These notes are divided into two sections: Six Dynasties (including Western Chin) and T’ang. Entries in each section are given alphabetically, those in the first section according to the title of the collection, and those in the second according to the author’s name.
I. Six Dynasties
Chen-i chuan (Discerning Marvels)
This title is recorded in the Sui-shu Bibliographic Treatise (Ching-chi chih ) (SSCCC, hereafter) and attributed to Tai Tso , about whom we know nothing except that he lived in the late part of Eastern Chin dynasty (317-420) and once served under general Liu Yü (363-422, founder of the Liu Sung dynasty) in a western military campaign.
The text, originally in 3 chüan, has not survived. Seventeen items have been gleaned from various sourcess and preserved in Lu, pp. 153-61.
Ch’i Hsieh chi (Ch’i Hsieh’s Records)
Registered in the SSCCC, it was later attributed to Tung-yang Wu-i a Cavalier Attendant during the Liu Sung dynasty (420-479).
Originaly in 7 chüan, the text is no longer extant; fifteen items are preserved in Lu, pp. 229-36.
Hsü Ch’i Hsieh Chi f e (A Sequel to Ch’i Hsieh’s Records)
This collection is listed in the SSCCC under the name of Wu Chün (469-520). A Liang writer celebrated for his prose style, Wu occupied the position of Court Draftee (feng-ch’ao-ch’ing ) and wrote the Ch’i ch’un-ch’iu (Chronicles of the State of Ch’i). A collection of his literary works, Wu-ch’ao-ch’ing chi, survives.
His CK work in 1 chüan has also survived in several editions, including that contained in Ku-shih wen-fang hsiao-shuo
Huan-yüan chi (Accounts of Requiting Grievance)
Also known as Yüan-hun chih (Accounts of Ghosts with Grievances), the text is registered in the SSCCC and is known to have been written by Yen Chih-t’ui (531-590?), a well known Confucian scholar who served in the courts of the Liang, Northern Ch’i, Northern Chou, and Sui successively. Best known for his Yen-shih chia-hsün (Domestic Instructions of the Yen Clan), he was versed in history as well as lexicography and etymology, and took part in the compilation of the rhyme dictionary Ch’ieh-yün
The Huan-yüan chi text in 1 chüan (a recension consisting of thirty-six stories) exists in several editions; the one in Pao-yen-t’ang pi-chi was used for the translation.
See Albert E. Dien, “The Yüan-hun chih (Accounts of Ghosts with Grievances): A Sixth-Century Collection of Stories” in Wen-lin ed. Chow Tse-tsung (Madison, Milwaukee, and London: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1968), pp. 211-28, for a study of the textual history and contents of this work.
Lieh-i chuan (Display of Marvels)
This work is attributed in the SSCCC to Ts’ao P’i (187-226), Emperor Wen of Wei, a rather unlikely candidate as author or even compiler. In the Bibliographic Treatises of both the Chiu T’ang shu and Hsin T’ang shu the text is attributed to Chang Hua (233-300), the renowned poet, scholar, and official of the Chin dynasty, who was also known for his exotic and esoteric learning. As the author of the CK collection Po-wu chih (Record of All Things Strange), he is a reasonable candidate for the authorship of Lieh-i chuan, but no other evidence has been found to support this ascription.
Originally consisting of 3 chüan, the text is no longer extant; about fifty entries are preserved in Lu, pp. 131-46.
Ling-kuei chih (Records of Spirits and Ghosts)
The author is known only as a certain Mr. Hsün (fl. 4th century).
The title is registered in SSCCC as consisting of 3 chüan, which are now lost. Twenty-four items are gathered in Lu, pp. 195-204.
Lu-i chuan (Registry of Marvels)
The title is not found in the Bibliographic Treatises of either the Sui or T’ang histories, and its author is unknown.
Probably compiled in the fifth century, the text is now represented by twenty-seven entries gathered in Lu, pp. 407-18.
Ming-hsiang chi (Manifestations of the Dead)
Compiled by Wang Yüan (fl. late 5th century), a Buddhist layman from his youth, who served at one point in his life as the Magistrate of Wu-hsing during the Liang. According to Wang’s preface to the collection cited in the Fa-yüan chu-lin, he was moved to compile the text after having witnessed two revelations of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
Registered in the SSCCC as consisting of 10 chüan, the original text has since been lost. One hundred thirty-one entries are gathered in Lu, pp. 447-534.
