(urth) Short Story 45: Feather Tigers

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Sun Sep 9 12:51:37 PDT 2012

On 9/9/2012 9:47 AM, nate jarvis wrote:
> My understanding is that the usage of "paper tiger"  predates Mao by
> quite a bit. I keep thinking in school they told us Confucius made a
> reference to paper tigers in connection with bad government, but can't
> find any references to that now. Chinese wikipedia says Wu Dalang
> makes a reference to paper tigers in _The Water Margin_; it's zhi-hu
> instead of zhi-lao-hu, but the idea seems to be the same.
> It's been years since I read this story, but I didn't think there was
> anything in the jungle. Quoquo scoffs at the humans for mistaking
> tricks of light that look like dangerous animals for actual dangerous
> animals, then when he hears the cats-turned-tiger have escaped, he
> sees feather tigers everywhere. I took it more as Wolfe lampooning the
> hubris and condescension with which many contemporaries view ancient
> peoples or their beliefs (or those of isolated peoples who exist in
> modern times but until very recently would have had lifestyles and
> belief systems more similar to ancient Eurasians than to contemporary
> Eurasians).  I actually laughed out loud when I finished the story.
> I didn't even make the Chesire cat connection--I just saw Quoquo's
> bunny-like appearance as a way of making him both comical and
> vulnerable.
> Nate.

I like that interpretation.

And it does seem as though Quoquo has overlooked the real tigers for the 
feather ones, and for this error is about to be eaten.

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