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  • Love and Women in Early Chinese Fiction

Love and Women in Early Chinese Fiction

Daniel Hsieh

English , 2008/04 The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press

Tags: Literature

229 x 152 mm , 340pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-962-996-305-7

  • US$49.00

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In traditional China, upper-class literati were inevitably strongly influenced by Confucian doctrine and rarely touched upon such topics as love and women in their writings. It was not until the mid-Tang, a generation or two after the An Lushan rebellion, that literary circles began to engage in overt discussion of the issues of love and women, through the use of the newly emerging genres of zhiguai and chuanqi fiction. The debate was carried out with an unprecedented enthusiasm, since the topics were considered to be the key to understanding the crisis in Chinese civilization. This book examines the repertoire of chuanqi and zhiguai written during the Six Dynasties and Tang periods and analyzes the key themes, topics, and approaches found in these tales, which range from expressions of male fantasy, sympathy, fear, and anxiety, to philosophical debate on the place of the feminine in patriarchal Chinese society. Many of these stories reflect tensions between masculine and feminine aspects of civilization as seen, for example, in the conflict of male aspiration and female desire, as well as the ultimate longing for reconciliation of these divisions. These stories form a crucial chapter in the history of love in China and would provide much of the foundation for further explorations during the late imperial period, as seen in seminal works such as The Peony Pavilion and Dream of the Red Chamber.

Daniel Hsieh is Associate Professor of Chinese at Purdue University.

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