The original Chinese name of this book is Liaozhai Zhiyi. It means “Spooky Stories from Teacher Liao’s Study.” The author’s real name is Pu Songling. “Liaozhai” is the pseudonym of writer Pu. According to a record, Pu places a bench in front of his house, prepares a tea and snack, and calls travelers going by to stop for a rest. White the traveler sits and enjoys his tea; Pu asks him if he has strange stories to tell. He must have listened to thousands of travelers. The stories he published number 490.
Most of the stories are of a paranormal or mystical nature. In many Asian countries, in ancient times, people believed that foxes lived more than 100 years develop tails more than two. Then, they acquire a magical power to change themselves into human beings. There are many fox stories in Liaozhai Zhiyi. Another subject is “qui,” meaning ghost. In Liaozhai Zhiyi, many ghosts appear and interact with the living. There are stories about spirits, animals other than foxes, and simply unexplainable phenomenon.
Although all the stories focus on paranormal activities, the main themes are love, life, and living. It is well-known that one of Pu’s stories became the basis of the world-famous movie “A Chinese Ghost Story”. As many may know, this is the story of an ordinary young merchant who falls in love with a beautiful girl ghost. In the process of fulfilling his mission, the girl ghost helps him. With the ghost’s help, he accomplished his mission.
My favorite story is about a fox bride. It is the story of a student who wants to pass the examination to be an officer of the Chinese government. Because the student is not rich, he has difficulty continuing his studies.
One day when the student was working on a mountain, he saved a fox that was almost killed by hunters. Despite the fact that he did not have much money, he spent what he did have to buy the fox from the hunters and he then released it into the woods. That night, he was visited by a beautiful girl. She confessed that she was the fox he had saved earlier that day. She said she wanted to help him pass his exam. He gladly accepted her offer. He did not know where she worked, but she went out in the morning and brought him money so that he did not have to work anymore and was able to spend more time studying.
He passed his exam the following year. Then the girl told him that she would leave now since she had finished her task. He asked the girl to marry him. She said that she could not marry him because she was a fox, but he told her that he did not care. He truly wanted to marry her, he said, and he did not hope to marry anybody else, because he knew that he could not have passed the exam without her help. They married and lived happily ever after.
One day, when a visitor arrived at their house, the wife did not have time to hide her tail. This surprised the visitor. Later, she gave birth to two boys, who both had a mysterious power: predicting the future.
The story is supernatural. However, it teaches us about the importance of gratitude. The man and the fox woman built a happy life together because they were grateful to one another.
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