This is a collection of tales based on Chinese legends by an author renowned for his elegant writing style. Atsushi Nakajima died at the young age of 33, leaving behind only a small number of works. Among them, those whose subject matter is taken from ancient Chinese legends are today celebrated as masterpieces. All are written in a graceful style informed by the author's extensive knowledge of the Chinese language. Nakajima's books are still popular today.
The Tiger Man is a short piece set in the Tang dynasty. A brilliant young government official, unfulfilled by bureaucratic life, dreams of becoming a famous poet. One day, while dispatched to the countryside on government business, he disappears. Several years later, a friend and colleague, who has since risen in the world, meets him in the mountains. The man who disappeared tells his friend what happened to him: on his journey he had heard a voice in the dark, and as he began to follow it, he found he had turned into a tiger running fast through the mountains. Now he can take human form only occasionally. Still harboring the ambition of becoming a poet, he then asks his friend to record his poems. After his friend writes them down, the man turns back into a tiger and runs away.
The collection also includes Li Lang, a story depicting the fates of Generals Li Ling and Su Wu, both of the Han dynasty, and of Sima Quian, the historian and author of Records of the Grand Historian of China.