#111 – Special: Strange Tales

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Today, we veer off our main narrative and into several seasonal tales which celebrate the spooky season in Chinese fashion. We feature a ghostly gathering, a bewitched battle, injurious jests, and lethal looks.

Author: Pu Songling [1640-1715 CE]
Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio

Featuring:

The Golden Goblets (begins: 2:15)

The Necromancer (begins: 13:30)

The Killing Joke (begins: 21:15)

The Painted Skin (begins: 23:00)

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2 thoughts on “#111 – Special: Strange Tales

  1. I’m in the middle of the Painted Skin.

    Did. Not. Need. the details of the beggar.

    Just needed to get that out of my throa—no, mostly don’t want that thought.

    Anyone else read Barry Hughart’s Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox? They are romps and I find them delightful. They are “tales of a China that never was”. They are mysteries: Master Li is beset by unquenchable curiosity. They are full of the Chinese supernatural: gods from the August Personage of Jade down to the lowest of the Yama Kings, all sorts of monsters (an attack in broad daylight by a jiang shi is actually a moderately minor point), magic (the chapter on the Taoist Elixir of Life!), prophecies, et cetera. And full of irony, outrageous scenes, and occasional heartbreaking beauty (the prayer to a little girl, for example).

    Some slight relevance aside from the supernatural: they’re set early in the Tang period (late Taizong, start of Gaozong).

    1. I just ran across another review: “As a lapsed Chinese history buff, it was fun to spot all the (intentional?) errors in the background. Hughart takes all the Chinese dynasties and meshes them together. Thus, we have a Sui Dowager (the Ancestress) living during Tang Tai-Tsung’s reign, along with a Dukedom of Ch’in that’s survived eight hundred years (the dynasty only lasted fifteen.) Tsao Hsuei-Ching is mentioned as a great writer, though he won’t be born for another millennium, while the jia gu wen of the Shang dynasty shows up, though it too wasn’t discovered until the Ching Dynasty.” I’d cheerfully bet it was deliberate. But if that sort of thing gives you colonic spasms, don’t read this.

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