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"Peony in Love" by Lisa See (Book Quotes)

  • Aug 16, 2010
The following are a list of quotes from Peony in Love by Lisa See. They are from the edition with ISBN number 978-1-4000-6466-3. They are listed chronologically and adhere to the Modern Language Association's (MLA) guidelines for quotes to the best of my ability minus the author's last name in the actual parenthetical citation. I have cataloged them under thematic concept and included an introduction sentence to the quote.

Read the book review: More than a Lovesick Maiden.
Death Sits Atop the World
Peony remembers the unnamed female poets and recites a famous poem that was written inside of a prison: "'The trees are bare. / In the distance, the honks of mourning geese. / If only my tears of blood could dye red the blossoms of the plum tree. / But I will never make it to spring. / My heart is empty and my life has no value anymore. / Each moment a thousand tears.'" (49).
Peony describes what marriage was like for Chinese women in the seventeenth century:

For daughters, marrying out is a little like dying. We say goodbye to our parents, our aunts and uncles, our cousins, and the servants who cared for us, and go into an entirely new life, where we live with our true families, where our names will be listed in our in-laws' ancestral hall. In this way, marriage is like experiencing death and rebirth without having to travel to the afterworld. (88)

Love splash
Love is the most powerful emotion a person can experience. Love survives and conquers even in death: "When people are alive, they love. When they die, they keep loving. If love ends when a person dies, that is not real love" (89).
Peony's mother inspires her daughter to write from the heart rather than seeking fame or intellectual credit like so many male writers of their time did:

"Never let them tell you that women didn't write. They did," she said. "You can go back more than two thousand years to the Book of Songs and see that many of the poems were written by women and girls. Should we assume that they produced those poems by merely opening their mouths and mindlessly spouting words? Of course not. Men seek fame with their words--writing speeches, recording history, telling us how to live--but we are the ones who embrace emotions, who collect the leftover crumbs of seemingly meaningless days, who touch on the cycles of life and remember what happened in our families. I ask you, Peony, isn't that more important than writing an eight-legged essay for the emperor?" (214)

Author Lisa See includes an important historical afterward in her book: 

We usually hear that in the past there were no women writers, no women artists, no women historians, no women chefs, but of course women did these things. It's just that too often what they did was lost, forgotten, or deliberately covered up. So when I had a moment here or there, I looked up whatever I could find about the lovesick maidens and came to learn that they were part of a much larger phenomenon.

In the mid-seventeenth century, more women writers were being published in China's Yangzi delta than in all the rest of the world at that time. By that I mean there were thousands of women--bound-footed, often living in seclusion, from wealthy families--who were being published. (275)

Lisa See concludes her afterward with a poetic examination of women, history, and the transforming power of love:

The thrust of that article had to do with finding my inner lovesick maiden. I have to admit it wasn't very hard, because I'm obsessed most of the time, but the assignment forced me to look inward and examine what I felt about writing and the desire women have to be heard--by their husbands, their children, their employers. At the same time, I thought a lot about love. All women on earth--and men too, for that matter--hope for the kind of love that transforms us, raises us up out of the everyday, and gives us the courage to survive our little deaths: the heartache of unfulfilled dreams, of career and personal disappointments, of broken love affairs. (280)

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October 28, 2010
Cool list of quotes. I especially loved the quote about how marriage in the seventeenth century is like death and rebirth. Very intriguing.
October 28, 2010
Yeah, there were some quote gems. :)
September 14, 2010
Love this list! I am getting goosebumps! ;) Thanks, Adri! How was the show?
September 14, 2010
Thanks for checking out the book quotes! Glad you enjoyed them and got those cool goosebumps!

The show was AWESOME! I'm going to write a review of some of the activities I did this past weekend once I get the photos uploaded. I've been a bit slow. I also have some video clips I might include too. I had quite a fun weekend. Wish we could have met and hung out. Sorry it didn't work out, but I'm glad your family in San Bruno was safe. :)
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