Our short story for today is a touching essay that combines two of the most distinguishing characteristics of contemporary Chinese literature: it is both extremely sentimental and profoundly depressing. Although the story is apolitical, it nonetheless illustrates the strong cultural influence of Russia on post-war China, through the appearance of a circus bear act that most likely took place in Shanghai.

This essay is frequently anthologized in the mainland and taught in language and literature courses at the high school level. So if you're looking for a benchmark to measure your reading skills, consider this piece designed for the average Chinese high school student. There are likely words here you won't know, but don't worry. When reading any of the short stories on our site, just hover your mouse over any word for a popup containing a contextual definition and guide to pronunciation. Enjoy!
 said on
August 19, 2010
This is so cool! Thank you guys!
 said on
August 20, 2010
Tip: click on any Chinese word when its popup is visible, and we'll automatically add the word to your vocabulary list. This is a useful way to flag words you don't know for review later with our various study tools.

We get questions every now and then about how to add lesson content to vocabularly lists. This is one of the more useful and not-well-advertised features we have for those of you going through our online transcripts. It also works with other features like News in Chinese.
 said on
August 26, 2010
this seems like a very good way to improve reading skill, however, is short story access available with the basic subscription, or must I purchase the premium one?
 said on
August 27, 2010
Hi samanthaj,

The premium subscription includes access to the online annotated version with the manually edited and contextual popups. If you'd just like to read the short stories without those, the basic PDF is fine, or you can look for the original Chinese versions online. A copy of this story is available http://zhidao.baidu.com/question/26197605 for instance.

That said, the value in the Short Stories series (in our opinion) is the combination of the vocabulary study tools with the instant contextual definitions in the popups. It makes it possible to read the story and just click on words you don't understand -- they'll get added to your vocabulary list automatically and can be easily reviewed anytime. It is also quite valuable when working through more difficult texts like Dream of the Red Chamber -- situations where the experience can be tremendously frustrating even working with a good paper or electronic dictionary.


 said on
September 1, 2010
Just for future consideration...a translation of the story would be very nice if pasted at the bottom of the transcript. It is definitely not as nice as your online annotated version, but it would make it more accessible to those with a basic subscription and would be very much appreciated.