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The Wallet of Kai Lung

Ernest Bramah

Book Overview: 

The Wallet of Kai Lung is a collection of fantasy stories by Ernest Bramah, all but the last of which feature Kai Lung, an itinerant story-teller of ancient China. The collection's importance in the history of fantasy literature was recognized by the anthologization of two of its tales in the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .greater burden than that which already weighs him down! Rather ought this one to dwell upon the happiness of that day, when, after successfully evading or overthrowing the numerous bands of assassins which infest the road from here to Canton, and after escaping or recovering from the many deadly pestilences which invariably reduce that city at this season of the year, he shall triumphantly return. Assuredly there is a highly-polished surface united to every action in life, no matter how funereal it may at first appear. Indeed, there are many incidents compared with which death itself is welcome, and to this end Mian has reserved a farewell gift."

Speaking in this manner the devoted and magnanimous maiden placed in Ling's hands the transparent vessel of liquid which the magician had grasped when he fell. "This person," she continued, speaking with difficulty, "places her lover's welfare incomparably before her own happiness, and should he ever find himself in a . . . Read More

Community Reviews

One reads this for the language on display by Bramah: the absurd sustained Latinate circumlocutions which forever perendinate and cunctate on expressing their simple sense. As far as that goes, it's quite an interesting exercise and the source of a number of parodic versions of China/Japan, I suspec

This shouldn't work. You shouldn't be able to make a collection of stories with forgettable plots, a vaguely defined setting, and non-existent characterization be interesting. Because to do that, you'd have to make it compelling purely on the level of the individual sentence, and that is a ridiculou

I found nice and quite cheap copies of all the Kai lung books at a second hand book shop last month. As someone whose interested in all things Chinese, and western interpretations of China, I thought I had to get them all. This book was originally written in 1900 and for it's time is quite remarkabl

I read the first two of Ernest Bramah’s Kai Lung books quite a long time ago, when Ballantine reissued them as part of their fantasy line. When I reread them recently, I started with the second book, ‘Kai Lung’s Golden Hours.’ All in all, I would have to say it is better than ‘The Wallet of Kai Lung

This collection of short stories had a few bright moments but overall, I found it slow and hard to get through (with a lot of re-reading involved to try to understand what the author was trying to convey). The first story was brilliant but the rest of the stories were just more of the same and the s

An ornate molasses of finely crafted words poured over deft, spritely, witty tales. Old school fantasy writing with nary a monster to be seen.

This book contains many hilarious laugh-out-loud passages, but is also somewhat difficult to read due to the sentence structure and the 'stilted' language. I found it highly enjoyable, but this is not an easy read; you need to concentrate to make sense of the often very long and roundabout sentences

Like a fortune cookie, this book has a vaguely Far Eastern flavor, but its origins are in the West. Readers seeking authenticity should look elsewhere. Before you go, however, please consider that inauthenticity has not detracted from the lasting popularity of the fortune cookie...or Bramah's storie

I am both a confirmed Sinophile and a rabid lexiphanicist (i.e., I take unholy glee in big words) but I found this book to be a disappointment. Bramah does an incredible send-up of genteel Edwardian perceptions of Old Cathay, but a parody of a counterfeit just doesn't float my boat. Yes, Bramah's de

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