MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yinghui Wu’s review of The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (Columbia UP, 2017), by Zhang Yingyu, translated by Christoper Rea and Bruce Rusk. The review appears below and at http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yinghui-wu/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.
Kirk Denton, editor
By Zhang Yingyu
Translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk
Reviewed by Yinghui Wu
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2018)
The Book of Swindles, by Zhang Yingyu 張應俞 (fl. 1612-17), is a collection of fascinating tales that speak to a common concern over time and across cultures—namely, anxiety about deception. A product of the publishing boom in seventeenth-century China, with a preface dated 1617, the book is “said to be the first Chinese story collection focused explicitly on the topic of fraud” (xiii). Ostensibly a manual for self-protection against scams, it belongs to a rich body of publications that promise to help their readers navigate the increasingly complex and perilous world of late Ming China.Yet, this book serves equally well as a manual for swindlers (xiv).The author, also speaking as the commentator on his stories, often marvels at the crooks’ ingenuity while lamenting the moral decline of his age and blaming the victims for their folly or naïveté. The forty-four stories, elegantly translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk, offer a valuable source for specialists of late imperial China, as well as a good read for anyone looking for entertainment. Continue reading