Slapping the Table in Amazement

A Ming Dynasty Story Collection

Ling Mengchu
Translated by Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang
Introduction by Robert E. Hegel

  • Published: January 2018
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Literature
  • Bibliographic information: 928 pp., 10 bandw illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Slapping the Table in Amazement is the unabridged English translation of the famous story collection Pai'an jingqi by Ling Mengchu (1580-1644), originally published in 1628. The forty lively stories gathered here present a broad picture of traditional Chinese society and include characters from all social levels. We learn of their joys and sorrows, their views about life and death, and their visions of the underworld and the supernatural.

Ling was a connoisseur of popular literature and a seminal figure in the development of Chinese literature in the vernacular, which paved the way for the late-imperial Chinese novel. Slapping the Table in Amazement includes translations of verse and prologue stories as well as marginal and interlinear comments.
Shuhui Yang is professor of Chinese at Bates College. Yunqin Yang is a simultaneous interpreter in the United Nations Secretariat. Together they translated the three-volume set of Ming dynasty stories by Feng Menglong: Stories Old and New, Stories to Caution the World, and Stories to Awaken the World.

"This translation is a major achievement."
-Wilt Idema, translator of Two Centuries of Manchu Women Poets: An Anthology

"The completeness and the quality of the translation puts it light years ahead of all existing attempts to introduce Ling's stories to English readers."
-David Rolston, author of Traditional Chinese Fiction and Fiction Commentary: Reading and Writing between the Lines

"Centuries later, Ling Mengchu's stories, full of love and treachery, humour and drama, are as compelling as ever. This is a book for the ages, brought to life in a superb, witty, and beautiful translation by Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang."
-Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Introduction by Robert E. Hegel
Translators' Note
List of Illustrations
Chronology of Chinese Dynasties

Slapping the Table in Amazement
Preface [1628 Edition]
Five Editorial Principles for This Collection

1. The Man Whose Luck Has Turned Chances upon Dongting Tangerines; The Merchant from Persia Reveals the Secrets of a Turtle Shell
2. Yao Dizhu Flees from Disgrace Only to Incur More Disgrace; Zhang Yue'e Uses a Mistake to Advance Her Own Interests
3. Liu Dongshan Brags about His Prowess at the City Gate; Eighteenth Brother Leaves His Mark in the Village Tavern
4. Cheng Yuanyu Pays for a Meal at a Restaurant; Lady Eleventh Explains Swordsmanship on Mount Cloud
5. Zhang Derong Encounters a Tiger Sent by the Gods as a Matchmaker; Pei Yueke Becomes the Lucky Mate Just in Time for the Blissful Date
6. Zhao the Nun Drugs a Beauty into a Stupor; Jia the Scholar Takes Revenge in a Brilliant Move
7. Emperor Minghuang of Tang, a Daoist Devotee, Seeks Out Eminent Daoists; Consort Wu, a Buddhist Disciple, Witnesses Contests of Magic Power
8. General Wu Repays the Debt of One Meal; Chen Dalang Reunites with Two Loved Ones
9. In the Director's Garden, Young Ladies Enjoy a Swing-Set Party; At Pure and Peaceful Temple, Husband and Wife Laugh and Cry at Their Reunion
10. Scholar Han Takes a Wife in a Wave of Panic; Prefect Wu Makes a Match for a Talented Scholar
11. An Evil Boatman Commits Blackmail with a Dead Body; A Heartless Servant Wrongfully Presses Murder Charges
12. Mr. Tao Takes In Strangers Seeking Shelter from the Rain; Jiang Zhenqing Gains a Wife with a Jest
13. Mr. Zhao Spoils His Son and Dies as a Result; Magistrate Zhang Sentences an Unfilial Son to Death in an Ironclad Case
14. To Steal Money, Yu Dajiao Does Violence to a Drunken Man; To Confront the Culprit in Court, Yang Hua Attaches Himself to a Woman's Body
15. Squire Wei, with His Merciless Heart, Plots to Seize Another Man's Property; Scholar Chen, with His Clever Plan, Wins Back His House
16. Zhang Liu'er Lays One of His Many Traps; Lu Huiniang Severs a Bond of Marriage
17. Prayer Services Are Held at West Hill Temple for a Departed Soul; A Coffin Is Prepared in the Kaifeng Yamen for a Living Criminal
18. An Alchemist Turns Half a Grain of Millet into a Nine-Cycle Pill; A Rich Man Squanders Thousands of Taels of Silver to Win a Beauty's Smile
19. Li Gongzuo Ingeniously Reads a Dream; Xie Xiao'e Cleverly Snares Pirates
20. Li Kerang Sends a Blank Letter; Liu Yuanpu Begets Two Precious Sons
21. Yuan's Face-Reading Skills Impress the High and Mighty; Zheng's Good Deed Wins Him a Hereditary Title
22. With Money, a Commoner Gains an Official Post; Out of Luck, a Prefect Becomes a Boatman
23. The Older Sister's Soul Leaves Her Body to Fulfill a Wish; The Younger Sister Recovers from Illness to Renew a Bond
24. The Old Demon of Yanguan County Indulges in Debauchery; The Bodhisattva on Mount Huihai Puts the Evil Spirits to Death
25. Revenue Manager Zhao Leaves Word for His Love a Thousand Li Away; Su Xiaojuan Achieves Happiness with a Single Poem
26. In a Competition for Sexual Favor, a Village Woman Is Murdered; In Claiming Celestial Authority, a Judge Solves a Case
27. Gu Axiu Donates to a Nunnery with Joy; Cui Junchen Is Shown the Lotus Screen through a Clever Scheme
28. The Master of Golden Light Cave Recalls the Past; The Venerable Elder of Jade Void Cave Is Enlightened about His Previous Life
29. They Remain Loyal to Each Other through Their Trysts; His Success Is Announced at the Jailhouse
30. Commissioner Wang Rides Roughshod Over His Subordinates; Adjutant Li Gets His Comeuppance from a Reincarnated Victim
31. Priest He Commits Fornication via Black Magic; Registrar Zhou Wipes Out Rebels via Fornication
32. Mr. Hu Corrupts a Fellow Man in a Wife-Swapping Scheme; A Chan Master in Meditation Explains the Principle of Retribution
33. Squire Zhang, in His Noble-Mindedness, Adopts an Orphan; Judge Bao, in His Wisdom, Recovers a Document
34. Scholar Wenren Shows His Prowess at Cuifu Nunnery; The Nun Jingguan Goes in Glory to Huangsha Lane
35. A Pauper Keeps Temporary Watch over Another Man's Money; A Miser Resorts to Tricks When Buying His Nemesis's Son
36. The Monk of the Eastern Hall Invites Demonic Spirits during a Lapse in Vigilance; The Man in Black Commits Murder in an Abduction Attempt
37. Qutu Zhongren Cruelly Kills Other Creatures; The Yunzhou Prefect Helps His Nephew in the Netherworld
38. To Stake His Claim on the Family Fortune, a Jealous Son-in-Law Plots against the Rightful Heir; To Continue the Bloodline, a Filial Daughter Hides Her Brother
39. Heavenly Preceptors, with Their Theatrics, Claim to Subdue Drought Demons; A County Magistrate, in His Sincerity, Prays for Sweet Rain from Heaven
40. On the Huayin Trail, Li Meets One Extraordinary Man; The Jiangling Commander Opens Three Mysterious Envelopes