Pu Songling and the Spider

Stephen Teo

in King Hu's A Touch of Zen

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9789622098152
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207110 | DOI:
Pu Songling and the Spider

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This chapter goes to the formal analysis of the film's narrative by discussing the symbolic motifs which King Hu embedded within the film in order to interpret and build on the original story in Pu Songling's Liaozhai zhiyi, a vital source of the narrative. The story is Xia Nü, rendered as The Magnanimous Girl in Herbert Giles's translation. Liaozhai zhiyi was published in its earliest form in 1679. Pu Songling spent the whole of his adult life writing and collecting the ghost stories and tales of the supernatural in the anthology. The appearance of the spider in the very first shot seems to set the film up for a psychoanalytical reading of the film, in that the recurring imagery of the spider and the web is an overhanging structural motif.

Keywords: Liaozhai zhiyi; King Hu; The Magnanimous Girl; Xia Nü; spider; psychoanalytical reading; Pu Songling; symbolic motifs; ghost stories

Chapter.  3608 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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