The Picture Treasury of World Fables 5

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Yan, Wenjing
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Here is the fifth volume of an ambitious set of five. This comprehensive presentation is quite an undertaking! This "Book Five" covers, as Page 9 of Book One declares, fables of China by more than 28 authors. It offers some 77 fables. There is an English T of C on 3-5. Pagination begins immediately after this T of C with a new set of Roman numerals beginning with "1." I believe that one refers correctly to the Chinese here as "Simplified Chinese." Each story is attributed to a particular writer, adapter, translator, and illustrator. The cartoon approach fits the fables well. One notes the struggles of foreigners to deal well with English. Thus on 293 "Want Qi answered hastedly." Many of the fables seem surprisingly simple to me. "The Cock Stealer" tells of a thief who has been stealing a chicken from his neighbor every day (51-53). Admonished, he says that he will steal fewer and fewer and then none at all. "If it's wrong, why would you steal any?" "Self-Knowledge" tells of a man who asks his wife, his concubine, and his guest whether he is more handsome than the famously beautiful Mr. Xu. All three respond "yes." Then he meets Mr. Xu and finds him more beautiful than himself. He realizes that the three lied. His wife was fond of him, his mistress feared him, and his guest wanted to make use of him (216-19). A more intricate fable with a distinctive visual style is "The Donkey in Guizhou" (273-78). The familiar "Cutting a Mark to Get Back the Sword" is here (150-52). There is occasional reference to Confucius, as on 158. "The Zhongshan Wolf" is a version of the old story of getting the perpetrator back into the trap, in this case a bag (308-20). In this case, the wise third party of the story stabs the wolf in the bag, noting that the man who originally had saved the wolf had not had the heart to kill the wolf. The last story is "The Fox and the Monkey" (373-77). The two work together to make a bridge out of a log. The bridge connects land to an island with a peach tree. The fox is first across the bridge and enjoys the peaches, but is greedy and so undoes the bridge. Monkey gets the last laugh, since the clever fox has isolated himself. This volume features a colored image of man sitting under a tree on both of its covers. The set was reproduced, I believe, in 2008 in similar but not identical form. This fifth volume makes clear on its last page (388) that it is a first impression of the first edition.
Shandong Friendship Press
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