Stories Old and New is the first complete translation of Feng Menglong’s Gujin xiaoshuo (also known as Yushi mingyan, Illustrious Words to Instruct the World), a collection of 40 short stories first published in 1620 in China. This is considered the best of Feng’s three such collections and was a pivotal work in the development of vernacular fiction. The stories are valuable as examples of early fiction and for their detailed depiction of daily life among a broad range of social classes. The stories are populated by scholars and courtesans, spirits and ghosts, Buddhist monks and nuns, pirates and emperors, and officials both virtuous and corrupt. The streets and abodes of late-Ming China come alive in Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang’s smooth and colorful translation of these entertaining tales.
Stories Old and New has long been popular in China and has been published there in numerous editions. Although some of the stories have appeared in English translations in journals and anthologies, they have not previously been presented sequentially in thematic pairs as arranged by Feng Menglong. This unabridged translation, illustrated with a selection of woodcuts from the original Ming dynasty edition and including Feng’s interlinear notes and marginal comments, as well as all of the verse woven throughout the text, allows the modern reader to experience the text as did its first audience nearly four centuries ago.
For other titles in the collection go to http://www.washington.edu/uwpress/books/ming.html