Yongbin Xu


Pu Songling recounted how ancient scholars made a living in his Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, and the means fell into the following categories: home school tutoring, copying books, making paintings and calligraphic works, and doing business. These practices reflected the social reality of the scholars’ life in the Qing Dynasty. The idea behind these practices in the Qing Dynasty was influenced by Xu Heng’s claim that “the primary task of a scholar is to make a living” in the Yuan Dynasty, and the idea underlay the scholars’ practice of making a living in the Ming-Qing dynasties while the need to make a living also reflected the difficult living conditions of the lower class scholars. Pu Songling and his father’s practice of making a living prompted him to pay attention to the social phenomenon and recounted how scholars’ made a living and what social ecology the low-class scholars were confronted, while Pu’s own practice of making a living allowed him to imbue the stories with some unique nuances.


Pu Songling; Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio; idea of making a living; social ecology of scholars’ making a living; social reality

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