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The remains of Tai Fu's lost collection Kuang-i chi ('The Great Book of Marvels') preserve three hundred short tales of encounters with the other world. This study develops a style of close reading through which those tales give access to the lives of individuals in eighth-century China. Through the eyes of a mid-century county official the picture emerges of a complex lay society, served by a mixed priesthood of ritual practitioners, whose members' lives at all levels were profoundly shaped by their perceived experience of contact with the other world. It was a society embarking on fundamental change, and this book uses the sharp historical focus of Tai Fu's collection to study the dynamics of that change. The work gracefully reveals the transition from the beliefs and institutions of early mediaeval China towards those we now recognize as modern.
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