The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales

Overview

A man is changed into a flea and must bring his future parents together in order to become human again. A woman convinces a river god to cure her sick son, but the remedy has mixed consequences. A young man must choose whether to be close to his wife's soul or body. And two deaf mutes transcend their physical existence in the garden of dreams. Strange and fantastical, these fairy tales of Béla Balázs (1884-1949), Hungarian writer, film critic, and famous librettist of Bluebeard's Castle, reflect his profound ...

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Overview

A man is changed into a flea and must bring his future parents together in order to become human again. A woman convinces a river god to cure her sick son, but the remedy has mixed consequences. A young man must choose whether to be close to his wife's soul or body. And two deaf mutes transcend their physical existence in the garden of dreams. Strange and fantastical, these fairy tales of Béla Balázs (1884-1949), Hungarian writer, film critic, and famous librettist of Bluebeard's Castle, reflect his profound interest in friendship, alienation, and Taoist philosophy. Translated and introduced by Jack Zipes, one of the world's leading authorities on fairy tales, The Cloak of Dreams brings together sixteen of Balázs's unique and haunting stories.

Written in 1921, these fairy tales were originally published with twenty images drawn in the Chinese style by painter Mariette Lydis, and this new edition includes a selection of Lydis's brilliant illustrations. Together, the tales and pictures accentuate the motifs and themes that run throughout Balázs's work: wandering protagonists, mysterious woods and mountains, solitude, and magical transformation. His fairy tales express our deepest desires and the hope that, even in the midst of tragedy, we can transcend our difficulties and forge our own destinies.

Unusual, wondrous fairy tales that examine the world's cruelties and twists of fate, The Cloak of Dreams will entertain, startle, and intrigue.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2011: Top 25 Books

"Except among a few film and music scholars, Balzs is barely remembered, and only four books from the mountain of his works--novels, stories, poetry, plays, puppet plays, screenplays, libretti, political articles, and film criticism--have ever been translated into English. But he was an archetypal modernist, a type that is now nearly extinct: the man who seemed to know everyone, do everything, and write everything. . . . Unlike others, [Balzs] did not believe that the movies would mean the end of stories and novels, and it is not surprising that he wrote The Cloak of Dreams at the same time that he wrote his first screenplay. In the present moment, when fiction has yet again been declared dead, these deliberately anachronistic, pseudo-Oriental, and completely delightful tales are further examples of the perennial human need for imaginative narrative told in words."--Eliot Weinberger, New York Review of Books

"Personally, I found Zipes' introduction--roughly a third of this slim volume--the most interesting part of the book. Zipes provides a fascinating story of a complicated man, buffeted by his place in history, benefitting and suffering from the tumultuous times in which he lived."--Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog

"[A] highly informative introduction to the present work by its translator, the university professor and fairy-tale specialist Jack Zipes, who has clearly moved beyond his speciality and gained great insight into Hungary's pre-1919 circles of radical artists and social critics, of which both Balzs and Lukcs were members. He explains how the writing of this collection of Chinese-style tales was not something out of the ordinary on the part of Balzs, but rather dovetailed quite neatly with his search for meaning in life (and death), his belief in the power and imagery of folk tales and his attraction, albeit not conversion, to Taoism."--Bob Dent, Budapest Times

"Brought out in the Oddly Modern Fairy Tales series, this lovely volume is as wonderful to hold and behold as it is to read. . . . The tales reflect Balazs's growing interest in communism and Taoism and, as Zipes notes, Balazs's 'profound personal concerns about friendship, alienation, poetry, transformation, and transcendence.'"--Choice

"This is a very interesting and unusual book and will be of interest to a variety of readers."--James H. Grayson, Folklore

From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2011: Top 25 Books

"Except among a few film and music scholars, Balzs is barely remembered, and only four books from the mountain of his works—novels, stories, poetry, plays, puppet plays, screenplays, libretti, political articles, and film criticism—have ever been translated into English. But he was an archetypal modernist, a type that is now nearly extinct: the man who seemed to know everyone, do everything, and write everything. . . . Unlike others, [Balzs] did not believe that the movies would mean the end of stories and novels, and it is not surprising that he wrote The Cloak of Dreams at the same time that he wrote his first screenplay. In the present moment, when fiction has yet again been declared dead, these deliberately anachronistic, pseudo-Oriental, and completely delightful tales are further examples of the perennial human need for imaginative narrative told in words."—Eliot Weinberger, New York Review of Books

"Personally, I found Zipes' introduction—roughly a third of this slim volume—the most interesting part of the book. Zipes provides a fascinating story of a complicated man, buffeted by his place in history, benefitting and suffering from the tumultuous times in which he lived."—Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog

"[A] highly informative introduction to the present work by its translator, the university professor and fairy-tale specialist Jack Zipes, who has clearly moved beyond his speciality and gained great insight into Hungary's pre-1919 circles of radical artists and social critics, of which both Balzs and Lukcs were members. He explains how the writing of this collection of Chinese-style tales was not something out of the ordinary on the part of Balzs, but rather dovetailed quite neatly with his search for meaning in life (and death), his belief in the power and imagery of folk tales and his attraction, albeit not conversion, to Taoism."—Bob Dent, Budapest Times

"Brought out in the Oddly Modern Fairy Tales series, this lovely volume is as wonderful to hold and behold as it is to read. . . . The tales reflect Balazs's growing interest in communism and Taoism and, as Zipes notes, Balazs's 'profound personal concerns about friendship, alienation, poetry, transformation, and transcendence.'"—Choice

