In searching out new story material for my performances I came across a great collection of stories. The stories are in the book Le cercle des menteurs: Contes philosophiques du monde entire by Jean-Claude Carriére. My difficulty as you can see is that the book is written in French. The English translation of the title is: The Circle of Liars: Philosophical tales from the entire world. There is also a Spanish translation of the book. Of course I neither read nor speak either language.
It is a wonderful collection of all different types of short tales from all around the world (Sufi, Chinese, Jewish, Indian, African, European, American and contemporary).
If you cannot find a book that you are looking for in our local library’s collection, you can try to interlibrary loan the book from one of the other Suffolk County libraries. This book, however, was not in any of those libraries. My library was great. They then searched a larger network of libraries in New York and the United States to try and retrieve the requested item. In this case they were successful and got the book from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. I was very impressed.
I chose the French version of the book, because I took French in high school and hoped that might help me with some of the translations. The book is 435 pages long which could take a while to translate. I could have gone the Spanish route as my son is studying Spanish and he might have been able to read some, but then again, he’s 16 and you can imagine how easy it is for me to get him to help his dad do anything.
The chapter headings should give you a sense of the types of stories that are included in this book:
Introduction: Here there is light
Chapter 1: The world is what it is
Chapter 2: The world is not what it is
Chapter 3: If all is perhaps only one dream, who is the sleeper?
Chapter 4: Ego is tough, obscure, hateful, perhaps even non-existent
Chapter 5: The human one is sometimes too human
Chapter 6: And death is our last character
Chapter 7: The things being thus, one can nevertheless choose knowledge but it is difficult. One can prefer ignorance but that is even more difficult
Chpater 8: A good Master can be useful, or useless
Chapter 9: The Master starts by saying that we must fight our desires: is this of course?
Chapter 10: One sees well that they are numerous traps on the logical path
Chapter 11: Justice is our hesitant invention
Chapter 12: The capacity is fragile, therefore anxious, therefore hesitant, therefore incoherent, therefore is disputed, therefore fragile
Chapter 13: It however should be known why the things are what they are
Chapter 14: The questions generally precede the answers
Chapter 15: The laughter can be an end in itself
Chapter 16: Let us listen to also the lessons of insane (and drunkards)
Chapter 17: Time is our Master: Can one play with his Master?
Chpater 18: If nothing is separable, would the beyond be in ourselves?
Chapter 19: The truth, and then?
Chapter 20: Finally some grains of wisdom (perhaps)
Chapter 21: End of the tales
I started with some of the short stories and began to translate some of them. I use the website: http://babelfish.yahoo.com/ to help me with the translations. When I do get stuck, because the literal translations don’t make sense, I refer my questions to a friend of mine who was a language teacher for these translations.
The more stories that I translate, the more I recognize some of the language and grammar and the less I use the translator, which is good, since doing special French characters é, à, î, ç, œ, etc. definitely slows down my typing.
I finally decided to buy the book, since it was only $15.00 and now I’m not restricted by due dates at libraries. My wife wants to know why I waste my time doing all these translations rather than look for a book of tales written in English? My hope is to find more tales that are not in the mainstream of other storytellers that I can add to my repertoire. It never hurts to be unique.