Androgyny in Late Ming and Early Qing Literature 0824825713, 9780824825713

The frequent appearance of androgyny in Ming and Qing literature has long interested scholars of late imperial Chinese c

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Androgyny in Late Ming and Early Qing Literature
 0824825713, 9780824825713

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androgyny in late ming and e a r ly q i n g l i t e ra t u r e

Androgyny i n l a t e m i n g a n d ea r ly q i n g l i t e ra t u r e

Zuyan Zhou

University of Hawai‘i Press | Honolulu

© 2003 University of Hawai‘i Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 03 04 05 06 04 08

6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication-Data Zhou, Zuyan. Androgyny in late Ming and early Qing literature / Zuyan Zhou. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 0-8248-2571-3 (alk. paper) 1. Chinese literature—Ming dynasty, 1368 – 1644—History and criticism. 2. Chinese literature—Qing dynasty, 1644 – 1912 —History and criticism. 3. Androgyny (Psychology) in literature. I. Title. pl2296 .z474 2003


2002013108 University of Hawai‘i Press books are printed on acid-free paper and meet the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Council on Library Resources. Designed by April Leidig-Higgins Printed by The Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group

To the memory of my parents

c o n t en t s

Acknowledgments ix introduction Androgyny Defined 1 one Androgyny in Chinese Philosophy 7 two Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing Culture 15 three The Plum in the Golden Vase A Prelude to the Androgyny Craze 47 four The Peony Pavilion A Paean to the Androgynous Ideal 69

five Scholar-Beauty Romance Idealistic Expression of the Androgynous Vision 95 six The Peach Blossom Fan An Ambivalent Hymn to Political Androgyny 127 seven The Dream of the Red Chamber A Shattered Dream of Androgyny 155 eight Conclusion: Androgyny as Literary Trend and Strategy in Fashioning Chinese Literati Identity 199 appendix Symbolic Values and Gender Associations of Some Flowers and Plants in Chinese Literature 211 Notes 215 Glossary 283 Selected Bibliography 287 Index 313




During my graduate study I became fascinated with the emerging trend to apply feminist theory in the exploration of Chinese literati identity, which was starting to reorient Western scholars’ perspectives in Ming-Qing study. Out of this interest I launched into a full-scale gender study of canonical works for my dissertation, which ultimately evolved into the present volume. From the inception of this study to its completion, I got ceaseless inspiration, encouragement, and assistance from Professor Robert Hegel, to whom I owe a profound debt of gratitude. Hegel continued to read my writings and guide my research following my graduation; as an exemplary mentor he develops bonds to his students that are lifelong. I am also deeply indebted to Professor Beata Grant, who proved the advantage for me of her selection as a member of my dissertation committee by oVering numerous stylistic suggestions for this project. Grant not only kindly helped me during my graduate study, she continued to send me materials after my graduation to help develop my final schoolwork into a book. While writing this book I benefited from the assistance of a number of scholars in the field: John Ziemer’s suggestions on an early version of the manuscript guided me to further contextualize my discussion of Chinese culture, thus setting directions for substantial expansion and revision; Joanna Handlin Smith helped me with the judgement on Lü Kun; David Rolston oVered useful suggestions concerning its publication. The two readers at the University of Hawai‘i Press gave me valuable and insightful suggestions, bringing my attention to new perspectives on the phenomenon of an-

drogyny and preventing a number of errors. Professor Paul Ropp kindly discussed with me a number of the controversial issues in current gender study that are related to the arguments presented in this book. The Chinese scholar Lin Chen sent me his seminal study on scholar-beauty romances, which helped me to circumscribe the scope of this genre in the current study. It was a pleasure to work with my editor at the University of Hawai‘i Press, Pamela Kelley, whose sound suggestions, along with Karen WellerWatson’s meticulous copyediting, improved the book in many ways. Of course, I am solely responsible for any remaining errors. Over the years I have had support from several institutions, without which I would not have been able to complete this book. The East Asian libraries of the University of Chicago, the Indiana University, and the University of Kansas provided me with summer travel grants for 1999 and 2000. Library staV at various institutions rendered me warm support, among them Tony Chang (Washington University), David Hickey (University of Florida), Li Guoqing (Ohio State University), Martin Heijdra (Princeton University), and Vickie Doll (University of Kansas). Two chairmen at the University of Florida, Averhan Balaban and Chauncey Chu, gave me both moral and financial support during the years when I was revising the manuscript. So did Neil Donahue, my third chair at Hofstra University. I thank Brill Press for permitting me to use in a diVerent version a portion of my essay “Chaos and the Gourd in The Dream of the Red Chamber,” published in T’oung Pao. The completion of this book also involved contribution and sacrifice by nearly every member of my family. My three sisters, Zhou Yin, Zhou Weizhen, and Zhou Weimin, either helped me acquire books in China or served as my liaison with the Chinese scholar Lin Chen. In the last few years of his life, my father painstakingly combed bookstores in Beijing in search of scholar-beauty romances that had gone out of print by the mid-1990s, when I needed them badly; the twenty-five volumes of that genre that he secured for me proved instrumental in my composition of chapter five of this book. Jing, my daughter, read the final version of the manuscript before I sent it to the press; she saved me from committing several errors and oVered many stylistic suggestions. Last but not least I am indebted to my wife, Surong, who shared with me the frustration during the period when I was expanding and revising the earlier versions of the book, with my academic career at its lowest ebb. The book is dedicated to the memory of my parents, who nurtured in me a love for literature, and cultivated in me a spirit to aspire and to strive. x


i n t r o d uct i o n

Androgyny Defined The gender deviation in late-imperial Chinese literature has in recent decades stimulated growth of scholarship in the sinological field, to which the present inquiry aims to add a new dimension. Scholars’ mounting political dissidence and thriving individualistic impulses during this period engendered destabilization of their gender status, traditionally a yin position, when they questioned decadent politics and conservative ideology. Viewing gender from both Chinese and Western theoretical perspectives, this study explores the strategies and rhetoric with which literati scholars appropriate the “symbolic female” for their own purposes and inscribe their own recalcitrant drives for political/ideological confrontation in their characterizations of gender abnormality. Through the analysis of gendered implications in literary texts, this inquiry strives for novel interpretations of canonical works and seeks to unveil a trend of androgyny (as defined herein) in the late Ming and early Qing literature (roughly 1550 – 1750).1 A fashionable trope frequently used in late Ming/early Qing literature is “heroes among women” (nüzhong zhangfu). It can be traced to the writings of the scholar-oYcial Lü Kun (1536 –1618), the social critic Li Zhi (1527 – 1602), the poet Yu Huai (1616 –1696), the playwrights Xu Wei (1521 –1593) and Tang Xianzu (1550 –1616), the fiction editor Feng Menglong (1574 –

1654), the story writer Ling Mengchu (1580 –1644), and numerous authors of scholar-beauty romances.2 With its implied female adoption of male attributes, this term may be conveniently associated with the concept of gender fluidity or sexual equality, but such a notion has been challenged by Western feminist scholars in recent decades in their observations on its androcentric import and manipulation by patriarchy. In her study of the nüzhong zhangfu in Records of the Strange at the Studio of Leisure (Liaozhai zhiyi), Judith Zeitlin indicates that such a heroine “violates social norms to accomplish a goal that itself embodies the highest social ideals,” so that “she can be contained under the old rubric ‘exemplary woman’ or treated as an honorary male.”3 Likewise, in discussing the woman warrior Lin Siniang in The Dream of the Red Chamber (Honglou meng), Louise Edwards remarks that such an Amazon is “primarily instrumental in ensuring its [patriarchal power’s] continued existence because the deeds she performs are undeniably consolidating the existing Confucian social and moral order.”4 What lies behind such feminist visions is an assumption that most works written in the classic age were composed by men who inevitably brought with them patriarchal bias, or what Fredric Jameson terms “political unconsciousness,” in creating their characters, the masculine women in particular. Although such feminist readings help us gain some insights into the character of masculine women by contextualizing them in patriarchal culture, the multifaceted identity of the small army of nüzhong zhangfu emerging from Ming-Qing literature is endowed with a complexity that invites further critical scrutiny. Contemporary feminist theory enlightens us on the identical gender status between women and marginalized men; what determines one’s gender is not his sexual identity, but his social/political/ ideological position.5 This feminist insight applies well to premodern Chinese culture, in which marginal men often compare themselves to women. The word “marginal,” extensively used in the following study, must be taken as a relative term. A scholar who has passed the imperial examination might remain marginal in his political stand if he is alienated from the emperor or the prime minister. Similarly, a boy born to an aristocratic family might become spiritually marginal if he renounces the values attached to his given status. Marginality, therefore, can emerge as a consequence of one’s alienation complex, alienation from the ruling clique, and orthodoxy. Correspondingly, in premodern Chinese culture, the politically and ideologically alienated/marginalized scholars tended, most likely, to identify with the female and the feminine. Maram Epstein argues elegantly that in the late Ming 2


the feminine, “as the potentially pure embodiment of qing [love, feeling, sentiment],” began “to be idealized as an authentic subject position untainted by the frustrations, sacrifices and moral compromises demanded by participating in the bureaucratic system.”6 The late Ming liberals’ provocative writings that initiated the cult of qing and the idealization of the feminine often convey criticism of the orthodox, defiance of the rigid Cheng-Zhu neoConfucianism, and a strong drive for self-authenticity. Literati’s sentimental or symbolic identification with the feminine, therefore, often carries hidden strength, which is traditionally associated with the masculine gender. In recent decades many scholars have turned to exploring literati scholars’ male presence and cherished values inscribed in the characterization of the females in their works. Acknowledging such autobiographical sensibilities and allegorical modes of presentation in Ming-Qing literature, this study takes a slightly diVerent approach in its gender analysis by emphasizing the marginalization of the literati authors, whose alienation complex often engenders an intensified awareness of their yin status, hence a shared gender identity with women. Their subsequent aversion to such imposed feminization is often artistically projected onto literary characters of ambiguous gender, be it transgressive women or feminine men, making them genuinely subversive to the patriarchal order. In this study the term adopted for such political/ideological stance of fashioning personal identity is “androgyny”; its precise connotations in relation to late Ming/early Qing literature are further specified herein. Stemming from the Greek words for male and female, the term “androgyny” is commonly designated as the “union of sexes in one individual”7 or “a healthy personality with a balance of masculine and feminine attributes,”8 although variations from these common definitions occurred even in ancient Greece, where it was occasionally related to cowardly, impotent, or even castrated men. The tendency to associate the term with gender rather than sex becomes more prominent in its modern usage. Since Virginia Woolf ’s exalting androgyny as a poetic ideal in A Room of One’s Own (1929) and Carolyn Heilbrun’s groundbreaking work Toward a Recognition of Androgyny (1973), the concept of androgyny has stimulated growing interest and triggered protracted debate in the West. While research on androgyny has been extended to many spheres of human experience, such as drinking habits, linguistic usage, sexual functions, and family role-sharing, shifting feminist trends have been engaged in polemics debating the potential damage and benefit it may bring to the feminist cause. Some feminists label anAndrogyny Defined


drogyny “sexist,” with the belief that it is built on the premise of sexual dichotomy;9 some take it as a romantic fantasy in which male poets can freely absorb female “perspectives, values and qualities” in their writings as a means to approach the divine identity of the original whole;10 others, such as Toril Moi, view it as a human ideal capable of “deconstructing” the “binary opposition of masculinity and femininity.”11 With Chinese literati scholars’ (often conscious) sentimental or rhetorical identification with women, a unique cultural phenomenon that distinguishes Chinese literature from its Western counterpart, the ideal of androgyny celebrated in Chinese texts inevitably carries its own connotations. Building its thesis on the observation of Chinese literati scholars’ political/ideological marginalization/feminization and their unsuppressed masculinity, this study will largely explore male scholars’ gender identity, often on a symbolic level, through their literary characterizing. While generally concurring with Toril Moi in her positive appraisal of androgyny, it acknowledges the inherent sexism of androgyny as a male discourse in Chinese culture, a point that is addressed in my concluding chapter.12 Concerning the literature of late imperial China explored in this text, two definitive statements about the concept used in Western gender study are particularly relevant. In her introduction to the 1974 issue of Women’s Studies, Cynthia Secor provides a succinct and useful definition: “Androgyny is the capacity of a single person of either sex to embody the full range of human character traits, despite cultural attempts to render some exclusively feminine and some exclusively masculine.”13 The psychological impetus for such gender deviation is captured in Carolyn Heilbrun’s perceptive remark that “androgyny seeks to liberate the individual from the confines of the appropriate.”14 Both definitions view androgyny as subversion of cultural norms and a drive for individual fulfillment. Such a perspective is epistemologically associated with the scrutiny of androgyny in Ming-Qing literature in the chapters that follow. With its parameters thus extended, the term “androgyny” in this study designates not only one’s capacity for dual sexual roles—one’s inclination to transcend gender dichotomy—but also one’s drive to deviate from or resist culturally/politically prescribed gender positions, particularly the institutionalized yin status of women and marginalized men, for the pursuit of a wholesome identity. To preserve the term’s association with the human urge for self-liberation, this study disassociates androgyny from gender inversion of any kind that subverts the norms not for self-salvation but for self-gains. Both a eunuch’s castration to 4


gain access to the power source and a vicious Amazon’s aggressive dominance over her former male tyrant are regarded as gender perversion rather than androgyny, since such alteration leads to new oppression rather than to personal emancipation. Presentations in literature of androgyny and of gender perversion often reflect opposite ideological stands of their authors as well as the authors’ diVerent psychological distances from their characters. This study attempts to apply the perspective of androgyny in examining a group of Chinese classics produced during the late Ming/early Qing period, noted for its fascination with the fluidity of sexual roles in Chinese society15 and the idealization of the feminine in its literati’s writings. While feminist terminology will be used extensively in this study, feminism is relevant here only for its recognition of marginal men’s gender identification with women and for the pedagogy it fosters in applying gendered terms to discuss power relation and hierarchical conflicts of all kinds. As a male critic exploring gender inscription in literature, I am concerned, if not predominantly, with male literati’s plight in their institutionalized yin status in China’s political/ideological structure as well as their revolt through literary creation against such abasement. The aim of this study is to track the fluctuating traces of androgyny in Chinese literature, as a social ideal and a literati tactic in fashioning self-identity in gender crisis, to explore their cultural significance, and thereby to seek from a new perspective unexplored dimensions of meaning in literature. While building my thesis on a relatively wide range of writings, I will concentrate my analysis on the following classics: The Plum in the Golden Vase (Jin Ping Mei, 1596, a novel by Lanling Xiaoxiaosheng, hereafter referred to as the Plum), The Peony Pavilion (Mudan ting, 1598, a drama by Tang Xianzu, hereafter referred to as the Pavilion), The Peach Blossom Fan (Taohua shan, 1699, a drama by Kong Shangren, hereafter referred to as the Fan), The Dream of the Red Chamber (Honglou meng, 1792, a novel by Cao Xueqin, hereafter referred to as the Dream) and a group of scholar-beauty romances (ca. 1600 –1750). Since androgyny as a cultural/literary phenomenon was more prominent in the late Ming, due emphasis is given to the late sixteenth century; as easily seen, even the Qing play selected for study here, the Fan, reflects late Ming politics. While the Dream ostensibly falls out of the historical period dealt with here, given its initial publication in 1792, the time of its composition, generally acknowledged to be the middle of eighteenth century, merges with the concluding fringe of our period.16 Moreover, recent scholarship has almost reached a consensus that author of the Dream, Cao Xueqin, inherited the legacy of Androgyny Defined


late Ming liberal outlooks.17 The complex gender issues in the Dream and its deviation from previous works in gender construction make it an indispensable part of the present inquiry. Extensively used in the following gender study are the metaphysical terms “yin” and “yang.” Although in her work on the relationship between gender and Chinese cosmology, Alison Black rightly observes that etymologically and primarily yin and yang do not mean “feminine” and “masculine,”18 their symbolic association, as Lisa Raphals’ recent study indicates, is solidly established after the Han Confucian Dong Zhongshu (179 –104 b.c.) applies the metaphysical terms to designate gendered human relations.19 Charlotte Furth confirms this association in her study on gender in Chinese medical history: “It is through yin and yang that gender could be seen as an attribute of nature itself within the body and without, and by association the qualities of myriad natural phenomena could be linked to gendered meanings.”20 Classical Chinese literature is an art fraught with symbolism, where the metaphysical yin and yang often serve as major metaphors for human sexual roles. Their gendered associations with numbers, colors, nature, seasons, sex, plants, and gardens will be incorporated into this study to enrich the discussion. Preceding the detailed investigation of literary works, a brief survey of androgyny in Chinese culture is provided in the first two chapters, as background for this study.



