Cover image for Blades of grass : the stories of Lao She
Blades of grass : the stories of Lao She
Lao, She, 1899-1966.
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Uniform Title:
Short stories. Selections. English
Publication Information:
Honolulu : University of Hawaiʻi Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
310 pages ; 21 cm.
The grand opening -- An old and established name -- No distance too far, no sacrifice too great -- Black Li and White Li -- Also a triangle -- An old man's romance -- Hot dumplings -- Life choices -- Neighbors -- Crooktails -- Ding -- A man who doesn't lie -- Rabbit -- Attachment.

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This anthology draws out the nuances of old-school Chinese humanism in Lao She's short stories, displaying these farcical pieces in the colloquialisms of modern language. The stories showcase the varied facets of Lao She's talent and draw the reader into his world.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The 14 stories and fragment of an autobiographical novel collected here are set in urban China in the 1930s and run the gamut from satire to tragedy. Writing during Mao's reign, Lao She (a pen name; his real name was Shu Qingchun) was at first championed by the regime and achieved international recognition with his best-known novel, Camel Xiangzi (or Rickshaw, as it was titled in its first English translation). In the 1960s, however, he fell out of favor, and he died at the hands of the Red Guards in 1966. His stories are not explicitly political, but rather focus on human relationships and particularly on clashes between generations. The writer mocks self-righteousness and self-absorption in "A Man Who Doesn't Lie," in which upstanding Mr. Zhou is offended at an invitation to join the Liar's Society, but makes excuses to his boss to get a day off. In "The Grand Opening," the narrator boasts about his hospital, which treats VD with expensive injections of tea. But the tales are not all humorous. The young opera lover in "Rabbit" is destroyed by ambition and another man's greed, and in "Attachment," a collector of calligraphy loses his sense of proportion as he acquires paintings. With his humor and light touch, even Lao She's meditations on the baseness of humanity are sympathetic and appealing. Lyell's translations occasionally employ Western idioms to jarring effect, but the writer's voice shines through in this funny, deft collection from an important 20th-century Chinese literary figure. Notes at the end of each story explain pronunciation and cultural details, and the translator's postscript includes detailed biographical information. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Lao She (1899-1966) wrote most of his stories during the 1930s and 1940s to some acclaim but was later denounced and beaten by the Red Guard, eventually dying. His work, which focuses on people's ambitions, desires, and relationships, often criticize society and individual behavior in a gentle, humorous way. Ably translated by Lyell (Asian literature, Stanford Univ.) and Chen (Asian literature, Occident Coll.), these 14 tales are na‹ve and rather simple but have charm and local color. An essay by Lao She on how he wrote his stories is interesting, and a discussion of his works by Lyell is particularly useful for students and researchers. Recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄKitty Chen Dean, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In China, Lao She (pen name of Shu Qingchun, 1899-1966) is one of the most important, admired, and beloved fiction writers of the 1930s and '40s. He is best known outside China for his novel Rickshaw Boy and for his stage drama Teahouse. Lyell is the veteran translator of modern fiction by Lu Xun and Zhang Henshui; cotranslator Chen has published articles on Lao She's stories and autobiographical works. They include here 14 short stories (eight translated by Lyell, six by Chen) and two of Lao She's essays--one an autobiographical sketch, one on his own writing technique. All the translations capture Lao She's earthy and often ironic use of language, his warm humor, and his successful narrative depiction of physical settings and the psychology of his characters. These stories may be read either as important contributions to the history of 20th-century Chinese fiction or for pure pleasure. Recommended for any library with basic holdings in modern Chinese literature in translation. Upper-division undergraduate and above. J. W. Walls; Simon Fraser University