Ancient Chinese Fables
This is a curious and engaging book. Its unusual features begin with the beautiful multicolored image either pasted or painted onto both covers. They appear again in monochrome on the title-page. The back cover gives a synopsis of the book in halting English. According to its account, the book presents 100 fables from China, chronologically arranged. One finds here the Chinese text on the left-hand page and an English translation on the right-hand page. There are also annotations and pronunciation tips. 286 pages. T of C at the front of the book. In my reading of fables near the front of the book, I am struck by the conundrum character of many. Among those I find best is A Fish in Straits (35), which proclaims Do not promise me big help in the future; give me now the little help I need now. Zhan He the Angler (73) is another good story: the weak can be used to catch the heavy. For many of these fables, I think I miss the right mental angle by a few degrees. They tend to seem either banal or inscrutable.