Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Guang Yi Ji — a Mini-Encyclopaedia of the Supernatural
Abstract. The present article dwells on one of the most famous zhiguai xiaoshuo collections of the Tang time, a mini-encyclopaedia of the supernatural, Guang yi ji (“廣異記”, “Great Book of Marvels”). The collection was created by an official and writer of the Tang time, Dai Fu (戴孚, ?—794?) and lost by the time the reign of the Northern Song was ending, with only fragments surviving; for one example, Tai ping guang ji contains more than three hundred of these fragments. It is possible that the collection was fully restored during the Ming time. The modern critical reader of Guang yi ji includes three hundred and two fragments in six juans. The main subject of Guang yi ji is all things supernatural and strange, astounding and surprising; fifty five fragments deal with souls of the dead, thirty three describe skinchanging foxes, thirty one dwell on resurrections, twenty six are stories of nemesis, and twenty one are about the immortal. The larger number of tales of turnskin fox clearly demonstrates that by Tang time this animal and the views of its magic properties had formed a special group out of the previously common family inhabited by tigers, bears, wolves and other animals capable of skinchanging. The fragments are different in length and include short as well as relatively long stories; from the point of view of literary form, all Guang yi ji tales, irrespective of their size, are built with rising action and ending, a logical unfolding of the story line, and make an impression of a completed work; the narration is simple but vivid, self-sufficient but eloquent. This collection is an important link in the development of the Chinese xiaoshuo prose, a source of story lines and characters for the following literary traditions, an important landmark in the formation of the truly fictional prose.
Keywords: China, history of Chinese culture, Tang dynasty story, zhiguai xiaoshuo, Guang yi ji, Dai Fu
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