Below are accounts, both classical and modern, that illustrate the genre of zhiguai" [zhi=records; guai=strange]. These include examples of horror and paranormal memoir (most of the stories here), alongside classical third-person horror fiction (e.g. the tales of Pu Songling). This is in keeping with the tradition of zhiguai collections mixing both types of materials.

The Painted Skin by Pu Songling (1640-1715); Translated by H.A. Giles

  At T’ai-yuan there lived a man named Wang. One morning he was out walking when he met a young lady carrying a bundle and hurrying along by herself. As she moved along with some difficulty, Wang quickened his pace and caught her up, and found she was a pretty girl of about sixteen. Much smitten, he inquired whither she was going so early, and no one with her. “A traveller like you,” replied the girl, “cannot alleviate my distress …

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Twice Goodbye by Ji Yun, The Emperor’s Librarian (1724-1805)

Lady Zhao, the wife of my second son, Ruchuan, was a sensitive and enchanting young woman—one of those people who make you glad to be near them. My wife, Mistress Ma, continually boasted to others about Lady Zhao’s character and literary talent, as well as her needlework. She said that Lady Zhao talked with such charm that one could happily listen to her for a whole day. This was all true. We could not have hoped for a better daughter-in-law. …

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Miss Lian-Hsiang by Pu Songling (1640-1715); Translated by H.A. Giles

There was a young man named Sang Tsu-ming, a native of I-chou, who had been left an orphan when quite young. He lived near the Saffron market, and kept himself very much to himself, only going out twice a day for his meals to a neighbour’s close by, and sitting quietly at home all the rest of his time. One day the said neighbour called, and asked him in joke if he wasn’t afraid of devil-foxes, so much alone as …

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