In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record
"This is the first complete translation into a Western language of Sou-shen Chi, a fourth-century Chinese collection of 464 extraordinary, fantastic, or bizarre items. The subjects of these brief anecdotes and narratives include natural curiosities, gods, religious figures, omens, dreams, divinations, miracles, monsters, strange animals, demons, ghosts, and exorcists. The stories range from sober reports of drought and misfortune to accounts of a fox transformed into a turtle, persons whose heads could take independent flight at night, a tryst in a tomb, and the marriages of humans with spirits." "Sou-shen Chi is the oldest, richest, and most consulted example of the chi-kuai genre, an important division of classical Chinese literature demonstrating features of narrative technique and ethereal sensibility that point to chi-kuai as the earliest examples of Chinese fiction. Of the three surviving versions of Sou-shen Chi, the 20-chapter edition translated here is widely accepted as the best representation of the work of its compiler, Kan Pao, the official court historian for Emperor Yuan of the Chin dynasty. The style of the writing is terse, almost austere, and it has qualities of documentary prose, a reflection of its common ancestry with historical writing. An introduction deals with the text and its background, authorship, contents, versions, and transmission." "Sou-shen Chi served as a model for subsequent collections and provided many basic plots, characters, and situations for plays, novels, and even poetry. The stories were widely known and became part of the body of allusions that literate Chinese knew and used in their own writings. For example, in the twentieth century Lu Xun retold, in extended fashion, a tale of magic swords that comes from Sou-shen Chi."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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