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To have loved and lost
By Chen Jie (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-21 14:26

To have loved and lost

Letter from an Unknown Woman is a novel about the bittersweet experience of unrequited love, written by the Austrian writer Stefen Zweig.

It was adapted into a classical romance flick in 1948 and was later selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry because it is "culturally [and] historically significant".

In 2004, Chinese actress-turned-director Xu Jinglei shot a Chinese adaptation starring Jiang Wen, which won her the Best Director award in Spain's San Sebastian International Film Festival in 2004.

Now, another woman director, Li Shan, who graduated from and now teaches at the Central Academy of Drama, makes the story into a new drama for the 2009 Beijing Youth Theater Festival. Actress Bai Hui will perform the "unknown woman" who writes letters to a man she loves for 20 years.

The story of romantic yearning is about an imaginary romance, embodied in the doomed, delusional and illusory relationship of the two romantic leads - that is, a young neighbor girl's steadfast, sacrificial love for a self-absorbed, frivolous dilettante concert pianist.

A seduction leads to an unexpected pregnancy, followed by marriage.

Both face an inextricable impasse and experience numerous missed opportunities over the following 20 years - and ultimately fail to attain true romance.

The heartbreaking tale of their relationship is communicated through flashbacks and the nighttime reading of the woman's deathbed letter. By that time, she is the wife of the man the pianist must duel at dawn.

7:30 pm, Sep 19-21. The Experimental Theater of Beijing People's Art Theater, 22 Wangfujing Street. 400-810-3721, 6417-0058, 6417-0068

北京人民艺术剧院,王府井大街22号