Writer: Lafcadio Hearn
Publishing House: Tuttle Publishing
Date of Publication: September 10th 2011 (first published 1887)
Rating: 4 stars
“You will ask me who she was-beautiful Xue Tao…Gor thousands of years and even longer, the trees have been whispering over her stony bed. And the syllables of her name reach to those who listen, with the breath of the leaves; with the trembling of the long-fingered branches; with the flickering of lights and shadows, and the breath -sweet like the presence of a woman- the plethora of wild flowers -Xue Tao.”
Dragons, artists, aristocrats, deities. Ghosts, demons. Beautiful women and brave young men. A tapestry of Chinese ghost stories by Lafcadio Hearn, a writer of Greek and Irish blood, influenced by the Chinese and Japanese culture with a distinctive sensitivity and clarity in his writing. These stories take us to the heart of an early medieval society populated with heroes and women dedicated to Art and Love while spirits stand witnesses to haunting deeds.
The Story of Ming Yi: A young man falls in love with a mysterious widow, a lover of poetry and calligraphy. But Xue Tao hides more than meets the eye…
(Xue Tao’s portrait by Qiu Ying)
The Legend of Zhi Nu: A beautiful young woman married a young man who became a slave out of duty to his father. His life changes in unfathomable ways. A story of a goddess walking among mortals, a well-known motif of Asian myths.
(The Legend of Zhi Nu)
The Return of Yan Zhenjing: A story of the Son of Heaven, an incompetent emperor, fire and blood
The Story of the Porcelain God: A tale of the porcelain mystery and the spirits that protect it. A story dedicated to a product that lies at the heart of China and its glorious culture.
This is a very interesting collection. Don’t think it is scary in the sense of an “in-your-face” horror. Hearn creates a poetic, haunting atmosphere worthy of the richness and mystery of beautiful, enchanting China.
*Extract translated by me, taken from the Greek edition by Ars Nocturna*