This week’s Sinica Podcast is now live: Listen to it now!
This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk, both professors at the University of British Columbia, about their translation of Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (骗经 piànjīng), by Zhang Yingyu 张应俞, a book that disappeared for about 400 years before resurfacing. There are about 80 stories in the original, 40 of which Rea and Rusk translated. They’re all about swindlers, hucksters, snake-oil salesmen, and cheats, with plenty of references to ancient philosophers like Confucius, Mencius, etc.
Anyone who has lived in China in recent decades will understand intuitively why a podcast ostensibly about current affairs in China would want to talk about a 16th-century book. However, for anyone who doubts the relevance for today’s China, we believe it all will become painfully clear as you listen.
You’ll want to listen for the explanation of the aquatic metaphor 江湖 (jiānghú) — “rivers and lakes” — that starts at the 19-minute mark.