Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio or Liaozhai Zhiyi (also Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio or Strange Tales of Liaozhai, simplified Chinese: 聊斋志异; traditional Chinese: 聊齋誌異; pinyin: Liáozhāi zhìyì) is a collection of nearly five hundred mostly supernatural tales written by Pu Songling in Classical Chinese during the early Qing Dynasty.
Pu borrows from a folk tradition of oral storytelling to put to paper a series of captivating, colorful stories, where the boundary between reality and the odd or fantastic is blurred. The cast of characters include magical foxes, ghosts, scholars, court officials, Taoist exorcists and beasts. Moral purposes are often inverted between humans and the supposedly degenerate ghosts or spirits, resulting in a satirical edge to some of the stories. Ghosts and spirits are often bold and trustworthy, while humans are on the other hand weak, indecisive and easily manipulated, reflecting the author's own disillusionment with his society.
The stories differ broadly in length. Conciseness is the key, with the shortest stories under a page in length.
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“No record ... can ... name the women of talent who were so submerged by child- bearing and its duties, and by general housework, that they had to leave their poems and stories all unwritten.”
—Anna Garlin Spencer (18511931)