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The Strange Tales of Pu Songling (1640-1715) are exquisite and amusing miniatures that are regarded as the pinnacle of classical Chinese fiction. With their elegant prose, witty wordplay and subtle charm, the 104 stories in this selection reveal a world in which nothing is as it seems. Here a Taoist monk conjures up a magical pear tree, a scholar recounts his previous incarnations, a woman out-foxes the fox-spirit that possesses her, a child bride gives birth to a thimble-sized baby, a ghostly city appears out of nowhere and a heartless daughter-in-law is turned into a pig. In his tales of humans coupling with shape-shifting spirits, bizarre phenomena, haunted buildings and enchanted objects, Pu Songling pushes back the boundaries of human experience and enlightens as he entertains.
PU SONGLING (1645-1715) was a poor, undistinguished scholar who had an uneventful life. He took the lowest degree, the bachelor's, before he was twenty, but ten years later, he still had not succeeded in passing the second, the master's degree, due to his neglect of the standard fields of academic study. His loss of personal status is the world's gain, however, because his overriding interest was in tales of the supernatural, and his collected works, the bible of Chinese supernatural folktales.