Feng Menglong’s Treasury of Laughs
Hsu Pi-ching, San Francisco State University
The Treasury of Laughs is a treasure house for students of literature, psycholinguistics, history, sociology, and cultural anthropology. Feng Menglong systematically collected and edited 700-odd humourous skits that presented the entire spectrum of traditional Chinese jokes, and wrote commentaries of great philosophical insight. The anthology offers satirical caricatures of human follies from the cradle to the grave and reveals tension in all sectors of human societies and institutions. Hsu Pi-ching reconstructs the complete Ming Chinese original with meticulous editorial work, in modern punctuated typesetting, and provides the only complete English translation available, with useful footnotes on word plays, literary allusions, and historical background. Readers should find the introductory essays on the connections between humour and emotions/states of mind particularly illuminating.