu Hsi was a monster was started by Edmund Backhouse, a reporter working in China for The London Times. His lies and deceit wouldn’t be discovered until Sterling Seagrave was doing research for his book about Tzu Hsi.

Backhouse’s journalistic fraud is still used as the foundation of most history textbooks that continue to slander Tzu Hsi.

To do Tzu Hsi justice and to discover the truth, read Seagrave’s Dragon Lady, The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China.

Also, read what Robert Hart wrote about her in his letters and journals.  Robert Hart arrived in China from Ireland in 1854 to work as an interpreter for the British consulate in Ningpo. Five years later Hart quit that job and went to work for the Emperor of China. He didn’t retire and return to England until 1908.

Hart was Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs and worked closely with the Imperial ministers and Manchu princes. Before returning to England, he met with the Dowager Empress in a private audience where witnesses said she cried.

Hart referred to Tzu Hsi as “the Buddha” and later “the old Buddha,” because she was a devout Buddhist.

Hart, who is considered the Godfather of China’s modernization, at no time indicated in anything he wrote that Tzu Hsi was conspiratorial, sinister, or manipulative. However, he did indicate that she was strong-willed and hot-tempered, clever, and had ability. In fact, it’s obvious from what he wrote about her that he thought of her with affection and admiration.

Tzu Hsi died in 1908 a few weeks after Robert Hart left China. China’s last Imperial Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, collapsed in 1911.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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The Statutory Woman

March 15, 2016

An honest comment for my first novel My Splendid Concubine gave me the idea for this post on the history of the changing attitudes of when a female child becomes a woman. The comment said, “The girls (the two concubines in the story) were younger than 15, for goodness sake. I had a hard time getting past that.”

According to Live Science.com, “A woman can get pregnant and have a baby as soon as she begins ovulating, or producing eggs. This typically occurs about a year after they first begin menstruating, which for North American women, usually happens between the ages of 11 and 12.”

But according to the law in the United State, a female child isn’t legally a woman until age 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 depending on which U.S. state you live in (watch the first video to discover the age of consent in each U.S. state).

In addition, the age of consent laws in the middle of the 19th century, the time period of My Splendid Concubine that was based on a real-life story, were not the same as they are today, and China is not the United States.

To understand the difference between now and then, today in the People’s Republic of China, the age of consent for sexual activity is 14, regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. In Hong Kong, it is 16 and in Macau 18.

In fact, “Depictions of ‘child-romance’ in ancient or modern Chinese literature are not difficult to find. They include passages on joyous heterosexual or homosexual activities by children as young as 12 to 13 years old with one another or with adults. Children are usually described as natural sexual beings and erotic stimulation and sex-play are seen as beneficial to their healthy development (Chen 2000). … For most of Chinese history, the minimum marriage age suggested by the government had ranged between 12 and 16.” – Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong

What about the United Kingdom around the time period of my novel? In 1875, a concern that young girls were being sold into brothels caused Parliament to change the age of consent to 13. Prior to that, the age of consent was 12.

However, in the United States in 1875, each state determined its own criminal laws and the age of consent ranged from 10 to 12 years of age. It would not be until after the 1930s that the term jail bait came into use in America as the age of consent laws changed.

I could have sanitized My Splendid Concubine and made both Ayaou and her sister Shao-mei much older to fit the politically correct attitudes of today, but that would have been historically incorrect. Sterling Seagrave in his book Dragon Lady, the Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China, wrote, “He (Robert Hart) had just turned twenty. Ayaou was barely past puberty but was wise beyond her years.”

If Ayaou, one of the concubines in the novel, was barely 14, then there was only a six-year age gap between the two, while Hart’s arranged marriage to a young Irish woman named Hester Jane Bredon a decade later sees the gap double to twelve years when he was thirty and she was eighteen. Seagrave says, “He (Hart) sought a wife as straightforwardly as he had bought a concubine.” After returning to Ireland for a brief stay in 1866, Robert proposed marriage to Hester five days after he met her. The courtship lasted three months before they were married.

