Clavell, James: Tai-Pan
(researched by Saad Hossain)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
James Clavell. Tai-Pan. New York: Atheneum, 1966.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First edition appeared in cloth.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
590 leaves.[3]4[5]6-155[156-159] 160-247[248-253]254-350 [351-353]354-413[414-417] 418[419]420-516[517-519] 520-590
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
There were no introductions.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There were maps on beginning and end pages, of China and the general region surrounding Hong Kong, including a 'close-up' of the island.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The height of the page is 23.5 cm and the width is 14 cm. The margin on the width is 1.7cm, the margin from the top is 1.8cm and the margin from the bottom is 2.5cm. The size of type is 80R. It is serif type.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper used is quite thick and slightly rough. The edges are frayed, but otherwise, the book is in very good condition. The pages are very white and there are no marks or tears.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is cloth. The spine appears to be dotted-line grain. The front and back are a medium red and the spine is light brown. The front has 'Tai-Pan' stamped in black, surrounded by an oval border of leaves. The spine has author, title and publisher stamped in black: JAMES CLAVELL/TAIPAN/A NOVEL OF/HONG KONG/ATHENEUM
12 Transcription of title page
Front: TAI-PAN/ A NOVEL OF HONG KONG/BY/JAMES CLAVELL/ATHENEUM (1966) NEW YORK Back: Copyright 1966 by James Clavell/All rights reserved/Library of Congress catalog card number 66-16356/Published simultaneously in Canada by McClelland & Stewart Ltd./ Manufactured in the United States of America by H. Wolff, New York/Designed by Harry Ford/First Printing March 1966/ Second Printing April 1966/Third Printing May 1966/Fourth Printing June 1966/Fifth Printing July 1966
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Not found.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The book has a dust jacket, illustrated by Janet Halverson. On the front: TAI-PAN/BY THE AUTHOR OF KING RAT/JAMES CLAVELL The illustration in the front is a coat of arms with a dragon and a lion grappling--representing China and the British Empire respectively. On top is a military helmet and a clipper.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Anatheum Book Club edition, 1967
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
7 printings, each month following initial publication
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Delacorte Press, 1975. Paperback Mass Market edition from Dell Publishers, Inc. May 1976. New Dell edition from Dell Publishers, Inc. Oct 1986 London : Hodder and Stoughton,1992 London : Coronet,1975 1966 London : Sphere, 1974 Taipei : Imperial Books and Records Co,1967 1966
6 Last date in print?
Still in Print
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
8 million copies sold since 1965
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
not found
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Advertisements appeared on editions of Clavell's Nobel House, Shogun, Whirlwind, and Gai-Jin.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Not found
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Tai-Pan (movie) Directed by Daryl Duke USA,1986, English Starring: Bryan Brown. Joan Chen. John Stanton. Tim Guinee. Bill Leadbitter. Russell Wong. Kyra Sedgwick. Bert Remsen. Janine Turner. Drama. Duration: about 2 hrs. UK Censorship Rating: "18"
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Tai-Pan : Der Roman Hongkongs / Author(s): Clavell, James. ; Gr¸nau, Werner von,; 1910-1974. Publication: Berlin: Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, Year: 1988 Language: German Tai-Pen =Tai-Pan. Tom 2 : roman o Gonkonge = a novel of Hong Kong Clavell, James Publication:Nizhnii Novgorod : SMM, Year:1993 Language: Russian Tai-Pen =Tai-Pan. Kniga 2 : roman o Gonkonge = a novel of Hong Kong Clavell, James Publication:Moskva : Olma-Press, Year:1993 Language: Russian Tchaj-pan Clavell, James. ; H?fer, Jaroslav. ; trl; IllÌkov·, Helena. ; art; Hraba, Zbynek. ; art Publication:Praha : KniznÌ klub, Tlaciarne BB Edition: 1. vyd. Year: 1994 Language: Czech TaÔ-pan : roman Clavell, James Publication:[Paris] : Stock Year: 1980 Language: French Tai-Pan Clavell, James. Publication:Barcelona : Plaza & JanÈs,Edition: 2. ed. en este formato. Year: 1994 Language: Spanish Tai-Pan Clavell, James Publication:Mem Martins, Portugal : Europa-AmÈrica Year: 1980 Language: Portuguese Tai-Pan Clavell, James Publication:Tel-Aviv, Israel : Zmora, Bitan Year: 1989 Language:Hebrew Ta pan Clavell, James. ; Hs¸eh, Hsing-kuo Publication:Taipei : Hao Shi