Introduction to the Text
This is one of five stories in the Global Medieval Sourcebook selected from Hong Mai's Yijian Zhi (or, Record of the Listener, hereafter the Record). Like many well-educated men in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), Hong Mai (1123-1202) grew up in a prominent family, passed the civil service examination, and obtained a post in the imperial government. However, due to misconduct during a diplomatic mission, his career came to an abrupt end. From then on, he retreated to his study and devoted himself to writing the Record.
The Record preserved much information about the society, culture and religion of the Southern Song Dynasty and was a source of inspiration for generations of writers after Hong Mai. Writers in late imperial China, for instance, took up many stories in the Record and refashioned them into stories that met the demands and expectations of their own times.
Introduction to the Source
The corpus of the Record originally consisted of 420 chapters. What we have today is a small fraction of the original text. The Record shows a remarkable degree of accuracy when we compare it with official documents and other texts from the same period. Nevertheless, many stories in the Record are fictitious or based on highly unreliable sources.
About this Edition
This translation is under review.
Allen, Sarah M. Shifting Stories : History, Gossip, and Lore in Narratives from Tang Dynasty China. Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Asia Center, 2014.
- Explores the 'tale literature' of eighth- and ninth-century China to show how the written tales we have today grew out of a fluid culture of hearsay that circulated within elite society. Contains a chapter that explains the modern (mis)understanding of the tale literature as a genre.
Hansen, Valerie. Changing Gods in Medieval China, 1127-1276. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990.
- Uses the Yijian Zhi tales as a historical document and shows that social and economic developments underlay religious changes in the Southern Song.
Inglis, Alister David. Hong Mai's Record of the Listener and Its Song Dynasty Context. Suny Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.
- A comprehensive survey of the scholarship on Yijian Zhi.
Luo, Manling. Literati Storytelling in Late Medieval China. The Modern Language Initiative. Seattle ; London: University of Washington Press, 2015.
- Shows how the tales offer crucial insights into the reconfiguration of the Chinese elite, which monopoligzed literacy, social prestige, and political participation in tenth-century China.
Hong Mai. 'The Dream of Gong Yu'. Trans. Likun Yang. Global Medieval Sourcebook.