Growing Pears

"Growing Pears"
Growing Pears.png
19th-century illustration from Xiangzhu liaozhai zhiyi tuyong (Liaozhai Zhiyi with commentary and illustrations; 1886)
AuthorPu Songling
Original title"種梨 (Zhongli)"
TranslatorHerbert Giles (1880)
CountryChina
LanguageChinese
Genre(s)
Published inStrange Tales from a Chinese Studio
Media typePrint (Book)
Publication date1740
Preceded by"Stealing Peaches (偷桃)"
Followed by"The Beggar Immortal (丐仙)"

"Growing Pears" (simplified Chinese: 种梨; traditional Chinese: 種梨; pinyin: Zhǒng Lí), also variously translated as "Planting a Pear Tree", "Sowing Pears", and "The Wonderful Pear Tree", is a short story by Pu Songling, first published in Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. Set in ancient China, the story revolves around a miserly pear seller and a Taoist priest.

Plot

In an unspecified Chinese village, a dishevelled Taoist priest unsuccessfully begs a pear seller for a single pear. However, an altruistic passer-by offers to buy the old man a pear, which he gladly accepts. The Taoist then offers to reciprocate by giving free pears to the crowd; he buries the pip of the pear in the ground and waters the soil with boiling water, shortly after which a mature pear tree sprouts. After handing out all of the tree's fruits to the passers-by, the Taoist cuts the tree down and heads off. The miserly pear seller, who had been caught up by the spectacle, only just realises that all his pears have gone missing – and his fruit cart has been sawn into pieces. Realising that the Taoist had employed sorcery against him, the fruit seller rushes to confront him, but he has disappeared without a trace. In his postscript, Pu Songling warns against being stingy, noting that "individuals (like the pear seller) are too numerous to list separately, so the example of such a foolish villager is anything but a surprise."[1]

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