Recording personal and family history has been a secondary purpose of the zhiguai
(tales of the strange) genre from its inception. As there is no proven female author of a surviving collection before the 20th century, these family histories were shaped by male collectors recording tales told by both female and male informants. Yet in the Republican period, when the practice of recording strange incidents from memory or hearsay had become a marginal practice, Lü Meisun 呂美蓀 (1881–1945) published two collections. Lü’s work stands at a fascinating intersection of gender, genre, and cultural change. She presents a family history centered on the female side of her family and her personal spiritual autobiography against the larger backdrop of cultural transformation from the late Qing through the Republican period. In this paper, I consider a male author of zhiguai
during the same years, Guo Zeyun 郭則澐 (1882–1946), for comparison. With their differing conceptions of family, both writers strive to convert familial memory and strange experience into meaning relevant for a wider audience in the present moment.
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