... Yishi Yuyan. Esop's Fables Written in Chinese by the Learned Mun Mooy Seen-Shang, and Compiled in their Present Form (With a free and literal translation) by His Pupil Sloth. Macao, Canton Press Office, 1840.
. Folio. Pp. (ix), xxi, (iv), 104. With one lithographed plate of Chinese characters. Text in English, Chinese and romanisations in the Nanking and Cantonese dialects. Early 20th century cloth with original wrappers bound in. Small marginal repair to title (no loss). Rare first edition of Thom's translation of ®sop's fables into Chinese. It comprises 81 fables (Yu-yen) preceded by a long preface and an introduction about the written Chinese characters. The short stories are printed in Chinese characters (woodblock) accompanied by the mandarin pronunciation of Nanking (Roman letters) and the Canton dialect (italics). Both according to Dr. Morrison's orthography. In another column a free English translation is given together with an English "direct translation" of the Chinese characters. Robert Thom came to China in 1834 and initially worked for the trading house Jardine, Matheson & Co. at Canton. He was the official linguist during the First Opium war and participated as translator in the Treaty negotiations at Nanking. In 1843 he was appointed British consul at Ningbo. He dedicates this work to William Jardine, James Matheson and Henry Wright "by whose bounty the entire expense of his Chinese education was defrayed". According to the preface this translation of the fables was selected from various old sources such as Phaedrus, Avanius, Barlandus, etc. Thom dictated the fables, in mandarin Chinese, to his native teacher Mun Mooy Seen-Shang who wrote them down in a simple style called "ts‹-luh", the lowest and easiest form of Chinese composition. The first sellection of the stories was published in 1837-8 and was well received by the Chinese. "They had their run of the Public Courts and Offices - until the Mandarins - taking offence at seeing some of their evil customs so freely canvassed - ordered the work to be suppressed. ... The application was once perceived - and the justice of the remark admitted immediately" (Preface). The western tradition of using fables in education and preaching indirectly paved the way for their transmission to China. In the 17th century the Jesuits adapted and used ®sop's fables in their Chinese sermonic works. The fables came to influence and challenge the traditional Chinese way of writing fictitious stories that had always been based on true historical events. (See Diss.: Wu, Pei-Lin "Aesop's fables in China, the transmission and transformation of the genre" (www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/42278). Cordier BS 1683. Lust 1065. See: Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China and Australasia. Vol. XXXVI - new series. Sept. - Dec. 1841. pp. 182-3.
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Keywords: China, china,, chinese, kina, chine, asia, asie, asien, asiatic, language, langue, linguistic, fables, aesop,