Not translated by the Yangs.
Stories of Old China is another in the Foreign Languages Press series called Echo of Classics with the text in Chinese and an English translation on the facing page. This is a collection of thirteen short stories.
The Heartless Lover by Jiang Fang is also in Selected Tang Dynasty Stories under the title Prince Huo’s Daughter. It’s the tale of a scholar called Li Yi who does well in the imperial examinations, but can’t find a wife and asks a matchmaker, Mrs Bao to help. Although he seems to be a nice young man, he turns out to be a rather nasty misogynist.
Good Fortune waits on Courage is the story of Pei Youxian whose uncle, the Prime Minister Pei Yan, is wrongfully executed. When Pei Youxian remonstrates with the empress, he is flogged and sent into exile where he marries and becomes a rich man. He and his wife manage to survive the pre-emptive slaughter of members of the previous royal family and are restored to favour when a new regime come to power.
In A Dream and its Lesson, an ambitious but somewhat indigent young man complains to a Taoist priest about his lack of success. He then dreams that he rises high in the government; but when he finds that success comes at a price, he prefers to remain a farmer.
In The Herbalist’s Strange Adventure, a nameless herbalist from Qingcheng (青城; i.e., that place about 40km up the road from Chengdu) ends up in heaven. In spite of that, he longs to return to Earth and is granted a lifespan of 5,000 years.
The Mystery of the Missing Minister is similar to the preceding story. In this one, a Duan Lüe is obsessed with learning about the Way and becomes the pupil of a hermit called Meng Qisi from Heng Mountain. Duan Lüe studies with the hermit for four years, but becomes homesick and wants to return home. He later learns that the mysterious Elder of Heng Mountain was probably none other than a Jin Dynasty minister, Xi Jian.
Shang Qing is the heroine of The Faithful Handmaid, the story of a servant who helps to clear the name of her late master, Prime Minister Dou Cen, after he falls from imperial favour through the machinations of the conniving Lu Zhi.
I’m sure that I’ve read Love and Loyalty of a Courtesan (李师师外传) somewhere else. I may have read a story of a similar nature, perhaps one of Pu Songling’s. After her father dies when she is young, Li Shishi ends up in a house of pleasure (brothel, I assume) which the emperor visits incognito and is enchanted by her. For a long time, she is his favourite and he showers her with gifts. But eventually, he tires of luxury and abdicates to become a Taoist. Li Shishi joins a nunnery, but when the Jin invaders come in search of her, she kills herself.
Tyrants and Scholars is a story about a scholar named Du Xunhe who seeks an audience with the Lord of Liang and, after a considerable wait, is granted one. He manages to become one of the Lord of Liang’s favourites. But on another occasion, after all of the Lord of Liang’s entourage agree with one of his pronouncements – apart from one man – he has his snivelling lackeys executed.
In Scholars versus Eunuch, the powerful eunuch Wang Jing makes all manner of demands as he travels around the country. A group of scholars in Shuzhou resists him much to his fury. The provincial governor is a decent sort of person and assures the scholars that all will be well. Local officials manage to prevaricate until Wang Jing is disgraced, and the scholars get off lightly.
Mr Dongguo, a follower of Mozi, rescues a wolf from hunters in An Ungrateful Wolf. After he releases the creature from its hiding place, it announces that it’s going to eat him. Dongguo asks the wolf to consider arguments from third parties, but a tree and an ox side with the wolf. With the help of an old man, Dongguo tricks the wolf back into its hiding place and together the two men kill the animal.
The Old Scholar’s Reincarnation is the tale of a successful young scholar who is the reincarnation of a scholar who, in spite of his brilliant compositions, never succeeded in the imperial examinations. The young man’s success enables him to raise his former wife out of poverty and the family goes on to fame and fortune in Fujian Province.
In Fairies of the Floral Kingdom, the narrator, Wang Zhuo, visits the flower garden of Mr Shen who is also known as the Flower Hermit. Wang meets and is entertained by the flower fairies in the garden one evening.
The final story in the book, Quest of the Filial Son, is about Zhou Fangrong’s quest to recover the remains of his father. In spite of enormous difficulties and hardships, Zhou succeeds in fulfilling his filial obligations.
23.06.13. Edited the formatting and added tags. I assume that many of these stories are meant to impart some sort of message. It would be helpful to know more about the context of each tale.