Language and Literature
In China, the fascination with the strange has always been strong. Ghosts, demons, fox ladies and other bizarre creatures populate the pages of myriads of narratives that, together, give shape to the literary genre called zhiguai 志怪 or “accounts of the strange”. These “accounts” have generated a persistent interest among scholars (Yu 1987) and those about the afterlife and the “encounter between humans and ghosts or fox spirits have received the most critical and popular attention” (Dodd 2016). But how has the “monstrous” been shaped and represented in these accounts? What fears, beliefs and tensions did the monster lore epitomize and sublimate?
Through the analysis of texts produced in three different historical moments (Six Dynasties, Tang/Song dynasties, Qing dynasty), the paper will present the preliminary findings of the author’s new research project on the abnormal in traditional China and on its fictional representations.