Great Expectations: Part 1

Great Expectations: Part 1
美好的前途(上)

based on Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

LEVEL 2 (450 unique characters)

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Great Expectations is hailed as Charles Dickens’ masterpiece. A gripping tale of love and loss, aspiration and moral redemption, the story follows the young orphan Xiaomao (Pip) from poverty to a life of unexpected opportunity and wealth.

In Part 1, Xiaomao (Pip) is raised by his short-tempered older sister and her husband who run a small repair shop in the outskirts of Shanghai. Xiaomao dreams of leaving his life of poverty behind after becoming playmates with the beautiful Bingbing (Estella), daughter of the eccentric Bai Xiaojie (Ms. Havisham). His prospects for the future are bleak, until one day a mysterious benefactor gives Xiaomao the opportunity of a lifetime.

Adaptation Notes

The story has been adapted from Victorian London of the 1800’s to modern-day Shanghai, China. Both periods feature stark contrasts between the old and the new, the wealthy and the poor.

The following is a list of the characters from this Chinese story followed by their corresponding English names from Charles Dickens’ original story. The names below are not translations; they are new Chinese names used for the Chinese versions of the original characters. Think of them as all-new characters in a Chinese story.

  • 吴小毛 (Wú Xiǎomáo) – Pip
  • 姐姐 (Jiějiě) – Mrs. Joe Gargery
  • 姐夫 (Jiěfu) – Joe Gargery
  • 胖子 (Pàngzi) – Dolge Orlick
  • 思思(Sīsī) – Biddy
  • 白小姐 (Bái Xiǎojiě) – Miss Havisham
  • 冰冰 (Bīngbīng) – Estella
  • 金子王 (Jīn Zǐwén) – Mr. Jaggers

Sample of Great Expectations: Part 1

离我家不远的地方有一条小河,我喜欢玩水,所以经常去河边。今天我又在河边玩了一个多小时。天有点1了,我觉得差不多应该回家了,就站起来往家走。突然2,一个男人从后面3住了我的衣服。

“别叫!”那个男人3着我的衣服,“再叫我就4了你!”他小声说,我轻轻地5点点头,不6再说话了。

我看了一下那个男人,他身上7得很,衣服都8了,9上还有一个奇怪的东西。我不知道那个东西是什么,但是我觉得他应该是个犯人10。想到这里,我更害怕11了。

“你叫什么名字?爸爸妈妈在哪儿?”那个男人问我。

“我叫吴小毛,也许12你不相信,不过我真的没有爸爸妈妈,我一直跟姐姐和姐夫住在一起。我们就住在前面的那个修理店13里。” 因为太害怕11,我的声音都变小了。

修理店13?你说你家开了一个修理店13?”那个男人看了一下他9上的东西,把我14得更紧了。

“对。千万154我!”因为太害怕11,我说着说着就哭了起来。

“你看到我9上这个东西了吗?我需要一个工具16把它打开,还要一些吃的。明天早上,我们还在这里见面,你把工具16和吃的带过来。要是你没来或者把这件事告诉别人,你知道会发生什么吗?我还有一个朋友也在这里,他特别喜欢吃小孩的心。如果你不听我的话或者你明天没来,我就让他吃了你的心!”听到那个男人这样说,我更害怕11了:“我明天一定来,一定来!”我说完以后,那个男人很快就离开了,我看他走远了以后马上往家跑去。

  1. (hēi) v.; adj. black
  2. 突然 (túrán) adv.; adj. suddenly; sudden
  3. (zhuā)v. to grab, to try to catch
  4. (shā) v. to kill
  5. 轻轻地 (qīngqīng de) adv. lightly
  6. (gǎn) v. to dare (to)
  7. (zàng) adj. dirty
  8. (pò) adj. worn out, run-down
  9. (jiǎo) n. foot
  10. 犯人 (fànrén) n. a convict
  11. 害怕 (hàipà) v. to be afraid (of)
  12. 也许 (yěxǔ) adv. perhaps
  13. 修理店 (xiūlǐdiàn) n. repair shop
  14. (àn) v. to decide; to press, to hold (down)
  15. 千万 (qiān wàn) adv. absolutely (not)
  16. 工具 (gōngjù) n. tool

If you are an intermediate Chinese student like me, then you know there is a dearth of good material out there for our level. Beginner students get catered to because they represent the largest chunk of the market, and of course, advanced students can read and watch native Chinese content. But we intermediates continually have to search for scraps.

Well, this book (and Mandarin Companion in general) represents an oasis in the desert. In my opinion, this is the best-written Chinese content you can find at the intermediate level, both in terms of education and enjoyment.

Case in point: by the time I reached the latter half of the second volume, I binge-read the final 4 or 5 chapters, staying up until the early hours of the morning to do so. I just HAD to know how it ended, a sensation I had previously only experienced while reading compelling English language novels. Only after I put the book down did I realize I had totally forgotten I was reading Chinese.

Peter Samet, Amazon review

Another great book in the mandarin companion series. It’s available on Kindle and the quality is great. The stories are well written and the interpretation into modern Chinese of classic European and American books adds additional interest to an already great set of books. I just wish there were more!

WR McKenzie, Amazon review

As all of the other Mandarin Companion books, this new Level 2 book is awesome for improving ones reading and vocabulary in Mandarin. My 10 year old daughter has started the Secret Garden and her reading, sentence structure and vocabulary is improving by by leaps and bounds. Thanks to John and the crew at Mandarin Companion for putting these books together. Can’t wait for the next Level 2 book.

Patrick Murray, Amazon review

This book is waaaaaay better and more interesting than the one my class was actually reading. This is a genuinely interesting low intermediate textbook, highly recommended.

Lauren Johnson, Amazon review

A few months ago, I discovered Mandarin Companion with their series of Level 1 graded Chinese readers. I read through all of those and was eager for Great Expectations as their first Level 2 book.

This book, and the whole series, is great for intermediate students of Chinese to practice their reading skills. The books use the ‘extensive reading’ concept and fully accomplish their aims of providing fun and enjoyable stories, with relatively easy text and vocabulary. Each chapter provides a handful of challenging vocab words and grammar structures within the story that help you learn as you read. These vocabulary and grammar are repeated naturally throughout the text to reinforce your learning.

I really liked this book and I would recommend it to anyone looking to improve in the Chinese Language.

Alek Cannan