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The Wallet of Kai Lung [Paperback]

Ernest Bramah
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 2001
A Wildside Fantasy Classic. More tales of the clever Chinese storyteller.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Borgo Press (1 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587152088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587152085
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 15.2 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,688,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ernest Bramah (20 March 1868 – 27 June 1942), born Ernest Brammah Smith, was an English author. He published 21 books and numerous short stories and features. His humorous works were ranked with Jerome K Jerome, and W.W. Jacobs, his detective stories with Conan Doyle, his politico-science fiction with H.G. Wells and his supernatural stories with Algernon Blackwood. George Orwell acknowledged that Bramah’s book What Might Have Been influenced his Nineteen Eighty-Four. Bramah created the characters Kai Lung and Max Carrados. Bramah was a recluse who did not give the public details of his personal life. He died at 74 a successful author, having a knowledge of chemistry, physics, law, philosophy, the classics, literature, the occult and ordnance, and being an expert in a branch of numismatics. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars . . . and he never went to China! 31 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Delighted to find some Ernest Bramah books on Kindle. I just love the way that this wordsmith from Weston-Super-Mare can twist Mandarin doggerel into his bizarre but excellent view on the world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An old favourite 5 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book never fails to amuse. It might be difficult going for modern readers, but I think well worth reading for its light wit, and the ability to make me smile. The story of the Willow Pattern is a favourite chapter.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is a great pity that American English has been used in reproduction from the original which is quintessentially English.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars . 28 May 2010
By T. Holt
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What do P G Wodehouse, Damon Runyon and Ernest Bramah have in common? First, they were all extraordinary comic writers with an astonishing ability to choose exactly the right words, and the knack of perfectly matching style to plot. Second, they each manipulated language to give their characters and narrators a unique voice, entirely artificial and self-contained (Bertie Wooster's Knutspeak, Runyon's overarticulate historic-present mobsters, Bramah's wondefully elegant circumlocutions). Third, they created pocket universes for their characters to live and play in.

It's wonderful to see Bramah back in print after too many years in the wilderness. If you only buy one book this year, make it this one
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You are too unworthy to read this most excellent book 26 July 2002
By Glen Engel Cox - Published on
I tried to write my comments on Ernest Bramagh's Kai Lung's Golden Hours, which I just finished, in the same style:
In the opinion of this lowly reader, the esteemed author before our unworthy eyes has created a gem of the highest quality, polished by fine craft.
But you can only do this so long before you get frustrated, which is why you have to admire Bramagh, because he could maintain this oblique and ornate style throughout and still manage to tell a compelling and, more than often, extremely humorous story.
The titular character, Kai Lung, is a storyteller who runs afoul of the local authorities, in particular a rather nasty advisor. The problem is that Kai has set his eyes on a most beautiful young woman who is also highly desired by the advisor, and the mandarin in charge is quite corrupt. The one saving grace for Kai Lung is that the mandarin also likes a good story. Like Scherazade, Kai Lung is therefore in the positive of entertaining for his life, and that he is able to accomplish this is not due to the fragment of 1001 stories available to him, but also the help of his beloved (a fairly strong female character given the situation and the date this was written, 1922).
Not everyone will care for this book, because a style as circular and dense as this doesn't lead itself to the short-attention-span-generation (only James Branch Cabell has a more elaborate, yet beautiful, prose form in fantasy). I don't know what it was about the 1920s that enabled the creation of such great comedy (Bramagh, Cabell, P.G. Wodehouse [who first became popular as a novelist in the 1920s], Thorne Smith). Maybe it was the post-War jubiliation, the underground of prohibition, or the pre-Depression stockmarket? Not ours to wonder why, but just to enjoy and laugh.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The kind of good reading that mass media displaced 26 Mar 2000
By The Sanity Inspector - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you're here for the first time, then you have my sympathy on learning that this book is out of print. It's time for a re-issue--are you listening, Penguin Classics?
These stories are about a wandering storyteller, who gets into various jams and escapes with the aid of his silver tongue and an admiring coquette. For someone who apparently never visited China, and never even met that many Chinese, the verisimilitude Bramah achieves is amazing. This is an English child's storybook China, yet the stories themselves richly delight adults, too. The scene-setting is wonderful, but the real gem is the dialogue. Suave, sly, elliptically ceremonious, mock-abnegating--but you really have to read it to catch the flavor. Hillaire Belloc's introduction is on the money about how deceptively easy this style looks, and it is a great pity that more people do not have the opportunity to enjoy this and the other Kai Lung works today.
May your sleeves be filled with a sufficiency of taels, and may hungry and homeless ghosts find solace at your house-pole, and preserve your family tablets from the mischiefs of the lesser orders of the beings of the Upper Air...
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This humble reviewer can not possibly do this book justice.. 21 Feb 2003
By David C. Johnson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bramah sure can spin a phrase. The book is a collection of stories told by Kai Lung, and as such is excellent. You are transported back into this fictional China, where introductions can take hours as the two people flatter each other & humble themselves endlessly. The stories are very amusing, but be forewarned; the language takes some time to read through & comprehend. Not a book to breeze through (but oh so rewarding when you do read it!)
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chinese Sheherazade 25 Mar 1998
By Charles Blakemore ( - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Delightful collection of tales and fables by one of the most wrongfully-neglected English writers of the 20th Century. The itinerant storyteller Kai Lung, with the assistance of the delectable Hwa Mei, must circumvent the evil machinations of Ming Shu by providing a tale suited to each arising occasion. I first read this book in the early 70's, when Lin Carter reissued it in his Ballantine Fantasy series, and fell in love with its sparkling wit and originality. It is a source of considerable perplexity (to me, anyway) and some chagrin that Bramah continues in obscurity--as a writer, he is non-pareil. Someone must reissue these things (4 in the series, I believe). Fortunately, any good library will retain copies, but once you have read them you'll want copies of your own (to sleep with, under your pillow). Sweet dreams.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 25 May 2009
By Bruce Wilson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love the over-the-top pseudo-chinese-classical style of Bramah's writing: "It is indeed unlikely that you could condescend to stop and listen to the foolish words of such an insignificant and altogether deformed person as myself. Nevertheless, if you could retard your elegant footsteps for a few moments, this exeedingly unprepossessing individual will endeavor to entertain you."

If you don't like that style, you'll find it difficult to get past it to the entertaining and humorous stories of Kai Lung.

The formatting could use some improvement (uneven margins on my iPhone, double line breaks for paragraphs), but it's not too bad.
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