Should authors ignore historical fact and rewrite history to reflect the moral sensitivities of today’s readers?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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Burning Books and Politically Correct Censorship

November 4, 2015

My reason for writing this post was to show how cultural differences bring about biased opinions due to religious, spiritual and/or cultural beliefs.

For instance, my mother would have burned My Splendid Concubine, because she grew up in a country with the soul of a church. After my mother died, I found her videos of the Bible, an audio version and about thirty different translations/versions.

I didn’t know until then that there was that many ways to speak for one God. In fact, Biblica says, “Would you believe that there are literally hundreds of different translations of the Bible into English? For many people this huge variety is totally confusing and they just don’t know which Bible to choose.”

After my father died, mother spent her last decade to age 89 studying the Bible several hours a day. This was her attempt to discover the answer to salvation that haunted her most of her life.

My mother loved to read other books too, as did my father, who was not a religious person. However, if my mother ran into a vivid sex scene in a novel, she threw the book in the fireplace.

Since I was born and raised a Catholic, and when I was 12 my mother switched to the Jehovah Witnesses, I know why she would’ve burned my novel.

To Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, and most devout Christians of all sects, lust is a mortal sin.

In fact, Catholic Questions in a Secular World says, “The seven deadly sins are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, gluttony, sloth and lust.… Lust is the self-indulgent desire for gratification … without the sanctifying graces of marriage.”

For instance, when I was single in my thirties, I had a relationship with a lawyer, who ended the relationship due to her Christian guilt. She wasn’t a Catholic but she attended two different Christian churches on Sundays, and she made it clear that it was the guilt that drove her to stop seeing me. She said she went to two churches to hear two sermons each Sunday, because it was the only way should heard what she wanted to hear.

My Splendid Concubine is historical fiction based on a real Irishman who went to China in 1854, bought a concubine and stayed until 1908 to become the most powerful Westerner in China’s history and the only foreigner trusted by the Emperor.

Books have been written on the subject of sex in America that explains why my mother would have burned My Splendid Concubine. America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, and Liberty by Marty Klein, Ph D. is one example, which “Spotlights the political, legal and civic battles raging in this country against what is arguably our most private and pluralistic right – sexual freedom.”

And in Cultural Differences Defined by Written Language, I attempted to explain why cultures around the globe are not all the same, and as I did when I wrote of The Collective Culture versus Individualism.

Another example is an anonymous reviewer called “colorado outback” who posted a one-star review on Amazon of My Splendid Concubine and said, “You should Not Buy This Book – Seriously, just Soft Porn.”

My mother would have agreed with “colorado outback”, because she was influenced by her religion.

Outback says: “this seemed more like the sexual fantasy of the author and NOT the historical novel it is purported to be.”

However, “outback” was wrong. The idea to write My Splendid Concubine didn’t originate from a sexual fantasy, as I’ll explain.

Since writing My Splendid Concubine was not motivated by sexual fantasies, I responded to “outback’s” biased opinion, and outback replied that my novel doesn’t “come up to par with Anchee Min, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, Charles Dickens, Amy Tan, Pearl S. Buck, James Michener, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Tom Robbins and so on.”

I’d have to agree. I’ve never thought that I was equal to or better than the authors outback listed or any author. In fact, I don’t compare my writing to any other author and if I compete with anyone, it is with my own writing with the goal to improve.

Outback claimed to have read all of the books by the above authors and thousands more yet he only had two, one-star reviews posted on Amazon (at the time I was writing this post).  Where are all those five-star reviews extolling the virtues of the work he admired?

If I didn’t write such a lusty novel from personal sexual fantasies as “outback” claims, why did I write it?

The answer is simple.

I wanted to show the clash between different cultures and Sterling Seagrave wrote in Dragon Lady, “To take the pain out of learning, his Chinese tutor suggested that (Robert) Hart might buy a concubine and study the local dialect with her.

