A full translation of Feng Menglong's San Yan is totally unbelievable. This is the first volume of 40 stories and 794 pages long. I totally loved this book. The stories are brilliant and Feng's comments are amusing and enjoyable. A lot of the stories are quite long, around 40 pages or so and you get a real sense of the characters. The plots range from the mundane to the supernatural. There are courtesans, bandits, ghosts, fox spirits and deities. One of my favorites was about two men who became good friends. When they parted they agreed to meet again on a certain day in the future. The man who was supposed to travel wasn't able to and having heard that ghosts could travel a 1000 li in a day killed himself so he could travel at supernatural speeds to meet his friend for their visit. They had dinner and then he revealed what he had done. His friend went to his home and buried him, then killed himself after ordering that they be buried together. These stories are all the reasons that I love Chinese literature, culture and history so much.
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A reflection of Chinese society in Ming China...20 Jan 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
This collection of 40 stories, as translated into English, is based on a famous two-volume Chinese publication. KU CHIN CHI KUAN - the Chinese title, meaning Startling Stories Old and New. The entire collection was compiled and edited by Master Feng Meng Long during the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644). The stories reflected on the Chinese society at the grassroots' level in which the people would often hear them being told and retold at the teahouses and wayside gatherings in the summer evenings by their favourite storytellers. And Feng Meng Long gathered and edited them and then had them published which were being preserved to this day. The English translation had been attempted in the past years first by the Foreign Language Press at Beijing under The Courtesan's Jewel Box with about 20 selection out of the original 40 stories. Another attempt was rendered by Cyril Birch under the title of Stories From A Ming Collection - The Art of the Chines Storyteller. However, he only attempted to select a mere selection of only 8 stories. The present collection is the combined efforts of both Yunqin Yang (freelance interpeter at the United Nations) and Prof. Shuhui Yang of Washington University in St. Louis to which they faithfully translated the entire 40 stories from Chinese to English. Their translation is very readable, concise and expertly done. The stories in this amazing collection are populated with scholars and courteans, spirits and ghosts, Buddhist monks and nuns, Eastern pirates (or the Japanese Wokous) and emperors and officials who were both virtuous and corrupt. This superb English translation is unabridged and with also a selection of woodcut drawings from the original Ming Dynasty collection. Let's hope that this collection would soon be restocked and made available to customers of Amazon.com. Highly recommended and extremely interesting collection of ancient Chinese short stories...worthy to read and grace your library collection. Thank you.