Friday, July 26, 2013

Liao Zhai by Pu Songling

Thus began the book reviews...Let's start with something basic.  Plus, I really got back into Chinese folklore/wuxia novels after ready Jeannie Lin's novel. Omg, so good.  I also went on ancient tv/movie binge, but that's another

Liao Zhai aka Strange Tales from the Chinese Studio by Pu Songling

(sorry for the weird picture, my phone is acting weird)

I don't know where to begin, other than I always loved these stories, whether watching them as tv series, sitting through the movies, or listening to elders tell them to me, I always loved them.  It was a part of my childhood and continued to be a part of me now.  They even have the stories on cassette tape back in the day, as well as CDs.

So when I went searching, I found several English translations to gorge myself on them. This was the Giles translation with a more updated forward. 
Not much is known about the author Pu Songling, but it can be agreed upon that this simple collection of stories, folklores and tales have been adapted and spoken of more than one can count. His stories are so well known it is mindblowing.  For those that don't know about him and his collection, this Arabian Nights, or the Grimms fairytale collection. Also, this book only included a selection of the entire volumes.  It was that expansive.

This collection is like folklores, social commentary and moral teaching all wrapped together.
Granted, as I was reading the various stories I notice some historical stuff that don't really apply nowadays (as with all stories such as these), but I loved it.  Some of the more famous stories have been adapted and readapted countless times like Hua Pi aka Painted Faces.  So many adaption and I've watched them all! Well, I try to when I can. The more current adaptions actually changed a lot and knowing me, I wanted to go to the sources. 

Some of the stories were a page or two long, some were a chapter's worth.  From certain stories, it had a very oral story-telling feel to it. Many of the stories were very different and interesting and I'm kind of thinking of using them as a basis for some stories rolling around in my head.  The difficult part would be the cultural translations.  This would probably cause some readers a pause, as this was still an older translation.  Although the translator obviously loved these stories, there were still some biases evident (maybe only to me).  Some of the words translated were very confusing and a bit white-washed since I do have recollection of the original tales.  Still, I really had fun reading these stories.  It also helped that it allowed me to take my time to read a story or two here and maybe a few stories there.  No rush to finish it all at once and can take your time.   Definitely something I'd recommend reading for something different and historical (yes, it has some historical basis).

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