ThiefRL, when I eventually return to it, will be getting a layer of Chinoiserie. Here's what I've been reading in preparation:
- China's Old Dwellings (Ronald Knapp)
- Chinese Imperial City Planning (Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt)
- Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (Pu Songling, translated by John Minford)
My brother also picked me up some architecture books on his last trip to Shanghai; they're entirely in Chinese though so I can't give the titles.
Fox spirits seem to be similar to the fairies you find in British Isles folklore. Ghosts, on the other hand, are odd; I haven't really gotten a good handle on how they work. I just finished reading a story where a ghost ended up marrying a guy and bearing him a son, so it's not clear exactly how being dead slowed her down. I've read two stories so far where a guy has a three-way with a fox spirit and a ghost; that strikes me as a bit unrealistic, especially if said guy is a shy student with no obvious redeeming qualities.
Apparently the Strange Tales were heavily commented on by “scholars” of the succeeding centuries. The translator has mostly omitted these, but left them in on one story to give a sense of what they're like. The depth of the commentary on that story was similar to what you'd find in the comments section on an Internet article. I kept expecting to see “Firsties!” or “This. So hard.”