chapter 1

Androgyny in Chinese Philosophy Androgyny, an ancient concept, is deeply rooted in both Western and Chinese philosophies. In the Symposium, Plato, through Aristophanes, mentions the existence of three primordial races, one of which is made of the union between men and women. Although the united body is later split by God into halves of diVerent sexes, each seeks the other, yearning for the original whole.1 While the Judeo-Christian tradition promotes patriarchy, the androgynous ideal can be traced in religious stories outside oYcial scripture.2 The motif of androgyny abounds in Western creation myths and classic literature;3 it is also incorporated into modern theories such as the Freudian concept of bisexuality4 and Carl Jung’s analytical psychology. Of special relevance to the gender discussion here is the Swiss psychologist’s positing that there is a masculine soul, or animus, for woman, and a feminine soul, or anima, for man, as the carriers of their respective unconscious. These buried elements, Jung asserts, surface in the human psyche in the development of personality, pointing to the potential for androgyny.5 In Chinese culture, the orthodox gender paradigm was theoretically designated in the Han text Chunqiu fanlu (Luxuriant dew from the spring and autumn annals), generally attributed to the Confucian scholar Dong Zhongshu. Applying traditional metaphysics to the realm of ethics to consolidate

social order, it identifies the ruler, father, and husband with yang, the masculine principle, while relegating the subject, son, and wife to yin, the feminine principle.6 Despite such rigid polarization of gender identity in orthodoxy, androgynous attributes can be traced to all three of the major philosophical discourses: Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Confucianism as a philosophy reveals inclinations to holistic values notwithstanding its male orientation and dominant status. While women are subordinate to men, Confucian reverence of seniority often leads women in advanced age to dominant status in a household. The aYliation of opposite gender attributes is embodied in the personality of none other than the master himself, as The Analects records: “Confucius was gentle yet firm, dignified but not harsh.”7 A lopsided inclination to a single gender violates the quintessential Confucian creed, the Mean, as the Song neo-Confucian scholar Shao Yong (1011 – 1077) notes: “If yang predominates, he will be oV balance towards strength, and if yin predominates, he will be oV balance towards weakness.”8 Similarly, the Confucian ritual text, Liji (The book of rites), pictures the ideal ruler as the “father and mother of the people,” the one figure who combines female gentleness and compassion with male strength and intellect.9 In fact, fumuguan (a magistrate endowed with both paternal and maternal attributes) was a common epithet for oYcials in imperial China, manifesting the demand for androgyny in Confucian personality. While Confucianism stipulates the need for one’s submission to authority, according to Dong Zhongshu’s influential ethical paradigm of human relationship, which leads Arthur F. Wright to take “submissiveness to authority” and “submissiveness to the mores and the norms” to be two salient attributes of a Confucian scholar’s approved attitudes and behavior patterns,10 it endorses the right of the subordinate to challenge the authority, should the latter prove unworthy and inadequate. Thus latent in the feminine veins of the personal identity it promotes is a masculine drive it subscribes to aYrm one’s inner autonomy. Such an impulse was palpably throbbing in the legendary life of the great master himself, who, while serving as a ranking oYcial in his native kingdom Lu, resolutely withdrew from the court in protest against the moral turpitude of the ruler.11 Confucius’ legendary role model contributed to the “dissenting tradition” in China, which has lasted to the present day.12 The virile will to defend self-independence vis-à-vis a despotic autocracy is categorically aYrmed by Xun Zi (fl. 298 – 238 b.c.), who remarked, “To follow the dictates of the Way rather than those of one’s lord and to follow the requirements of morality rather than 8

chapter one

the wishes of one’s father constitute the highest standard of conduct.”13 This masculine urge grows into a compulsion in Mencius, Confucius’ eminent apostle, who valiantly questions the absolute authority of the monarch and unabashedly claims the reciprocity between the ruler and the subject.14 In Mencius’ thinking, courage—particularly the courage to adhere to one’s moral vision—becomes a quintessential quality of the ideal hero da zhangfu (a mettlesome, awe-inspiring man).15 The conflict between the need for individual autonomy and the obligation to submit to authority gives rise to what Ambrose Y. C. King terms the “elasticity” of Confucian social roles.16 To relate it to this study, the term “elasticity” points to the flexibility or fluidity of Confucian gender stance. While a Confucian is ready to accept his subordinate, or yin, status in the imperial pyramid under a benevolent ruler, he feels obliged to assert his masculine impulses, under moral compulsion to defend personal integrity, once the imperial benevolence and righteousness corrode into depravity and fatuity. Although a Confucian rarely directs his critical barb at the emperor himself, he often asserts his masculinity by launching unrelenting onslaughts on the power structure, over which the emperor presides, through violent rebukes, strong remonstrance, factional confrontation, and political seclusion. Partly due to its marginal status in Chinese culture, Daoism has traditionally been understood to be a “feminine” discourse and identified with all that is tolerant, yielding, and withdrawing.17 Yet such a feminine interpretation of Daoism has been challenged in recent decades by a scholar of Lao Zi’s philosophical system, who alleges that “as a compensatory measure to respond to and redress a predominance of ‘masculine’ attitudes, the Lao Tzu is advocating the extension from ‘masculine’ to embrace ‘feminine’ qualities as an appropriate antidote for the imbalance.”18 One prominent feature of Daoism, as Roger T. Ames indicates, is the “reconciliation of opposites,”19 including culturally polarized gender attributes. The quintessential Daoist image is water, which yields to anything it encounters, and yet wears down the most solid stone. In section 78 of Lao Zi run the lines: “In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.”20 Ostensibly a symbol of a tractable, self-eVacing force and yet essentially an energy loaded with irresistible power, water encapsulates the hidden strength in femininity, the yang substance in a yin entity. In the correlative thinking of Daoism, the ideal state is often presented in the image of the union between yin and yang. The famous taiji tu (the symAndrogyny in Chinese Philosophy


bol of the supreme ultimate), for instance, pictures the presence of yin within the sphere of yang and vice versa, epitomizing the mutual penetration of the two creative forces.21 Sexual intercourse, with its union of yin and yang essences, is taken as emblematic of Dao. The same concept also functions in Daoist internal and external alchemy: the internal copulation of the positive and negative principles engendered by movements of the eyes and the breathing is believed to contribute to the creation of an indestructible diamond body in internal alchemy,22 whereas the fusion of lead and cinnabar, which symbolically represent men’s white semen and women’s red ova, is believed to produce life-sustaining elixirs in external alchemy. Although such apotheosis of yin-yang metaphysical copulation in Daoist thinking does not directly relate to human gender, it points to the Daoist inclination for balance and harmony between opposite forces, which is philosophically akin to the concept of androgyny. Relating the androgynous principle to personal identity, Lao Zi remarks that the consummate person must embody what Ames calls “a reconciliation of the feminine/masculine dichotomy”23 and is “one who understands masculinity and yet preserves femininity.”24 While these words are often believed to imply advice to the ruler to uphold the virtues of humility and flexibility as an avenue to the dominant status, they point to a typical Daoist gender stand, which is most popular in times of political decadence: to accept marginal/“female” status through reclusion to aYrm one’s personal integrity/masculinity. In Daoist tradition, one pioneer of this eremitic convention is Zhuang Zi, an allegorical character in the book that bears the title of his name, who declined the ruler’s invitation to govern the entire domain of his empire in favor of a carefree life of fishing in a river. Rationalizing his behavior through a self-referential metaphor, Zhuang Zi remarks that he prefers to be an ordinary tortoise “alive and dragging its tail in the mud,” rather than the sacred one, “dead,” “wrapped up in a box,” and “stored” in the emperor’s ancestral temple.25 His tenacious adhering to the “mud”—the mother earth, an archetypal symbol of yin, which connotes social/political marginality—is thus motivated by a compulsion to keep alive his personal authenticity, the integrity of a real man. By adopting a yin mode of life to aYrm his yang impulses, Zhuang Zi exemplifies the Daoist ideal of androgyny inherent in Lao Zi’s teaching, just as Mencius plays the pivotal role in highlighting the masculine aspect of Confucianism. While the traditional Buddhist attitude regards women as temptresses or


chapter one

evil incarnate, challenge to such extreme female prejudice is visible in a theme popular in Mahayana Buddhist texts, where female apostles often achieve Buddhahood through metaphorical sexual transformation. The Buddhist conviction in the ultimate insubstantiality of the phenomenal world gives rise to a more egalitarian outlook that takes all notions of sexuality as mental attachments and ascertains potentials for enlightenment in every sentient being, thus transcending the culturally dictated gender dichotomy.26 While the Buddhist ideal is more asexual than androgynous, occasional dalliance with the notion of androgyny can be found in Buddhist practice and scripture.27 Corresponding to the Confucian paragon of the androgynous ruler fumuguan, as Diana Paul indicates, the popular Buddha Ametabha is often metaphorically “presented as either the mother or father in Pure Land.”28 Similar to the concept of yin-yang copulation in Daoist speculation, in the practice of Tantric Buddhism, the mixing of sexual fluids of the male and female adepts, “generally referred to as a blend of white drops and red drops,”29 is regarded as a religious vehicle for spiritual transcendence.30 In their social life, the Chinese Buddhist clergy are largely not liable to the gender imperatives of patriarchal culture. By leaving their families, renouncing worldly possessions and living outside of ordinary society, they keep aloof from secular values and mundane conventions and are consequently granted the freedom from displaying eVeminate signs of veneration to worldly potentates. A religious legacy partly inherited from India, this convention took shape in China during the Eastern Jin period (317 – 420) after a court debate, which was highlighted in a celebrated treatise by a reverent Buddhist monk Huiyuan (334 – 417) entitled “A Monk Does Not Bow Down before a King” (“Shamen bujing wangzhe lun”).31 Although such a religious privilege was repeatedly questioned and revoked in Chinese history, Buddhists enjoyed relative freedom in the political and ethical structures of Chinese society.32 In severing worldly ties, the Buddhist clergy thus transcended the gender paradigm solidly established through social hierarchy in Confucian China. Like Confucian eremitism and Daoist retreat, entrance into the Buddhist order signals an embrace of a marginal mode of life to assert one’s unyielding, andric impulses. The gender stand of eremitism is observed by Alexandria G. Kaplan and Mary Anne Sedney in the following remarks: “Within the religious teaching of the East, androgyny is achieved in isolation from society. Those seeking enlightenment through intermingling feminine and masculine impulses

Androgyny in Chinese Philosophy


need to withdraw from society, to seclude themselves in order to seek personal fulfillment.”33 As a way to assert one’s authenticity by embracing marginality, eremitism, whether it be inspired by Confucian, Daoist, or Buddhist impulses, can be taken as an androgynous mode of life, in which yang spirit is preserved by adopting a yin life style.34 In Chinese social life, literature, and arts, subversion to the orthodox norms of sexual roles can be traced to the very time when they began to be theoretically canonized. In the Han dynasty (206 b.c.–a.d. 220), the grand historian Sima Qian (145 b.c.–?) recorded the glamorous life of Zhuo Wenjun, who broke loose from the bondage to the inner chamber to elope with the man of her heart.35 The masculine fiber of a female subject to liberate herself from “the confines of the appropriate” is most graphically projected in the character of a Tang chuanqi heroine, Hongfu (maiden with red duster), Wenjun’s spiritual descendant, who masquerades as a man to gain entrance into the chamber of her chosen man.36 The male cloak that covers the delicate beauty of the heroine externalizes a masculine urge, with which she dauntlessly aYrms her passionate love. As such, Hongfu, often termed a nü zhangfu, may well be taken as an archetype of a Chinese androgyne, and Wenjun a foreshadowing harbinger for such a type. In Chinese literature these seditious souls with their cross-gender inclinations often act as role models for heroines in their revolt against cultural restraints for an independent identity. Another type of androgyne takes the form of a woman warrior who overwhelms men in military feats. Most popular among Chinese Amazons is undoubtedly Hua Mulan, the legendary heroine in a ballad of the Six Dynasties (220 – 589), who takes her father’s place in military service under the disguise of a man. While Chinese society produced woman warriors in nearly every dynasty, such as Liang Hongyu of the Song, Lady Gongsun of the Tang, and Qin Liangyu of the Ming, the legendary Hua Mulan remains the prototype of the Chinese Amazon.37 Moreover, as a male impersonator, she has transcended in the Chinese mind the role of a female soldier to personify deviations from sexual norms in virtually any aspect of female life. In Chinese literature, therefore, Hua Mulan’s imagery can be associated respectively with a woman warrior triumphant over her male contenders on the battlefield, a female scholar (often donning male clothes) who excels over male contestants in the examination halls, or a frantic maiden who defies patriarchal decrees of boudoir confinement in reckless pursuit of love.


chapter one

A woman warrior in her legendary origin, Hua Mulan has turned into a universal figure of female masculinization, a symbol of androgyny par excellence.38 Although recent scholarship often views Mulan as a literary paradigm of female virtue and emphasizes her containment by the Confucian values of filial piety and loyalty,39 as a literary trope, her image may be associated with female gender reversal that subverts the orthodox ideology, particularly during times of ideological agitation, such as the late Ming and early Qing. Parallel to female assertion of their masculine impulses, Chinese men have demonstrated antagonism to their prescribed yin status in the political structure. Their alienation from the power source and orthodoxy, particularly during times of political decadence and ideological ferment, either incited them to active involvement to cleanse political/ideological decadence or drove them into passive seclusion in defense of personal integrity. The Six Dynasties literatus Tao Qian (367 – 427) thus retired to his country abode to avoid “bending my waist to a village buVoon for five bushels of rice.” In spiritual outlook and gender stand he is akin to Qu Yuan (ca. 340 b.c.– ca. 278 b.c.), a patriot of the Warring States (475 b.c.– 221 b.c.) who was estranged from a befuddled ruler by slanderous ministers. Plunging himself into a river to “withdraw” from the contaminated world in aYrmation of his spiritual purity, Qu Yuan may be viewed as one of the forerunners of Chinese recluses, although his spiritual descendants often took to mountains and rivers to live out valiant lives.40 Throughout Chinese history, the two paragons of political conscience, Tao Qian and Qu Yuan, inspired Chinese literati to adhere to personal integrity in confrontation of political tyranny, to aYrm latent masculinity when relegated to political marginality/femininity, just as the models of Hua Mulan, Hongfu, and Zhuo Wenjun encouraged Chinese women in their endeavors to shake oV the patriarchal restraint on their lives. While the two sexes strove ostensibly in separate spheres, they shared a common goal in their gender construction: to reject the culturally prescribed yin identity for the realization of a fuller personality, androgyny. Its androgynous undercurrents notwithstanding, traditional Chinese culture remains largely patriarchal. While Confucian metaphysics embraces yin-yang complementarity as a basic philosophical principle, in social life and political practice, it prioritizes gender dichotomy, particularly in malefemale and ruler-subject relationships, for the compelling reason of social

Androgyny in Chinese Philosophy


stability. This orthodox stand was most ardently articulated by Lady Ban Zhao (a.d. 45 – 120), from whose influential classic Nü jie (Women’s precepts) come the following lines: Yin and yang are fundamentally diVerent, hence man and woman diVer in behavior. Strength is the virtue of yang, yielding constitutes the use of yin. Man is honored for his power, woman is praised for her weakness.41

Such hierarchical application of yin-yang theory in rationalizing sexual dichotomy is echoed in the writings of leading neo-Confucian scholars in the Song,42 contributing to the gender division in Chinese orthodox thinking. Although in history, a lacuna often existed between the prescribed norms and social practice, as Dorothy Ko and Lisa Raphals have eloquently argued,43 orthodox values epitomized in Ban Zhao’s writings—with the support from oYcial propaganda, legal regulations and social conventions— exerted tremendous impact on women’s lives.44 Yet, the apparent contradiction in the Confucian gender paradigms belies an inner dynamics: the balance between the two aspects of yin-yang relationship—hierarchy and reciprocity—is maintained in a pattern of constant shifts. Nü xiao jing (The classic of filial piety for women), a seventh-century Confucian instructional text, for instance, adopts Ban Zhao’s voice but underscores the wife’s duty to keep her husband on track and the minister’s obligation to keep the ruler behaving benevolently; yang is thus placed under the surveillance of yin.45 In Chinese history, although the hierarchical pattern usually eclipsed the reciprocal one in social life and political practice, there were periods when its dominance was challenged, because social reality and cultural ambience fostered a diVerent gender balance. One such period was late Ming/early Qing, when a commercial boom, political depravity, and ideological ferment destabilized men’s and women’s traditional concepts of gender identity, and the whole culture yielded multiple “spaces” for gender fluidity. Such a period provides a social milieu most congenial for the production of nüzhong zhangfu and feminine men in literature.


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chapter 2

Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing Culture Although the founder of the Ming dynasty was a strong military man and a vigorous ruler—the very personification of masculinity—and two empresses of the early Ming composed conduct instructions for women in an attempt to reinforce orthodox norms,1 late Ming China witnessed a gradual disintegration of traditional gender roles in social life owing to its economic, political, and cultural changes. Flourishing commerce, a surplus of wealth, widespread education, a booming printing industry, rising individualism, prevailing hedonism, and the cult of qing all contributed to the blurring of a traditional division between the two sexes. The growing tension between the decadent rulers and their antagonistic bureaucracies unsettled the hierarchical order in the political structure, while literati’s growing political inferiority and spiritual alienation led to their intensifying social and ideological marginalization/feminization, notwithstanding their unextinguished masculine aspirations. It is against such a background of gender ambiguity that the phenomenon of androgyny emerged in literature.2 This chapter examines the three aspects of late Ming culture that bear significantly on the gender study of literature of the following chapters.

