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Soushen Ji 搜神记 – Top 100 Books in China

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The origin of The strange and strange novels in Chinese note-writing style


Chinese Name: 搜神记

English Name: Soushen Ji

Other Name: In Search of the Sacred, In Search of the Supernatural, Anecdotes about Spirits and Immortals

AuthorGan Bao 干宝

Originally Published: AD 317 -420 ( Eastern jin 东晋)

Genre: Notes novel

Brief Introduction of Soushen Ji

Soushen Ji 搜神记 is a collection of stories written by historian Gan Bao in the Eastern Jin Dynasty 东晋. It is the originator of the Chinese novel written in notes and records a large number of legends from ancient times to the Han 汉 and Jin dynasties. The content is extremely rich. Originally 30 volumes have been lost, but the current edition is compiled by later generations, with a total of 20 volumes and 454 stories.

About a third of the stories in Soushen Ji were borrowed from the works of those who came before, or inherited from the former, as Gan Bao put it. However, he did not simply transcribe legends, but made artistic processing on the basis of the collected materials, integrating the truth of life and the truth of art.

The main characters in this book are ghosts, monsters and immortals. Most of the stories are about the weird things of the gods, but some of them are folklore.

Soushen Ji 搜神记(清版的内页)
Inside page of the Qing Dynasty edition of Soushen Ji 清代版本《搜神记》的内页

Soushen Ji, there are stories of heroes overcoming disasters and wars between tribes. However, the contents that are close to the real life in the book occupy more space, such as Pan Hu 盘弧 , a work that reflects and praises the thoughts and feelings of the working people. It exposes the cruel nature of the feudal ruling class and praises the excellent qualities of the rebels, such as Han Ping’s Wife 韩凭妻 and the Tombs of the Three Kings 三王墓. Some of them reflect the marital problems of men and women in feudal society, such as Wang Daoping 王道平.

Soushen Ji 搜神记(干将莫邪冶剑)
Gan Jiang and his wife Mo Ye calcined the sword 干将和妻子莫邪煅烧宝剑

Most of the stories in Soushen Ji are short in length, simple in plot, fantastic in imagination, and full of romanticism, which has a profound influence on the later generations of novels and drama literature in the Yuan 元, Ming 明 and Qing 清 dynasties.

Soushen Ji 搜神记((董永和妻子各自做活)
Dong Yong works outside while his wife weaves in the house 董永在外面耕作,妻子在屋中织布

Author of Soushen Ji

Soushen Ji was written by Gan Bao.

Gan Bao 干宝
Gan Bao 干宝

GanBao (?―336年) was born in Xincai County 新蔡市, He Nan Province 河南省. he was a writer and historian of the Eastern Jin Dynasty. He was called “the originator of Chinese strange novels” because of his novel Soushen Ji, which has a profound influence on the history of Chinese fiction.

Gan Bao was studious from an early age, widely read and grew up after the official. After the establishment of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, he was responsible for the writing of the national history Jin Ji 晋纪 . In 336, Gan Bao died.

Excerpts From Soushen Ji


In the seas off Southsea County there were sharks, creatures that lived in the water like fish, spinning and weaving. Pearls flow from their eyes when they weep.


Shen Nong took the ochre whips to whip all kinds of plants, fully understand the nature of all kinds of plants toxic, non-toxic, cold and warm, as well as the taste of these plants, and then sow grain according to these experiences, so the people called him “Shen Nong”.


East of Fankou, there is a fan Mountain. If the weather is dry and the mountains are set on fire, it will rain heavily at once. So far this has often worked.

Evaluation of Soushen Ji

I am not as talented as Gan Bao, but I also like ghost stories very much.

Pu Songling 蒲松龄

Soushen Ji is a half-truth classic.

Lu Xun 鲁迅

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