Title: Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio
Writer: Pu Songling
Year: 1880 (Original English Edition), 2016 (Greek Edition)
China has always been a land of mystery. Its long history, its tremendous distance from western world (you only have to think that true relations between China and Europe were developed during the 13th century) and last but not least our great cultural differences have painted Far East and of course China in mysterious colors.
Pu Songling (1640 – 1715)was not a writer, not in the way we define a writer today. He was a teacher who managed to pass his first exams and became a member of China’s public administration. His continuous failures to pass the next exam level that would promote him in the hierarchy led him to start collecting and recording stories from different provinces of China. In a way he was the Chinese equivalent of the Grimm Brothers.
All the stories in this book introduce as in a Chinese philosophy, a Chinese way of thinking in many different ways. Ghosts, foxes, dreams and Taoists are the dominant themes of these stories and often have a special way of teaching morality and instructing life mysteries, at least the way Chinese saw those mysteries at the time.
Remarkable and different compared to the books we are used to, with only one problem, the size of the Greek edition compared to the English one. It only has 12 of the 104 stories of the original version (or 137 pages instead of 608). On the other hand though, the fact that this version is shorter compared to the original makes it a perfect introduction to Chinese literature for anyone who wants to try something different.