Masculine Women vs. Feminine Men: The Gender Inversion in Late Ming Culture The plurality of possible gender identities in late Ming culture is manifest most publicly in men’s lives. The late Ming was a time when homosexuals were visible in diVerent classes and regions. Male prostitution was popular and even cohabitation of male couples appeared to be an accepted institution.3 The presence of homosexuality was particularly prominent in literature, revealing its forcible impress on literati consciousness.4 The acceptance of public homosexuality extended into early and mid-Qing, despite Kangxi Emperor’s attempts to narrow gender divisions with new legal proscriptions.5 The gender inversion of patriarchal culture is also reflected in the feminization of literati’s aesthetic and literary tastes. Late imperial China witnessed a change in the aesthetics guiding masculine beauty, as revealed in paintings and literature. Gulik aptly observes that “instead of the middleaged bearded men of the Tang and Song periods, ardent male lovers in Ming paintings are more often depicted as younger men without beards, moustaches or whiskers”;6 the removal of these male features inevitably feminizes their visage, with the result that their faces become largely indistinguishable from those of women. Although male feminization can be traced to earlier stages in Chinese history, such as the Wei-Jin period (220 – 420), its presence in the late Ming is unusually prominent. In Chinese literature, along with what Martin Huang calls the shift of novelistic focus from “public life to private life,” its setting from battlefields to bedchambers,7 the rough-hewn heroes of the haohan category in traditional Chinese novels, as Keith McMahon indicates, are eclipsed by men of feminine beauty, the fengliu type.8 Men became so feminine, Sophie Volpp observes in her study of the characterization of a male wife in a story by Li Yu, that “natural femininity becomes attached to young boys rather than women.”9 Even in social life, donning colorful and eVeminately fancy clothes became fashionable among some scholars.10 Correspondingly, Ming calligraphy reveals ascendancy of the yin spirit, as the cultural chronicler Xie Zhaozhe (1567 – 1624) remarks: “In our age, more scholars practice soft strokes than firm strokes.”11 The scripts of the Ming master Wen Zhengming (1470 – 1559), as William Willetts observed, are “suggestive of the soft and the feminine—fairies flying among the clouds and dancing on the waves—rather than the dragon-like and tiger-like qualities,”12 the yang spirit latent in the brushworks of the Tang master Liu 16

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Gongquan (778 – 865). Under the stimulation of qing (emotion, love, passion), as Kang-i Sun Chang points out, late Ming witnessed a revival of ci, a poetic genre of emotional intensity; the feminine style of its wanyue school became a ready vehicle for literati to purge their eVusive emotion.13 Similarly, late Ming theater was dominated by the feminine spirit of the Southern School. The mainstream of late Ming theater was kunqu, a dramatic form noted for its soft tunes, delicate music, mellifluous singing and ornate poetic lines; its eVete strains lent a striking contrast to the sonorous and vigorous zaju, a form popular in the preceding Yuan dynasty.14 A salient feature of the kunqu stage at this period was its dominance by dramas of romance (wenxi) over plays of military feats (wuxi), which signaled the ascendance of feminine impulses in Chinese theater. Since kunqu is generally regarded as an aristocratic genre composed by and mainly serving scholars, its feminine features mirror literati’s feminized taste. In chapter 30 of The Scholars, Wu Jingzi presents a theatrical contest among those who play dan (female) roles. The fact that the match is exclusively among the female impersonators reveals the feminization of the taste of its organizer as well as the literati audience. The eVeminacy of Ming-Qing theater was thrown into relief by the double-feminization of female impersonators, who assumed female roles on the stage and often oVered sexual services oVstage. Sophie Volpp thus astutely observes a “rivalry between actor and courtesan for the ground of femininity.”15 In her recent study Epstein attributes the feminization of male characters in Ming-Qing fiction to the cult of qing because, as she argues, with the deep cultural association between qing and yin, “the feminine enjoyed a privileged position” in the aesthetic of the cult of qing. Male characters, therefore, “adopted feminine personae as part of their nonconformist performance of authenticity.”16 Given the powerful and pervasive influence of the cult of qing in late Ming society we are tempted to extend its association with the feminization of male characters in literature to the feminization of the male culture as a whole. Viewed in such a light, the feminine inclinations that the male culture seems to embrace in theater, verse, calligraphy, dressing fashion, and aesthetic tastes may be, at least partially, attributed to the “privileged position” that “the feminine enjoyed” in the anti-hegemonic movement of the cult of qing. As an intrinsic component of the cult of qing, the feminization of the male culture may be viewed as a subconscious expression of the “authentic” in defiance of orthodoxy. Concurrent with the feminization of the patriarchal culture is the masGender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


culinization of women. Recent scholarship has abundantly demonstrated the widespread female literacy in gentry households, the female literary networks, and the extensive publication of female poetry, which all point to the obliteration of the intellectual distinction between the sexes.17 Some even indicate the compatibility of talent with virtue in the late Ming conception of womanhood.18 Although female literacy was cultivated originally to facilitate women’s conformism and to enhance their value in the marriage market, it inevitably stimulated romantic sentiments, political enthusiasm, and individualistic impulses, which, in turn, bred cross-gender behavior. Catalyzing female literacy was the glamorous courtesan, the moral paragon and cultural icon in the late Ming. Talented in poetic skills, active in romantic pursuit, and heroic in political actions, the courtesan embodied in a woman the most admirable male qualities, incarnated female potential for companionate relationship, and epitomized the late Ming ideal of androgyny.19 In religious practice female deities began to replace their male counterparts as idols of worship, and some women assumed leading roles in religious communities.20 The ascendant masculine impulses in women may also have contributed to a marked increase of jealous wives in domestic life, which partially accounts for the prominent presence of shrews in the literature of this period.21 Meanwhile, flourishing commerce often obliged merchants to stay away from home for extended periods, leaving household management to their wives; the authority that women wielded in such families fostered independence, leading to aberration from orthodox womanhood.22 Stimulated by the prevailing hedonism, women’s views on sex became more open and active. In a popular song entitled “Stealing,” which Feng Menglong supposedly collected from women, the persona assuming a female voice chants: “In the past only men decoyed us; in this new age we seduce men.”23 Although recent scholarship tends to view in a dubious light the authenticity of the personal voice assumed in folk songs,24 and a literatus’ possible manipulation of these lines may reduce their social relevance, they adumbrate at least an emerging female impulse for gender inversion in courtship. Women’s psychological captivation by the active mode of love finds expression in the strong empathy they expressed for Du Liniang, the valiant pursuer of love in Tang Xianzu’s masterpiece The Peony Pavilion, which won immense popularity among female readers and performance audiences in the late Ming and early Qing. Accordingly, a well-known drama composed by Li Yu is titled Women Pursue Men (Feng qiu huang). With women’s awakened libido eagerly seeking an outlet, the conventional bou18

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doir confinement began to relax, at least in some areas. Commenting on women’s behavior during the Jiajing regime (1522 – 1567), a scholar writes: “[in the past] they were deeply secluded, never making an appearance; they either made wine or weaved clothes.” “Nowadays they dress like prostitutes, make acquaintances with old women, moving in and out of the house with heads held high, as if they were not diVerent from men.”25 Such a phenomenon contributed in part to what Dorothy Ko terms the “shifting boundary” between inner and outer spheres in women’s lives.26 Even in martial arts, a privileged domain of men, some women excelled. The well-known female commander Qin Liangyu (1584 – 1648) devoted her lifetime to military maneuvers. Her small army of three thousand soldiers turned out to be so powerful that the area surrounding her hometown was the only region free from molestation by the late Ming peasants’ rebellion. Her courage outshone many male generals and won the highest honor from the emperor, who lamented the lack of a single man with her valor to suppress the rebellion.27 Qin was by no means the only woman active in the late Ming military arena; a number of women took up arms as Ming loyalists. One female warrior even donned a man’s uniform in combat.28 In the sixteenth-century anti-Japanese war, female commanders in the armies of the Guangxi region were also celebrated for their valor and courage. Xu Wei, a participant of that war himself, composed a group of poems to glorify them.29 Female excellence in martial arts may account for the emergence, during the Wanli regime (1573 – 1619), of several full-length fictions dramatizing the military careers of General Yang’s family, which crystallize in The Popular Tales of General Yang’s Family (Yangjiajiang yanyi). Though deriving its sources from the antecedent materials in the Song and Yuan dynasties, the late Ming fictions are noted for their graphic portrayal of twelve female members of the Yang family, all dedicating their military feats to safeguarding the motherland. The division between men and women became so obscured that occasionally each sex crossed over it, masquerading as the other, using crossdressing as an expediency.30 Correspondingly, transvestism became stockin-trade in the production of dramas and fictions during this period. In the late Ming trend of gender fluidity, of particular relevance to our discussion of androgyny is the female deviation from orthodox norms, which was warmly acclaimed in the writings of liberal-minded scholars, such as Li Zhi. The most radical proponent of late Ming liberalism, Li Zhi is noted for preaching a complementary relationship between the sexes.31 Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


His ardent tribute to the androgynous propensity is perceptible in the following poem that he composed to celebrate the birthday of a female Buddhist, Danran, the daughter of his friend Mei Guozhen (1542 – 1605). After her husband died, Danran shaved her head and began to practice Buddhism in a household Xiaofu Monastery and often conferred with Li Zhi on religion: It is said that Danran was born on this day of the year, And yet today she has become a monk (seng). While you may chance upon male Buddhist masters on occasions, Today the lamp in the Xiaofu Monastery illuminates enlightenment. People all fuss about and laugh at a marvel, That the Moon Lady has turned into a male. Shariputra disappeared all of a sudden, In whose form is hidden his male identity? I advise the world not to speculate blindly, Xiaofu Monastery is the very Celestial Temple. Buddhahood attained, the dragon’s daughter comes to us again, The heaven commissions her to scatter celestial flowers.32

Well versed in Buddhism, Li Zhi employs two Buddhist allusions in the preceding verses, the Moon Lady and the dragon’s daughter, which have to be deciphered before a full view of his liberal outlook on human gender comes to light. According to The Lotus Sutra, the dragon’s daughter, referred to in the third stanza, is a girl with a strong will who aspires to Buddhist enlightenment. In response to a challenge from the eminent monk Shariputra, she demonstrates her spiritual enlightenment by carrying out all the practices of a bodhisattva and turning into a man.33 A spiritual sister of the dragon’s daughter, the Moon Lady in The Sutra of the Moon Lady, referred to in the second stanza, is a precocious girl, whose peerless beauty triggers unruly passion among her admirers. Inspired by the Buddha’s image emerging in a lotus flower, which miraculously springs out of her hand, the girl resolves to follow the Way. In a critical moment when a legion of transported men chase at her heels, recklessly seeking her hand, the girl ascends to heaven. With the magic flower in her hand, she begins preaching the virtue of nondesire to her ardent suitors, thus dramatically transforming herself from an instigator into an extinguisher of human desire. The Moon Lady’s enlightenment, which is further demonstrated in her witty response to a verbal test 20

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by Shariputra, eventually leads Buddha to grant her the status of a goddess at the very moment when the earth shakes, the world irradiates, and she, miraculously, turns into a man.34 In another episode, collected in Wudeng huiyuan (A collection of five Buddhist scriptures), Shariputra again challenges the Moon Lady, asking her to change her female sex to indicate her enlightenment. Wielding her supernatural power, the Moon Lady turns the monk into her shape, changes herself into his image, and then retorts by asking him the same question, which baZes him. This second episode is apparently what is alluded to in Li Zhi’s poem.35 Magical sex transformation as a symbolic demonstration of spiritual transcendence is a recurrent motif in Buddhist scriptures. The female-to-male transformation, as shown in the tale of the dragon’s daughter, is often interpreted as a rejection of women’s inability to attain Buddhahood; the sex/gender switch, as revealed in the Moon Lady’s episode, is often taken as an illustration of the irrelevancy or falsity of gender distinction if one views the phenomenal world as insubstantial.36 In his complimentary allusion to the Moon Lady and the dragon’s daughter, Li Zhi implicitly celebrates gender fluidity. His use of the Moon Lady, in particular, projects a most liberal view in Buddhism: the gender switch between the two sexes in the episode not only implies the artificiality of gender dichotomy, but also transcends the male valorization implicit in the female-to-male transformation recurrent in many Buddhist texts. In Li Zhi’s poem Danran’s identification with the Moon Lady and the dragon’s daughter signifies not only Danran’s spiritual enlightenment, but also her freedom from gender imperatives, for in the second line, Li Zhi deliberately refers to her as a seng, a male monk, not a ni, a nun. In shaving her head, she demonstrates irreversible commitment to her spiritual pursuit. As Beata Grant and Susan Mann indicate, female religious endeavor in MingQing society was regarded as “unnatural” and nuns were particularly reviled.37 Li Zhi himself once wrote an essay to denounce this social prejudice against females entering the Buddhist order.38 Grant’s recent case study of a female Buddhist Zhiyuan Xinggang (1597 – 1654) indicates that, compared with a male adept, a religious woman with her closer ties to the family often had to overcome more obstacles “in extricating herself from the familial context.”39 To pursue the Buddhist path, therefore, a woman had to possess stronger willpower than a man. The sex/gender transformation that the Moon Lady and the dragon’s daughter undergo, therefore, also intimates Danran’s masculine will in pursuing her chosen path. Elsewhere Li Zhi apGender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


plies explicitly gendered rhetoric in reference to Danran, when he praises her for being her father’s “son,”40 and calls her a “prominent man” (dashi) and a “gentleman hermit” (chushi zhangfu).41 While these terms, or what Mariam L. Levering calls “the rhetoric of masculine heroism,”42 certainly imply valorization of the male over the female, they convey his genuine admiration for her courage, intelligence, and determination, i.e., her latent masculinity. Late in his life Li Zhi carried on correspondence with Danran, which triggered a scandal at the time. While his opponents exaggerated the case and vehemently condemned his “decadence,” his friends defended him for his innocence. Xu Sumin is probably right in defining their relationship as a kind of Platonic love.43 When Li Zhi applies masculine terms to define Danran’s identity, he may also refer to her courage to defy social opinions in carrying on such a spiritual relationship. Such praise of male qualities in females is echoed in other literati’s writings,44 constituting a perceptible trend among the most liberal-minded scholars.

Active Ministers vs. Passive Rulers: The Gender Inversion in Political Life Parallel to the ascendance of andric impulses of the fair sex in social life was the growing virilization of marginal oYcials and scholars in the political arena, who stood firm in confrontation of the decadent court. In Confucianism a ruler is regarded as the “son of heaven”; having accepted the mandate of heaven, he is expected to follow the Dao in actively ruling his empire.45 In his explication of statecraft Dong Zhongshu remarks, “The rectitude of the three kings rose to its utmost in following yang.”46 In Wen Zi, another Han text, it is similarly stated, “The sages follow the yang trend.”47 Accordingly, the ruler is expected primarily to possess a basically yang personality, exemplifying rectitude, integrity, courage, and resolution, although female compassion is also considered a virtue. Such a yang, or largely masculine, image was symbolically placed on his robe in the form of a dragon, an essentially yang creature, given its association with the sky and its assumed aggressive nature.48 In Kam Louie’s recent study he observes that “dragons not only refer to power and control, but more importantly, by the description of its expandable penile quality, they also invoke a specifically male potentiality.”49 A brief survey of the late Ming rulers reveals, however, that nearly all of them were deficient in yang personality. “After institutional arrangements 22

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had been settled,” as historians observe, “the late Ming sovereign no longer assumed an active role in the management of the imperial aVairs.”50 The Wanli emperor was notorious for his greed and corruption,51 which aligned him ethically with yin. Failing to check the growing criticism among his ministers, he turned a blind eye to their remonstrance and engaged them in a virtual campaign of passive resistance. So antagonistic was he to his ministers, particularly over the issue of imperial succession, that he eventually suspended his morning meetings with his courtiers. For forty-eight years, as historians observe, “he had to reign without ruling, confined in his palace as a virtual prisoner of his bureaucracy.”52 The passivity of the emperor was matched by his indecision; even his consort teased him: “You are an old lady.”53 The Tianqi emperor (r. 1621 – 1627), who ruled for a few years after Wanli, was a weakling, an ignoramus, a puppet of the eunuch clique. He showed more interest in carpentry than in governing. Although the Chongzhen emperor (r. 1628 – 1644) ruled earnestly, he was far from a masculine figure cut for the role of a celestial son. Faced with financial crisis, he shed tears like a woman;54 confronted with mounting rebellion, he hatched plans for his personal escape. Although his death did inspire deep patriotism among loyalists, he “martyred” to his country, as Zhao Yuan observes, under pressure from his ministers and conventions.55 His masquerading as a eunuch in a futile attempt to flee the besieged capital before he ended his life graphically epitomizes his perversion, both morally and sexually, of the yang identity requisite for an emperor; his hanging from a tree, a suicide, in front of the approaching rebels projects a crowning image of the eVeminized regime of the late Ming: powerless, weak, and eVete.56 The eVeminization of the late Ming ruling clique finds further expression in the eunuchs’ increased power and influence in imperial administration. Finding Confucian oYcial careers too diYcult to pursue, many fathers in impoverished regions castrated their sons as an avenue to gain access to the power center.57 While eunuchs as military commanders, diplomatic envoys, and maritime explorers contributed significantly to the Ming empirebuilding, the flagrant abuse of power by the most corrupted among them darkens their image as a collective entity.58 During the Chenghua (1465 – 1487) and Tianqi (1621 – 1627) regimes, eunuchs became so powerful that the satanic eunuchs Liu Jin (ca. 1452 – 1510) and Wei Zhongxian (1568 – 1627) virtually usurped imperial authority and viciously persecuted upright oYcials. During the Wanli regime, the expanded eunuch force was not only employed in the service of the harem to gratify the emperor’s debauchery, Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


it was also dispatched as tax collectors, mining intendants, and royal representatives to provincial areas to lord over local oYcials who were legally their political superiors.59 Such perversion thus prompts Huang Zongxi’s (1610 – 1695) observation: “The prime minister and six ministers have been nothing but functionaries carrying out the will of the eunuchs.”60 In traditional Chinese thinking, eunuchs were generally associated with yin identity, as The Book of Songs states: “You can neither teach, nor instruct / Women and eunuchs.”61 Not only the absence of their male organ, but also the subservience, humility, and amorality traditionally related to their identity make them essentially a yin force. Even the area where they served is called the “inner court,” an imperial counterpart to the familial “inner chamber,” where women were expected to stay. Emperors’ passivity and the growing authority of the “inner court” signify the ascendance of the yin force in the top echelon, and the eVeminization of Ming politics. Although the founder of the Qing dynasty was a masculine figure, versed in strategy and strong in personality, his alien identity compromised his status as the son of heaven. After the cataclysmic change of heaven’s mandate to the “barbarian,” the popular reaction of the first-generation Chinese remained antagonistic, and even the attitudes of the second generation were tinged with ambivalence.62 To a certain degree, in the minds of some Chinese scholars, the moral depravity of the ruling clique extended from the late Ming to the early Qing. In reaction against the moral turpitude and eVeminization of the imperial clique emerged the masculinization of literati oYcials. The stability of Confucian social order in imperial China rested on the maintenance of proper gender roles for each member of society. As mentioned earlier, the subjects were willing to accept the yin position only when the sovereign upheld benevolence and justice, the ethical yang, and embodied strength and courage, the temperamental yang. The negative gender inversion on the part of the rulers triggered a positive gender inversion, or androgyny, on the part of the subjects, whose alienation from the leading clique nurtured in them a masculine spirit of insurgence, notwithstanding their subordinate status. In his analysis of late Ming philosophy and politics, Ying-shih Yu observes a fundamental transformation from quietism to activism that neo-Confucianism underwent in the historical context of the Ming-Qing transition. He argues that it is Wang Yangming’s emphasis on “the unity of knowledge and action” that set neo-Confucianism in motion in an active direction. The political decadence reached such a degree that it was no longer possible to con24

