Liaozhai Zhiyi translated variously as Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio or Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio is a collection of Classical Chinese stories by Pu Songling.
Anyone ever read the original novel? Currently I'm watching an adaptation series on TV. Unexpectedly, it's pretty good, not just a ghost story like I had previously thought. So basically it's kinda talk about social problems such as corrupt officers who took bribery caused someone's death. And the dead person because committed suicide or falsely accused became ghosts and seeking for justice.
I only read a comic drawn by Tsai Chih Chung which collected some of the stories and put the original text next to his comics. My favorite one was "Lu Pan" or "Judge Lu" where a scholar befriended a judge from Hell and the judge switched his heart making him wiser on his studies. For obvious reasons of course. (The judge also switched his wife's head with a beautiful murder victim...er...)
The original novel collects a lot of short stories which involve a lot of supernatural elements, and the stories usually serve as a moral commentary reflecting the society as well as the author's views. Kind of like modern SF/Fantasy anthology television series.
Liaozhao Zhiyi is a collection of short stories written in Classical Chinese, and it can be difficult even for native readers. Literature aficionados often regard it as the best short story collection in the language.
I read a Penguin paperback selection translated by John Minford three years ago. I remember the translation was very good.
The famous movie A Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂) is based on one of its stories, albeit loosely.
My memories of this collection are very positive. Long long ago in my youth, I read three of its stories in a simplified modern Chinese version (they were contained as supplementary reading material for my classes.) I still remember the three stories as “The Taoist Priest of Laoshan" (崂山道士), "Sorcery" (妖術) and "The Snake Man" (蛇人). "The Snake Man", about the relationship between a snake charmer and his two green snakes, is especially moving. It made a very deep impression on the young me.
Sometimes I can't believe how much the writer can pack in these stories, some of which are very short. They are made even shorter written in Classical Chinese, always a very succinct language. Of course I haven't read the original, simply translations and the vernacular versions.
TVB made a few series on this collection, I believe? I remember the theme song was sung by Cass Pang? And Mainland China too? I know TVB made a very romantic dramatization of Pu Songling's life.
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