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(2010-02-09 09:08:17)


這是我的第一本漢英對照聊齋故事精選的自序。英文版,Chinese Ghost Stories for Adults﹐由美國 Barricade Books 公司於 2000 年出版。後由我自譯中文由上海世界圖書出版公司於 2005年



  美國英文報紙專欄作家馬德五 (Tom Te-Wu Ma) 著


   “漢英對照聊齋精選”自序  (Preface)



For thousands of years, the existence of spirits has been always a controversial subject.




Although mankind's inquiry into the supernatural has never produced substantial answers, every country abounds in ghost stories.



China is one of the oldest highly civilized nations in the world. There are countless supernatural tales told generation after generation. Liao Zhai by Pu Song-Ling (1640-1715) from the Qing Dynasty is unanimously acknowledged, both popularly and academically, as the most remarkable work of this sort in the canon of Chinese literature.



In the more than four hundred short stories in Liao Zhai, ghosts and spirits were all vividly personified. They lived with humans in the human world, and also in their own world. They traveled from one world to the other easily and frequently. Although they had the advantage of supernatural powers, the spirits in the book still liked to show themselves in human form. They looked and acted like human beings when they lived in the human world. Thus, in the stories in the book, it is sometimes hard to distinguish which one was human and which was spirit. The ingenious revelation of that secret, therefore, often becomes the most exciting part of the story.



As fascinating as one may find the Chinese ghost stories, one may still return to the old controversial question: Who has ever really seen a ghost?



Before answering this question, let me ask you a few questions first:



Every fall, how do millions of tiny monarch butterflies find their way to the remote mountain forests, hundreds of miles away, where none of them have ever been before?



Every winter, how do those five-thousand-pound elephant seals navigate hundreds of miles of open sea and return to the beaches where they were born?



These are but only two examples of countless unanswerable questions about how the natural world works. The marvelous world of animals is full of so many mysteries that no scientist so far has yet been able to give us satisfactory answers how and why. Just as we cannot find those answers, neither can we answer the questions in the stories of Liao Zhai.



Your life is a story. My life is a story. Stories are stories. As long as they are good stories, we should not question too much the truthfulness of the tales, but would rather concentrate on the truth in the tales.



Having read Liao Zhai many times, I have to say that the majority of the stories are but meaningless reports of strange happenings. And many of the rest are typical Chinese stories, which would hardly arouse the interest of non-Chinese readers in the Western world.



This book contains a careful selection of the most interesting stories in Liao Zhai. In order to best satisfy and entertain English-speaking readers, I have revised and rewritten each of them.



Pu Song Ling, the original author of Liao Zhai, died three centuries ago. I have now rewritten parts of his works in English using my best judgment, obviously without obtaining permission from him. All I hope is that he will not object too much to my work, which is done in the world of humans, while he is in the world of ghosts. Like the heroes and heroines in his book, he may also have supernatural powers. He might even decide to show up in the human world and pay me a visit, perhaps to thank me for introducing his tales to the English-speaking readers!



So, I patiently wait for that moment to come.




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