Chinese Fables & Wisdom: Insights for Better Living
. Barricade Books Inc . NY
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Here is an extra copy of the first printing of this paperback book. This is a curious book. It does contain a number of fables after the Chinese fashion: that is, they are anecdotes from the lives of virtuous or important people in history, often joined here with a contemporary application. The author's approach is chatty and personal. He is almost a homilist or a benign columnist. Anything from news items to Chinese history is grist for his mill. Each story begins on a right-hand page. The book finally helped me to find a good understanding for the traditional story A Snake Has No Feet (85). It has to do with gilding the lilly, with overperfecting a good work. There are a number of good stories here. The fisherman wins when the clam and the snipe get into a deadlock (13). The Eagle and the Donkey (17) is a variation on the fable of the eagle and tortoise. Here the eagle leads the eager donkey to a precipice and urges him to jump as the way to learn to fly; the eagle soon enjoys donkey-meat for lunch. The Monkey and the Elephant (25) represents a thought-provoking case. A monkey saves a mantis from an attacking bird, and then finds four small birds who are starving. Their mother returns to say that a monkey just kept her from bringing back some good mantis food for them. This author's moral: even the best actions may include some negative side-effects and will get the disapproval of some. Be sure to catch both parts of Chinese Child Figures Weight of Elephant (87). I first heard in a Greg Schissel homily the second story contained in We Sometimes Cross Solid Lines (131). A Chinese Man Who Had Two Wives (109) is challenging. When the man dies, the neighbor who had had a long-lasting affair with the younger wife married the older wife!