It was originally published in the year 1740 and was followed by the English translation in 1880. It is a collection of almost 500 small supernatural stories. Nie Xiaoqian is the name of the female ghost who is very good looking. She died at the young age of 18 years and was buried in an old temple. The demon who resides at the place forces Nie to do her part in murdering the victims as rituals for the demon. This carries on for a long time until a scholar called Ning Caichen unconsciously by way of his “easy generosity and self-possession” comes to her rescue repeatedly (Songling 91).
Nie has to then prove her loyalty to the Caichen family and by doing so she and Ning, together, have a happy ending. There is another story called “The Great Maudgalyayana Rescues his Mother from Hell” from the book Traditional Chinese Stories: Themes and Variations. It contains a collection of 61 stories, all carefully edited by Yau-Woon Ma and Joseph S. M. Lau. This particular piece is translated by Eugene Eoyang. It is about one of Buddha’s disciple who was brought in the world by the name Lo-pu but later was called Mu-lein.
It is about his journey as a monk and the search for his parents. On discovering that his mother was the resident of Hell, he faces many challenges to try to bring his mother to a better place and eventually succeeds. One day, Ning – who is the hero of this story – sets out to explore the temple in Jinhua where he decides to stay for a while after asking the scholar Yan’s permission.
It is over here where the ghost of Nie lives and comes to try and bewitch Ning into losing his morals. However, Ning stays true to what his parents had taught him as a child and does not budge. He is a married man and refuses to be with the girl despite her obvious beauty for the sake of his character as well as hers. He says that he is “afraid of gossip” and that “one false step” would lead to “the end of (their) reputation” (Songling 92).
He even rejects the gold offered by the girl stating that “ill-gotten gains (would) stain (his) bag” (Songling 93). No matter how many tricks Nie uses to lure him into forgetting about his principles, he remains steadfast and true. Despite there being no parental or even his wife’s supervision over him, he remains a loyal man knowing that one misstep over here would not only affect him but also his mother and wife. He loves and cares too much about his mother to do something that would be against her wishes. Similarly, Lo-pu is on the right track as well.
Songling, Pu. "Nie Xiaoqian." Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio. 1880.
"The Great Maudgalyayana Rescues his Mother from Hell." Traditional Chinese Stories: Themes and Variations. Ed. Y. W. Ma and Joseph S. M. Lau. Trans. Eugene Eoyang. New York: Columbia University Press, 1978.
Yuan, Xinrui and Qing Wang. "A Tentative Study on Differences and Integration of Sino-Western." Asian Social Science 7.8 (2011): 97 - 106.