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Nine Cloud Dream, The

Product no.: 978-0143131274
Often considered the highest achievement in Korean fiction, The Nine Cloud Dream poses the question: Will the life we dream of truly make us happy?

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Publisher's Synopsis
Written in 17th-century Korea, this classic novel’s wondrous story begins when a young monk living on sacred Lotus Peak in China succumbs to the temptation of eight fairy maidens. For doubting his master’s Buddhist teachings, the monk is forced to endure a strange punishment: reincarnation as the most ideal of men. On his journey through this new life full of material, martial, and sensual accomplishments beyond his wildest dreams, he encounters the eight fairies in human form, each one furthering his path towards understanding the fleeting value of his good fortune.

As his successes grow, he comes closer and closer to finally comprehending the fundamental truths of the Buddha’s teachings. Like Hesse’s Siddhartha, The Nine Cloud Dream is an unforgettable tale exploring the meaning of a good life and the virtue of living simply with mindfulness.

"Man-Jung’s tale is a hypnotic journey, a scholarly, instructive Buddhist bildungsroman set across Tang dynasty China, and in Insu Fenkl’s skilled translation, a glimpse into the rich crossroads of religions and society therein."          ~Publishers Weekly

"THE reader must lay aside all Western notions of morality if he would thoroughly enjoy this book. The scene of the amazing Cloud Dream of the Nine, the most moving romance of polygamy ever written, is laid about 849 A.D. in the period of the great Chinese dynasty of the Tangs.

By its simple directness this hitherto unknown Korean classic makes an ineffaceable impression. But the story of the devotion of Master Yang [Song-jin] to eight women and of their devotion to him and to each other is more than a naive tale of the relations of men and women under a social code so far removed from our own as to be almost incredible.

It is a record of emotions, aspirations and ideas which enables us to look into the innermost chambers of the Chinese soul. The Cloud Dream of the Nine is a revelation of what the Oriental thinks and feels not only about things of the earth but about the hidden things of the Universe. It helps us towards a comprehensible knowledge of the Far East."       ~Introduction by Elspet Keith Robertson Scott (1922)

"Before he had ended speaking the gate-keeper came in to say: 'The eight fairies of Lady Wee who called yesterday have again arrived before the gate and desire to see the Great Teacher.'

They were invited in, and as they entered they joined hands and bowed, saying: 'We maids, though we wait upon Lady Wee, are untaught and unlearned and have never known how to repress the lawless workings of the soul. Our earthly desires have gone forth after sin and evil in the dream of mortal life and there is no one to save us but the Great Teacher, who in love and mercy Himself came to call us.'

'We went yesterday to Lady Wee, confessed our sins and wrongdoings and asked forgiveness. Now we have bade a long farewell to her, and have come home to the Buddha. We humbly pray that the Great Teacher will forgive our many shortcomings and tell us the way to the blessed life.'

He answered: 'Though your desire is one greatly to be praised, the law of the Buddha is deep and hard to attain. It cannot be learned in a moment of time. Unless there be great earnestness and a deep heart of longing it can never be attained. I ask that you fairy maidens think well over it before you decide.'

The eight fairies then withdrew, washed the rouge and colour from their faces and put aside the silks and satins in which they were bedecked. They took scissors and cut away their clouds of floating hair, and again entered to say: 'We have made the necessary changes in our persons and will take the teaching of the Master with sincere and faithful hearts.'

The Teacher answered: 'Good, good. Since you eight have thus shown your true and earnest purpose, why should I longer withhold the Truth from you?'

Then he led them to their places in the Hall of the Buddha and made them recite the Sacred Sutras and the Chin-on. Thus did Song-jin and the eight priestesses awaken to the truths of religion and become partakers of the Buddha."       ~XVI The Answer: Back to the Buddha

Kim Man-Jung (1637-1692) is generally accepted as the author of The Nine Cloud Dream (also known as Kuunmong), often considered the greatest classic Korean novel, which he is said to have composed in exile to comfort his mother. A member of the yangban (ruling class) literari, he rose to become the head of the Confucian Academy. His other works include The Record of Lady Sa's Journey South (Sassi Namjeongg).

Author Man-Jung, Kim
Translator Insu Fenkl, Heinz
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 288 pp.
Publisher Penguin Classics 2019
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