An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Chuanqi 傳奇

Nov 28, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Chuanqi 傳奇 "Transmission of strange tales" is a collection of phantastic stories compiled by the Tang period 唐 (618-907) writer Pei Xing 裴鉶 (fl. 878). The stories of supernatural and love are of an excellent narrative quality and were therefore quite widespread. A lot of them is quoted by later authors or was used in novels and theatre plays. The literary style is mixed of prose and rhymed prose, a method known as "couplet texts" (pianliju 駢儷句 or pianwen 駢文) that was typical for late Tang period writings. The Chuanqi even was epoch-making with its mixed style tied to a certain literary content, which was therefore also called "strange story style" (chuanqiti 傳奇體) during the Song period 宋 (960-1279).
The imperial bibliography in the official dynastic history Xintangshu 新唐書 speaks of a 3 juan "scrolls" long Chuanqi, which is lost. The received version is a reconstruction on the base of quotations mainly from the encyclopedias Taiping guangji 太平廣記 and Leishuo 類說. The edition of Zheng Zhenduo 鄭振鐸 is included in the series Shijie wenku 世界文庫. In 1980 the Shanghai guji press 上海古籍出版社 published a modern edition, which is commented by Zhou Langqie 周楞伽.

Cheng Yizhong 程毅中 (1986). "Chuanqi 傳奇", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學, vol. 1, pp. 90-91. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.