“Hart wrote in his journal, ‘Here is a great temptation. Now, some of the China women are very good looking: You can make one your absolute possession for from 50 to 100 dollars and support her at a cost of 2 or 3 dollars per month. … Shall I hold out or shall I give way?'”

Seagrave writes in the next paragraph, “By early May he (Robert Hart) had a sleep-in dictionary, his concubine, Ayaou. He had just turned twenty; Ayaou was barely past puberty.”

Then the editors of Entering China’s Service: Robert Hart’s Journals wrote on page 8, “But anyone who reads the journals through knows that his mental struggles about women were not soon or lightly won; whether the relapse was to daydreams or to a Chinese mistress, it caused him ambivalence and anguish.”

China has had a concubine culture for thousands of years and that culture, although changed in form, is still active today, which I wrote of in Concubines Return to China Riding Capitalism’s Wave of Wealth.

In China, the concubine is a trophy showing a man’s success, and no major religion on earth has had a lasting impact on the Chinese culture in more than a thousand years.

In fact, the concept that lust is a mortal sin doesn’t exist in China unless a Chinese adopts Christianity as their religion.

That does not mean China is without morals but the moral codes of China exist without the sin of mortal lust as Catholics and many devout Christians believe. In fact, I’ve known mainland Chinese that are extremely moral and would put most Puritans to shame.

The idea to focus on Robert Hart’s struggles with his Victorian, Christian morals while living in 19th century China’s concubine culture sprouted when I first read his journals and letters published by Harvard University Press.

Other influences were Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid and The Last Empress: A Novel—both novels go into detail about the lives of the more than three thousand concubines that belonged to the emperor.

In fact, in 19th century China, the more power and wealth a man had, the more women he owned.

Another influence was the movie directed by Zhang Yimou in 1991, Raise the Red Lantern, which “focuses on the ever-shifting balance of power between the various concubines while the husband ignores much of what is going on — taking his pleasures when he feels like it.”

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Talking about Sung Dynasty Philosophy

July 23, 2013

China may be the only ancient culture that survived the spread of Islam and Christianity and managed to keep its unique identity. The following passage comes from My Splendid Concubine’s 3rd edition. My first novel has picked up fifteen literary awards. In the novel, Guan-jiah is Robert Hart’s servant.

________________________________

“Guan-jiah,” Robert said, “before I came to China I read The Travels of Marco Polo. Do you know who he was?”

“No, Master,” Guan-jiah replied.

“He came to China from Europe more than six hundred years ago and served under Kublai Khan during the Yuan Dynasty. Polo wrote that Hangzhou was the finest and noblest city in the world.”

“Hangzhou was the capital of the Southern Sung Dynasty, Master,” Guan-jiah said. “I’ve heard it is beautiful. Sung philosophy says that we have the power in our minds to overcome our emotions.”

“Marco Polo believed it was God’s will that he came back from China so others in the West might know what he’d seen.” Robert turned to his servant, who was the last in line. “Do you believe in this Sung philosophy, Guan-jiah?”

Sir Robert Hart working long hours at his standing desk.

“The Sung said that if you know yourself and others, you would be able to adjust to the most unfavorable circumstances and prevail over them.”

“That’s admirable, Guan-jiah. You never mentioned you were a scholar. If the Sung Dynasty was that wise, I want to see Hangzhou one day.”

“I am no scholar, Master, but I must believe in the Sung philosophy to survive. I have read and contemplated much literature. However, I am like a peasant and have never mastered calligraphy. It is a skill that has eluded me.”

“How old were you when you studied this philosophy?”

“I was eleven, Master, two years after I was sent to Peking.”

Source: From Chapter 4 of My Splendid Concubine

And Discover The Influence of Confucius

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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2013 San Francisco Book Festival Award Winners

May 6, 2013

Running with the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00034]

The winner of the general fiction category went to John Irving’s In One Person published by Simon & Schuster, and the grand prize was awarded to The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen & Live Without Regret by Richie Norton with Natalie Norton — Shadow Mountain Publishing.