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tain the Confucian impulse to reorder the world in the realm of ideas; actions must be taken to remedy the world.63 Spiritually, Ming scholars’ moral strength in political confrontation could be partly attributed to the influence of Zhu Xi (1130 – 1200), whose annotated versions of Confucian classics were adopted as the textbooks for the civil service examinations during the Ming dynasty following the Jianwen regime (r. 1399 – 1403). Although Zhu’s School of the Principle “suVered an eclipse,” as Wing-tsit Chan indicates, his “personal prestige remained high.”64 A towering pioneer of neo-Confucianism and a moral paragon in an age of spiritual depravity, Zhu Xi was noted for his indefatigable defense of personal integrity under the encroachment of a contaminated ruling clique. Averse to the government’s appeasement of foreign invaders, and indignant at the decadence of the court, he lodged numerous memorials to the emperor, directing his critical drift to the very top echelon. Thus following the teaching of Mencius, whose path he was determined to pursue even when he was a child, Zhu Xi commissioned himself as the emperor’s guide and mentor, reversing the conservative gender paradigm in political relationship. Unwilling to bend his will to collaborate with an unworthy government, Zhu Xi time and again declined court summons, avoided imperial appointments, and resigned with various excuses from oYcial posts. Even when compelled to take oYce, he was inclined to accept sinecures or positions in provincial areas far removed from the power center.65 His strategy of staying in the marginal, or feminine, position in the political structure to maintain personal integrity, or inner masculinity, projects a Confucian version of androgyny in politics. A spiritual pillar of his time, Zhu Xi had tremendous impact both on his own age and those that followed. The Southern Song trend of literati’s spiritual masculization that he personified had a strong repercussion in the late Ming, its historical replica, when Chinese society cycled back again to a phase of weak empire, bringing with it the epidemic conflicts between the corrupted ruling clique and its antagonistic subordinates, the eVeminate central empire and its “barbarian” neighbors. The elevation of Zhu Xi’s status and the wide spread of his commentary during such a time inevitably nurtured among the alienated literati-oYcials a masculine will to maintain an authentic personality. The egalitarian subject-ruler relationship that he exemplified became a valuable cultural legacy, and his footsteps as an independent statesman were followed with a vengeance by his disciples in the Ming, when imperial despotism reached its zenith in Chinese history.66 Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


Theoretically, Ming scholars’ challenge to the hierarchical relation between the prince and the minister is most distinctly voiced by Huang Zongxi, an eminent Confucian, who cited an ancient antecedent to question the Ming status quo: In ancient times all-under-Heaven were considered the master, and the prince was the tenant. The prince spent his whole life working for all-under-Heaven. Now the prince is master, and all-under-Heaven are tenants. That no one can find peace and happiness anywhere is all on account of the prince.67

The egalitarian relation in the political structure aYrmed in these lines endorses a more masculine stand of the oYcials as the prince’s peers. This is exemplified by Huang Zongxi himself, who repeatedly rejected the emperor’s invitation to serve in the court after the dynastic change, by his father Huang Zunsu (1586 – 1624), who fought intrepidly against Wei Zhongxian’s dominance in the court and ended his life in prison, and by many Confucians in the Ming. Fang Xiaoru’s (1357 – 1402) martyrdom in refusing to draft an usurpation rescript and Hai Rui’s (1513 – 1587) unbridled criticism of the emperor in the early and middle Ming68 register literati oYcials’ masculine impulses to assert personal honor against political odds. In Fang Xiaoru’s mind, “the most valuable qualities of a scholar are his integrity and moral fiber (qijie), not his talent and wisdom (caizhi). . . . A country can do without talented scholars for decades, but it cannot survive for a single day if it does not have dauntless ministers. Without awe-inspiring men at his sides, it will be hard for the sovereign to stay away from crisis and failures.”69 In defying a usurper and embracing martyrdom, Fang Xiaoru personifies moral strength as a Confucian scholar. With their precarious life at court, late Ming scholars apparently saw in Fang Xiaoru a mirror image of their own fate. When they talked about Fang Xiaoru, as Zhao Yuan observes, “they alluded to themselves and to the relation between their fates and the destiny of the country.”70 Wang Fuzhi (1619 – 1692) thus exclaimed, “Alas! With Fang Zhengxue’s death, the species of Chinese scholars was extinct.”71 Generally seen by his contemporaries as a “reincarnation of Zhu Xi and Cheng Yi,”72 he is honored, in Huang Zongxi’s words, as the “spiritual father for the Ming scholars (xuezu).”73 A national idol of the Ming dynasty, Fang Xiaoru had tremendous impact not only on the shaping of Ming scholars’ identity, but also on late Ming/early Qing literature, serving as a prototype for heroes in literary creation. Fang Xiaoru’s gender stance is more distinctly spelled out by his spiritual 26

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descendant, Luo Yifeng (fl. late fifteenth century), a less illustrious, but no less gallant oYcial-scholar during the Chenghua regime, a period notorious for eunuchs’ abuse of power.74 As a candidate in the imperial examination to present a strategy for the emperor in the court, he cited the following lines from the Song master Cheng Yi (1033 – 1107) to admonish the sovereign: “During the day a ruler should devote more time to meeting his ministers; he should spend less time with eunuchs and his consorts.” When a court oYcial endeavored to take away the second part of the line to avoid oVending the emperor, he insisted on keeping it for cautionary eVects. Later, when the emperor planned to keep the ranking oYcial Li Wenda in the court during his mourning period, in apparent violation of the code of filial piety, Luo presented a remonstrance to stop the plan and was consequently deposed. Summoned back to the court of Nanjing in the next year to continue his service in the imperial academy, he declined the appointment with an excuse of sickness and finally sought seclusion in the Golden Ox Mountain.75 Relevant to this study is not only the masculine personality that Luo Yifeng demonstrates in rejecting his yin status in the court, but also the remarks he made in defining his gender status, of which the following passage gives us a glimpse: I am virile by nature, hence I am attracted to masculine souls. Such attraction is hard to explain in words, like the feeling of a hungry and thirsty man when he longs for food. If I cannot get such a man as my permanent companion, I respectfully befriend him. We converse on world aVairs since the ancient time and I am all attention until out of admiration and adoration I shed copious tears. My worship for virility comes from my nature. Confucius says: “I have never seen a virile man.” Mencius says: “I am skillful in nourishing my vast, potent passion-nature. It is exceedingly great and exceedingly strong; it fills up all between heaven and earth. With such nature one is above the power of riches and honors to corrupt, of poverty and mean conditions to make swerve from principle, and of power and force to make bend. Such a man of utmost sincerity and utmost virility may be called a da zhangfu.”76 What I worship most is the “virility” in Mencius’ words.77

In Huang Zongxi’s observation, the Mencian da zhangfu that Luo presents here is nothing less than a truthful portrayal of his own personality.78 With his transcendent and virile character, Luo Yifeng never echoes others’ words or bends his will in his life.79 Thus, in Mingru xuean (Case studies of Ming Confucians), Huang honors him as a “master for the Ming scholars,” Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


ranking him side by side with such lustrous figures as Fang Xiaoru and Wang Yangming.80 Convinced of the moral superiority of his masculine stance in politics, Luo Yifeng uses metaphorical language to question a pro-Taoist gender stand in the following passage: Those who believe that the firm will break and the soft can survive do not truly know what firmness is. Isn’t the heaven firm and the earth soft? Yet the heaven does not fall, whereas the earth sinks. Doesn’t this indicate that the firm endures while the soft collapses? The mountain stands, while the water flows away. The mountain is firm, the water is soft. Doesn’t this show that the firm lives on while the soft passes away? Teeth break, because they do not have solid roots despite their firmness. Hairs are attached to the head; the head stays while the hairs are gone.81

These remarks apparently address a more flexible political stand popular among some scholars as a strategy to cope with political despotism of the time. While strength may be hidden in the “soft” approach that some take to circumvent persecution,82 the valorization of the “firm” over the “soft” in Luo’s passage conveys a preference of Mencian militancy to Daoist pliability. The Mencian da zhangfu that Luo Yifeng took as his idol served as a common paragon for all the marginal scholars in the Ming. Upon opening Huang Zongxi’s Mingru xuean, one is impressed by the ubiquitous presence of Mencius’ name in the writings of Ming scholars. When Chen Xianzhang (1428 – 1500), the distinguished pioneer of the School of the Mind, read the ideal personality of “the people of heaven” (tanmin) in Mencius, he exclaimed that such people were the very models for literati scholars.83 Seeing that his teacher had written on “The Great Learning” and “The Mean” and he himself had discoursed on Analects, Huang Zongxi composed seven volumes to elaborate on Mencius to put it on a par with the other three major Confucian classics.84 Worship for Mencius in the Ming reached such an extent that occasionally he was even valorized over the sage master Confucius, as shown in the following remarks of Gu Xiancheng (1550 – 1662), the well-known leader of the Donglin Party: Master Cheng in the Song dynasty said that Mencius’ contribution to Confucianism was beyond description. Confucius only preached benevolence, but Mencius talked about righteousness on top of benevolence whenever he spoke.


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Confucius only discoursed on human will, but Mencius preached nourishing the potent passion-nature. This is a tremendous contribution to Confucianism.85

The assertion of “righteousness” and the preaching of “nourishing the potent passion-nature” that the Ming scholar observes as Mencius’ contribution to Confucianism constitute the masculine aspect of the master discourse; its revolutionary/subversive import once led the Ming founder to remove Mencius from Confucian classics. It is this reinforced masculinity personified in the Mencian hero da zhangfu that appeals most to the Ming scholars when they, confronted with a depraved power center, felt an urgent need for a role model to formulate their identity. Wei Zhuangju (fl. late fifteenth century), a scholar-oYcial during the Hongzhi regime (1488 – 1505) who resigned from the court in resistance to eunuch Liu Zhang’s dominance, delineates the Mencian idol in the following words, whose model he apparently followed: Da zhangfu does not fear to die of cold, nor is he afraid of dying of hunger. Only thus can he stand straight between heaven and earth.86

Inspired by this militant spirit of da zhangfu, another scholar, He Tang, of the same period refused to kowtow to Liu Jin, the most powerful eunuch at the time, and then withdrew from the court with an excuse of sickness.87 The growth of such a Mencian virile impulse finds expression in the death-defying rectitude of remonstrating oYcials in confrontation of the despotic sovereigns in the late Ming, a period noted for a marked increase in Confucian martyrs. To air opinions on politics (yan) constitutes a part of Chinese scholars’ traditional mode of existence as well as a channel through which they can realize their identity.88 This inclination grew stronger in the late Ming, particularly among those associated with the Donglin Party.89 Here we find an illustrating case in the life of Tang Xianzu, a Donglin sympathizer and a valorous remonstrator whose courage and integrity spelled disaster to his political career. Tang Xianzu worshiped two intrepid thinkers among his contemporaries, Li Zhi and Daguan (1544 – 1604), the latter being an eminent monk who valiantly ventured into the realm of politics and lost his life. In response to his disciples’ and friends’ advice against his risky trip to the capital to save another monk, Deqing, and to resist the emperor’s tax policy, Daguan made the heroic reply that later became quite well-known: “At the time when I cut my hair, I felt as if I had already cut oV

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my head.”90 He was persecuted by the Shenzong emperor during his stay in the capital. Li Zhi and Daguan were apparently sensational figures of the late Ming; Shen Defu devoted an entry to them, “Two Religious Masters,” in his well-known unoYcial history.91 After the government persecuted Li Zhi and Daguan, many courtiers went with the tide and suppressed their views. Disgusted with the obeisant functionaries in the Ming court, Tang sketched such a satirical portrayal in a letter to his friend: At such occasions, men are transformed into women. They walk with sidesteps and stand with bowed heads, uttering sweet words and putting on ingratiating smiles; only thus can they keep their positions. Or they act like the tiny shrimps in the sea, floating or sinking under the sway of others; only thus will they be praised for their virtues.92

Such eVeminate deportment points to the “way of the concubine” (qiefu zhidao), the base manner of subservience and pliancy that Mencius scorns as a negative contrast to the Confucian paragon da zhangfu.93 Among Ming scholars, Huang Zongxi is probably the most vociferous in denouncing the “way of the concubine” when he discourses on ministership: “To act solely for the prince and his dynasty, and attempt to anticipate the prince’s unexpressed whims or cravings—this is to have the mind of a eunuch or palace maid [ gongqie, concubine in the palace].”94 While literati shunned “the way of the concubine,” their estrangement from the power source made them helplessly aware of the identical marginal status they shared with women, although the kind of women they spiritually identified with were a far cry from the menial concubine. This is also discernible from an episode in the life of Tang Xianzu. In the late 1570s grand secretary Zhang Juzheng (1525 – 1582), in an attempt to hoodwink the world into believing his son’s validity as a principal graduate (zhuangyuan), repeatedly connived to make Tang a study companion to his son by implicitly promising his success in the metropolitan examination. Tang’s resistance to Zhang’s first attempt brought catastrophe to his examination. Categorically declining Zhang’s second oVer of patronage, he remarked: “I dare not follow, or I will lose my chastity as a virgin” (wo bugan cong chunü shishenye).95 While Tang’s self comparison to a virgin may reveal a patriarchal fixation with a particular type of femaleness—the pure, virginal, chaste female, characteristic of the cult of female chastity in Ming-Qing China, it also projects on a symbolic level his personal stance and position in the political struc30

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ture. In the power matrix of patriarchy the virgin, for having not yet succumbed to male domination, stands as a symbol of both political marginality and spiritual virility. Tang’s self comparison to a virgin thus reveals keen awareness of his social marginality and spiritual alienation as a man of integrity under the sway of a decadent oligarchy. To accept his role in the political conspiracy would be tantamount to acquiescence to a spiritual rape and to compliance with the role of a concubine. Notwithstanding his marginal/female status, Tang’s heroic assertion of personal integrity aYrms his masculinity. Consequently, the only female he and most other upright late Ming literati scholars are ready to identify with is a virgin with masculine willpower, a nüzhong zhangfu, or a Mencian da zhangfu with a female visage. The cult of female chastity in social life and literati’s compulsion to maintain political integrity as marginal men simultaneously contributed to the male fascination with this type of woman. Tang Xianzu’s masculine temperament as a marginal oYcial-scholar is also reflected in his political outlook and actions. In a letter to a friend, Li Rude, who had recently passed the provincial examination, Tang Xianzu defined literati-oYcials’ identity as follows: Having just entered oYcialdom, we should keep a lofty vision, a straight spine and a sense of justice.96

Such a yang personality looms large in Tang’s famous 1591 remonstrance, “A Memorial on Executives and Censors,” in which he undauntedly directed his critical barb at the upper echelon, the emperor himself not excluded.97 Emulating the neo-Confucian master Zhu Xi, Tang Xianzu remonstrated to cleanse politics; but his masculine action took a heavy toll on his career. The subsequent deposition and exile he suVered further marginalized his status both politically and spiritually. In asserting spiritual masculinity as a marginal/feminized subject, Tang Xianzu demonstrated again his “androgynous” identity as an intrepid “nüzhong zhangfu” who risked life to safeguard his/her “chastity.” Related to Tang Xianzu’s spiritual identification with qi nüzi (extraordinary women) are the recurrent heroic female protagonists in the historical plays flourishing during this period, which are often charged with political overtones. The playwrights of such works were largely political dissidents, patriots intending yet unable to arrest Ming disintegration, or Ming royalists spiritually alienated from the Qing regime. Like Tang Xianzu in his youth, these literati shared a common interest in active involvement in politics deGender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


spite their social or spiritual marginality. Corresponding to such a gender stand, their works often present heroic female characters whose lives are dramatically woven into the tapestry of contemporary politics, a domain to which women traditionally do not belong. In Ming feng ji (The record of the calling phoenix), attributed to Wang Shizhen (1526 – 1590), Lady Yang, the wife of a famous remonstrator Yang Jisheng (1516 – 1555), dies a martyr’s death on the execution ground to protest against the political persecution of her husband, though historically her petition to die on behalf of her husband was rejected by the court.98 In a work by Liang Chengyu (1520 – 1580), Huan sha ji (The washed silk), the celebrated beauty Xi Shi, who is seen by many as an archetype of the Chinese femme fatale, is presented as a high-souled patriot, devoting her chastity to save her country. In Baojian ji (The treasured sword), by Li Kaixian (1502 – 1568), Lin Chong’s wife Zhang Zhenniang, traditionally noted for her chastity, is portrayed as a hero who valiantly denounces treacherous oYcials in defense of her husband’s innocence. The masculinization and ennoblement of females may be part of the cultural ambience of this period, but their presence in plays highly charged with political overtones also points to literati authors’ sentimental identification with the heroines whose patriotism and heroism may vicariously gratify their own warped political aspirations.99 This trend reaches its peak in Kong Shangren’s Fan; its complex gender issue in relation to its literatus author will be a focus of our scrutiny in a later chapter.