Nien,Edition: Chu pan Year:1981 Language:Chinese Tajpan : rom·n o Hongkongu Clavell, James Publication:Bratislava : Nakl. Pravda,Edition: 1. vyd. Year:1987 Language: Slovak Da ban Clavell, James; Xue, Xing-guo. Publication:Taibei : Hao Shi Nian,Edition: Chu ban. Year:1981 Language:Chinese Tai-Pan Clavell, James Publication:Buenos Aires, Argentina : EmecÈ Editores Year:1986 Language:Spanish Taipan Clavell, James Publication:Laren [Netherlands] : Uitgeverij Luitingh Year:1970 Language:Dutch TaÔ-pan :roman Clavell, James Publication:[MontrÈal] : Libre expression, Year: 1981, 1966 Language: French Taipan Clavell, James Publication:MÈxico ; Barcelona : Bruguera,Edition: 1a ed. Year:1984, 1979 Language: Spanish Tai-Pan :der Roman Hongkongs Clavell, James Publication:G¸tersloh : Bertelsmann, Year:1966 1981 Language: German Tai Pan Clavell, James Publication:Stockholm : Norstedt, Year:1981 1966 Language:Swedish Tai-Pan :romanzo Clavell, James Publication:Milan : Sonzogno, Year: 1979 Language:Italian
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Tai-Pan is part of a six book Asian saga by James Clavell. In chronological order, the stories take place in this sequence, with some overlaps, such as the case of King Rat and Noble House: Shogun Tai-Pan Gai-Jin King Rat Noble House Whirlwind These novels deal with Japan, Hong Kong, and Iran(in the case of Whirlwind), and have a common thread of characters and plot lines. The central plot deals with the Struan family, a line of Hong Kong traders. Shogun and King Rat are remotely connected to the central theme through minor details and characters. In order of publication: King Rat (1963) Shogun (1975) Tai-Pan: A Novel of Hong Kong (1966) Noble House (1981) Whirlwind (1986) Gai-Jin (1993)
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
James DuMarsque Clavell began his literary career as a script writer in America following his discharge from the British Army (1940-1946). While he proved to be quite successful, it was not until a sceenwriters' strike in 1962 that Clavell wrote his first novel, King Rat, in just three months. This story is about allied soldiers facing horrific conditions in a Japanese Prisoner Of War camp. It is based upon his own experiences in Changi, which proved to be the most influential event of the author's life. Following a military tradition in his family, James Clavell joined the army and fought in the east during World War II. He was quickly captured by the Japanese, however, and spent the rest of the war in the camp, where he faced torture, deprivation and a struggle for survival so intense that the mortality rate for prisoners was over 93%. In later interviews (contemporary authors, Galenet), Clavell said that Changi was the place where he learned about the struggle for life and dominance amongst desperate men, and this experience shaped and affected all of his writing. Tai-Pan was his second novel, 1966, when he was still primarily a screenwriter. It, like King Rat, was an instant bestseller, and was sandwiched between his two greatest successes in cinema (The Great Escape, 1963 and To Sir with Love, 1969), to round off a very productive period in his life. His next bestseller was to be Shogun, in 1975, by which date he was devoting his time solely to writing. Clavell spent a year in Hong Kong researching Tai-Pan, and his time was very well spent considering the staggering amount of vivid detail and insight that he was able to bring to this novel. Tai-Pan, like his other books, is historical fiction. It deals with the foundation of the British colony of Hong Kong, and the struggle for dominance between the opium traders who ran the triangular trade of tea, bullion and opium between China and the British Empire. This novel tells the story of Dirk Struan, the founder of the Hong (company) that becomes the Noble House. This novel was very influential as the introduction of an overall cast and plot that runs through most of his later books. His later best sellers such as Noble House, Gai-Jin, and Whirlwind all deal with the struggle of the Struan family, as they try to protect their business. Tai-pan can also be considered to be Clavell's first truly fictional novel, as King Rat, in many ways, was an account of his own experiences in Changi. Critics claimed that while Tai-Pan was neither 'art' nor historically accurate, the success of the novel lay in the complex and incredibly detailed plot lines, as well as the fast paced action. Clavell's s occupation as a screenwriter can be found to have influenced and affected the writing of Tai-pan, where several major characters are stereo-types, such as the one-eyed villain Brock, and the plot/ conversation has a tendency towards melodrama. His later books, such as Shogun and Noble House, are perhaps more refined in writing style and character development.