Playwrights and Literary Games in Seventeenth-Century China

Playwrights and Literary Games in Seventeenth-Century China

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qConsidering the importance of chuanqi drama in Ming and Qing China and the recent revival of interest in the genre, this book is extremely welcome. Jing Shen has focused on some of the most knotty problems in chuanqi drama: the games that literati played in their production and consumption. After contextualizing the genre and its producers and consumers, she presents detailed and concrete analyses of examples from some of the most influential playwrights of the 1600s, a crucial century in the development of the genre and of Chinese history (it saw the traumatic fall of the native Ming dynasty to the invading Manchus). Since Professor Shen pays careful attention to the relationships between developments in this dramatic genre and the societal and historical changes of the times, her book will be of great interest not only to those interested in Chinese theater or world theater in general, but also to those interested in this crucial century in Chinese history.q David Rolston, University of Michigan qAdaptations of earlier writings, the representations of identities (whether of characters or the playwrights' own), the newly developed self-reflexivity in drama, and meta-theatrical statements in various forms are all important concerns that Jing Shen weaves through her masterful readings of plays by five major dramatists of China's crucial seventeenth century---when traditional culture underwent the shattering trauma of subjugation by non-Chinese armies from the north. Throughout she demonstrates her deep knowledge of China's literary tradition by revealing the complex intertextual relations of each play. Professor Shen's richly detailed study firmly places these dramatic masterpieces in their historical, cultural, and even personal contexts to provide a vision of late imperial Chinese theater significantly more nuanccd than that achieved by any previous study in any Western language.q Robert E. Ilegel, Washington University, St. Louis qThe late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a time when stage-struck literary men from the top echelon of Chinese society turned their hands to playwriting, and the publishing boom of the period ensured that handsomely printed editions of their plays with illustrations and commentary were available to an avid reading public. These plays, which combine the finest poetic song lyrics with sophisticated badinage and bawdy jokes, were also serious vehicles for reflections on politics, history, and, of course, the theater itself. Jing Shen's new book provides an informative and lively introduction to the sociocultural world that these literati playwrights inhabited and re-created in their marvelous works. All in all, this is a major addition to the growing critical literature on the history and theory of premodern Chinese theater in its cultural context.q Judith T. Zeitlin, University of Chicago Playwrights and Literary Games in Seventeenth-Century China is a full length study of chuanqi (romance) drama, a sophisticated form with substantial literary and meta theatrical value that reigned supreme in Chinese theater from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries and nourished later rheatrical traditions, including jingjn (the Beijing Opera). Jing Shen examines the texts to demonstrate that chuanqi playwrights appropriate, convert, or misinterpret other genres or literary works of enduring influence in their plays to convey subtle and subversive expressions in the fine margins between tradition and innovation, history and theatrical representation. By exploring the components of romance in texts from the late Ming to the early Qing dynasties, Shen reveals creative readings of earlier themes, stories, plays, and the changing idea of romanticism for chuanqi drama.Plays by Tang Xianzu, Mei Dingzuo, Wu Bing, Li Yu, and Kong Shangren Jing Shen ... Dynasty (581a€”618), 64;Tang chuanqi literature and, relationship between, 63a€”64;Wu Bing in, 125 Ciyu conghua. ... 254a€”55 A Collection of Ghosts and Demons (Niu Sengru), 63, 72n14 comedy, 147n45 Complete Manual ofSouthernanbsp;...

Title:Playwrights and Literary Games in Seventeenth-Century China
Author: Jing Shen
Publisher:Lexington Books - 2010-08-04

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