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120 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Glen Dudbridge. Religious Experience and Lay Society in Vang China: A Reading ofTai Fus Kuang-i chi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. viii, 256 pp. Hardcover $59.95, isbn 0-521-48223-2. "Accounts of anomalies" has been an important literary genre throughout Chinese history. Texts that contain strange, extraordinary tales derived from the zhiguai ????? fiction ofthe Six Dynasties or the chuanqi Hj-nf fiction ofthe Tang have been the subject of recent scholarship, which has led to increased interest in these accounts.1 This recent scholarship is likely to change the traditional image of fiction, or xiaoshuo ^MA, in general and ofanomaly accounts in particular. Glen Dudbridge's new book attempts to redefine what is meant by anomaly accounts. He treats a particular xiaoshuo text with anomalous tales and fantasy as "a literature of record, not of fantasy or creative fiction" (p. 16). The text in question is the Guangyiji JÜHlö (Great book ofmarvels), which was incorporated into the Taipingguangji ^2PIiIgS (A comprehensive record compiled in the Taiping [Xingguo] reign period), compiled in 977-978 during the reign ofEmperor Taizong ^?t? (r. 976-997) ofthe Song. The edition that Dudbridge uses for his study was put together by Fang Shiming "Jfi$iii in 1992, and this is probably what remains ofthe original text. It consists of some three hundred tales originally scattered in the Taipingguangji. The majority of these tales fall under such categories as "Ghosts" {gui M,), "Return to Life" {zaishengW£), "Rewards" {baoying ^M), "Gods" {shen flf), and "Dreams" {mengW)—altogether there are ninety-one different categories in the Taipingguangji (pp. 4748 ). Dudbridge has studied all of these tales and has selected "samples among them which attract close attention and hint at wider implications" (p. 65). His purpose is to reconstruct what he believes to be forgotten or untold aspects of the history as well as religious culture of the Tang. In Dudbridge's view, this goal can be achieved if one uses this text as a historical document "with the critical care that is taken for granted in more conventional historical study" (p. 173). Dudbridge begins by introducing, in the first chapter, three "subsequent voices," which he believes to have been the voices of three contemporaries of the scholar Dai Fu W&-, who authored the Guangyiji. Based on Dai Fu's account of these voices, Dudbridge identifies Dai Fu as a minor official in what is now modern Zhejiang, during the 760s and 770s, after the An Lushan rebellion. Dudbridge believes that Dai Fu's account indicates that he was a direct observer or an in-© 1998 by University formed reporter of many, if not all, of the anomalous incidents recorded in his ofHawai 1 Pressbook. Thus, in Dudbridge's view, Dai Fu was reporting on a seemingly unknown or at least hitherto unreported historical reality. To support this argument, Dudbridge reconstructs Dai Fu's life, career, and interests in chapter 2, using a Reviews 121 preface to Dai's text written by his contemporary, Gu Kuang MM (d. ca. 806). In this preface, Dai Fu is described as a man "most deeplyversed in the occult" (p. 42) and his text as representing the long tradition ofChinese fascination with anomaly accounts, whose recorders included prominent scholars before and during the Tang.2 Dudbridge has provided a detailed, annotated translation of Gu's preface, placing Dai Fu within the context ofthe literary tradition associated with anomaly accounts. In chapter 3, Dudbridge further stresses the occult tradition with which Dai Fu was conversant, and examines some ofthe religious practices associated with this tradition. Dudbridge believes that Dai Fu's account can attest to die existence ofthese religious practices. In an effort to prove the historical value ofthe text, Dudbridge uses some of the tales to discuss the Tang cult ofMount Hua ^lL|. He argues in chapter 4 that the depictions of this regional cult, which later became an imperial cult, can corroborate what we already know about it. Dudbridge suggests that much ofthe information about this cult in Dai's account was obscured in the factual record. In the same vein, in chapter 5 he gives another example of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 120-124
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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