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The contemporary reception to James Clavell's Tai-Pan was generally positive, with a few criticisms running common through out the various reactions. One of the main problems a number of reviewers had with the novel was its length. Tai-Pan was considered to be too long, with an overcomplicated plot and minor story lines that served to foul up the action sequence. A second problem lay in the stereo-typical nature of many of its main characters. While the historical detail and graphic action of the novel was applauded by reviewers, many commented on the fact that his characters lacked depth and in some cases were straight stereo-types for races such as the English, Chinese and American. Clavell received much praise for the stirring action in his novel, however, as well as his ability to accurately portray a completely different culture and setting in such detail to his readers. W.G Rogers of the New York Times Book Review, for example, said "Tai-pan is a complete, all inclusive, economy-size book, from the bound feet of the past to the first railroads-and the steamers to outspeed the clippers on the Far East trade routes. The men who hate each other on page one wait till almost page 590 to settle their scores; some readers will not be so patient. This is a block-buster in dimensions but not in wallop. If the spaces between the free-for-alls had been contracted, it would have been a bang-up good novel." (Rogers, 38) Most reviewers agreed that Clavell's depiction of the settlement of Hong Kong, while not completely historically accurate, was extremely successful in capturing the mood and progression of the times: "What he [Clavell] lacks in character development, he makes up in detail and insight into the making of Hong Kong." (Washington Post) The Booklist review said: "The realistically re-created background of Hong Kong in the 1840'4 and the days of sailing ships is the most interesting part of an overlong, action-and character-crowded story about rival British tea and opium traders in the Orient." (Vanek, 1031) Despite these criticisms, however, a host of reviewers agreed that overall, it was a great, fast paced story that gripped the reader. New York Times reviewer Orville Prescott said that Clavell "holds attention with a relentless grip. Tai- Pan frequently is crude. It is grossly exaggerated much of the time. But seldom does a novel appear so stuffed with imaginative invention, so packed with melodramatic action, so gaudy and flamboyant with blood and treachery and conspiracy, sex and murder." Similarly, a critic in Time called it "a belly-gutting, god-rotting typhoon of a book" and added: "Its narrative pace is numbing, its style deafening, its language penny dreadful.... It isn't art and it isn't truth. But its very energy and scope command the eye." Sources: Rogers, W.G. New York Times Book Review. May 22nd, 1966. Vanek, Edna ed., The Booklist. July 1st 1966. Prescott, Orville, New York Times. 1966. Time (internet) Washington Post (internet)
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The contemporary reception to James Clavell's Tai-Pan was generally positive, with a few criticisms running common through out the various reactions. One of the main problems a number of reviewers had with the novel was its length. Tai-Pan was considered to be too long, with an overcomplicated plot and minor story lines that served to foul up the action sequence. A second problem lay in the stereo-typical nature of many of its main characters. While the historical detail and graphic action of the novel was applauded by reviewers, many commented on the fact that his characters lacked depth and in some cases were straight stereo-types for races such as the English, Chinese and American. Clavell received much praise for the stirring action in his novel, however, as well as his ability to accurately portray a completely different culture and setting in such detail to his readers. W.G Rogers of the New York Times Book Review, for example, said "Tai-pan is a complete, all inclusive, economy-size book, from the bound feet of the past to the first railroads-and the steamers to outspeed the clippers on the Far East trade routes. The men who hate each other on page one wait till almost page 590 to settle their scores; some readers will not be so patient. This is a block-buster in dimensions but not in wallop. If the spaces between the free-for-alls had been contracted, it would have been a bang-up good novel." (Rogers, 38) Most reviewers agreed that Clavell's depiction of the settlement of Hong Kong, while not completely historically accurate, was extremely successful in capturing the mood and progression of the times: "What he [Clavell] lacks in character development, he makes up in detail and insight into the making of Hong Kong." (Washington Post) The Booklist review said: "The realistically