Shen-hsien chuan (Biographies of Diet ies and Immortals)
This collection was written by Ko Hung (290-370), author of the alchemical and philosophical text Pao-p’u-tzu (The Master Who Embraces Simplicity), and the grand-nephew of Ко Hsüan (164-244), the Immortal Ко of the Taoist church. Hung himself served in the Chin court, but was said to have preferred a post in Canton so that he might have ready access to cinnabar, an essential ingredient for alchemy. He spent his last years on Lo-fu Mountain üfe (in Cheng-ch’eng , Kwangtung), seeking immortality.
Registered in the SSCCC as consisting of 10 chüan (eighty-four entries, with an additional eight in some editions), it is now extant in various editions. The Han Wei ts’ung-shu edition has been used for the translation.
Shu-i chi (Records of Marvels)
Attributed to Tsu Ch’ung-chih (429-500), a mathematician and astronomer who lived in the state of Southern Ch’i (he is known for having calculated the value of [Ludolphian number] to the sixth place after the decimal point). His interest in CK seems to suggest that such material also attracted the “scientific minds” of the time, be it as entertainment or as material for investigation.
Listed in the SSCCC as consisting of 10 chüan, ninety of the items are gathered in Lu, pp. 163-93.
There is another text with the same title attributed to Jen Fang (460-508), extant in 2 chüan, which has been suspected as a Τ’ang forgery.
Sou-shen chi (In Search of Spirits)
Compiled by Kan Pao (fl. ca. 317), who was at one time appointed Government Historian by Emperor Yüan of the Chin (r. 317-22) and wrote the history of that dynasty entitled Chin-chih (Records of Chin). The material gathered in the Sou-shen chi might have been related to his collection of materials for this history.
In the SSCCC the text is said to consist of 30 chüan, but it exists today mainly in two other versions: a 20-chüan version (compiled in the Ming by Hu Ying-lin ) and an 8-chüan version (the Pai-hai edition, also a Ming recension). Some, but not all, of the stories in the shorter version are also found in the 20-chüan version. The selections in this anthology were taken from the 20-chüan version, and the translations are based on Wang Shao-ying’s critical, annotated edition (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1979).
Among the Tun-huang manuscripts is a text by Kou Tao-hsing also entitled Sou-shen chi, containing only a few pieces that have a story similar to those in the 20-chüan version. The text can be found in Wang Ch’ung-min et al., ed., Tun-huang pien-wen chi (Peking: Jen-min wen-hsüeh , 1957). Both this and the 8-chüan (Pai-hai) version are included in Wang Shao-ying ed. Sou-shen hou-chi (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1981), pp. 115-145, and pp. 73-114, respectiv ely.
For a comprehensive study of Sou-shen chi and its textual history, see Kenneth J. DeWoskin, “The Sou-shen-chi and the Chih-kuai Tradition: A Bibliographic and Generic Study” (Diss. Columbia Univ., 1973).
Sou-shen hou-chi (Sequel to In Search of Spirits)
Attributed to the famous poet T’ao Ch’ien (365-427); but this attribution has been discredited by most scholars.
Given in the SSCCC as consisting of 10 chüan, the text has survived in various editions. The one used for this translation is the Wang Shao-ying edition (see the previous entry), which has a total of one hundred and seventeen items.
Yu-ming lu (Records of the Dead and the Living)
Attributed to Liu I-ch’ing (403-444), Prince of Lin-ch’uan (in modern Kiangsi), author of Shih-shuo hsin-yü , and a well known patron of men of letters. In addition to Yu-ming lu, he is credited with the authorship of another CK collection Hsüan-yen chi (Records of Divine Evidence).
Listed in the SSCCC as consisting of 30 chüan, the text is no longer extant. Over two hundred items from other sources are gathered in Lu, pp. 237-322; many of them are also found in the 20-chüan Sou-shen chi.
Anonymous, “The Story of Ling-ying” (Ling-ying chuan )
The work of an unknown author who very likely lived during the late T’ang, this tale represents an accumulation of the major motifs of the dragon lore of the T’ang.
Circulated individually, the text has been anthologized in various collections, including TPKC.
The translation is based on the annotated text given in Hsü Shih-nien , ed. T’ang-tai hsiao-shuo (Honan: Chung-chou shu-hua ch’u-pan-she 1982).
Ch’en Hsüan-yu , “The Disembodied Soul” (Li hun chi )
From the date given at the end of the tale, it can be inferred that Ch’en flourished around 779. Other than this, nothing is known of the author’s life.
The text of “Li hun chi” was included in the I-wen chi (A Collection of Strange Tales), a late T’ang anthology, compiled around 840-846 by Ch’en Han, which contains some of the best, and probably the most widely circulated T’ang tales. For a recension of the contents of I-wen chi, hereafter IWC, see Wang Meng-ou , T’ang-jen hsiao-shuo yen-chiu (Studies of T’ang Stories), Vol. 2 (Taipei: I-wen yin-shu kuan , 1973). This tale is listed as entry 37 in this edition.
