Strange Tales Publisher Differences

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Strange Tales Publisher Differences

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jan 26, 2014, 8:44 pm

I found your read-along message board for Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio after just finishing the book yesterday. It looks great and I'm definitely going to read back through all of your comments. I noticed though that all of you were reading the Penguin version. I've got a version published by Tuttle, copyright 2010, and was wondering if anyone has both copies and knows what the differences are. Do they both have the same stories? Any differences in supplementary material or translations? Etc.

jan 26, 2014, 10:40 pm

Tuttle has republished the public domain translation by Herbert Giles, correct? That definitely shows its age. As he says,
In a similar manner, I too had originally determined to publish a full and complete translation of the whole of these sixteen volumes; but on a closer acquaintance many of the stories turned out to be quite unsuitable for the age in which we live, forcibly recalling the coarseness of our own writers of fiction in the last century.
Only 31 overlap with John Minford's choice of 104.

jan 27, 2014, 4:41 am

Welcome, and sorry for my silence. My activities Chinese have been consumed by following the excellent Harvard MOOC survey ChinaX part 1 and ChinaX part 2. I love how they integrate texts and artifacts. Both free courses are still open to new students.

Last weeks, BBC Radio 4 show "In Our Time" was about Sources of Early Chinese History. While it did not present new stuff, the website has quite good links and further reading.

Please feel free to jump in the thread and, for instance, present your ideas about one of the stories you just read. The read along doesn't have to be in numerical order.

jan 27, 2014, 6:23 pm

Hey, thanks! It is the translation by Herbert Giles that I have. Is it kind of prim? I'm intrigued by the word 'unsuitable'... unsuitable in what way? Are they racy? Violent? A combination of the two?

Giles does tend to include a lot of stories that have similar Western counterparts, titling them things like "The Chinese Jonah" and "A Chinese Solomon."

How would you describe Minford's choices? If they are more scandalous or even just include additional imaginative material I will try to check it out. It also makes me curious whether Giles omitted any phrases or paragraphs from the stories that he considered 'unsuitable.'

jan 27, 2014, 6:35 pm


Thanks! If I can figure out which stories coincide with the ones in my version, I will put in my two cents.

That survey course sounds really interesting. Is it fast-paced? Modern China fascinates me to no end and I know that in order to fully understand it I need to know a lot more about Ancient China. There is so much of it that it's daunting though and I don't have tons of free time.

I once bought a DVD set offered by The Great Courses on the first 5000 years of Chinese history but it was difficult to get through. Especially, for me, without a lot of historical figures to relate to. Those that they mentioned they only briefly touched upon.

I normally vault through biographies and history but it wast still too dry for me. How much of the survey is overview and how much up close and personal?

jan 28, 2014, 3:14 am

Minford's introduction includes a section on his selection. Having up to now reading more than half of Minford's selection as well as some of one out of four volumes of the German full translation, I can't see an overall concept among the stories. It is more like Ionesco's "Tiens, il est neuf heures!" or Monty Pythonesque "And now for something completely different."

A lot of the early European/US interest in China was missionary-driven, bringing the good word to China and generating interest of China in the West. Complications of the type presented in Minford's last selection in which a wooden sex toy is re-purposed as food by a crafty housewife would have required much explanation.

Re ChinaX, they get a lot of things MOOC right: short 5 minutes videos, self-paced and most important: outward-looking. The best MOOC use the presenter as a guide to highlight the work of others, interview them and point out good stuff (such as the excellent dynamic China maps). With around six weeks per era/dynasty (up to now: early China, Han, coming soon: Tang, unfortunately Song is not given much space), it can only provide the basics and trigger further activities (such as me finally learning the names and shapes of the Chinese provinces - though I don't fully know them all yet).

I like MOOCs as a replacement/improvement over TV documentaries with a deeper, flexible and versatile learning environment. YMMV but the gas/petrol is free.

feb 1, 2014, 9:59 am

Minford's sounds eclectic in a way that shows the stories were collected, which is what I should probably have assumed. It sounds like an interesting addition to Giles. I'll try to check it out.

I have to admit though, I envy your ability to read German and not have to depend on an editor to select which stories you have access too.

The online course sounds amazing as well, but I may have to wait for the next round, as I am trying to complete my Master's degree within the next few months.

feb 1, 2014, 11:14 am

> 4 Are they racy? Violent? A combination of the two?

Mostly, it's the sex. I believe that the example that Minford calls out in his translator's notes is from 畫壁, where
Suddenly he embraced her, and finding her not at all resisting, they proceeded to have sex.
Then they fell on their knees and worshipped heaven and earth together, and rose up as man and wife.

feb 1, 2014, 11:50 am

>8 MMcM:

That is hilarious! I remember reading that exact sentence and thinking, "Ok, there's some hidden context here I'm missing..."

I'm sure there's a lot more of that in the Giles translation. Another reason to get a copy of the Minford.

Redigerat: feb 3, 2014, 9:41 am

Is there any chance Mr Pu is a sea white barbarian or traces from Persian, Jew, Arab merchants? The Essence of Chinese Civilzation mentions in footnote 62 on page 323 a man named P'u is
‘Believed to be the transliteration of the Arabic word Abu.’

feb 3, 2014, 6:36 pm

>10 vy0123:
Sounds like a different version than the one I have.

feb 4, 2014, 10:46 am

The touchstone is not working for the book title.