Disenfranchised Scholars and Unbridled Thinkers: Ambiguity in Literati Gender Identity In addition to scholar-oYcials’ antagonism toward the eVeminized ruling clique, the ambiguity of literati’s gender identity was also attributable to their social disenfranchisement and spiritual alienation from the Establishment. Recent scholarship has amply addressed the issue of Ming-Qing scholars’ social marginalization as a consequence of the intensified competition for advanced degrees in civil service examinations. The flourishing commerce elevated merchants’ position and shook literati’s superior status, even within the rank of commoners (scholars, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants).100 As a consequence literati experienced intensified political and social marginality, which engendered in them sentimental kinship with women, the most marginal members in Chinese society. The analogy between a woman and an unwanted oYcial, a deep-rooted cultural conceit established when Qu 32

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Yuan initiated the xiangcao meiren (flower and beauty) tradition, struck a responsive chord and aroused acute poignancy in the psyche of Ming-Qing literati.101 A prominent case is that of Xu Wei, a talented scholar who was regarded by Yuan Hongdao (1568 – 1610) as “our contemporary Li Bai and Du Fu”102 but failed nine times in examinations.103 Such excruciating experiences inevitably bred a sense of marginality and an emotional aYnity with women. Thus in a poem “The Song for the Yellow Swan” (“Huanghu ge”), composed to send oV a friend for the provincial examination, Xu first presents the image of a yellow swan soaring up into the sky, then describes a scholar’s demonstration of remarkable talents in front of the emperor, but winds up with the following lines: The girl of Yue104 crosses the river yearly to cull lotus flower, With no worry that the ladies in the palace will envy her beauty; Decked with a new dress, or adorned in an old fashion, She will apply powder to her face in the inner chamber.105

The lack of apparent logical relation between this concluding stanza with the title and the rest of the poem points to its allegorical vein. Xu Wei is obviously comparing the provincial scholar to a country girl, his career-oriented journey to her ambitious trip, both intent on ingratiating himself/herself into the favor of the power center. The subservience of the female image (or that of the feminized man), with her eagerness to adjust her dress fashion (or his writing style) to please her (or his) would-be master, projects mild self-mockery at the literatus’ yin identity. The rhetoric of comparing a scholar on his way to the civil service examination to a beauty anxious to curry a lord’s favor, though it originated in earlier times,106 becomes more popular in the writings of the late Ming and the Qing dynasty, betokening literati’s intensified awareness of their gender identification with the female.107 It appears again in the following verse by Xu Wei, a congratulatory note to a Mr. Zhang, who recently succeeded in the imperial examination. A crowning beauty, you will enjoy the fragrance of the palace. Make the bed and wait for the patronage of the emperor. Yet, in the river of Yue, there are many lotus-culling girls, Who have lost their youthful color and still remain single.108

While complimenting his friend on his success, Xu Wei cannot but think about his own failure. Consequently, his congratulation is tinted with gloom, Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


revealing poignant awareness of the marginal/female status of a literatus who fails to find a lord to whom to devote his/her service. In addition to self-comparison to women in their writings, marginalization/feminization of literati identity is further revealed in their self-pity and lament over personal anxiety. In his writings, Xu Wei bewails the whitening of his hair at the age of thirty-two109 and, for lack of worldly achievements, derides himself for being a “small man,”110 a term with strong feminine overtones in Confucian discourse.111 Between such lines, Yuan Hongdao catches the “wailing of a widow in the night” (guafu zhi yeku).112 Such selfabasement is also echoed by Tu Benjun (?– 1622), who addressed himself as a feiren (a good-for-nothing), and by Chen Jiru (1558 – 1639) with his signature zhuiren (a superfluous man).113 Yet a literatus’ feminized identity is never identical to that of an ordinary woman; the Confucian dictate that a scholar should “set your heart upon the Way” (zhi yu dao)114 calls for men’s dedication to society. The coexistence of this masculine yearning for social service and literati’s feminized social status enables Yuan Hongdao not only to catch the “wailing of a widow” in Xu Wei’s writings, but also to discern “a royal air” (wangzhe qi),115 a dignified spirit to which “ordinary women subordinate to others can never expect to aspire” (fei bi jinguo er shirenzhe suo ganwang ye).116 It is this mettlesome spirit, lofty aspiration, and the “grief of a hero who has no lord to whom to devote his loyalty” (yingxiong shilu tuozu wumen zhibei)117 that make the marginalized literati temperamentally comparable only to those females with masculine (heroic) spirit, the qi nüzi or nüzhong zhangfu of one type or another. In Xu Wei’s writings, men’s spiritual identification with such women can be perceived in a tablet inscription that he composed for Wu Chengqi, a petty oYcial who risked his life to repel a Japanese invasion. In the inscription, Xu repeatedly compares the patriot to a famous girl of the Han dynasty, Cao E, who sacrificed her life when searching for the lost corpse of her drowned father. “Like the little girl,” Xu Wei writes, “the petty oYcial was a subordinate [in the power structure] under everyone’s sway, yet at the moment of crisis he, like the girl, stepped forward to save the situation.”118 The analogy between the man and the girl can be established not only because they shared marginal status, but because they both demonstrated moral strength. In patriarchal discourse an ordinary woman is often sneered at and derided by men; a woman has to be heroic, a nüzhong zhangfu, if she is to serve as men’s Other in Xu Wei’s imagination. 34

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Xu Wei’s fascination with qi nüzi can be perceived almost ubiquitously in his writings. He highly praises a lady who dons a man’s clothes in masquerade as a magistrate to confront a rebellious riot;119 he applies the term nü zhangfu to identify a woman with superior morality.120 Hua Mulan, the archetype of Chinese androgyne, so fascinates him that not only does he repeatedly adopt her image when referring to extraordinary women,121 he also writes a play to eulogize her. The motif of androgyny is even more prominent in his play Woman Principal Graduate(Nü zhuangyuan), in which a female transvestite comes first in the imperial examination and rules with great competency as a ranking oYcial. The obsession with gender transmutation revealed in Xu Wei’s writings may mirror the gender fluidity in late Ming culture; more likely, it registers his conscious or subconscious identification with the female heroes, who provide a literary vehicle to vicariously gratify his stifled masculine ambitions. Spiritually akin to the frustrated scholars are the heterodox thinkers, whose peripheral outlooks similarly align them with the marginal and the feminine. The late Ming, in de Bary’s words, is “one of the most creative and stimulating periods in the history of Chinese thought.”122 Synthesizing the teachings of neo-Confucian forerunners Zhu Xi and Lu Xiangshan (1139 – 1192), Wang Yangming (1472 – 1529) put forward the concept of liangzhi (the original good consciousness), the exercise of which, he alleged, can lead to the realization of sagehood within. The unlimited potentials for individual development latent in such thinking were explored by his left-wing disciples, who strove to uphold their inner vision and sought for personal authenticity in the rapid growth of commerce and luxury along with the cult of qing. Consequently, the influential notions of the time, such as tongxin (the childlike mind), xingling (inspiration), and kuangchan (the mad Chan), all celebrated the holiness of the self; all claimed the ultimate authority of human instincts. This individualistic propensity emerged partly as a reaction to the excessive moral restraint imposed by Cheng-Zhu orthodoxy on human identity, and its growing artificiality and degeneracy in social life. The widening gap between the rigid moral creeds of neo-Confucianism that the Ming ruler adopted as state orthodoxy and its advocates’ amoral behavior led scholars to further disillusionment with the Establishment. A case in the upper echelon is found in Zhang Juzheng (1525 – 1582), the grand secretary and imperial tutor during the Wanli regime, who imposed on the young emperor a rigid standard of personal conduct but was found posthumously to have been living in luxury, accepting bribery, and abusing power.123 With Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


repulsion of the court sharpened by growing individualism, even those who triumphantly entered the ranks of bureaucracy suVered spiritual alienation akin to the psychological trauma of examination failures. Such spiritual marginalization resulted, similarly, in literati-oYcials’ sentimental identification with women. Thus, sketching his life as a local magistrate, Yuan Hongdao daubed on the wall of his study the following self-mocking lines: Running and chasing, like an exhausted beast of burden; Kneeling and prostrating, resembling a shameful servant-girl.124

Averse to the oYcial functions he was obliged to fulfill, he complained in a letter to a friend: In front of the superiors, I act like a slave; Waiting on the guests, I feel like a prostitute.125

This female identity that Yuan felt he helplessly assumed reveals a loss of integrity due to his pursuit of an oYcial career or his submission to the Establishment, from which he was alienated. In the words of Wang Gen (1483 – 1540), such behavior discloses the “way of the concubine”126 that a true Confucian should guard against, an outlook that the late Ming thinker apparently inherited from his spiritual predecessor Mencius. From the gender perspective, the late Ming liberal movement can be viewed as literati’s concerted reaction against such a “way of the concubine” in their aYrmation of personal authenticity. The masculine fiber of the leftwing thinking is perceivable in Huang Zongxi’s following comments on the Taizhou School: “People [of this school] can often fight dragons and snakes with bare hands. . . . They can no longer be bound by the orthodox. . . . They have turned heaven and earth upside down.”127 Theoretically, the late Ming liberals’ sanctification of authenticity can be traced to the thinking of Lu Xiangshan, Zhu Xi’s radical contemporary, who identifies men’s original mind with the principle of heaven, thus paving the way for the blooming of the School of the Mind in the Ming. To assert the authenticity of the mind, scholars turn to Mencius for theoretical basis and moral strength, as a Ming scholar Gao Panlong (1562 – 1626) remarked: “Lu Xiangshan and Wang Yangming derived their thinking from Mencius.”128 Even Wang Yangming himself projects the hero of authentic will in his philosophy through the image of Mencian da zhangfu, as shown in the following passage composed by his disciple Wang Longqi (1498 – 1583): 36

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During the Hongzhi (1488 – 1505) and Zhengde (1506 – 1521) regimes, my master advocated literary innovation. While Li Mengyang (1475 – 1531) and He Jingming (1484 – 1522) started the movement, my master responded and supported them. But later he stayed away from it, and many people felt it a pity. My master said with a smile: “If you can write like Han Yu (768 – 824) and Liu Zongyuan (773 – 819), you are only a scholar; if you can compose verses like Li Bai (701 – 762) and Du Fu (712 – 770), you are only a poet. But if you are determined to study the philosophy of the mind with Yan Yuan and Min Shun as your models,129 won’t it be a supreme moral enterprise? When you establish a thesis and build a theory, you should get inspiration from your inner soul in defiance of all the world has to say. Only this is the behavior of a da zhangfu. To rely on others and try to imitate them can only be mediocre tricks.130

The literary movement in the mid-Ming advocates imitation of ancient styles in reaction to the stagnant writing conventions of the time. Wang Yangming criticizes it in the preceding passage for lack of novelty from the perspective of the School of the Mind. Relevant to our study is his mention of the Mencian da zhangfu, who serves as a spiritual inspiration for literati thinkers in their endeavor to assert authenticity in defiance of convention. In the late Ming trend of apotheosizing Mencius, Mencian discourse was often appropriated and modified by literati to serve their own spiritual needs. In his study of the sixteenth-century cultural history of Songjiang, John Meskill indicates that when a scholar Zhu Dashao (1517 – 1577) quoted lines from Mencius to compose a couplet, he changed them so that “what Mencius meant as an ideal superior man now implicitly refers to Zhu Dashao himself.”131 To Wang Yangming’s more radical left-wing disciples, the Mencian idol da zhangfu turned into a paragon of strong willpower, which served as a spiritual buttress when they questioned orthodoxy. In the words of Xia Tingmei (fl. seventeenth century), a farmer–converted member of the leftist Taizhou School: “To be a da zhangfu, one has to follow the authority of his mind and act only according to his authentic will. To be swayed and led by worldly conventions and others’ behavior is the way of the concubine.”132 The masculine impulse of Mencian da zhangfu, which initially encouraged literati to defend personal integrity in politics, now is turned into a source of strength when they assert personal will in ideological confrontation. Inspired by the Mencian paragon, Xia Tingmei went on to question the orthodox creeds of his time:

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Who divided heavenly principle and human desire? If you ponder over this question, you will find yourself enlightened and confused in terms. If you are enlightened, human desires are heavenly principle; if you are not enlightened, even heavenly principle becomes human desire.133

The relation between heavenly principle and human desires had been a controversial issue since the ancient time, and its antithetical treatment was preached by many followers of the neo-Confucian School of the Principle. Although Zhu Xi once acknowledged the existence of human desires, viewed as normal human needs, in heavenly principle, he indicated their tendency to degenerate into selfish cravings and hence the need to subdue them.134 While the neo-Confucian dichotomous approach to human desires and heavenly principle was meant to enhance human morality, it was often given excessively rigid interpretation in government-promoted orthodox discourses and was hence “abused” in social practice to suppress human love. In Ming-Qing society, it led to the convention of widow chastity and apparently ran against the cult of qing. The questioning of such a dichotomy and the attempted accommodation of “heavenly principle” to “human desires” in Xia’s remarks convey tacit subversion of the orthodox.135 Similarly, moral courage can also be perceived in late Ming literati’s adherence to their personal vision: Li Zhi’s aYrmation of the need to be selfish,136 He Xinyin’s (1517 – 1579) endorsement of the legitimacy of human desire,137 and Tang Xianzu’s passionate exaltation of sexual fulfilment, all contributing to the cult of qing flourishing during this period. The impact of the Mencian paragon on late Ming liberal mentality can also be perceived in the following remarks of Li Zhi, in which he contrasts his ideological stands before and after the age of fifty-four, when he withdrew from the court: Before fifty I lived like a dog. When those in front of me barked at a shadow, I followed suit. . . . But now I do not bark anymore. I used to be a dwarf, but in my old age I have turned into a giant.”138

The “dog” that parrots other’s barking is just a parallel figure to “the way of the concubine,” while the “giant” is apparently Li Zhi’s version of da zhangfu, in which he projects his defiant personality. Li Zhi’s action testifies to the validity of these brave words. Arrested by the government in his seventies, he cut his own throat in jail to die a hero. His courage to sacrifice


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himself for his conviction is revealed in a letter to his friend, in which he wrote: “They can cut oV my head, but they can never subdue my will.”139 The repulsion for the humiliating “way of the concubine” is further manifested in literati’s lethargy over and disillusion with oYcialdom. As Willard J. Peterson observes, “A propensity to withdraw to devote oneself to moral cultivation was built into neo-Confucianism.”140 Not only did they feel that the humdrum of oYcial life stifled their individuality, but their spiritual alienation from the orthodox also dampened their career enthusiasm, leading to collective antipathy toward oYcialdom. Frustrated by his role as a magistrate and yet yearning for public reputation as a Confucian scholar, Yuan Hongdao repeatedly shuZed between oYcialdom and seclusion;141 suVocated by the repressive ambience of oYcial life, Wen Zhengming gave up his position in the imperial academy;142 estranged from his superiors and longing to pursue spiritual freedom, Li Zhi handed in his oYcial cap. While the celebrated painter Dong Qichang (1555 – 1636) dallied with an oYcial career briefly before taking protracted retirement in the “hermitage of arts,”143 He Xinyin, Wang Longqi, and Qian Xushan (1497 – 1574), the outstanding thinkers in the School of the Mind, either refused to sit for or quitted the imperial examination in protest against orthodoxy.144 The talented scholar Chen Jiru even burned his scholar’s robe at the age of twenty-nine to demonstrate his determined rejection of oYcialdom. Small wonder, as Chen Wanyi indicates, Su Shi (1037 – 1101), the Song literatus with a penchant for seclusion, became a cultural celebrity in the late Ming: his name appeared on the tablet of Yuan Zongdao’s study; he was compared to Li Zhi and Jiao Hong (1540 – 1620), the cultural heroes of the time; and his writings enjoyed immense popularity among literati.145 Willard Peterson observes that a sample of every fifth biographical entry in Huang Zongxi’s Mingru xuean shows that nearly a third of the men did not take examinations, did not serve, or lived most of their adult lives in some form of private retirement.146 In their acceptance of political marginality/femininity to aYrm personal autonomy/masculinity, these alienated literati were molding an identity that may be termed “androgynous.” Such a gender stand may be sentimentally and spiritually related to their admiration for masculine women. Viewed in relation to his personal life, Li Zhi’s praise of Danran as a “gentleman hermit” may carry a weaker “condescending tone” than what Levering perceives in men’s eulogy of nuns in general when they apply what she describes as “the rhetoric of masculine heroism [zhangfu].” Li Zhi’s extreme

Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing


marginality may have generated psychological identification with the female hero he praised; his “rhetoric of masculine heroism” applied in the eulogy of women thus can imply self-aggrandizement of the radical stand he himself took: in leaving the court and residing in a monastery to maintain the self-autonomy of a da zhangfu, he embraced a politically marginal/female position and became a “female gentleman hermit” himself. In addition to inscription in literature, literati’s gender identity is also inscribed on another cultural medium, the paintings of the most admired artists of the age, the literati amateurs. In academic study, Ming artists are traditionally divided into three categories: the commercial artists who did not have advanced literary training and sold art for a living, the educated professionals who shared literati values and yet readily accepted compensation for their work, and the literati amateurs who practiced painting largely as a pastime.147 Although recent scholarship has legitimately challenged such a division by bringing into light the mutual influence and inter-penetration among the three groups of artists as well as their shared aesthetic values, techniques, and practice,148 it remains a well-established contention that literati amateurs distinguish themselves from the professionals through their conscious projection of self-identity in the art they create. Following the xieyi (imagery writing) tradition of the Northern Song and the Yuan dynasty, these “non-professionals” present their inner visions on the canvas and transform the images of landscapes into a symbolic language. In fact, so conspicuous is the self-image in their paintings that a critic can take their style to be an “autobiographical manner.”149 Such works are aptly labelled “literati paintings” (wenren hua). Practiced largely by what Wai-kam Ho calls “noncandidates”150—oYcials and scholars estranged from the Establishment— such paintings illustrate both the artists’ political marginality and their latent virility. Appropriately, it is often executed with bold and strong strokes expressive of the hidden masculinity of these literati painters, whose identity lurks so compellingly behind the landscapes on the canvas, inviting our exploration.151 Xu Wei’s painting The Wailing Man on a Mountain Terrace (fig. 1) presents the desolate scene of a mountain cliV where a man is mourning for his ill fate. Its inscription suggests that the work originally functioned as a sorrowful greeting from the grieving artist to an old friend, probably a patron. Its first two lines read: “In illness, it is impossible even for me to find any place to stand, / of what use is the ground, if one still has to seek support?”152 The melancholy tone of the verse and the deep frustration it con40

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fig. 1. Xu Wei (1459 – 1508): The Wailing Man on a Mountain Terrace. The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm.

veys in combination with the bleak scene on the canvas virtually make audible the “wailing of a widow at midnight” that Yuan Hongdao captures in Xu Wei’s writings. The diminished size of the man in the scene enables one to visualize Xu Wei’s perception of himself as a “small man,” whose social marginalization/feminization is metaphorically projected onto the geographical location that the pictorial self inhabits—the edge of a mountain cliV, beside a withering tree, the very antithetical pole to the power center in the map of politics. Yet, despite the artist’s political feminization graphically presented here, the painting is not without masculine touches. Rendered in bold lines, apparently with a stump brush in quick execution, this symbolic landscape conveys a note of the artist’s indignation at his enforced marginality. The hazy image of an erect mountain lurking in the background behind the lamenting man may project the artist’s undying aspiration, the political ambition that has faded in the course of his life and yet remains inextinguishable in his psyche as a man.153 The forceful execution of the picture, the abrupt brandishing of the brush, and the pictorial allusion to masculine aspiration all suggest a “royal manner” of the artist, to which, as Yuan Hongdao observes elsewhere, “ordinary women subordinate to others can never expect to aspire.” Thus, the symbolic landscape pictures the identity of the feminized artist who nonetheless longs to regain his deprived masculine self. The masculine veins of literati painting are more manifest in Wen Zhengming’s masterpiece Old Trees by a Cold Waterfall (fig. 2), which the reclusepainter portrayed at the age of seventy-nine. A celebrated scholar-artist, Wen was also a moral paragon of his time. He not only resolutely gave up his post at the Imperial Academy in defense of personal authenticity, even in seclusion, he barred his door to the powerful and the mighty in the manner of Shen Zhou (1427 – 1509), his art master and role model.154 Such moral strength is inscribed in the painting under discussion, which conveys human endurance, fortitude, and stamina through the image of a tangle of pine and cypress trees. The unusually narrow width of the painting, in disproportion to the lengthy scroll, throws in relief the uprising propensity of the plants, which soar from its bottom to almost the top, signifying the artist’s lofty aspirations. The trees stretching their shriveled branches toward the sky resemble men extending their aging arms upward to valiantly meet the challenge of life. The knotty trunks and angular branches, though marks of physical decrepitude, are stiV and sturdy, carrying rugged inner strength; they signal the artist’s potent will to maintain high principles and moral in42

