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Strange Stories

Grant Allen

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .As Freeling was drawing the cork of the seltzer, Arthur's eye happened to light on a monkey, which was chained to a post in the little area plot outside the consulting-room. Arthur was accustomed to see monkeys there, for Freeling often had invalids from the Zoo to observe side by side with human patients; but this particular monkey fascinated him even in his present shattered state of nerves, because there was a something[Pg 42] in its face which seemed strangely and horribly familiar to him. As he looked, he recognized with a feeling of unspeakable aversion what it was of which the monkey reminded him. It was making a series of hideous and apparently mocking grimaces—the very self-same grimaces which he had seen on his own features in the mirror during the last day or two! Horrible idea! He was descending to the level of the very monkeys!

The more he watched, the more absolutely identical the two sets of grimaces appeared to him to be. Could it be fancy or. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I've been reading a lot of "difficult" books recently, and a few short books that just weren't very good. Amid that pile, Pu's tales were a glorious reminder of why people enjoy telling stories, why people enjoy reading them, and how many different ways something can be interesting.

Short of list...more

The title, and the fact that this is a Penguin classic, attracted me. I really, really enjoyed this read. The stories were quite short, some only a paragraph in length, and the longest ones being perhaps 4-5 pages. And they were strange indeed, strange is definitely an understatement. They were v...more

Pu Songling (1640 - 1715) collected these tales of the supernatural and uncanny and left them to his sons in the form of 110 handwritten, loose-leaf sheets. They have since been published many times, with additions and deletions, and been drawn upon by other authors (and playwrights, and televisi...more

"Read these tales properly, and they will make you strong and brave; read them in the wrong way, and they will possess you."
- Feng Zhenluan
Early nineteenth century commentator on the Strange Tales

I honestly don’t know how to begin with reviewing a book like this. Normally with short story collect...more

Each played his
Pipes of Heaven,
Seeking not beauty of sound,
But music that is what it is
For reasons of its own.
-The Author's Preface, Lines 11-13

The 104 stories in this collection (out of some 450+ in the original work) are clearly tales, and they are clearly Chinese. Yet what is in them to make t...more

According to John Minford (whose translation in the Penguin edition of some of these strange tales is my preferred translation of this book: Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio), what readers are about to experience here are

"longer stories with complex plots, often involving relationships betwee...more

thất vọng bàng hoàng đến câm nín luôn :|
review mai bình tĩnh lại sẽ viết vậy :(
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Nhớ lại cách đây hơn 7 năm, tui từng mê mẩn với loạt phim Liêu trai chí dị chiếu trên tivi lúc 12h trưa, tui dán mắt vô tv mòn mỏi ngày ngày qua ngày khác, coi đi coi lại, coi mê mẩn một phần vì dàn diễn viên đẹp...more

Không biết là lần đọc này là lần thứ mấy. Chỉ nhớ những lần trước thì đọc chăng hay chớ, lúc đọc truyện này lúc lại đọc truyện khác trong tập. Mà là quyển khác, thường thấy Chu Văn giới thiệu, nhưng nay đọc bản này - do Đào Trinh Nhất dịch, thì đoán bản trước kia vẫn đọc là do Tản Đà Nguyễn Khắc...more

Sublime. With every story I read I found myself immersed in the rich life and thought of Ming dynasty China. Here we meet fox spirits, Taoist monks versed in the art of alchemy, magic implements, beautiful women possessed by the ghosts of the recently departed and vexed lovers. Unlike ghost stori...more

This is the kind of book that, when read carefully, can transform the English reader from perfect ignorance of Chinese culture to nerd-like engagement with aesthetics, society, history, mythology, folklore, science, medicine, technology, and the list goes on and on. It's really worth remembering...more

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