The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales

The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales

The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales

The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales


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 Béla Balázs (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 Balázs'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 Balázs'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.


The emperor Ming-Huang, a descendant of the T’ang dynasty, had a wife named Nai-Fe, who was as beautiful as the moon in May. However, they were never seen conversing with one another, sitting together, or holding hands. His wife Nai-Fe only appeared when the emperor put on his marvelous embroidered cloak. Then she walked behind him, keeping a great distance between them, and the yearning of her soul rested on him with her gaze. Let me tell you how all this came about.

Ming-Huang had a glorious garden that had such a powerful fragrance you could fetch an aroma out of the garden with your bare hand like water from a spring. One time he stood with his empress in this garden on the seventh night of the week, and as they looked at the constellation of the weaver and the shepherd in the sky, they swore eternal love to one another.

But the empress Nai-Fe had a dreaming soul because she had died too early in her previous life. This is why her gaze always roamed far away, following her dreams, and . . .

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