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fig. 2. Wen Zhengming (1470 – 1559): Old Trees by a Cold Waterfall. National Palace Museum, Taipei.

tegrity at a declining age, when his body, like the trees, turned bony yet remained erect without losing its spiritual virility. Wen’s lofty mind and noble loneliness are further presented in the image of the waterfall in the background, which cascades from the top of the mountain, as if descending from the very edge of the heavens. Such a landscape painting has attained the level of poetry, in which the artist has projected his identity and unfurled his soul. No wonder the art historian Sirén observes in Wen’s paintings “a note of vigorous manliness” and the “character of a truly superior man,”155 i.e., the virility of a Mencian da zhangfu.156 Justly, Wen is honored by a modern cultural historian as “the unassailable epitome of the scholaramateur ideal.”157 The preceding discussion demonstrates that literati paintings, as artists’ self-images, register their gender stance on the canvas. The rivers and mountains among which literati artists sought seclusion are natural symbols of their political marginality/femininity. However, when literati presented them on the canvas, they often could not but betray the masculinity latent in their souls. The compelling imagery of power and strength in the symbolic landscape of literati painting is similar in its gender construction to the fictional imagery of nüzhong zhangfu in literati writings, both revealing a yang essence in a yin form. Essentially, they are all metaphorical presentations of marginalized/feminized men, who use a brush to inscribe their masculine impulses, or their androgynous stance, either in literature or on canvas. When a literatus is engaged both in painting and writing, such as Xu Wei, he creates masculine women for the stage while drawing with forceful (masculine) strokes a feminized man on the canvas; the two symbolic modes of presentation now converge in projecting an identical gender stance.

the three aspects of gender ambiguity that we have traced coexisted in late Ming/early Qing society and contributed simultaneously to molding literati identity. The preceding analysis indicates that a considerable portion of the literati population was alienated from their traditional roles in society owing to their excessive marginality: scholars frustrated in the civil service examinations, literati discordant with the orthodox ideology, oYcials estranged from the court, and Ming loyalists antagonistic to the Qing regime. It is inevitable that such socially marginalized or ideologically and politically dissident literati felt a strong aYnity with androgynous women, in whom they perceived a mirror image of their own position: her virile (masculine) 44

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temperament and marginal (feminine) status reflect their own very “androgynous” identity. Consequently, in social commentary, they eulogized such androgynous figures; in fictions and dramas, they created androgynous characters either to present a cultural anomaly or for self-expression. The gender ambiguity in social life and in literati identity, therefore, contributed simultaneously to the phenomenon of androgyny in literature. The following study of literary works largely examines the symbolic inscriptions of gender fluidity in the characterization of masculine women and feminized men. In exploring the androgynous marks of Ming-Qing literature, our critical tentacle searches every niche of the cosmos: private garden, secluded boudoir, pleasure quarter, royal palace, imperial court, battlefield, religious hermitage, even daydreams, nether realms, and the celestial kingdom; the traces of gender fluidity are nearly omnipresent. While stressing the inscription of literati’s liberal impulses on the presentation of gender fluidity in late Ming literature, the presence of conservative forces occasionally visible behind such a literary phenomenon is not neglected. Its noted iconoclasm notwithstanding, late Ming/early Qing was a transitional period, when lingering conservatism and emerging liberalism were locked in constant combat, and it is not unusual that the two outlooks alternately dominated a literatus’ mentality at diVerent stages of his life. Under the brush of a less liberal soul, gender deviation is condemned, portrayed with fear, and winds up with punishment, catastrophe, and death. To use the terminology of this study, androgyny gives way to gender perversion in such literary characterization. While our primal concern here is to explore the healthy gender fluidity that leads to self-salvation, due attention is given to its negative counterpart, not only because the pair comprise virtually two sides of the same coin, but because the excessive, radical gender switch often acts as a harbinger of the phenomenon of androgyny in literature. The following exploration of androgyny thus begins with the “perverse” case of Pan Jinlian, the Chinese Amazon of the bedchamber, in the notorious “pornographic novel” The Plum in the Golden Vase.

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The Plum in the Golden Vase A Prelude to the Androgyny Craze

In the late Ming literary arena, gender imperatives are probably nowhere more peremptorily challenged than in The Plum in the Golden Vase (1596).1 Its heroine, Pan Jinlian, the murderess of her two husbands, shatters the traditional ideal of womanhood with such a vengeance that the precocious Qing commentator Zhang Zhupo (1670 – 1698) vehemently alleged: “Jinlian is inhuman”(Jinlian bushi ren).2 In traditional Chinese writings, Jinlian is virtually a byword for debauchery, malignity, and depravity; correspondingly, in Western criticism she is often referred to as a vampire,3 a succubus,4 and a demon. In Yenna Wu’s study of Chinese termagants, Jinlian is regarded as the most extreme example of virago in Chinese literature, a composite of jealous shrew, adulteress, and femme fatale.5 A more tolerant and even sympathetic attitude, however, emerges in modern China, concurrent with the infiltration from the West of such discourses as women’s liberation during the May Fourth Movement and feminism of the contemporary age. Prominent among the exonerators of this Chinese virago are Ouyang Yuqian (1889 – 1962) and Wei Minglun, who recast Jinlian’s image on the Chinese stage to free her of her moral stigma.6

Adopting a Western apparatus, mainland and Taiwan critics in recent decades have conducted gender studies of Pan Jinlian, which have lead to more sympathetic appraisals.7 The “changed verdict” on the Chinese virago reminds one of the shift of American criticism in its judgement of the heroine in Faulkner’s celebrated story “A Rose for Emily.” Like Jinlian, Emily assassinates her lover to gratify her eros and was similarly transformed from a “murderess” to a “victim” in critical appraisals over the past decades.8 By generating new interpretations of canonical works, such criticism demonstrates the contemporary aesthetics of reception, which grants readers more active roles. The reader is capable of producing new meanings in literary works because, in Hans Robert Jauss’ view, each generation looks at past literature from a “new horizon,” namely, with a diVerent aesthetic standard born of new cultural and social environments.9 This “new horizon” was ushered in by recent discussion of androgyny in the West, which oVers a new perspective for examining canonical works and provides a framework for the present study. The following inquiry into the Plum from the perspective of Jung’s analytical psychology comprises the first step of such an inquiry. It concerns itself not with the reversal of the moral judgement of Pan Jinlian, but aims at disclosing the inversion of gender in the narrative, which is intrinsically related to the phenomenon of androgyny in late Ming/early Qing literature. Probably no one would deny that sexuality figures prominently in the Plum, which bristles with adulterous ventures, boudoir intrigues, sexual battles, and homosexual conquests, though many have resisted labeling it pornography. In recent decades sex has been subjected to microscopic scrutiny and has assumed growing importance in our understanding of humanity. Explicating the French scholar Michel Foucault, David Der-wei Wang indicates that “sex is an important cultural code because it has helped produce . . . power structures.”10 In his much-acclaimed study The History of Sexuality, Foucault claims that sex is our “master key” to “the explanation for everything.”11 Sure enough, the sex-related episodes in the Plum turn out to be most illuminating to our understanding of the Ming culture. Due emphasis is thus laid on sexuality in the following exploration of gender implication in the Plum, starting with a close examination of Pan Jinlian’s sexual/gender identity, then extending a similar inquiry to the scope of the whole novel, and finally relating the sexual chaos presented in the narrative to the gender anarchy of the age. 48

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The Case of Pan Jinlian: A Perverse Triumph of Yin over Yang in the War of Sexuality Pan Jinlian, the notorious virago, is brought up as a slave. After being sold twice, she is first reduced at the prime of her youth to a sex toy by an old dandy and then falls victim to “a travesty of marriage”12 to Wu the Elder, “a dwarf no taller than seven-inches.” The complaint that she constantly lodges against Wu the Elder is his want of the makings of a real man (nanzihan), in other words, his lack of yang energy externalized in his diminished physical size. The term nanzihan repeatedly surfaces in her satirical references to her husband (J 1.68; 2.93)13 as well as in her monologue of frustration (J 1.68). Such eVeteness also mars her aging patron Mr. Zhang, who accordingly dies of a “venereal chill” (yinhan) (J 1.67), symptomatic of a lack of yang energy. If a person’s identity, according to Plato’s theory, is comprised of two parts of opposite genders, and in one’s companionship with the other sex, as Jung alleges, one seeks the fulfillment of one’s own suppressed gender,14 then neither in the hoary-headed coxcomb nor in the young weakling that Jinlian weds can she find any trace of her “masculine half,” deprived of which she lives in the “loneliness of a half-person,”15 and passionately longs for her “other half.” In Wu Song, her stalwart brother-in-law, the very antipode to her eVeminate husband, she sees a perfect image of her masculine self.16 In fact, virility is inscribed in the two words that compose his name wu and song, which respectively mean “militancy” and “pine.” While the surname, with its connotations of belligerence, valiance, and courage, registers typical male attributes, the given name with the image of an evergreen tree signifies masculine fortitude in defiance of the life-destroying force in the winter. Small wonder, in the interminable cast of the Plum, this tiger-killer with his Herculean strength and a lion’s courage is the only one who claims himself a genuine man, a nanzihan (J 1.82). When Wu Song moves into her house, Jinlian is overjoyed “as if she had got a golden treasure” (J 1.76), and she loses no time in seducing him. Only after her aborted seduction frustrates her endeavor to identify her “masculine half ” with Wu Song does she turn to Ximen Qing for an alternate of self-identification. Ximen’s charisma similarly stems from his exuberant yang energy: he is “strong and robust,” “muscular and sinewy” (tijian jinqiang) (J 29.752), deporting himself with an “imposing and dignified manner” (xuanang chuzhong) (J 69.1959). The most graphic expression of his masculinity, no The Plum in the Golden Vase


doubt, is found in his enormous penis; its protracted and firm erection in sexual intercourse enchants the women around him, who, as C. T. Hsia puts it, “beg to be seduced.”17 In Chinese culture a man’s masculinity is partly measured by his sexual potency, just as a popular dictum in the West states: “A man is what his sex is.”18 Ximen thus becomes a “model” man, particularly in the eyes of women who suVer from sexual starvation in undesirable marriages. But in the world of the Plum, where men and women are constantly engaged in mutual intrigue and deception rather than yoked in felicitous union, the puissant patriarch Ximen Qing acts as “the foreman of the wifebeaters, the leader of the lotharios” (da laopo de bantou, keng funü de lingxiu) (J 17.446; P 1:17.352).19 Ximen’s dominance over women is presented particularly in sexuality, as Sun Xun observes; he takes female partners as opponents and derives a sense of triumph in abusing their bodies.20 Jinlian’s marriage with such a man thus fails to expedite in her a harmony of diVerent genders. It triggers instead an inversion of sexual roles as the lady-killer’s dandyism and egocentricity aVect and mold her emerging animus, which develops, expands, and eventually dominates her personality. The gender construction of the Chinese virago is a complex issue that lies at the heart of the present inquiry. The middle character in Pan Jinlian’s name, “jin” (gold, or more generally, metal), can be interpreted as an index of her yin identity, for according to traditional five-elements association, metal is related to the autumn, a bleak season of death when the yin force germinates.21 Carlitz points out such an association in the summer garden scene of chapter 27 where Jinlian, repeatedly related to liang (cold), is symbolically identified with jinfeng (metallic wind, or autumn gale) sweeping away the summer heat. Carlitz interprets the episode as an illustration of the complementary relation between yin and yang, for the sun at its zenith foreshadows its inevitable decline and the dominance of the yin force.22 Relevant to our discussion in such an argument is the insight that the jin (gold) in Jinlian’s name identifies the heroine not with the yielding, forbearing aspects of the yin principle23 but with its destructive and competing energy. Viewed in the light of Jinlian’s final usurpation of male roles in sexuality, as the following analysis demonstrates, her symbolic presence in the autumn gale to sweep away the summer heat may be associated with the concept of yin-yang mutation, which can also be traced to traditional Chinese metaphysics, particularly to neo-Confucianism. The Song scholar Shao Yong remarks, “As activity reaches its limit, yin is produced. . . . When weakness 50

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reaches its limit, the element of strength is produced.”24 Related to sexual roles, the concept of yin-yang mutation inherent in these lines points to the potential of gender switch in human identity, which bears on Jinlian’s characterization: the expansion of her competing and subversive impulses eventually leads her to forsake her prescribed gender to embrace the principle of masculinity. Jinlian’s animus is, in fact, inscribed in her birthday, the ninth of the first lunar month (1/9), a date that carries potent yang import for, in the Chinese arts of divination, odd numbers, such as one and nine, are associated with the celestial, or yang, principle.25 This date coincides with the birthday of the Jade Emperor, the supreme Daoist ruler of the celestial kingdom, alluding to Jinlian’s dominant position among the bevy of concubines in the microcosmic “empire” of the Ximen household. The allegorical relation between the macrocosmic kingdom of the state and the microcosmic “empire” of the Ximen household has been addressed in several studies.26 While critics generally take Ximen as the “benighted emperor” in this household monarchy, supported by the term hunjun in the narrative, the following analysis attempts to demonstrate that Ximen’s dominance is finally overthrown by Jinlian, his “minister” or “subject” in the battle of sexuality. The heroine’s identity is first epitomized in the namesake part of her body, her small feet, which are bound in a style known as jinlian (golden lotus). Ostensibly her bound feet project her feminine identity, which, however, is subverted by her “abuse” of the feet. In Ming-Qing society, as Susan Mann observes, women generally viewed their bound feet “as a bodily marker of status, purity, and good breeding,”27 and Dorothy Ko even sees in foot-binding “an expression of female culture.”28 Yet women’s internalization of patriarchal values does not change the fact that this is essentially an “objectively oppressive custom,”29 and it functions socially to contain women’s mobility, making them more dependent and vulnerable.30 Paul Ropp reasonably observes that it may also have been part of an eVort to protect the sanctity of hierarchical gender relations in an era of rapid social change.31 For their eVect in feminizing women’s identity, Mann sees in bound feet “powerful gender symbols.”32 In a recent study, C. Fred Blake observes that “golden lotus,” as a term to depict the bound feet, is packed with symbolic meanings. Just as the lotus floats on the water, “the woman [with bound feet] is supposed to evoke an illusion of floating by ambulating in short, mincing steps, a style referred to as ‘Bu bu sheng lian hua’ (Each step bears a lotus blossom).”33 Ping Wang traces the illusory imagery The Plum in the Golden Vase


of a woman’s floating in the celestial realm to Yao Niang, the legendary first footbinder, who looked as if she were whirling on a cloud when she danced on the golden lotus, a special apparatus made of gilded gold.34 The lotus image in Jinlian’s name thus carries cultural expectation of her feminine grace and elegance, intimating her feminization by patriarchal culture. Yet, while her name and her dainty feet reduce her to an object of men’s gaze, in the doleful years of her mismatch with Wu the Elder, Jinlian’s habitual posture of showing oV her feet when sitting behind the door curtain to entice men registers a seditious impulse against the codes of womanhood. Although her bound feet ostensibly bind her to femininity, she takes advantage of their paramount delicacy to cross the boundary of gender division and to venture into the world of men. Another gendered device in the rhetorical repertoire of the novel can be traced to the prevalent zodiac symbolism.35 In the introductory remarks, we are told that the story is about “a beauty among tigers” (huzhong meinü) (J 1.51). The tiger symbolism is picked up again in chapter 67, where Jinlian wears a golden ornament with the image of a red tiger (jinchihu) (J 67.1898), although in the narrative the tiger constantly appears in its miniature form, a ferocious cat, and is occasionally reinforced by the lion metaphor. In chapter 59 such a cat makes its debut and is significantly named “Snow Lion” (xueshizi) and “Charcoal in the Snow” (xuezhong songtan) for its snowwhite body with a black patch on its forehead. Since the lion, king of animals, and charcoal, potential fire, carry yang import, and snow—with its associations to winter, water, and white—is pregnant with yin connotations,36 both names suggest ambiguity in their gender constructions. The cat is, in fact, Jinlian’s bedfellow and “often sleeps with her in Ximen’s absence” (J 59.1616), thus functioning as her metaphorical “male half.” Jinlian’s training of the cat to pounce at meat wrapped in red cloth, a symbolic challenge to the cardinal yang color, divulges an inner urge to overwhelm the dominant gender. Such an impulse is transformed into action when the cat swoops down on the red-clothes-swaddled Guange, the newborn male baby of her rival, Ping’er, literally scaring the life out of the infant. In a polygamous family, the acquisition of a son was vital to the concubine, since it would facilitate her full connection to the family and ultimately allow her access to a dominant status. Guange’s birth thus armed Ping’er with the power to threaten Jinlian’s dominance in the peer struggle. Moreover, the boy’s name, which literally means “oYcial-brother” in honor of Ximen’s newly conferred oYcial title, is metaphorically related to the 52