re-created background of Hong Kong in the 1840'4 and the days of sailing ships is the most interesting part of an overlong, action-and character-crowded story about rival British tea and opium traders in the Orient." (Vanek, 1031) Despite these criticisms, however, a host of reviewers agreed that overall, it was a great, fast paced story that gripped the reader. New York Times reviewer Orville Prescott said that Clavell "holds attention with a relentless grip. Tai- Pan frequently is crude. It is grossly exaggerated much of the time. But seldom does a novel appear so stuffed with imaginative invention, so packed with melodramatic action, so gaudy and flamboyant with blood and treachery and conspiracy, sex and murder." Similarly, a critic in Time called it "a belly-gutting, god-rotting typhoon of a book" and added: "Its narrative pace is numbing, its style deafening, its language penny dreadful.... It isn't art and it isn't truth. But its very energy and scope command the eye." Sources: Rogers, W.G. New York Times Book Review. May 22nd, 1966. Vanek, Edna ed., The Booklist. July 1st 1966. Prescott, Orville, New York Times. 1966. Time (internet) Washington Post (internet)
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
James DuMarsque Clavell writes such lengthy novels that a case can be made for categorizing him in any number of ways. Books that generally range between 700 to 1500 pages and have the added virtue of being bestsellers can often be placed in more than one category. It could be convincingly argued that he writes a formula better than Dick Francis, intrigue as well as Le Carre and screenplays that would blow away Michael Creighton. Tai Pan is a novel that contains plenty of sex, violence, crime, intrigue, power struggles and natural disasters. A great many of the world's bestsellers contain some or all of these elements. For example, Tai Pan could be categorized with popular romance novels, reasoning that the forbidden love between Struan and his Chinese mistress is what attracts readers and makes it a bestseller. On the other hand, one could surmise that Tai Pan is an adventure novel and the high seas piracy depicted in the book is what draws the readers. One domineering quality that permeates throughout all of Clavell's books, however, from King Rat to Whirlwind, is the expert knowledge that he assumes about his topic, and this may be the most attractive feature of the book from a reader's point of view. The trick of a writer assuming expert knowledge, however, is something used by a great many best-selling authors. It is possible to say that every author displays some sort of expert knowledge. Otherwise, what exactly are they writing about? The expertise I am referring to in the case of Clavell-and others like him, is specific and in-depth knowledge about a particular historical period-in short, it is a very well researched book. The main ingredient in this sort of book is expert knowledge in a field that is not well known to a majority of the readers. For example, it is no good trying to sell the Devious Chinese story to the Chinese. The key for the author is to convince the reader that while the story is fictional, everything else is authentic and this is how it could have happened. One important factor to consider is that Clavell writes mainly to a western audience that has very little knowledge of the Orient. The level of detail that he brings into his work, in addition to the confident assertions he makes is more than enough to lull them into believing that in this author they have found the key to unlock distant and mysterious cultures. In Tai Pan, Clavell serves as a modern day Marco Polo, translating and dramatizing the far eastern mind for western readers, bringing to light all the jewels of a time and culture that would otherwise be inaccessible to us. Clavell's expertise on the subject matter is evident to a reader through several points. First of all, the sheer length and depth of his novels supports his knowledge. Only a very foolhardy author would dare to write over 1000 pages on a topic they had only researched on the discovery channel. A second point in his favor is King Rat. King Rat is a true story in the sense that Clavell himself was imprisoned in Changi POW camp for three years. King Rat was his first book. It was a bestseller, and established him as an author with first hand knowledge of the eastern mind. This sort knowledge, born of pain, is never questioned, just as no one would question the suffering of a Jew who had survived Auschwitz. In Tai Pan, Clavell portrays the founding of Hong Kong and the colorful lives of the traders that run the opium triangle. His novel is not historically accurate, and he has a tendency to depict all Chinese as devious, subtle, scheming characters incapable of direct action. (This may well be true-he certainly convinced