Classical Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and the Fantastic: Selections from the Third to the Tenth Century by Karl S. Y. Kao
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amazing! This is the only published book to which I myself have ever made an actual contribution - who knew Goodreads was so complete! I worked on my translations while living on my sailboat back in maybe 1983. As I recall, these stories are written as though to convince their readers of their essential truth. You know, kind of the way you tell your friends things you know they'll never believe, but which really are really true. So you exaggerate a little to make your case, and a narrative forms itself to frame your story, and to make the telling that much more seeming real.
Back when I was a student of such things, we studied these tales for their structural features, and along the way toward understanding how all truths are constructed. All narratives must become a kind of fiction, or so we thought we knew. But they were still fun to read, these tales of the supernatural and fantastic. And you had to ponder the cosmos from which they descended.
And I still do wonder now which narratives are to be believed, and by which to be simply entertained. As we story tellers make our choices about which things to foreground, and which to leave alone, is there a way in the end to tell the truth from fiction? Maybe not, although I'll always trust an earnest teller, ironically enough. Holding back my skeptical heart for so long as the story's good. And often keeping my bubble popping needles to myself.
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