This collection of ninety-three tales offers readers a unique look at Chinese culture through the lens of its oral tradition. Virtually every region of China is represented here, and many of these authentic folktales have never before been made available to the English-speaking world. The stories, each of which is accompanied by a brief introduction, are thematically grouped: dragon tales, love, magic, ghosts, monsters, and evil spirits, history and legend, fairy tales and fable, and human nature. Readers of every age will be both instructed and entertained by these charming folktales.
During the course of a one-year stay, Giskin (English, Appalachian State Univ.) gathered 93 folktales written for him by his students at Northeast University at Shenyang, China (formerly Mukden, Manchuria). His aim is to make available to the English-speaking world many Chinese tales that concern local features of his students' hometowns. Aside from Chinese stories, there are also a few with Mongolian and Manchurian origins. Each brief tale is prefaced by a formulaic introduction by the student storyteller, and the works are grouped somewhat arbitrarily into such divisions as Dragon Tales; Love; Ghosts, Monsters, and Evil Spirits; History and Legend; and Human Nature. Giskin has included some nonstandard translations for well-known characters and holidays (e.g., in "White Swan and Xuxian," the Green Snake becomes the Blue Snake), and the Pinyin pronunciation guide at the end of the volume contains a few misleading phonetic renderings. For a more systematized collection, such old standard compilations as Wolfram Eberhard's Folktales of China (1968) are still highly recommended.-D.E. Perushek, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, Ill.