Painting by Ahn Gyeon (안견/安堅), Dream Journey to the Peach Blossom Land (몽유도원도/夢遊桃源圖), 1447.



At the moment I'm reading the historical novel Shanghai. The Ivory Compact, by the Canadian author David Rotenberg (Penguin Canada, 2009, 1156 pages):

While not high grade literature -- definitely not in the same league as Robert Graves, Gore Vidal or Allan Massie, to name just a few who excelled in this genre -- and not exactly a thrilling page-turner, the book is quite entertaining, if one does not mind the occasional annoying factual inconsistencies and inaccuracies contained therein.
One example is the reference to the Grand Canal as having been constructed by order of the Qin First Emperor and presumably completed during his reign. The truth is that parts of that waterway were already in existence by the 5th century BCE, but the full connection between the Yangtze and Beijing was accomplished only a thousand years later, during the Sui dynasty.
Here is's description:
"With his last breath, China's First Emperor, Q'in She Huang, entrusts his followers with a sacred task. Scenes intricately carved into a narwhal tusk show the future of a city "at the Bend in the River," and The Emperor's chosen three—his favourite concubine, head Confucian, and personal bodyguard —must bring these prophecies to life by passing their traditions on for generations. Centuries later, the descendants of the Emperor's chosen confidantes observe as Shanghai is invaded by opium traders and missionaries from Europe, America, and the Middle East. Of them all, two families—locked in a rivalry that will last for generations—will be central to the evolution of the city. As history marches on, locals and foreign interlopers clash and intertwine; their combined fates shaping what will become the centrepiece of the new China—Shanghai."

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