me). The great detail that he gives us on Machiavellian Chinese business practices, as well as the dirt on British foreign policy-making in the east can easily convince the reader that he, in fact, knows a lot about the topic. Some of his main Chinese characters are actually seen plotting one, two hundred years into the future, when their plans will finally bear fruit. (Clavell actually has great continuity because he picks up some of these threads in his later novels, such as Noble House). This sort of insight into the Oriental mind represents insider knowledge, and suggests that Clavell is, actually, an authority in his chosen field. All of Clavell's novels have been bestsellers, and they all share this similar characteristic. Most of them are focused on the Orient, with novels such as King Rat, Tai Pan, Shogun, Noble House and Gai-Jin. Whirlwind deals with the overthrow of the Shah in Iran, but all of these novels tell the reader about a specific time and place. The stories may be fictional, but Clavell describes the social and political climates of the times with great depth and surety, so that the reader can actually feel they are learning something from it. All of his novels are very well researched, as well, and his knowledge of the Orient is very strong, so that he is able to reveal minute facets of Eastern culture that the reader would have no other way of knowing. Within the oriental field, there are several other western authors who have produced bestsellers. Eric Lustbader, for example, is an expert on sex and violence. Every twenty pages there is a sex scene, followed by a violent fight. What sets him apart, of course, is that all this is set in the Orient, and all the characters are expert martial artists. Lustbader, however, generally dispenses with all cultural aspects of the East and focuses only on martial arts. Even then, his repertoire of martial art techniques-not to mention foreign words-is not very large, and he returns with distressing regularity to the stock character of the ninja. At times, Clavell and Lustbader are very similar, especially in Tai Pan where Clavell includes a lot of 'fight scenes'. Their main characters are also somewhat similar, in that they all tend to be dynamic, Sun-Tzu quoting men of action. The primary similarity in this category though, is that Lustbader and Clavell both bring the Oriental world to the reader in some fashion: Lustbader can just be considered much cruder and more formulaic than Clavell. It would be unfair in this respect to align Clavell too closely with Lustbader, since Clavell displays a much wider knowledge of the Orient, and also concentrates on big business in the East, as opposed to simply exploiting the obvious western fascination with karate kid. It would be interesting to note, however, that both Lustbader and Clavell shared careers in the media, with Clavell being a noted screenwriter and producer, whilst Lustdbader was an executive in the music industry. One author who displays some of the same expert knowledge as Clavell, albeit in a different field, is Arthur Hailey, writer of bestsellers such as Airport, Overload and Hotel. The similarity in Clavell and Hailey lie in the fact that in both their works, the setting is pivotal to the plot, and something that is very well researched. Hailey concentrates mainly on different professions, and spins his story around a particular position: for example in Hotel, he tells the story of a famous New Orleans Hotel during the 1960s through the eyes of the assistant manager. In Overload, he delves into the big power companies by telling the story of an executive in a power plant in California, whilst in Airport, he tells the story of an airport controller. There might not be an obvious connection between Clavell telling stories about the Far East and Hailey writing on different professions, but the fundamental quality of their books is that both writers portray the grit and details of a world that the reader is only superficially acquainted with. The story, in a way, is not as important as the sense of authenticity that each author is able to provide to the reader. The reader responds to the fact that the author is displaying genuine knowledge of a particular field, and that they are able to enjoy a good story and learn something. An author much closer to Clavell in this category is Colleen McCullough, author of The First Man in Rome, The Grass Crown and Caesar's Women. McCullough's area of expertise is the Roman Republic and the Triumvirate, and her novels carry more detailed history of the era than most textbooks. McCullough essentially writes historical fiction, which, in a loose sense, is what Clavell writes in Tai Pan. Both of them write huge novels, with myriad characters and plot lines, plus detailed descriptions of a particular time and place. McCullough places more emphasis on