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power source. The innocent baby could thus be taken to be a symbolic source of patriarchal power. Viewed in this light, the white (yin) cat’s plunge at the red-swaddled (yang) baby suggests an assault by the female force on the male power. In such a struggle the violence and pugnacity of the former turn its gender into the masculine. Gender inversion is further suggested through the association between the cat, usually a female image,37 and the tiger, the arch-symbol of masculine might, in the act of frightening the child to death. Since the Chinese character for “tiger” (hu) constitutes the right half of “frightening” (hu), in its action of frightening the baby, the cat metaphorically assumes a tiger identity. The cat’s gender inversion in its tiger association is further projected through its white color, as the white tiger is a popular image of malevolent male force in Chinese religious and philosophical writings during the Ming period. Gulik indicates that although at the end of the Zhou dynasty (256 b.c.), the white tiger was generally related to lesser yin and the green dragon connected to lesser yang, by a.d. 150, when Wei Boyang composed his famous classic of alchemy Can tong qi (Pact of the triple equation), this pattern was reversed.38 A picture in the Ming block print Xingming guizhi (The essence of life) reveals that the latter pattern was popular at that time.39 In chapter 79, after a symbolic inversion of gender identity in the last sexual confrontation between the couple, discussed below, Jinlian is implicitly referred to as a “white tiger, which blocks the way of Ximen’s life” (baihu dangtou lanlu) (J 79.2434). Jinlian’s tiger identity is further alluded to in fortune-teller Huang’s divination, at the end of chapter 61, in which Jinlian’s competition with Ping’er is projected in the image of tiger-lamb rivalry.40 The cat/tiger metaphor reappears in the descriptions of Jinlian’s liaisons with Chen Jingji, her “son-in-law,” and Wang Chao’er, the scion of a matchmaker. In both cases she takes the initiative as an aggressive seducer. In chapter 57 her roving eyes, which suddenly catch Chen Jingji, are presented as those of “a cat catching sight of a fishy dish, bent on swallowing it” (J 57.1552); in chapter 86 her sexual intercourse with Wang Chao’er is portrayed as “a cat biting a mouse” (J 86.2599). The possessive drive of the first cat image psychologically aligns her to the opposite gender; the symbolism in the later case, with the woman functioning as a miniature tiger and the man acting like a mouse, radically subverts the gendered pattern prescribed by Ban Zhao: “If one has a daughter, one hopes she will become like a mouse and fears she will become like a tigress.”41 In Chinese culture a tigress is often used as a figure for a perverted The Plum in the Golden Vase


woman,42 and in the Plum, in particular, the tiger assumes paramount importance as an index of human gender. Significantly, Jinlian’s two husbands are both associated with tigers: Wu the Elder is referred to as a “paper tiger” (J 5.158), whereas Ximen is born in “the year of the tiger” (J 4.143). The associations of the omnipotent animal with the two men suggest the authority over women that the patriarchal order grants them as heads of households. Jinlian’s successive assassinations of these symbolic “tigers” as well as her recurrent associations with cat/tiger imagery in the narrative signify her usurpation of male power in the battles between the sexes. The complex gender issue can be unraveled more eVectively through an examination of sexuality between the couple. E. P. Cook remarks that “sex is innate, . . . sex role is learned”;43 this is more graphically put in de Beauvoir’s well-known observation: “One is not born a woman, but rather one becomes a woman.”44 Jinlian’s sedition lies in her refusal to stay womanly after she has been reduced to the status of a concubine; instead, she turns to men for models of behavior, especially in her sex life. In the patriarchal culture of imperial China, adultery constituted one of the seven sins for which a man could divorce a woman,45 although polygamy granted men privileges for sexual license. One salient feature in Jinlian’s characterization is her unbridled sexual impulses, which, in Li Shiren’s words, function as “the driving force of her life.”46 Yet Jinlian’s promiscuity, forbidden for females, is largely modeled on the males around her, particularly on Ximen Qing, whose sexual abandon leads her away from the traditional female roles she is expected to play.47 Another aspect of Ximen’s sexual practice that aVects Jinlian’s sexuality is the egocentricity that motivates his sex drive and leads to his sadism. In Ximen’s numerous sexual encounters with his concubines, courtesans, housemaids, and mistresses, the dominant drive is to gratify his sexual mania, often at the expense of the female partners, who are forced into anal intercourse or obliged to submit to him even during menstruation and whose sex organs are singed by burning incense to create marks of conquest and possession. In their studies, Liu Hui, Lu Ge, and Ma Zheng indicate that lovers’ burning each other’s bodies around their sex organs was once a folk love ritual, traceable in the pornographic story “Ruyijun zhuan” (The tale of Tang Empress Wu’s favorite, Master Pleasure), a sixteenth-century novelette written in literary language.48 The one-sided practice of this ritual in the Plum, with only the male burning female bodies, indicates a distorted relationship between the two parties.49 Such male-centered egoism, with its 54

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brutality, exploitation, and dominance in sexuality, gradually takes root in Jinlian’s soul, becomes her guiding philosophy, and changes her into a “man” in the bedchamber, just as Ximen’s constant neglect of his conjugal duty drives her toward sexual abandon. The novel presents recurrent role switches between the couple, which point to gender shifts between the two sexes. In a notorious scene from chapter 27, Ximen fastens Jinlian’s legs to a grape trellis, dallies with her pudenda, and almost kills her during their intercourse when the apparatus he employs to heighten his pleasure breaks in her vagina. Such extreme sadism soon finds expression in Jinlian’s behavior. In chapter 73, she devises a strap to boost Ximen’s almost exhausted sexual energy, apparently taking over his strategy of “mechanical manipulation of the sexual partner”50 to enhance her own gratification. The male self-centered attitude that Jinlian adopts is most fully substantiated in the climactic scene in chapter 79, where she not only takes a potency drug, a device normally used by the male, but feeds aphrodisiac to Ximen three times to rekindle his spent libido. As if this were not enough, she applies the strap of her own invention and an aphrodisiac ointment to his penis to harden its erection. Since all these are done when he is half asleep, exhausted from a previous copulation, it is apparent that the woman is toying with the man’s body as an instrument of pleasure, manipulating his private member for her own need—a complete inversion of the traditional gender roles of sexual exploitation in patriarchal society. Such a gender switch is projected more vividly in the manner of her intercourse. In depicting her mounting the male body, the author uses the word “qi” (to ride), and the penis beneath her is presented as a “horse eye” (mayan) (J 79.2413). The intercourse is thus presented in the image of her “driving a horse,” a strongly gendered posture in sexuality. In the well-known Chinese classic on sexuality Sunü jing (The discourse of the Plain Girl), the heroine, Plain Girl, presented as an expert in sexuality, remarks from a male perspective, “Exercising the coitus with a woman is like riding a running horse with a worn rein.”51 The horse-riding image in the Plum thus signals Jinlian’s usurpation of a male role in sexuality as well as her triumphant dominance over the man beneath her. More relevant to our discussion, this image not only captures subversion of conventional coitus positions in China—with man on top representing heaven and woman beneath standing for earth52— but also suggests a flagrant violation of the gendered relation between husband and wife prescribed by Ban Zhao. When she urged the husband to The Plum in the Golden Vase


control his wife, Ban Zhao used the word “yu,” meaning to bridle a horse while driving a carriage,53 thus implicitly associating the horse rider to men and the horse to women. The most outrageous egocentricity in Jinlian’s sex acts is to be found in her relentless abuse of Ximen’s penis even after the depletion of its yang essence. In the last few days of his life, she keeps mounting him, virtually raping him and driving life out of his languid body. Such “sexual harassment” parallels Ximen’s insistent sexual demand on Ping’er during her menstruation and his brutal molestation of Jinlian’s vagina in the notorious garden scene, revealing an insolent, essentially male approach to sexuality in patriarchal culture. Role-switching as a form of gender inversion is presented not only through sexual conduct but also via dialogue between the couple. In the nefarious garden scene from chapter 27, the stuporous Jinlian moans after being sexually abused: “I am so dizzy that I can hardly see” (toumu sensen) (J 27.718); this phrase is later articulated by Ximen, in chapter 79, when he is ravished by Jinlian (J 79.2414), revealing an unequivocal status shift between the persecutor and the victim. According to Hanan’s research, this phrase originates from the popular story “Ruyijun zhuan.”54 But in the source story, the phrase is uttered only by the female sex partner; its presence in the male speech in Jin Ping Mei is apparently the novelist’s adaptation, most likely to suggest a gender switch. The gender connotation of such verbal rhetoric can be more clearly perceived in another case of speech shift between the couple. Complaining of his merciless misuse of her body, in chapter 27, Jinlian calls Ximen a “yuanjia” (enamored enemy) (J 27.716), a term that reappears with significant irony in Ximen’s deathbed farewell to Jinlian, in chapter 79, after he suVers a more devastating sexual abuse (J 79.2435). With its paradoxical implications of both “lover” and “foe,” the term “yuanjia” is largely derived from the discourse of the pleasure quarters, referring to the male lover who is destined to desert the female courtesan. In the narrative this term also appears in several other instances, mostly in the lines sung by prostitutes.55 The transposition of this term from Jinlian’s speech to Ximen’s bespeaks a switch of gender identity: while in chapter 27 the audacious man treats his wife like a whore, in chapter 79 the voracious woman reduces her husband to a “prostitute.” With twisted erotic ties prevalent under its roof, the Ximen household is, as Cass puts it, “a virtual brothel.”56 What shocks us about Jinlian’s behavior in that “institution” is her assuming the role of a patron after serving as a prostitute. 56

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In addition to manipulating Ximen’s body, Jinlian’s urge to be a patron in the household “brothel” also finds expression in seducing a page boy, Qintong (zither boy), an act that parallels Ximen’s promiscuous relations with the housemaids as well as his homosexual liaison with his own page boy Shutong (book boy). Likewise, Jinlian’s tactics in sexual adventures are a replica of men’s strategy: her seduction is inaugurated by the ritual of drinking with the sexual object and winds up with bribes of gifts, a practice reminiscent of Ximen’s approaches to his paramours, Huilian and Ruyi’er, and to herself. Such sexuality tells much about her reversed gender, for behavior rather than anatomy constitutes the basis for the conceptualization of gender identity. Furthermore, the gender inversion between the couple is graphically presented through the battles between their sex organs: penis and vagina. Ximen’s member, as hard as steel, is the fetishistic object in a love eulogy early in the narrative (J 4.144); its sexual potency captivates the women around him. By the second half of the book, however, the penis seems to have lost its initial vitality and has to rely not only on paraphernalia but also on aphrodisiacs to artificially sustain its declining yang energy, which has been reduced by its continuous combat with the vagina and weakened by Ximen’s failure to exercise coitus reservatus.57 Moreover, his refusal to avoid menses in sex further weakens his virile power, as the ancient Chinese medical authority Li Shizhen observes: “Women’s menses are rank and dirty, and so the gentleman avoids them, considering them unclean and liable to injure his yang.”58 In chapter 75 Ximen has to admit that he has grown accustomed to using paraphernalia during sexual intercourse, a fact that may suggest his diYdence in relying on his own energy in bedroom performance. With the expansion of his extramarital relations and the loss of his supreme sexual potency, Ximen’s personality mellows while Jinlian becomes more demanding and aggressive in the bedchamber. Among all the concubines in the Ximen household she is the only one who protests against the master’s homosexuality and somewhat keeps a check on his sexual activities, a fact symbolically presented in his storing sexual paraphernalia in her boudoir in chapter 75 and her fastening a belt to his penis in chapter 28. The male member is repeatedly subject to ridicule when it fails to function owing to its excessive use. Jinlian on one occasion mocks it for being “as soft as snot” (ruanru biti) (J 13.352). Since more than any other body organ, the erect penis, as a phallic symbol, traditionally signifies male dominance,59 its flaccidity suggests the reduction of male authority. When frustrated by Ximen Qing, Jinlian The Plum in the Golden Vase


threatens to “bite oV his penis” (J 75.2184). She never carries out such a threat literally, but her specialty being the game of fellatio60 and her relishing his semen register a hidden desire to imbibe his yang energy to reinforce hers. By the time she straddles Ximen’s limp body, she virtually bears out an earlier statement: “I am a big strong man who doesn’t wear a turban” (J 2.90). The subversive import of this remark becomes more evident when we follow Plaks’ view to see the “turban” as “the characteristic headband of traditional Chinese rebels.”61 Implicitly, Jinlian is claiming herself a rebel against the gender imperatives of the patriarchal order. The sexual confrontation between the couple concludes with the collapse of the phallus, depleted, drained, or symbolically “cut oV” by the vagina, which has turned into a two-edged sword, an image of power, as suggested in a verse comment in chapter 79: How intriguing is the soft body of a beauty at sixteen, Yet in her loins is hung a sword to kill foolish men. (J 79.2415)

The woman takes over the man’s role and defeats him in his own game of sexual conquest. The development of Jinlian’s subversive gender identity is also betrayed in her relationship with another man: Chen Jingji, the “son-in-law.” In the beginning, it is the frivolous “son-in-law” who approaches the “bashful mother,” but the pattern is soon reversed with the emboldened woman furtively squeezing the man’s hand (J 24.615), touching his body (J 24.618), sneaking out of her boudoir to seek his companionship (J 52.1408), writing him a passionate letter (J 82.2494), and setting eyes on him with the avarice and rapacity of a cat who has caught sight of a fishy dish (J 57.1552). Jinlian’s masculinity generally fits into the archetype of Amazon, “a woman who has taken on characteristics traditionally associated with masculine disposition but, rather than integrating the ‘masculine’ aspect that could make her strong as a woman, she identifies with the power aspect of the ‘masculine’.”62 Such identification with male power is clearly presented in recurrent scenes where she holds a whip, the power symbol, scourging innocent subordinates stripped bare; such scenes apparently parallel Ximen’s flogging of Ping’er’s and her naked bodies. In pursuing her masculine impulses, Jinlian somewhat forsakes her feminine identity; consequently she becomes lopsided in gender identity and


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falls victim to the very attribute she has tried to overwhelm. Aptly, as the personification of the ferocious cat and the false tiger, she falls under the sword of Wu Song, the tiger-killer and genuine masculinity incarnated. Aspiring to overthrow the gender hierarchy of the patriarchal order, Jinlian is finally reduced to its sacrificial oVering, with her bloody corpse lying in front of the altar to her only oYcial husband, Wu the Elder, hence the endorsed male authority over her. Plaks indicates that “the term for incest luanlun (literally, ‘disorder in human relations’) sums up all the dimensions of disorder presented in the novel;”63 Lü Hong observes that such chaotic relationship is presented deliberately to undermine the conventional hierarchy between the senior and the junior, the respectful and the humble;64 from our perspective, the fundamental anarchy may also be viewed as derived from the chaos in human gender identity when the weaker sex rejects the psychological and behavioral restrictions set by conventions and attempts to arrogate the existential modes of the stronger sex. Victoria Cass points out the carnival as a summarizing metaphor for the novel;65 this contention is substantially strengthened by the present study, which brings out a prominent pattern of carnival life, the switching and blurring of sexual/gender identity, in the narrative.66 The novel repeatedly indicates the presence of golden lotus lanterns (jinliandeng) in the carnival scenes (J 15.388; 46.1187). In chapter 46, in particular, the festival is virtually overwhelmed by thousands upon thousands of such lanterns (jinlian wanzhan) (J 46.1187). As a metonymy of “carnival,” Jinlian personifies the fundamental chaos and reversal exemplified in carnival life. Her association with the carnival further reveals the intensity of carnival sensibility during the Ming, which happened to be the time when the Lantern Festival (the Chinese carnival) became most popular in Chinese society. Upon the establishment of the dynasty, the native Han emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (1328 – 1398) issued an edict to rejuvenate the nation’s popular festivals. As a consequence, the period when the lanterns were hung during this festival was extended from one night in the Han dynasty to three nights in the Tang dynasty, to five nights in the Song dynasty, and reached its maximum of ten nights in the Ming dynasty.67 Jinlian’s symbolic omnipresence in the festival not only mirrors the penetration of intense carnival sensibility in literature68 but also signifies the epidemic of the gender deviation that she personifies, a prominent feature of the carnival culture, in the world of the Plum.