John Irving won the National Book Award in 1980 for The World According to Garp, and he received an O. Henry Award in 1981 for the short story “Interior Space. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules.

Richard Norton, the grand prize winner of the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival, is the CEO of Global Consulting Circle. He is a sought after speaker and consultant for the corporate growth and personal development industries. Norton has shared the stage with bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Kevin Rollins, former CEO of Dell Computers.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning My Splendid Concubine and Running with the Enemy. His short story, A Night at the ‘Well of Purity’ was named a finalist in the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. Anchee Min, Lloyd’s wife, is the author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year—in addition to national bestsellers Becoming Madame Mao and Empress Orchid, which was a finalist for the British Book Awards. Min’s memoir, the sequel to Red AzaleaThe Cooked Seed—will be released May 7, 2013.

The award winners for the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival will be honored on May 18, 2013 at a public free festival and a private awards ceremony held at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Dissecting the “Moral Duty” of a Reckless and False Review: Part 6/6

March 25, 2013

View as Single Page

Amanda Roberts, most people think for themselves. They don’t need someone on an alleged evangelical crusade willing to claim anything to achieve what she may see as a moral duty.

I’ve also written about this subject in My Mother would have Burned this Book (March 2011), because there have been other reviews similar to yours but much shorter that may have also had a burning “moral duty to spare others the pain of reading it.”

Another word for this is censorship, and there is a long history of censorship linked to a moral duty to censor books dealing with graphic sexual topics.

Maybe the truth is that Amanda Roberts is an alleged throw back to the Victorian era and would rather sweep the truth under the carpet that this historical fiction novel reveals—the same thing that Robert Hart attempted when he burned those journals.

Ms. Amanda Roberts, as valid as your opinon is, there are other opinions of this book that are just as valid.

– PRAISE FOR –

1st edition of My Splendid Concubine:
2007 iUniverse Editor’s Choice
2007 iUniverse Publisher’s Choice
2008 iUniverse Reader’s Choice

Honorable Mention in General Fiction
2008 London Book Festival

“Packed cover to cover with intriguing characters and plot, a must read for history fans and a fine addition to any collection on the genre.” – Midwest Book Review, May 8, 2008

“A stunning work that enmeshes imperialism, modernity, miscegenation and plain old desire in a sweaty matrix of destruction and painful birth.” – City Weekend Magazine, May 8, 2008

“Those who are interested in unconventional romances with an out-of-the ordinary setting will find plenty to enjoy.” – Historical Novel Society, May 2008

2nd edition of My Splendid Concubine

“A powerful novel whose beauty exceeds that of the book’s cover.”
Writer’s Digest judge’s commentary, April 2009 

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2009 San Francisco Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine, the sequel to
2nd edition of My Splendid Concubine

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2009 Nashville Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 London Book Festival
2009 DIY Book Festival

Our Hart is a unique and entertaining read, recommended.” – Midwest Book Review, April 2010

“Fine and tightly controlled Novel” – Historical Fiction Society, May 2010

“Political intrigue and matters of the heart are both fully explored. … readers who enjoy vicariously experiencing other times and cultures will find Our Hart a fascinating journey.” – Commentary of a Writer’s Digest judge, April 2011

Finalist in Fiction & Literature: Historical Fiction:
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards, December 2010

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00034]

 3rd edition of My Splendid Concubine: April 2013
(formerly titled The Concubine Saga)

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival

“Drawing on heavily researched passages with great dramatization, The Concubine Saga is a strong pick for historical fiction collections, highly recommended.” – The Midwest Book Review, July 2012

Disclaimer: No money was paid to bribe another person to write a positive review of this novel or to honor it with a literary award of any kind, and I’m sure if we go to court with a judge, lawyers and a jury, that fact would be easy to prove. There was no guarantee of a response from any of these sources or what that response might be.

Return to Dissecting the “Moral Duty” of a Reckless and False Review: Part 5 or start with Part 1

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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