Amidaworld has a post called “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Classic Asian Literature” that moves from the discovery of Amazon’s Statistically Improbable Phrases (provided for many books) to the insight that they can serve as a handy thumbnail sketch of the book itself:
But let’s use this to save some time and read some massive works in, say, 10 seconds or so. I love this one: The Tale of Genji‘s SIPs: saffron flower. Yep, that’s it. “Evocative,” no?
How about those massive Chinese novels? Journey to the West (vol. 2—1 was unavailable): hooped rod, two little fiends, auspicious luminosity, poled the luggage, travel rescript certified, vast magic powers, his muckrake, brazen ape, white jade steps, cloudy luminosity, subdue the fiend, his iron rod, great snow fall, ginseng fruits, bronze mallet, various fiends, iguana dragon, preparatory mass, steel crop, immaculate vase, our rescript, treasure staff, gloomy complexion, testimonial poem, reverted cinnabar. Could you give a better summary in 4 lines or so?…
Sum up Confucian thought as portrayed in the Analects in 10 words: accordance with the rites, ceremonial cap, benevolent man, loving learning. Thanks, Amazon!
I was going to try it on The Man Without Qualities, but alas, no SIPs were provided.