William Dolby

Classical Chinese Translations and Research

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The Perfect Lady by Mistake and other Stories

ISBN: 0 236 40002 9

Published by Paul Elek in 1976

Many stories in this volume amongst others are now published as part of No4 Chinese Short Stories.

Please contact us for availability of these works.

Feng Menglong (1574-1646), is one of the giants of Chinese literature, famed in a wide-variety of genres. He created the vernacular short story form as a literary genre in Chinese. Although some of his stories have been translated into Western languages, he is still largely unknown in the West.

The stories in this collection present a wide range of themes and treatment: humour, tragedy, dramatic events, elaborate mischief and intrigue, distilled philosophy, great virtues and villainies, resounding names and events of history; how treachery of love rebounds, fittingly and amusingly, on the traitor; a drunken jest that leads to a whole train of terrible deaths and other misfortunes; a young lady’s decent into wretchedness and her surprising and hair-breadth salvation from it; the swaggering, swashbuckling, bibulous Li Po; a friendship that transcends death and involves battle with hostile supernatural forces.

In addition to, indeed because of, their own merits as stories, these tales have in several cases been the inspiration for works on other genres of Chinese literature, including numerous dramas and narrative ballads. One is the original source of perhaps the most famous Chinese film made during the 1950’s, Fifteen Strings of Cash.

Dr Dolby’s translations are full versions which do justice to the lively literary charms and structural features of the originals. His extended introduction outlines the development of vernacular literature in China, and emphasises the importance of the oral story-telling tradition, and the relationship between the classical and colloquial style.