A Garden of Marvels: Tales of Wonder from Early Medieval by Robert Ford Campany

By Robert Ford Campany

Between three hundred and six hundred C.E., chinese language writers compiled millions of debts of the unusual and the intense. a few defined bizarre spirits, customs, and wildlife in far-off lands. a few depicted members of bizarre non secular or ethical success. yet so much advised of standard people’s encounters with ghosts, demons, or gods; sojourns within the land of the useless; eerily major desires; and uncannily exact premonitions. the choice of such tales provided right here presents an pleasing creation to early medieval chinese language storytelling and opens a doorway to the enchanted global of notion, tradition, and spiritual trust of that period. referred to as zhiguai, or “accounts of anomalies,” they impart greatly approximately how humans observed the cosmos and their position in it. The stories have been circulated simply because they have been wonderful but in addition simply because their compilers intended to rfile the mysterious workings of spirits, the wonders of unique locations, and the character of the afterlife.

A choice of greater than 2 hundred stories, A backyard of Marvels deals an authoritative but obtainable advent to zhiguai writings, relatively these by no means ahead of translated or thoroughly researched. This quantity will most probably locate its approach to bedside tables in addition to into school rooms and libraries, simply as collections of zhiguai did in early medieval times.

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H. Smith, “Narrative Versions, Narrative Theories,” 232–233; see also Â� ampany, Making Transcendents, 10–11. * LitÂ�erature scholars have largely ignored this central facet of the early zhiguai genre. But religion scholars have often scanted these texts as well, habituated as they are to taking scriptural genres as centrally imÂ�porÂ�tant. Second, these texts—Â� especially the ones that take narrative form—Â� provide many glimpses of aspects of ordinary social life and material culture that can be hard to discern from other surviving evidence.

Another is Shiyi ji 拾遺記 or Uncollected RecÂ�ords attributed to Wang Jia 王嘉 (fourth Â�century), another text with a tenuous relation to the zhiguai genre. * (4) I have mostly chosen narrative over descriptive items, feeling that stories are more accessible to readers. † (6) But, countervailingly, I have also tried to impart a sense of the range of the texts. Rather than attempting to capture the bulk of any one work, that is, I have preferred to represent titles not already translated elsewhere, even when only very few items from them survive.

But what about our sources for them? * In most cases we have to deal with piecemeal quotations in other works—Â�primarily leishu 類書 or “category books,” anthologies containing quotations orÂ�gaÂ�nized by topic or keyword—Â�dating to the Tang and Song periods. The late Ming (sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries) saw a boom in printed editions *Some scholars think that Liu Jingshu’s Yi yuan was not a late recompilation but instead was transmitted continuously through medieval into modern times; see SW, 78–79.

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