June 15, 2014

Guilin : The Painted Veil

Two films made Guilin famous throughout the world. The first is the 1960's production of Liu San Jie, or Third Sister Liu and the other,perhaps the lesser known,  The Painted Veil, based on a novel by Somerset Maugham.

Both used the karst landscape of  Guilin as background and helped promote Guilin as a tourist attraction and especially since the opening of China to outsiders in the 1980's.

On a recent visit to Guilin I found that the karst landscape truly has so much to offer especially to photographers and writers. No wonder S.Maugham loved the place. Probably he had enjoyed being carried by sedan chairs in those days. The Zhuang people here speak a special dialect . Today most of them speak Mandarin and even  English.

is a 2006 American drama film directed by John Curran. The screenplay by Ron Nyswaner is based on the 1925 novel of the same title by W. Somerset Maugham. Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Toby Jones, Anthony Wong Chau Sang and Liev Schreiber appear in the leading roles. (wikipedia)

The novelist, W.Somerset Maugham, visited Sarawak in the 20's and wrote several short stories based on his experiences, including The Bore, The Yellow Streak.

The Painted Veil, one of his very celebrated novels, depicted a spoilt socialite who need to find real self in the 1920's England and Hong Kong. Amidst colonial politics, cholera outbreaks, extra marital affairs, Kitty, the protagonist, finally found herself . The saddest part was the discovery of her self worth came just days before her realisation that her husband was a good man, worthy of her love, and respect.

Kitty spent the rest of her life dedicating her life to helping her father, serving mankind and bringing up her son.

The setting was in Guilin, amidst karst landscape. Maugham must have chosen this landscape to represent the many sharp edges and turnings in our lives which also depicts great beauty. Life is made up of so many different facets as Kitty had found out. She had to learn how to get rid of the insignificant and embraced the reality of true happiness and real worth in life.


sintaicharles said...

I love Maugham's novels and short stories, such as the Human Bondage and Rain. I heard of the painted veil but haven't read it. Should order the book from Amazon.com one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chang Yi,

Saw your writeup on your father that appeared in New Straits Times.

Happy Father's Day!

Ensurai said...

Yes, Charles. Excellent stuff. I think you may be able to borrow the book from the Dewan Suarah Library if it is available. Check with some school libraries too. thanks for the comment.

Ensurai said...

Yes, I was informed by Teresa, who compiled the articles. Thanks for noticing it.

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