Books: A Different Cup of Tea

STORIES FROM A MING COLLECTION (205 pp.)—Translated by Cyril Birch—Indiana University ($3.75).

These are stories by forgotten men. Some time in the 1620s there was published in the Chinese city of Soochow a book entitled Stories Old and New. They were collected by a literary vacuum cleaner named Feng Meng-lung, who dashed off dozens of books himself, but showed more talent in tidying up the writing of others. On one occasion, he read the play of a friend but refused to express an opinion. When the worried playwright returned later that night, Feng put him at ease: "Your play is excellent, but...

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