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Liaozhai Zhiyi and chinese vernacular fiction

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Chapter Summary

Basic distinctions are often drawn between the two strands within the Chinese storytelling tradition: on the one hand the classical Chinese tale, concerned with personal and private affairs, characterized by terseness and ambiguity, and on the other the vernacular story and novel, more concerned with society at large, noted for their considerable length and explicit detail. In an effort to examine more fully the whole question, this chapter reads across the boundaries between classical and vernacular and examines in detail Liaozhai Zhiyi’s relationship to colloquial stories and novels. During the middle and late seventeenth century Chinese fiction criticism made rapid advances through the writings of Jin Shengtan (1608-61), Mao Zonggang (fl. 1679), and Zhang Zhupo (1670-98). ‘Nian yang’ perhaps illustrates most fully the tendency in Liaozhai to emulate the neatness of vernacular narratives.

Keywords: Chinese vernacular fiction; Liaozhai Zhiyi; Nian yang’



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