Quest for the Childlike in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Fiction: Fantasy, Naivety and Folly

Author: Weightman, Frances
This study examines what has been described as the ‘cult of the child’ in late Ming China and explores how this influenced classical Chinese fiction of the seventeenth century. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, this monograph conducts an analysis of childlikeness in fiction, and specifically in the most important seventeenth-century anthology of fiction, the Liaozhai zhiyi, by Pu Songling (1640-1715).


“[the author] sheds new light to better understand both the literary and philosophical developments of the period. One advantage her work has is that she has been able to make extensive use of the latest Chinese research throughout.” – Paolo Santangelo, Professor of East Asian History, University of Rome

“ . . . an excellent piece of work that persuasively argues its case that the notion of the childlike mind is central to an understanding of the writings of Pu Songling, and, in particular, Liaozhai zhiyi, his famous collection of tales written in the classical language.” - Julian Ward, Lecturer in Chinese Studies, University of Edinburgh

“Frances Weightman’s book is a major landmark, bringing new precision and sophistication to a core topic of the literary renewal of [seventeenth century China], and amply showing that the writers had much more intricacy and depth in their attitudes than had previously in general been assumed. . . . I thoroughly recommend this book, which I am sure will be a seminal one.” - Dr. William Dolby, former Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies, Department of Chinese Studies, University of Edinburgh

Table of Contents

Preface by Paolo Santangelo
1. The author and his work
2. Ideals of Childlikeness in Late Imperial China
3. Fantasy
4. Naivety
5. Folly