By Richard E. Strassberg
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Additional info for A Chinese bestiary: strange creatures from the guideways through mountains and seas = [Shan hai jing]
Perhaps the most creative use of the Guideways appeared not long after Hao’s edition in Li Ruzhen’s (c. 1763–c. 1830) novel The Fate of Flowers in the Mirror (Jinghuayuan, printed 1828). Li exploited the satiric potential of some of the more fantastic foreign peoples from chapters 7 and 16, placing them among thirty or so island kingdoms visited by a group of fictional Chinese travelers during the Tang dynasty. Like Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), the novel can be read as an ironic cosmography that parodies the more serious works of the genre.
Lu later wrote a short reminiscence about an irritating maid he knew as a child, Achang, who finally won his undying a ection after giving him a copy of one of the inexpensive popular editions of the Guideways. He had previously seen a version in the library of a relative and became obsessed with its illustrations of strange creatures. Among those that particularly impressed him were the human-headed beasts, the nineheaded snake Minister Liu [no. 244], the Three-Legged Bird [no. 277], the winged Feathered People [no.
233] who has a headless body where his nipples became his eyes and his navel became his mouth and who dances holding a spear and shield. ) From Dianshizhai huabao, series 1, vol. 6, no. ). creatures. ”100 Just as myths were seen to have played an archetypal role in the formulation of Western literature, so it was hoped that the recovery and analysis of Chinese myths would aid in the creation of a modern Chinese culture. Lu Xun expounded his ideas about the Guideways while he was teaching a new course at Beijing University on traditional Chinese fiction from 1920 to 1924, and these first appeared when his lectures were published in 1923.
A Chinese bestiary: strange creatures from the guideways through mountains and seas = [Shan hai jing] by Richard E. Strassberg