Chiang Fang , “Huo Hsiao-yü” (Huo Hsiao-yü )
Renowned for his literary talent even as a young man, Chiang Fang (fl. 813-825) was a member of the Imperial Academy. Due to his involvement in factional conflicts, however, he was demoted and sent away from the capital to serve as Prefect of T’ing-chou (in modern Fukien Province), and later of Lien-chou (in modern Kwangtung).
The piece is also included in IWC (40).
Hsüeh Yü-ssu, Ho-tung chi (Tales from Ho-tung)
Nothing is known of the author’s life. From the text, it could be inferred that he composed some of the pieces in this collection in the middle of the ninth century.
Said to have been modelled on Niu Seng-ju’s Hsüan-kuai lu (q.v.), the text originally consisted of 3 chüan (see Ch’ao Kung-wu [fl. 1131-62], Chün-chai tu-shu chih , chüan 15) but has not survived. Thirty-four pieces are preserved in TPKC.
Hsüeh Yung-jo , Chi’i chi Collection of Tales of Marvels)
Two brief references to Hsüeh’s life found in different sources indicate that he was at one time (during the period 821-824) Prefect of Kuang-chou (in modern Honan Province) and later (sometime during the period 827-835) Magistrate of I-yang (in modern Honan). He was known to have been a lenient but efficient administrator.
This collection, also known as Ku-i chi (Tales of Marvels from the Past), is extant in 2 chüan, and contains sixteen entries (additional pieces can be found in TPKC). It exists in various editions, including a modern punctuated one (published by Peking, Chung-hua shu-chü).
This collection is characterized by its use of well-known literary and political figures as the central characters in most of its tales, a quality which has not been reflected by our selections.
Huang-fu Mei , San-shui hsiao-tu (Short Pieces by the Man from San-shui)
A native of San-shui (modern Shensi Province), Huang-fu Mei is known to have been the Superintendent of Records in Lu-san County , Honan, around 873. He wrote the pieces in this collection in 910 when he was staying in the Shansi area.
Originally in 3 chüan, it now exists in several 2-chüan editions, including a modern, punctuated one (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1960) which has thirty-five stories (plus an addendum of twelve pieces).
Li Ching-liang , “Li Chang-wu” (Li Chang-wu )
Nothing about the author’s life is known except that he took and passed an exam in the capital in 794.
This story is also found in IWC (13), entitled “Pi-yü hsieh-yeh” (The Oak Leaf of Green Jade).
Li Fu-yen , Ηsü Hsüan-kuai lu (A Continuation of the Accounts of Mysteries and Anomalies)
A native of Lung-hsi (modern Kansu Province), Li Fu-yen (fl. 830-840) was a younger contemporary of Niu Seng-ju (q.v.) and wrote his collection of stories after the example set by the latter’s Hsüan-kuai lu (q.v.).
The text, sometimes called Hsü Yu-kuai lu , was originally available in either a 10- or a 5-chilan edition. The only extant version consists of 4. chüan in various editions with a total of twenty-three entries (thirteen additional entries are found in TPKC).
Li Kung-tso , “Old Woman Feng” (Lu-chiang Feng-ao)
Li Kung-tso (770?-850) was acquainted with Po Chü-i, the famous poet, and his brother, Po Hsing-chien (q.v.), and was said to have listened to the latter’s telling of the story of Li Wa (“The Courtesan Li Wa,” Ma and Lau, pp. 163-71) and urged him to write it down. But he is known to us now mainly as the author of four ch’uan-ch’i stories of considerable importance. “Lu-chiang Feng-ao” is also anthologized in IWC (16).
Liu Tsung-yüan, “Biography of ‘Red’ Li” (Li Ch’ih )
A close associate of Han Yü , Liu Tsung-yüan (773-819) spent most of his official career first in Yung-chou (in modern Hunan Province) and then in the remote prefecture of Liu-chou in Kwangsi. Besides being an outstanding ku-wen essayist, Liu is known also for his descriptive pieces inspired by the landscape of Yung-chou, for his poetry, and for several tales in the allegorical mode. He has an official biography in both the Chiu T’ang shu (160, pp. 4213ff.) and Hsin T’ang shu (168, pp. 5132ff.).
For the text of “Biography of ‘Red’ Li” used for the translation, see the entry note.