"This is a very interesting and unusual book and will be of interest to a variety of readers."—James H. Grayson, Folklore

New York Review of Books
Except among a few film and music scholars, Balázs is barely remembered, and only four books from the mountain of his works—novels, stories, poetry, plays, puppet plays, screenplays, libretti, political articles, and film criticism—have ever been translated into English. But he was an archetypal modernist, a type that is now nearly extinct: the man who seemed to know everyone, do everything, and write everything. . . . Unlike others, [Balázs] did not believe that the movies would mean the end of stories and novels, and it is not surprising that he wrote The Cloak of Dreams at the same time that he wrote his first screenplay. In the present moment, when fiction has yet again been declared dead, these deliberately anachronistic, pseudo-Oriental, and completely delightful tales are further examples of the perennial human need for imaginative narrative told in words.
— Eliot Weinberger
SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog
Personally, I found Zipes' introduction—roughly a third of this slim volume—the most interesting part of the book. Zipes provides a fascinating story of a complicated man, buffeted by his place in history, benefitting and suffering from the tumultuous times in which he lived.
— Heidi Anne Heiner
Budapest Times
[A] highly informative introduction to the present work by its translator, the university professor and fairy-tale specialist Jack Zipes, who has clearly moved beyond his speciality and gained great insight into Hungary's pre-1919 circles of radical artists and social critics, of which both Balázs and Lukács were members. He explains how the writing of this collection of Chinese-style tales was not something out of the ordinary on the part of Balázs, but rather dovetailed quite neatly with his search for meaning in life (and death), his belief in the power and imagery of folk tales and his attraction, albeit not conversion, to Taoism.
— Bob Dent
Choice
Brought out in the Oddly Modern Fairy Tales series, this lovely volume is as wonderful to hold and behold as it is to read. . . . The tales reflect Balazs's growing interest in communism and Taoism and, as Zipes notes, Balazs's 'profound personal concerns about friendship, alienation, poetry, transformation, and transcendence.'
New York Review of Books - Eliot Weinberger
Except among a few film and music scholars, Balázs is barely remembered, and only four books from the mountain of his works—novels, stories, poetry, plays, puppet plays, screenplays, libretti, political articles, and film criticism—have ever been translated into English. But he was an archetypal modernist, a type that is now nearly extinct: the man who seemed to know everyone, do everything, and write everything. . . . Unlike others, [Balázs] did not believe that the movies would mean the end of stories and novels, and it is not surprising that he wrote The Cloak of Dreams at the same time that he wrote his first screenplay. In the present moment, when fiction has yet again been declared dead, these deliberately anachronistic, pseudo-Oriental, and completely delightful tales are further examples of the perennial human need for imaginative narrative told in words.
SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog - Heidi Anne Heiner
Personally, I found Zipes' introduction—roughly a third of this slim volume—the most interesting part of the book. Zipes provides a fascinating story of a complicated man, buffeted by his place in history, benefitting and suffering from the tumultuous times in which he lived.
Budapest Times - Bob Dent
[A] highly informative introduction to the present work by its translator, the university professor and fairy-tale specialist Jack Zipes, who has clearly moved beyond his speciality and gained great insight into Hungary's pre-1919 circles of radical artists and social critics, of which both Balázs and Lukács were members. He explains how the writing of this collection of Chinese-style tales was not something out of the ordinary on the part of Balázs, but rather dovetailed quite neatly with his search for meaning in life (and death), his belief in the power and imagery of folk tales and his attraction, albeit not conversion, to Taoism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691162331
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 12/26/2013
  • Series: Oddly Modern Fairy Tales Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,093,273
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Jack Zipes is the translator of "The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm" (Bantam), the editor of "The Great Fairy Tale Tradition" (Norton), and the author of "Why Fairy Tales Stick", among many other books. He is professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix
Béla Balázs, the Homeless Wanderer, or, The Man Who
Sought to Become One with the World 1
A Note on the Mysterious Illustrator Mariette Lydis 58
THE CLOAK OF DREAMS
Chapter 1: The Cloak of Dreams 65
Der Mantel der Träume
Chapter 2: Li-Tai-Pe and the Thief 70
Li-Tai-Pe und der Dieb
Chapter 3: The Parasols 74
Die Sonnenschirme
Chapter 4: The Clumsy God 80
Der ungeschickte Gott
Chapter 5: The Opium Smokers 86
Die Opiumraucher
Chapter 6: The Flea 90
Der Floh
Chapter 7: The Old Child 95
Das alte Kind
Chapter 8: The Robbers of Divine Power 104
Die Gottesräuber
Chapter 9: Li-Tai-Pe and Springtime 109
Li-Tai-Pe und der Frühling
Chapter 10: The Ancestors 114
Die Ahnen
Chapter 11: The Moon Fish 119
Der Mondfisch
Chapter 12: The Friends 123
Die Freunde
Chapter 13: The Revenge of the Chestnut Tree 133
Die Rache des Kastanienbaumes
Chapter 14: Tearful Gaze 139
Tränenblick
Chapter 15: The Clay Child 145
Das Lehmkind
Chapter 16: The Victor 150
Der Sieger
Appendix A: A Beautiful Book by Thomas Mann 155
Appendix B: The Book of Wan Hu-Chen by Béla Balázs 159
Bibliography 173
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