The stories written during the Tang Dynasty
(AD 618-907) form a notable part of early
Chinese fiction. Indeed, in importance they
are comparable to Tang poetry. The
prosperity of the Tang Dynasty with its rapid
development of agriculture, handicrafts and
commerce supplied a rich material basis
for the complex social life which was the
background to these stories. Since the
authors were consciously writing fiction,
they produced something more imaginative
than the earlier Chinese tales of the
supernatural or anecdotes of famous men.
The middle period of the Tang Dynasty -
the eighth century and early ninth century
- was the hay-day of this form of literature.
This collection includes some of the best
stories of this period.
Cover: Detail from "Women Wearing Flowers" by Zhou
Fang (Tang Dynasty)