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Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (Penguin Classics) Paperback – October 31, 2006
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About the Author
PU SONGLING (1645-1715) was a poor, undistinguished scholar who had an uneventful life. He took the lowest degree, the bachelor's, before he was twenty, but ten years later, he still had not succeeded in passing the second, the master's degree, due to his neglect of the standard fields of academic study. His loss of personal status is the world's gain, however, because his overriding interest was in tales of the supernatural, and his collected works, the bible of Chinese supernatural folktales.
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The pages are very thin, not quite as thin as Bible pages, but getting close. For example if you were to hold onto the side of a page to turn the page, but held onto it too tightly or for too long, it leaves a wrinkle from your fingers that doesn't exactly go away. The cover is not much better when it comes to thickness, and my first one arrived damaged. Although it was packaged poorly, the other two books in the box arrived OK, so it says to me that maybe this book just wasn't strong enough to hold up like the other two, which were the quality of an average trade paperback.
Now for the actual content of the book.
The book is great. It starts off with an Introduction, then all the stories, and at the end there is an Author's Forward. But the best part is that after the Author's Forward, there is an extensive Glossary, and then extensive Notes on every single story! These must be good for people who are really looking to dive into the book on a deep level.
The stories themselves are good. At first it starts off without so many fox stories, and then a little ways through almost every story has a fox, which can get predictable. There is nothing wrong with this and it dodges a repetitive feeling. Some of the stories can be very anticlimactic, but once you get used to this it can be charming.
Physical Book: 2.5 stars
Book Content: 5 stars
These are tales rich in the folklore and everyday life of early 18th century China, John Minford provides copious footnotes and appendixes to guide you through an unfamiliar Asian society. This work was a great favorite of the late Victorian/Edwardian era due to the decadent elements in many of the stories I'm sure.
This is the ideal book for long wintry nights or warm days at the beach, regardless of the locale, this is a welcomed reprint of a fantasy classic of world literature.
While these are fairy tales, parents should be warned that most of the tales deal with sexual themes, and would not be appropriate for children. Readers of all other ages will be enthralled by these tales. I highly recommend this book.