Niu Seng-j , Hsüan-kuai lu (Accounts of Mysteries and Anomalies)
One of the most active political figures of his time, Niu Seng-ju (779-848) was made Prime Minister in 823. He led a faction which contended with the faction headed by Li Te-yü (787-848). Control of the government alternated between these two men until Li’s death in 848. Niu’s prominent political position may have lent weight to his CK tales and increased their influence, though they were most surely the work of his younger days. Many CK writers openly acknowledged their debt to Niu in their own writing of CK stories.
Also known as the Yu-kuai lu and Yüan-kuai lu the collection originally consisted of 10 chüan, but is now extant in a 4-chüan version which has a total of forty-four stories (thirty-three are found in TPKC).
P’ei Hsing , Ch’uan-ch’i (Transmission of Strange Tales)
P’ei Hsing (fl. 853-878) was secretary to the Ching-hai (in modern Kiangsu Province) Military Governor Kao P’ien sometime between 860 and 874, and was promoted to the position of Lieutenant Governor in 878. His writing of the stories collected in Ch’uan-ch’i may have had something to do with the fact that his superior officer Kao was gullible in the matter of dieties and immortals and had a taste for stories about them.
The text, in 3 chüan, has been preserved only in fragments; thirty-one pieces are collected in Chou Leng-ch’ieh , ed. P’ei Hsing Ch’uan-ch’i (Shanghai: Ku-chi ch’u-pan-she, 1981).
Po Hsing-chien , “A Record of Three Dreams” (San meng chi )
A younger brother of Po Chü-i, Hsing-chien (775?-826) is best known in literary history for his “Li Wa chuan” (“The Courtesan Li Wa,” Ma and Lau, pp. 163-71), which Li Kung-tso (q.v.) was said to have heard him tell in person. He is mentioned in the official biographies of Po Chü-i in both Chiu T’ang shu (166, p. 4358) and Hsin T’ang shu (199, p. 4305).
The text of “A Record of Three Dreams” has been preserved in a hand-copied Ming editon of Shuo-fu (the Han-fen Lou edition); the second dream is similar to a story recorded in Meng Ch’i’s Pen-shih shih (Poems with Stories behind Them), chüan 5 (see Wang Meng-ou, T’ang-jen hsiao-shuo yen-chiu, vol. 3, p. 85).
Shen Ya-chih “Lament from the Hsiang River: A Prose Version” (Hsiang chung yüan tz’u)
A chin-shih of the Yüan-ho reign period (806-820), Shen Ya-chih (781?-832?) was a literary talent befriended by Li Ho (790-816) and admired by Li Shang-yin (813-58), two of the most talented poets of the late T’ang.
Several variants are given of the title: in IWC (23) it is called “Hsiang chung yüan” (Lament from the Hsiang River). In one edition of his collected works (Shen Hsia-hsien wen-chi), the terms tz’u (prose) follows “Hsiang chung yüan” the other extant edition has chieh (explanation) instead; and in TPKC, it is called “T’ai-hsüeh Cheng-sheng” (Scholar Cheng of the National University).
Tai Fu , Kuang-i chi (A Comprehensive Record of Marvels)
Nothing is known of T’ai’s life except that he passed an exam in 757.
Originally in 20 chüan, the text is now lost, but some entries have survived in other sources. About three hundred are given in TPKC.
Tuan Ch’eng-shih , Yu-yang tsa-tsu (Miscellanies from the Southern Side of Yu Mountain)
The son of a prime minister, Tuan Ch’eng-shih (d. 863) had a smooth official career in the T’ang court. He is mentioned briefly in the biographies of his father, Tuan Wen-ch’ang , in both Chiu T’ang-shu (167, p. 4369) and Hsin T’ang-shu (89, p. 3764). The possession of a large collection in the family library may have facilitated his compilation of the Yu-yang tsa-tsu.
Preserved in several collectanea, the text exists in 20 chüan, with a supplement of 10 chüan. The Tsung-shu chi-ch’eng edition has been used for the translaton. The contents of the collection are composed of both selections from earlier texts and Tuan’s own compositions.
Yüan Chiao , Kan-tse yao (The Lays of Sweet Rains)
The son of Yüan Tzu , a minister and military governor under Emperor Hsien-tsung (r. 805-819, see Hsin T’ang-shu, 151, pp. 4824ff.), Chiao was at one time the President of the Board of Rites (Board of Punishments, according to one source) and subsequently became Governor of Kuo-chou (in modern Honan Province); he died in that office. He wrote these tales after long rains in 868, hence the title for the collection.
Extant in 1 chüan, the text consists of nine stories, all of which are also preserved in the TPKC.