Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 229
Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling is also sometimes translated as Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. The collection of stories dates back to the mid-18th century, and its themes include commoners and how they relate to the governmental systems of the time.
There are a few main themes you can choose within this general framework when writing your assignment. For example, you could write about how Songling uses the supernatural to criticize the corrupt feudal system. An example of this is in “The Cricket,” where it’s clear the author hates how unfair the system is, especially in the way it allows the rich to avoid punishment so that they can break the law however they want, often to the detriment of the poor.
Corruption in general is a strong theme in Songling’s stories since many are also essentially morality tales. For example, the author is critical of the system for exams at the time, since he suspects that students were getting good grades mostly by bribing officials and breaking the rules. The story “Scholar Wan Zi-an” is an example of this.
Another theme includes relationships; the use of a fox spirit for this theme is popular in the collection. The story “Miss Lien-Hsiang” is about a beautiful fox spirit that rescues a man from being led astray by a ghost, for example.
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