Stories to Caution the World

A Ming Dynasty Collection, Volume 2

Compiled Feng Menglong
Translated by Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang

  • Published: 2005
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Literary Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 792 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Stories to Caution the World is the first complete translation of Jingshi tongyan, the second of Feng Menglong's three collections of stories which were pivotal in the development of Chinese vernacular fiction. These tales, whose importance in the Chinese literary canon and in world literature is without question, have been compared to Boccaccio's Decameron and the stories of A Thousand and One Nights.

Peopled with scholars, emperors, ministers, generals, and a gallery of ordinary men and women in their everyday surroundings - merchants and artisans, prostitutes and courtesans, matchmakers and fortune-tellers, monks and nuns, servants and maids, thieves and imposters - the stories in this collection provide a vivid panorama of the bustling world of imperial China before the end of the Ming dynasty.

Feng Menglong collected popular stories from a variety of sources (some dating back centuries) and circulated them via the flourishing seventeenth-century publishing industry. He not only saved them from oblivion but elevated the status of vernacular literature and provided material for authors of the great late-Ming and Qing novels to draw upon. As in their translation of the first collection of Feng's trilogy, Stories Old and New, Shuhui and Yunqin Yang include all forty stories as well as Feng's interlinear and marginal comments and all of the verse woven throughout the stories.

For other titles in the collection go to
Feng Menglong (1574-1646), the most knowledgeable connoisseur of popular literature of his time, is best known for his three collections of vernacular stories, now commonly known as the Sanyan. Shuhui Yang is professor of Chinese at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine. Yunqin Yang is a simultaneous interpreter in the United Nations Secretariat. Together, they translated Feng's Gujin xiaoshuo as Stories Old and New: A Ming Dynasty Collection (Volume 1).
Translators' Note
Chronology of Chinese Dynasties
Stories to Caution the World
Title Page from the 1624 Edition
Preface to the 1624 Edition
1. Yu Boya Smashes His Zither in Gratitude to an Appreciative Friend
2. Zhuang Zhou Drums on a Bowl and Attains the Great Dao
3. Three Times Wang Anshi Tries to Baffle Academician Su
4. In the Hall Halfway-up-the-Hill, the Stubborn One Dies of Grief
5. Lu Yu Returns the Silver and Brings about Family Reunion
6. Yu Liang Writes Poems and Wins Recognition from the Emperor
7. Chen Kechang Becomes an Immortal during the Dragon Boat Festival
8. Artisan Cui's Love Is Cursed in Life and in Death
9. "Li the Banished Immortal" Writes in Drunkenness to Impress the Barbarians
10. Secretary Qian Leaves Poems on the Swallow Tower
11. A Shirt Reunites Magistrate Su with His Family
12. A Double Mirror Brings Fan the Loach and His Wife Together Again
13. Judge Bao Solves a Case through a Ghost That Appeared Thrice
14. A Mangy Priest Exorcises a Den of Ghosts
15. Clerk Jin Rewards Xiutong with a Pretty Maidservant
16. The Young Lady Gives the Young Man a Gift of Money
17. The Luckless Scholar Rises Suddenly in Life
18. A Former Protogee Repays His Patron unto the Third Generation
19. With a White Falcon, Young Master Cui Brings an Evil Spirit upon Himself
20. The Golden Eel Brings Calmity to Officer Ji
21. Emperor Taizu Escorts Jinniang on a One-Thousand-Li Journey
22. Young Mr. Song Reunites with His Family by Means of a Tattered Felt Hat
23. Mr. Le Junior Searches for His Wife at the Risk of His Life
24. Yutangchun Reunites with Her Husband in Her Distress
25. Squire Gui Repents at the Last Moment
26. Scholar Tang Gains a Wife after One Smile
27. Fame Immortals Throw Guanghua Temple into an Uproar
28. Madame White Is Kept Forever under the Thunder Peak Tower
29. Zhang Hao Meets Yingying at Lingering Frangrance Pavilion
30. Wu Qing Meets Ai'ai by Golden Bright Pond
31. Zhao Chun'er Restores Prosperity
32. Du Shiniang Sinks Her Jewel Box in Anger
33. Qiao Yanjie's Concubine Ruins the Family
34. Wang Jiaoluan's One Hundred Years of Sorrow
35. Prefect Kuang Solves the Case of the Dead Baby
36. The King of the Honey Locust Grove Assumes Human Shape
37. Wan Xiuniang Takes Revenge through Toy Pavilions
38. Jiang Shuzhen Dies in Fulfillment of a Love Bird Prophecy
39. The Stars of Fortune, Rank, and Longevity Return to Heaven
40. An Iron Tree at Jingyang Palace Subdues Demons

"Stories to Caution the World offers the reader plenty to savor. . . . often shrewd and knowing, and never dull, [the translated comments] provide a new element of commentary over and above that built into the stories through the storyteller's manner, and introduce an agreeably unpredictable element that enhances the pleasure of reading Stories to Caution the World."
-China Review International

"An important addition to any collection supporting Chinese studies and Asian literature. Highly recommended."