By Paolo Santangelo
Even supposing the preface says that the stories during this choice of supernatural tales shouldn't be taken heavily and simply target to dispel boredom, Zibuyu is a piece with varied analyzing degrees, which permits to discover numerous deep developments, taboos and fantasies of past due imperial highbrow circles. Disgust, shock and laughter are continuously evoked, by way of continuously attracting and repulsing the reader. Santangelo and Yan have brought, translated and commented upon the gathering.
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Additional info for Zibuyu, What The Master Would Not Discuss, according to Yuan Mei (1716 - 1798): A Collection of Supernatural Stories (2 vols)
Therefore they thought [the spirit of the ancestors] is either yin or yang. The ‘Meaning of the Sacrifice’ [Jiyi 祭義 of Liji 禮記] says: ‘When meat is burned over straws, there are flames and odor. ] (古人祭祀，以魂氣歸於天，體魄歸於地，故或求諸陽，或求諸陰。如祭義 曰“燔燎羶薌，見以蕭光，以報氣也。”“薦黍稷，羞肝肺首心，加以鬱鬯，以報魄也。”). ’ […] If one has sincerity, there will be a spiritual being for him (有其誠則有其神，無其誠則無其神。). […] Both man and the ten thousand things in the universe share a common material force. Descendants and ancestors also share a common material force.
77 However, it is difficult to truly distinguish between a ‘rational’ or ’skeptical’ attitude among scholars and officials and a superstitious attitude among commoners. 78 A clear case of self-suggestion affects an officer dispatched to destroy the temple in honour of the Great King, as mentioned in the Beixi ziyi. He is stricken with leg paralysis, which disappears only when he uncovers what is truly behind the deity’s image: […] As soon as the officer received the dispatch, both his feet became feeble.
64–67. 47 For quick reference, the number following the title of the tale indicates the chapter in Zibuyu. 48 See “The Real Judge Bao Changed into Fake One” 真龍圖變假龍圖, 9. For instance, the abovementioned “Quan Gu” 全姑, 16, condemns the cruelty and moralism of an orthodox NeoConfucian officer; 替鬼做媒, 4 supports the re-marriage of widows; “Retribution for the One Who Introduced the Practice of Foot Binding” 裹足作俑之報, 9 criticizes the practice of footbinding; “The Ghost Clerk Who Was Fond of Wine” 鬼差貪酒, 7 and “White Rainbow Spirit” 白虹精, 6, are critical of marriages arranged for social and economical status.