the history part, whereas Clavell uses a historical backdrop to fuel his own plot. One of the reasons that McCullough is successful as a bestseller is because her characters are famous-the likes of Caesar, Sulla and Gaius Marius, and she is able to portray them in a realistic manner. Clavell moves away from her in that respect because he is not dedicated to writing semi-fictional biographies of historical figures. In his novels, the time, place and the characteristics of the people in general are of paramount importance; accurate reports of specific historical people or events are not as important, however, as the plot of his own characters. In his own words, Clavell claimed that his novels basically involved putting his characters--ordinary men and women--into difficult situations and then extracting them. Expert knowledge aside, however, there is a secondary characteristic that runs throughout most of his novels, which may be used to categorize him. Big business is a running theme throughout his novels, and the cutthroat nature of the wheeling-dealing makes Barbarians At the Gate look like a tea party. The only reason I consider this a secondary characteristic is that two of Clavell's most successful and critically acclaimed books-King Rat and Shogun-had nothing at all to do with big business. King Rat was devoted exclusively to the survival of British POWs, whereas Shogun dealt with the political turmoil involved in the formation of the Shogunate. Big Business, however, is what drives the plot in Tai Pan, as Dirk Struan (the principal character) tries to ensure the dominance and future survival of his trading house through the dangerous profession of opium smuggling. This theme is carried on through Noble House, Gai-Jin, and Whirlwind, where members of the same house fight tooth and nail to protect their company against the plots of rival trading houses. Clavell's sense of continuity is marvelous, because even the villains of the modern novels can all be genealogically traced back to the villains in Tai Pan. In this category, Clavell can be compared to a lot of other bestsellers that deal with business back up by force. Mario Puzo's Godfather series, for example, can be placed in the same category as Tai Pan. Both stories have extended plot lines, where the main characters are trying to control a business empire through any means possible. (Puzo is also comparable to Clavell in the primary category, in the sense that he possesses expert knowledge in a particular segment of society, namely, the Italian Mafia). Jeffery Archer, for example, wrote bestsellers such as Kane and Abel, and The Fourth Estate, both dealing with larger than life players of the corporate world. The similarity here with Tai Pan is that all three novels share strong willed central characters trying to gain immense power and wealth. This category can be defined as bestsellers that deal with the struggle for money and success. Writing style, time period and settings are all different between these novels, yet they share a single characteristic that readers seem to universally respond to: money and power. The two most pervasive themes running through this 700 page novel are the emerging culture of China and the struggle for money and power between piratical businessmen. What Tai Pan can teach us is that both of these themes strike a chord with the target audience. I think that Tai Pan and the many other bestsellers in these two categories teach us that readers respond to several universal themes. If the author can convince a reader that he or she knows a lot about any particular topic, the reader will respond better to the book. Aside from simply enjoying the plot, readers will probably feel that they are also taking away knowledge that has added value to the entire experience. In a sense, they have gained something tangible from reading the book. In the case of Tai Pan, the novel gives readers a lot of knowledge about the formation of Hong Kong and the interaction between the British and the Chinese. In regard to the overall plot of the novel, the struggle for power and wealth is something that most people can relate to. The escapist nature of the novel allows readers to experience the thrills of the richest and most powerful men during a period of great opportunity and turmoil. This, essentially, is the function and appeal of all fiction-to let a reader see and understand something that is out of the ordinary for them. Thus, Tai Pan and indeed, Clavell's other books, can be considered to be a combination of escapism and travelogues. A reader who would not read nonfiction such as a history book or a travel guide can enjoy this novel because of its grand, sweeping storyline. Conversely, the reader who is interested in learning about foreign cultures and historical times can also gain something.
You are not logged in. (Sign in)