By FRANCIS MACANSANTOS
The profound and enduring influence of the classical Chinese literature on the modern American and British literature is an established historical reality. British and American literature of the nineteenth century had long suffered from a loss of vitality. To speak the truth, it had become, in the main, flat and dull. Shakespears and Wordsworth had become merely memories.Literature needed a shot in the arm and that vital serum was discovered by American and British writers mainly in Chinese literature, particularly in the poetry of the Tang and Sung era.
From this ancient tradition the West found a new lease on life for their moribund literature. They rediscovered the simple truth already known to Chinese masters, that poetry could be vital only if it expressed feelings, emotions, and insights through the very things we found on the earth and in the sky, that the things we saw around us, the flowers, birds, stones, river and mountains were important to the human heart and mind, and vital to effective literary expression. Through their reading of Chinese literature the writers of the West rediscovered the expressiveness of things, their significance to human life and human destiny.
In short, the West discovered, the symbolical nature of things, and the need to revitalize literary language through symbolic utterance.
It is a matter of great interest to anyone that a writer of stories and of family history such as Engr. Richard Cheng should be someone who has been trained by American writers, who comes from a civilization whose writers have learned most of what they know of literature from Chinese classical literature.
What remain true until the present moment is that, the writers of stories for children from the West still have a lot to learn from the stories written by Richard Cheng, and the stories retold by him from the very rich tradition of his forefathers. One thing they could learn from such a tradition is that, one can make a story interesting to children without making the characters or plots overly fantastic, or making them overly violent in the vain attempt to make the stories interesting. The real things in life are interesting interesting to any child.
Second, writers from the West can learn from the Eastern tradition, that stories for children can help build character by showing them that success and happiness can be achieved only through hard work, generosity and compassion. One cannot be happy by following the path of evil. And that ultimately the human spirit, through virtue and divine guidance triumphs only over the most adverse of circumstances even comes to terms with tragedy.
Lastly, but most importantly, writers can learn from the ancient tradition of stories for children that life is full of significance and that as a whole human existence is meaningful. Everything on earth has significance in the sacramental sense, because everything in the world can connect us to the divine plan. This sense of meaning is what is often lost to those who live in the modern world.
I would like to add that as a father who once read stories his only child, that one way this book came too late for me and my daughter. The stories are charmingly tasteful, memorable and wise. Even as an adult, she can find meaning and spiritual solace in these stories and in her darkest hours from the Cheng family saga that takes the reader to China, the Philippines and America. # nordis.net