Hidden and Visible Realms

Early Medieval Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and the Fantastic

Liu Yiqing. Zhenjun Zhang

Columbia University Press

Hidden and Visible Realms

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Pub Date: May 2018

ISBN: 9780231187169

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£47.00

Pub Date: May 2018

ISBN: 9780231547055

304 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99£47.00

Hidden and Visible Realms

Early Medieval Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and the Fantastic

Liu Yiqing. Zhenjun Zhang

Columbia University Press

Chinese culture of the Six Dynasties period (220–589) saw a blossoming of stories of the fantastic. Zhiguai, “records of the strange” or “accounts of anomalies,” tell of encounters with otherness, in which inexplicable and uncanny phenomena interrupt mundane human affairs. They depict deities, ghosts, and monsters; heaven, the underworld, and the immortal lands; omens, metamorphoses, and trafficking between humans and supernatural beings; and legendary figures, strange creatures, and natural wonders in the human world.

Hidden and Visible Realms, traditionally attributed to Liu Yiqing, is one of the most significant zhiguai collections, distinguished by its varied contents, elegant writing style, and fascinating stories. It is also among the earliest collections heavily influenced by Buddhist beliefs, values, and concerns. Beyond the traditional zhiguai narratives, it includes tales of karmic retribution, reincarnation, and Buddhist ghosts, hell, and magic. In this annotated first complete English translation, Zhenjun Zhang gives English-speaking readers a sense of the wealth and wonder of the zhiguai canon. Hidden and Visible Realms opens a window into the lives, customs, and religious beliefs and practices of early medieval China and the cultural history of Chinese Buddhism. In the introduction, Zhang explains the key themes and textual history of the work.
The nearly three hundred miracle tales that survive of Liu Yiqing’s compilation offer fascinating insights into China’s society and imagination of the late third to early fifth centuries. This complete translation will be eagerly welcomed by all students and scholars of Chinese literature, religion, and thought, as it was precisely in this period that Buddhism had become part of Chinese life. Wilt L. Idema, Harvard University
Hidden and Visible Realms is the most complete and critically annotated translation of the seminal collection of zhiguai (‘tales of anomalies’), Liu Yiqing’s Youming lu, in any language, one that will be enthusiastically welcomed by all who are interested in the history of Chinese fiction and religion. Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania
The fields of early Chinese studies will enthusiastically welcome this excellent work by Zhenjun Zhang that combines a skillfully rendered translation of Liu Yiqing’s Youminglu with an extensive treatise, providing the most comprehensive review of the long history of zhiguai studies we have to date. Kenneth J. DeWoskin, University of Michigan
Hidden and Visible Realms makes a valuable contribution to the study of Chinese zhiguai “Records of the Strange” literature. For the first time, Zhang’s translation of the Youming lu gives English readers a sense of the marvelous richness of the text’s contents and its diverse themes. Keith Knapp, The Citadel
This is a substantial study and translation that can serve as a model for future translations of zhiguai texts. Accurate and carefully annotated, Hidden and Visible Realms is in effect a new recension of the Youming lu. It is a valuable contribution to our growing understanding of early xiaoshuo. Daniel Hsieh, Purdue University
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Terms Regarding Weights and Measures
Chronology
Introduction
1. The Wonder of Love
2. A Garden of Marvels
3. The Spectacle of Monsters
4. The Realm of Ghosts
5. The Netherworld and This World
6. Animals and Men
7. Anecdotes of Notable Figures
8. Local Legends
Appendix
Tales Appearing in Other Renditions
Works Cited
Index

About the Author

Zhenjun Zhang is associate professor of Asian studies and modern languages and literatures at St. Lawrence University. His books include Buddhism and Tales of the Supernatural in Early Medieval China: A Study of Liu Yiqing’s (403–444) Youming lu (2014).