Preface to Strange Stories of Chinese Studio

AUTHOR'S OWN RECORD by P'u Song-ling

P’u Song-ling (17th century a.d. ), after taking his first or bachelor’s degree before he was twenty, this now famous writer, popularly known as “Last of the Immortals,” failed to secure the second and more important degree which would have brought him into official life; the reason being that he neglected the beaten track of academic study and allowed himself to follow his own fancy. His literary output consists of a large collection of weird fantastic tales, which might well have disappeared but for the extraordinarily beautiful style in which they are written, — a style which has been the envy and admiration of authors for the past two hundred and forty years. They have been translated into English by the present writer under the title of “Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio.” All that we really know about him is given in the document translated below.



Those who truly love antiquity, love, not the things, but the men of old

HSU HSIEH, 16th and 17th centuries, Graduated in 1601 as first chin shih, and joined the Han-lin College. He was devoted to study, and vowed that if only he might attain to a good style, he would jump into the ocean to spread it far and wide.



WANG TAO-K’UN (汪道昆, 明代, 16th century), graduated as 进士 Chin shih in 1547, and distinguished himself as a military commander and as a writer. The following is a cynical skit upon the corruption of his day.



Flunkeyism is a term indicating toadyism, servile attitude, or worship of the powerful. The following piece is from his correspondence by Tsung Ch’en of Ming dynasty (16 centure). Several sentences of it have quite a Juvenalian style. Tsung Ch’en was an official who took the highest degree (进士) at the age of twenty and rose to high rank. He is noted for his defence of Foochow against the Japanese (1560). He opened the west gate, of which he was in charge, as if to admit the enemy by treachery; and then his troops and the populace attacked the invaders from the top of the wall and slaughtered them in great numbers.

Chinese Names

Now a Chinese name is simply written with the family name first and the given name next, and Chinese people commonly address each other with full names instead of given names. But historicaly, there are much more than that in names.


Liu Yuxi

刘禹锡《陋室铭》的英文翻译,网上搜索前几页都是转载相同的翻译,一看就出自中国人的手笔。阅读H. A. Giles的《Gems of Chinese Literature》,发现里面选了刘禹锡的这篇《陋室铭》,标题是My humble home, 而不是被广为转载的An Epigraph in Praise of My Humble Home,或者把“铭”翻译成 An inscription的。

Bad Government Is Worse Than A Tiger

Catching Snakes

LIU TSUNG-YUAN (柳宗元 A.D. 773-819), A most versatile writer who lived in Chang’an during the Tang Dynasty. He was a founder of the Classical Prose Movement and was traditionally classed as one of the Eight Great Prose Masters of the Tang and Song. He was banished to Yongzhou on political grounds to a distant official post, where he died.

The Manifesto to the Crocodile of Ch’ao Chou

By Han Yü

Han Yu (768–824) was famous poet, essayist, and philosopher during Tang dynasty. In official life, he got himself into trouble by his outspoken attacks upon Buddhism, at that time very fashionable at Court, and was banished to the then barbarous south, as Governor of Ch’ao-chou. It was there that he issued his famous manifesto to the crocodile; this diatribe has reference to the alleged expulsion of a crocodile which had been devastating the water-courses round Ch’ao-chou. The writer’s general character and high literary attainments forbid us to believe that he believed himself, we might well smile that to the author superstition was simply an instrument of political power.




Searching out the spirits

搜神記 (Sou shen ji)

An introduction to the Records of Searching out the Spirits.