Tales from Old China: A collection of Chinese folk tales, fairy tales, and fables
Chang, Isabelle C
. Random House . NY ,
PZ8.1.C358 Tal 1969 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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I regret that it has taken me fifteen years to catalogue this lovely book. I know Isabelle Chang's good work from her 1968 Chinese Fairy Tales. The contents here include two sets of five and six well told fables, respectively. The first fable uses ploys and stratagems well known in Western fables. The wolf asks the fish why he swims back and forth. The answer: To avoid the waterfall in one direction and the fisherman in the other. Then why not come ashore? It is always safer to put up with known dangers than to face unknown ones (2-3). I think it is clear that the wolf himself is Unknown Danger #1. After seeing him stop and look in his shop window every day, the clock-maker finally asks a man why. To check with your clock before I ring the chimes at church. The clock-maker responds with surprise, since he uses the church bells to set his clocks! I am surprised to find here a version of the One does what one can story of the bird -- here a hummingbird -- lying with its feet up in the air: The World's Work (9-10). It includes one of the best illustrations. The Artist (45) presents a typical Eastern anecdote, I think. The king asks the court artist to paint a picture of a rooster for him. The king then waits a year and gets no picture. Angry, he stomps into the studio and demands to see the artist. The artist comes, pulls out paper, paint, and brush and in five minutes executes a perfect picture of a rooster. Why did you keep me waiting a year? The artist takes him into a room filled with a year's worth of rooster paintings. It took me more than one year to learn how to paint a perfect rooster in five minutes (46). TT shows up here as a Chinese fable (49) and handles the dialogue exceptionally well. One group on the ground says Only a brilliant turtle can get two stupid cranes to carry him in such high style. The cranes pay no attention. On a little further, some children shout What a smart pair of cranes to think of carrying a creeping creature in the air with them! The turtle wants them to know that it was his idea, and so he informs them. A man has a great cook (55). She gives notice to leave. He offers money, better conditions, longer vacations -- in vain. Finally he proposes marriage and she accepts. After the honeymoon she tells him that he needs to hire a cook, since it is now beneath her to cook. He drowns himself! Tony Chen's full-page duochrome illustrations are engaging, as is his multicolored picture of a dragon on the dust-jacket's front cover. The cloth cover is embossed with two Chinese characters; they reappear on the back of the dust-jacket.