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King Hu's A Touch of Zen$
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Stephen Teo

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9789622098152

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789622098152.001.0001

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Pu Songling and the Spider

Pu Songling and the Spider

(p.16) (p.17) 2 Pu Songling and the Spider
King Hu's A Touch of Zen

Stephen Teo

Hong Kong University Press

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

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