China Underground > Chinese Tales > How Useful the Biggest Volumes May Be (Simple Books)

How Useful the Biggest Volumes May Be (Simple Books)

There was a scholar who studied in a monastery. On the first day after rising, he went out for a little recreation. After midday, he returned to his quarters and immediately called his servant to bring his books to him. The servant brought him a volume of the literature of the Liang Dynasty.

The scholar said: “It is too simple for me.” The servant again brought a book of the Han Dynasty. The scholar again said: ” Too simple.” Again a book of history was brought. He again said: ” Too simple-”

As his room was next to that of a monk, the latter hearing what he said, was surprised and came over to question the scholar saying: ” These three books, if a person could commit one of them to memory, he may consider himself learned.

Why do you say that it is simple? What is your reason for saying that? ” He replied: ” I wish to take a nap and intended to pile up the books to form a pillow.”

Translation: Y. T. Woo. , 1909, from ‘Chinese merry tales’ by Woo, Y. T, 1909 (The American Presbyterian Mission Press)

Featured image: Pine, Plum and Cranes, 1759, by Shen Quan (1682—1760). Detail. Hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk. The Palace Museum, Beijing.

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