November 25th, 2007

zhuge tenpou


Cleaning up yesterday I moved the sofa and found a couple of books that had fallen down behind it. (My bad habit is to put the book I'm reading face down on top of the sofa cushions. Of *course* they fall down behind.) One was Spence's The Death of Woman Wang that I'd been slogging through last September, disheartened by all these mortality statistics of earthquake, flood and Manchu invasion. People kept killing themselves in 17th century Tan-ch'eng? Gee I wonder why.

Decided to give it another run and was rewarded by, among other things, a number of retellings of P'u Sung-ling's (Pu Songling, 蒲松齡, 蒲松龄) stories. This gives me hope that my other Spence, Treason by the Book, will eventually stop being about the paranoia of Qing officialdom and start being about people I'm interested in, though I doubt it will do that soon. But something's bothering me about Woman Wang. Collapse )