Strange Stories by Pu Songling (1740)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror June 2, 2015
When thinking of the supernatural, ghost, or horror stories, Chinese literature is not the first thought that comes to mind. Their fictional history is a long one with supernatural tales being recorded as early as The T’ang Dynasty, then Chuanqi tales became popular, then Sung, Confucian, and Ming Dynasties brought supernatural mysteries into printed story collections.
During the Quig Dynasty, Pu Songling (1640-1750) wrote with a narrative strength and completed nearly 500 tales published in 1740 by his grandson. The Liaozhai Zhiyi or Strange Stories is considered to be the bible of Chinese supernatural folktales. Most of Songling’s stories hinge on that mysterious place between life and death, waking and dreaming, and have themes of foxes, tigers, and snakes. I’ve chosen four of his tales that are flash fictions and are ‘charming with a chill’ in their supernatural moralities.
Songling says of his writings: “I am but the dust in the sunbeam, a fit laughing stock for devils. For my talents are not those of Kan Pao, elegant explorer of the records of the Gods; I am rather animated by the spirit of Su Tung-p’o, who loved to hear men speak of the supernatural. I get people to commit what they tell me in writing and subsequently I dress it up in the form of a story; and thus in the lapse of time my friends from all quarters have supplied me with quantities of material, which, from my habit of collecting, has grown into a vast pile.”
Read these flash fictions at Gutenberg.org. (Click the titles below or scroll the Table of Contents at Gutenberg.org and click on other titles)
Metempsychosis Mr. Lin dies at age 62. Will he meet a devil or a god in the Kingdom?
Killing a Serpent A young man, Chang, is fond of hunting, but not hunting snakes.
The Great Rat A rat that eats cats? Until the rat meets up with …
The Tiger Guest In Chinese culture, tigers kill evil men and protect good ones. In this story of poets and scholars, we have a twisty little tale.
Other Reading Web Sites to Visit
For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed
Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.