The Cloak of Dreams

The Cloak of Dreams : Chinese Fairy Tales

3.78 (37 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Edited and translated by  , Illustrated by 

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A man is changed into a flea and must bring his future parents together in order to become human again. A woman convinces a river god to cure her sick son, but the remedy has mixed consequences. A young man must choose whether to be close to his wife's soul or body. And two deaf mutes transcend their physical existence in the garden of dreams. Strange and fantastical, these fairy tales of Bela Balazs (1884-1949), Hungarian writer, film critic, and famous librettist of Bluebeard's Castle, reflect his profound interest in friendship, alienation, and Taoist philosophy. Translated and introduced by Jack Zipes, one of the world's leading authorities on fairy tales, The Cloak of Dreams brings together sixteen of Balazs's unique and haunting stories. Written in 1921, these fairy tales were originally published with twenty images drawn in the Chinese style by painter Mariette Lydis, and this new edition includes a selection of Lydis's brilliant illustrations. Together, the tales and pictures accentuate the motifs and themes that run throughout Balazs's work: wandering protagonists, mysterious woods and mountains, solitude, and magical transformation.
His fairy tales express our deepest desires and the hope that, even in the midst of tragedy, we can transcend our difficulties and forge our own destinies. Unusual, wondrous fairy tales that examine the world's cruelties and twists of fate, The Cloak of Dreams will entertain, startle, and intrigue.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 140 x 203 x 11.18mm | 198g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 15 line illus.
  • 0691162336
  • 9780691162331
  • 1,514,852

Back cover copy

"A splendid modern work. . . . What baroque dreams, grotesque scenes, ghostly, ridiculous, strange, and chilling brainstorms!. . . All of this is remarkable, original, and uncanny. . . . I recommend that readers go and find some good time to spend with this beautiful book."--Thomas Mann

"Flirting with aestheticism and exoticism, Bela Balazs's fairy tales draw their power from an oracular voice that traces paths of desire, dread, rapture, and sorrow. A master stylist, Balazs puts us in touch with the sublime through velvety prose that mimics the brush strokes of master calligraphers. Jack Zipes's introduction tells its own fascinating tale about how a Hungarian writer and intellectual found redemption in fairy tales."--Maria Tatar, author of Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood

"These fairy tales are wonderful, touching, and fantastic--you can feel the giddy liberty Balazs gave himself in writing them. I enthusiastically recommend them to anyone who can still feel the pleasure of being kidnapped by fantasy and being taken away to a land that is both vividly colored and intellectually curious. The collection is a delight and Jack Zipes's introduction is splendid."--Andrei Codrescu, author of The Posthuman Dada Guide

"This translation of what Thomas Mann called a 'beautiful book' will enchant readers. Balazs creates a world of dreams in which the alienation of man from woman and soul from body is imaginatively overcome."--Lee Congdon, James Madison University

"A poet in many genres--verse, drama, short stories, tales, novels, diaries, memoirs, philosophy, films, and film theory--Bela Balazs was one of the great dreamers of Hungary's sensational fin-de-siecle generation. His long journey from Szeged, Hungary led him through Budapest, Vienna, Berlin, and Moscow, and back to Budapest. These Chinese fairy tales reflect Balazs's wisdom, his powers of visual imagery, psychological insight, and playfulness."--Tibor Frank, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest

"An astonishing find that deserves to be brought to light. The translations are beautifully poetic and a joy to read."--Anton Kaes, University of California, Berkeley

"These wonderful and bizarre tales are at once complex and simple. I found myself rereading several and discovering each time some new and wondrous twist and detail."--Nora M. Alter, Temple University
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Table of contents

Acknowledgments ix Bela Balazs, the Homeless Wanderer, or, The Man Who Sought to Become One with the World 1 A Note on the Mysterious Illustrator Mariette Lydis 58 THE CLOAK OF DREAMS Chapter 1: The Cloak of Dreams 65 Der Mantel der Traume Chapter 2: Li-Tai-Pe and the Thief 70 Li-Tai-Pe und der Dieb Chapter 3: The Parasols 74 Die Sonnenschirme Chapter 4: The Clumsy God 80 Der ungeschickte Gott Chapter 5: The Opium Smokers 86 Die Opiumraucher Chapter 6: The Flea 90 Der Floh Chapter 7: The Old Child 95 Das alte Kind Chapter 8: The Robbers of Divine Power 104 Die Gottesrauber Chapter 9: Li-Tai-Pe and Springtime 109 Li-Tai-Pe und der Fruhling Chapter 10: The Ancestors 114 Die Ahnen Chapter 11: The Moon Fish 119 Der Mondfisch Chapter 12: The Friends 123 Die Freunde Chapter 13: The Revenge of the Chestnut Tree 133 Die Rache des Kastanienbaumes Chapter 14: Tearful Gaze 139 Tranenblick Chapter 15: The Clay Child 145 Das Lehmkind Chapter 16: The Victor 150 Der Sieger Appendix A: A Beautiful Book by Thomas Mann 155 Appendix B: The Book of Wan Hu-Chen by Bela Balazs 159 Bibliography 173
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Review quote

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2011: Top 25 Books "Except among a few film and music scholars, Balazs is barely remembered, and only four books from the mountain of his works--novels, stories, poetry, plays, puppet plays, screenplays, libretti, political articles, and film criticism--have ever been translated into English. But he was an archetypal modernist, a type that is now nearly extinct: the man who seemed to know everyone, do everything, and write everything... Unlike others, [Balazs] did not believe that the movies would mean the end of stories and novels, and it is not surprising that he wrote The Cloak of Dreams at the same time that he wrote his first screenplay. In the present moment, when fiction has yet again been declared dead, these deliberately anachronistic, pseudo-Oriental, and completely delightful tales are further examples of the perennial human need for imaginative narrative told in words."--Eliot Weinberger, New York Review of Books "Personally, I found Zipes' introduction--roughly a third of this slim volume--the most interesting part of the book. Zipes provides a fascinating story of a complicated man, buffeted by his place in history, benefitting and suffering from the tumultuous times in which he lived."--Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog "[A] highly informative introduction to the present work by its translator, the university professor and fairy-tale specialist Jack Zipes, who has clearly moved beyond his speciality and gained great insight into Hungary's pre-1919 circles of radical artists and social critics, of which both Balazs and Lukacs were members. He explains how the writing of this collection of Chinese-style tales was not something out of the ordinary on the part of Balazs, but rather dovetailed quite neatly with his search for meaning in life (and death), his belief in the power and imagery of folk tales and his attraction, albeit not conversion, to Taoism."--Bob Dent, Budapest Times "Brought out in the Oddly Modern Fairy Tales series, this lovely volume is as wonderful to hold and behold as it is to read... The tales reflect Balazs's growing interest in communism and Taoism and, as Zipes notes, Balazs's 'profound personal concerns about friendship, alienation, poetry, transformation, and transcendence.'"--Choice "This is a very interesting and unusual book and will be of interest to a variety of readers."--James H. Grayson, Folklore
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About Bela Balazs

Jack Zipes is the translator of The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Bantam), the editor of The Great Fairy Tale Tradition (Norton), and the author of Why Fairy Tales Stick, among many other books. He is professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota.
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Rating details

37 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 24% (9)
4 35% (13)
3 35% (13)
2 5% (2)
1 0% (0)
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