Oscar Mandel

Chi Po and the Sorcerer
A Chinese Tale for Children and Philosophers

Chi Po and the Sorcerer

Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company.
Illustrated by Lo Koon-Chiu,
designed by Meredith Weatherby and F. Sakade.
1964, 86 pages.

larger view of cover image

 

 

This title is out of print. Old copies can usually be found on the Web. A much-revised version appears in Otherwise Fables.

As the Tuttle subtitle suggested, Chi Po and the Sorcerer is indeed a novella in the tradition of the conte philosophique in that it pretends to be a story for children but is essentially a Zen-like meditation, in a humorous vein, on art and the art of living—and that of not living. Writing for one of the P.E.N. publications, Burton Raffel said: “Mr. Mandel sparkles in all directions. He demolishes government, to be sure, but he has devastating portrayals of pompously stupid art collectors, the flunky mentality, and everything from the credulity of the ignorant to the passion of the committed artist and creator. He knows the value of speech and of silence. And all this is woven into a tale so effortlessly told that one reads it over and over, for the pure joy of Mr. Mandel’s art. In short: a masterpiece.”