The Plum in the Golden Vase


The World of Jin Ping Mei: A Battlefield of Chaotic Sexual Confrontation The Chinese title of the novel, Jin Ping Mei, has triggered diverse interpretations with critical perspectives varying from the linguistic, the structural, the philosophical to the symbolic.69 Viewed from our perspective, the title with its assemblage of three women’s names suggests shared subversion in their gender construction. A fundamental identity among the titular trio was noted by a contemporary of the author, Longzhu Ke (the pearl juggler), who remarked, “Jinlian dies by adultery, Ping’er dies from the burden of sin, Chunmei dies of licentiousness.”70 In one way or another, the death of the titular trio is all related to their sexual abandon, a cardinal female sin that could disqualify a woman for wifehood. The crimes of the three women, therefore, lie essentially in their violation of the behavioral codes prescribed for their gender. In a similar manner, “Jin” (gold), “Ping” (vase), and “Mei” (plum) are all inherently associated with yin, the feminine principle. In traditional Chinese writings, the receptive vase is a common symbol of the female sex organ,71 whereas a plum, with its beauty and fertility, is often compared to a girl.72 Just as in Jinlian’s case, the feminine import in the names of Ping’er and Chunmei is subverted by their unfeminine conducts. Although most critics emphasize Ping’er’s docility and pliability after she enters the Ximen household, she appears to have been a diVerent person in her previous two marriages. Like Jinlian, until she meets Ximen, Ping’er has been searching for a desirable man through successive sexual experiments. Her ambiguous gender identity is inscribed in her birthday, the fifteenth day of the first lunar month (1/15), a calendrical combination of two numbers associated with yang. This happens to be the Lantern Festival, the Chinese carnival, a time of sexual/gender chaos. Her latent kinship to the yang principle is strengthened by her male identity in her former existence (J 62.1755) and reinforced by the names of her two chambermaids, Yingchun (welcoming spring) and Xiuchun (embroidering spring), both indicating an affinity with the nascent yang energy of spring. Ping’er’s search for a man who can fulfil manly duties, however, is frustrated in her second marriage with Hua Zixu. Too indulgent in his pursuit of pleasure, Hua utterly neglects his wife and fails to function as a “man” in their marriage. In relation to Ping, the vase/vagina, Hua, the flower, symbolizes the penis; the eVeteness of the organ is suggested by his given name, 60

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Zixu, which in Chinese implies “male deficiency,” a sexual/gender flaw symbolically conveyed through another detail: his kinship to a eunuch, the castrated man.73 Although no detail in the narrative exposes Hua’s sexual inadequacy, his inferiority as a sexual partner is clearly conveyed in Ping’er’s comparison of Ximen to “the balm for all my ills” (J 19.504). While Hua Zixu may not be handicapped by physical impotence, his failure to perform a man’s nuptial duty suggests his male deficiency, which parallels his vulnerability in life: he is cuckolded, beaten, bled white, and then dies of shanghan (typhoid, literally injury from cold—a yin force), a disease that is symptomatic of yang deficiency and reminiscent of the malady of Jinlian’s aging patron. The want of male potency mars Ping’er’s third husband, Jiang Zhushan, who, in her opinion, is like a brick compared to the “heaven” of Ximen. The ungratified woman hence taunts him with being a “shrimp,” an “eel” xiashan (images of an impotent penis), and scorns him for the “lack of strength in his loins” (yaozhong wuli) (J 19.486). Ximen, in derision, gives him another label, “a dwarfish bastard” (ai wangba), which readily reminds one of Jinlian’s husband, Wu the Elder. In Ping’er’s previous two marriages, the traditional sexual/gender relation between husband and wife is subverted: The woman controls the finances, manipulates the man, and then deserts him to pursue a more desirable sexual partner, turning into his yuanjia. Her male roles are even carried over into her relation with Ximen, with her initiating the rendezvous, making the marriage proposal, and holding him in her arms (baozai huaizhong) as if he were a cherished possession (J 16.428). Ping’er’s and Jinlian’s rejections of their unwanted sexual partners, who parallel each other in the narrative, and their mutual pursuit of masculine men point to what Plaks terms their “figural similarity.” However, once they enter the Ximen household there emerges a “dramatic contrast”74 between them that reveals two extreme propensities in these women’s psychological development after they wed the man of their desire. While Jinlian assimilates male behavioral modes and transforms herself into a “man,” Ping’er gradually retreats to her own prescribed gender, as if she has lost a further goal to strive for once her sexual desire is gratified.75 The opposite gender identities of the two women are also marked by their status in the bevy of Ximen concubines: Jinlian ranks fifth and is related to the cardinal yang number; Ping’er ranks sixth, associated with the principal yin figure. The last of the titular trio, Chunmei, whose name literally means “spring The Plum in the Golden Vase


plum,” also carries an ambiguous gender identity. Despite its feminine associations, the plum is endowed with masculine attributes. Among the fragile floral family, it is noted for its endurance and fortitude as the only tree that braves ice and snow, the life-devouring forces, to blossom defiantly in the late winter.76 In Chunmei’s character, this aYnity to the masculine principle partially surfaces in her disregard of social hierarchy, which leads to Zhang Zhupo’s well-known remark: “Chunmei is a madwoman (Chunmei shi kuangren)”;77 it is further manifested in her defiance of patriarchal gender imperatives, which associates her with Jinlian in spirit. Commenting on Jinlian’s maid, critics often emphasize her fidelity to her mistress; some even take her as a paragon of the Confucian virtue zhong, loyalty.78 Yet Chunmei’s devotion to Jinlian is motivated largely by their shared values and outlooks. In chapter 12 Chunmei forges a lie to cover Jinlian’s aVair with the page boy Qintong; in chapter 83 she acts as a go-between to reestablish the broken incestuous tie between Jinlian and Jingji. In the mistress’s numerous sexual trysts and erotic ventures, the maid either stands by as an eyewitness, or participates in a supporting role. Jinlian’s sexual license finds moral backing in Chunmei’s remark: “To live in this world, one should seize the day” (J 85.2566). The maid’s spiritual kinship to the mistress is explicitly stated in her words: “You and I are really the same person” (J 83.2523). In the narrative structure, the maid functions as a “double,” or what Plaks terms a “figural reflection” of the mistress,79 restaging the latter’s sexual/gender subversion in the later part of the novel, after Jinlian recedes from the scene and Chunmei comes to the fore. The mistress’s shadow is apparently visible in the maid’s liaison with her page boy Zhou Yi and her ultimate death while straddling his body in copulation: both Chunmei’s condescending relation with a servant and her dominating position in sex match Jinlian’s strategy and practice in her sex life, characteristic of male modes of sexuality. From the above analysis we can conclude that the three women in the title, Jin, Ping, and Mei, are linked by their common deviate sexuality, which, like Foucault’s “master key,” unlocks their shared inverted gender. As concubines or spouses of impotent or inattentive men, these women subvert their prescribed gender in actively searching for adulterous relations, for “it is in adultery, not in marriage, that they gain control over their own bodies.”80 Their kinship to the male principle is symbolically conveyed through the floral imagery in their names: the golden lotus, the prunus salicina, and the plum blossom, which all bloom in the spring and the sum62

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mer when the yang energy/principle germinates or prevails. In the overall structure of the season rhetoric, two members of the yang-aspiring trio, Jinlian and Chunmei, are constantly at odds with the other two women living under the same roof: Yueniang (Moon Lady) and Qiuju (Autumn Chrysanthemum), whose names’ associations with autumn register an aYnity to the yin principle, and in the narrative they often pose as defenders of the conventional codes of womanhood. Yueniang, the principal wife, was symbolically born on the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month, the Moon Festival, when the moon displays its full visage and the yin energy starts a new cycle of yearly germination. Correspondingly, she embraces feminine roles in her life, abiding by not only Ximen’s polygamy but also his sexual license, purging her jealousy and even partially her sex drive. Critics have justly blamed her for her naïveté and leniency and her failure as a Confucian wife to maintain household order.81 Viewed from the perspective of gender, her excessive tolerance for Ximen’s wayward propensities may be taken as a reflection of extreme yin in her identity. In abdicating herself, Yueniang seeks spiritual relief in Buddhism, a religion that preaches docile submission to fate and the insubstantiality of the self. Her piety is set in contrast to the sacrilege of Jinlian, whose usurped “male” identity refuses to yield to this largely “feminine” discourse.82 As a yin force personified, Moon Lady rules the female quarters of the Ximen household after her husband’s death. She finally evicts Chunmei and Jinlian when their liaison with Jingji is exposed, cleansing the heretic yang elements from the yin realm she dominates. In regulating household order, in chapters 85 and 86, Moon Lady has a firm aid in Jinlian’s junior maid, Autumn Chrysanthemum, who informs against Jinlian and Chunmei and is largely responsible for their final eviction. In defending the sex codes of patriarchy, these women form an autumn duad, whose confirmed female mentality is engaged in ceaseless conflicts with the arrogated male outlooks of Jinlian and Chunmei. The seasonal associations of the five female names under discussion constitute parts of a general pattern of temporal coordinates of the narrative, which has been a controversial issue in critical discussion. While many scholars criticize the inconsistency of this aspect of the text, Zhang Zhupo defends it by elaborating on the significance of many temporal spans and ascribes them to the author’s grand design.83 Plaks goes further to claim the “masterful manipulation of the details of seasonal change” in the narrative, indicating their functions in the structural pattern of incessant alternation The Plum in the Golden Vase


between heat and cold.84 Here I venture the following observation on the complex issue of seasonal rhetoric of the narrative in relation to human gender. As the single male authority in his household, Ximen functions as the personified yang force in his micro-empire. In two successive summer garden scenes, in chapter 27 and chapter 30, he repeatedly asks his concubines to sing songs in deference to the sun, the arch-symbol of the yang energy. One song begins with the line: “The Vermilion Emperor holds sway, ablaze in the Great Void” (chidi dangquan yaotaixu) (J 27.705); another starts with: “Everyone stands in awe of the summer sun” (Ren jie wei xiari) (J 30.781). The sun dominating the universe parallels the man ruling the household. The deliberate choice of such songs with their emphasis on the power of yang force may convey the male ruler’s caution to the female subordinates, reminding them of the male authority, to which they are obliged to pay due deference. However, the spring/summer associations in the names of the titular trio and their subversive behavior in diVerent parts of the narrative betray their aYnity to the yang principle, or male values, rather than passive acceptance of a subordinate yin identity. Their gender inversion is, likewise, symbolically projected through the overall seasonal rhetoric. Jinlian’s first aVair with Ximen, and Chunmei’s initial liaison with Zhou Yi, both happen in the spring: The emerging yang energy in nature seems to have catalyzed the surfacing of animus in their psyches. Ping’er’s first tryst with Ximen occurs at Chongyang Festival (double yang, 9/9) and Jinlian’s second round of premarital sex with Ximen happens around Duanyang Festival (5/5); the odd numbers in these dates, again, signify yang attributes, or male modes of behavior, in these acts. The gendered season rhetoric reinforces our former conclusion that Jinlian’s identification with the autumn gale (jinfeng), which sweeps away the summer heat in the garden scene of chapter 27, projects her seditious impulse to overthrow the patriarchal authority personified in Ximen and symbolically presented in the line: “The Vermilion Emperor holding sway, ablaze in the Great Void.” The three female protagonists, Jin, Ping, and Mei, are further categorized as a group by their common residence in the garden, a pleasure paradise where conventional rules are often neglected. It is with the only male garden inhabitant, Qintong, that Jinlian initiates her first liaison in the Ximen household. Her flirtation with Jingji, likewise, starts by a pond in the garden (J 19.478). Another spot in the garden also witnesses Ping’er, with the 64

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aid of her maid, luring Ximen into her room to consummate their first illicit love (J 13.344).85 In the domestic landscape of the Plum, the garden with its luxuriant plants, standing rocks, erected walls and hidden grottos provides ample room for concealing human beings’ cross-gender behavior and creates a botanical world of chaos and anarchy. The inhabitance, or eternal presence, of the titular trio in the garden points to their physical/spiritual attachment to it as well as to the values that it shelters. The garden looms so large in their psyche that in chapter 96, when the evicted Chunmei returns for a visit, she insists on touring the garden despite Yueniang’s repeated dissuasion. The final dilapidation of the garden signals social disapproval of the “garden mentality” personified by the titular trio. The subverted gender exemplified in the sexuality of the three female protagonists finds further expression in the characterization of other women, who often gain the upper hand of men in the confrontation between the sexes. The Plum abounds in henpecked husbands. Mr. Zhang, Jinlian’s childless patron, dare not buy a concubine to produce an heir even in his declining age for fear of his wife’s interference; female manipulation features in the marriages between Huilian and Lai Wang and between Huiqing and Lai Zhao; scholar Shui’s wife manifests a strong inclination to indulge in extramarital sex (hunjia zhuanyao touhan, J 56.1522), a proclivity shared by many female characters in the narrative. In sexual battles women, with their greater sexual potential, often triumph over men, as Zhang Zhupo observes: “Once Jinlian and Liu’er join forces, Ximen dies.”86 In physical combat, similarly, Yunge, the clownish informant of Ximen’s intrigue with Jinlian, is routed by Madame Wang, the matchmaker. In chapter 86 an army of concubines and housemaids attack Chen Jingji, who in desperation can only strip oV his pants and expose his penis to frighten away the women assailants. The debased employment of the male member, a symbolic “tool of male power,”87 signifies the depreciation of male authority.88 The females’ assumption of unfeminine roles, traced in the preceding text—from that of Pan Jinlian to the titular trio and then to female characters in general—may be viewed as a hyperbolic presentation of gender fluidity in late Ming society. Such gender inversion is often presented in malevolent rather than benign light in the Plum, particularly in the case of Pan Jinlian. Driven at first to revolt against sexual oppression, the heroine finally turns the table and becomes a “male” tyrant. Her search for freedom goes beyond self-liberation to self-indulgence. What is presented in the narrative is, therefore, not a “hero among women,” but its caricature, “a beauty among The Plum in the Golden Vase


tigers.” In creating Jinlian’s character, the author reveals his disapproval, discomfort or even horror at the arrogation of dominant gender by the weaker sex, an attitude that is primarily responsible for the untimely demise of the titular trio. The conventional gender stance advocated by the author is transmitted through his repeated comments on the two antithetical gendered terms gangqiang (strong, tough, adamant) and rouruan (soft, flexible, supple), which respectively pertain to the masculine and feminine principles. Jinlian voices her preference for the masculine in this remark: “If you aren’t tough enough, you will never be secure” (renwu gangqiang, ansheng bulao) (J 1.73); such a gender stand is denounced in the following prefatory verses of chapter 87, a chapter that presents the final subjugation of the “masculine” woman in a brutal murder: Virtuous deeds will be rewarded with blesses from heaven. If you are tough you will be chased by disasters and punishment. The tongue is never hurt because of its tenderness, The teeth are bound to break owing to its toughness. (J 87.2607)

In his study of Chinese narrative art, Henry Y. H. Zhao indicates that inserted poems “are favorite forms of commentaries to unify the valuejudgements in the narrative,”89 because poems with their “generic superiority in the cultural hierarchy of discourses”90 carry certain authority. As a vehicle to project the value judgements in the narrative, these prefatory verses may well convey the author’s preferred gender principle, or his rebuttal of the heroine’s subversive stance. In preaching the principle of the feminine, he warns women from assertion of the male gender. In some measure the novel illustrates the conventional wisdom that the author puts forward in the prefatory verses, presenting the castigation of Jinlian’s arrogation of masculinity as a lesson to caution the world. As such the heroine’s gender subversion cannot but be presented as excessive, radical, and vicious. In the narrative, preference for the feminine principle is also spelled out twice in an aphorism in relation to the characterization of Wu the Elder: “Suppleness is the root of success; toughness is the womb of misfortune” (J 1.63; 3.124). Irony is prominently visible in the second appearance of the phrase, for it emerges in Ximen’s speech in praise of the feminine virtue in Wu the Elder (J 3.124), the very quality he will prey on to rob Wu of his wife. That Wu’s


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weakness ultimately turns out to be his undoing also reveals the irony in the narrator’s tongue-in-cheek tribute to his “suppleness” couched in the same expression in chapter 1 (J 1.63). The mockery of femininity in a man and the censure of masculinity in a woman, discernible respectively in the characterization of Wu the Elder and Jinlian, reveal the traditional gender stance of the narrative. Despite the author’s apparent disapproval of Jinlian’s arrogation of the male gender in sexuality, critics have repeatedly pointed out sympathetic touches in his characterization of the Chinese virago, particularly in his transformation of source materials,91 his use of folk songs,92 and his creation of extenuating circumstances for her sin.93 More relevant to our study, twice in the narrative the author inserts the following verses expressive of sympathy for the heroine, once through the narrator’s comment (P 12.239), the other time via Jinlian’s lament (J 38.1010), as if to rationalize her psychological drive to subvert the prescribed gender: If you are going to be a human being, don’t be a woman; Or your every joy and sorrow will be dependent on another.

David Roy traces the source of this couplet to a poem by Bai Juyi (772 – 846)94 and it has become a common expression of female oppression in Chinese writings. The lament over women’s fate, in a way, implies justification for their adoption of male gender, which, however, is apparently censured in other parts of the narrative. Such seeming “ambiguity” may reflect value conflict and changing outlooks of the age. Although traditional misogyny was still entrenched in literati mentality in the late Ming, in their writings there emerged a more sympathetic attitude toward women. This sympathetic attitude is most explicitly conveyed in the narrator’s following comments in a story by the late Ming writer Ling Mengchu, the eleventh piece in his Erke collection: Injustice abounds in this world! If a man dies and his wife marries again, she will be condemned for losing her chastity, defiling her reputation and contaminating her body. This is a trespass that everyone denounces. But when a man loses his wife, he is at liberty not only to marry again, but also to buy concubines and housemaids and do whatever he likes. No one will blame him for betrayal of the dead. When she is alive, a woman will be humiliated by the world if she is occasionally caught in an aVair, which will be made into sensational

The Plum in the Golden Vase


news. If a man wallows in lust, spends nights at brothels while leaving his wife alone at home, society will frown upon him but does not take that as a serious issue. Hence women become more pitiful and men more reckless.95

A similar view was expressed by Lü Kun when he wrote: “The ritualized institutions impose strict demand on female chastity, and yet exonerate male sexual indulgence. This is the bias of the Confucian sages.”96 Such male sympathy for the plight that females suVered in nuptial life, a plight that Pan Jinlian apparently shares, may well aVect the outlook of the author of Jin Ping Mei. While writing essentially from a conservative Confucian viewpoint to remedy female gender perversion, the author, like many of his contemporary Confucians, may nonetheless feel genuine sympathy for women, thus leading to the ambivalence in the narrative. As Singer points out, the Amazon type of woman “is a phenomenon that often comes to the fore in a period of transition between two cultural epochs,” and “she may serve as a preform for the androgyne.”97 Perverted, aggressive, and lopsided as the Chinese bedchamber Amazon is, she nevertheless subverts the traditional codes of femininity, like fury, and poses as a counterpart and a harbinger of the androgynous characters in the literary arena. The latter will emerge when liberal-minded literati, relating the deviate female behavior to their own marginal yet seditious positions, saw in subversive females a symbolic Other and proceeded to celebrate gender freedom as a vehicle for self-expression and self-emancipation in literature. One prominent work in this category is Tang Xianzu’s dramatic masterpiece, The Peony Pavilion, the best literary work produced in the whole Ming period in the estimation of many critics.


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chapter 4

The Peony Pavilion A Paean to the Androgynous Ideal

The androgynous ideal is most passionately celebrated in Tang Xianzu’s masterwork The Peony Pavilion (1598),1 where a chamber-cloistered girl, Du Liniang, having passed away for lovesickness, is miraculously restored to life once she has banished her maiden reserve to pursue love as a ghost. In preaching the revalorized value of qing, Tang Xianzu aYrms the deviation from orthodox maidenhood in Liniang’s characterization, a gender stand which is intrinsically related to his own defiant stance in political and ideological confrontation as a marginal man. As far apart as their social stations can be, Liniang and Jinlian are subjected to similar feminization of their identity: while Jinlian is pushed to the extreme of femininity in her forced slavery, Liniang is trapped in the spiritual jail of patriarchy by “memorizing Ban Zhao’s ‘Four Precepts’ from end to end”2 (B 20.106; M 20.104). Accordingly, when the animus surfaces in their souls, the former reacts in violence; the latter languishes in solitude. The indoctrination of Tang’s heroine is orchestrated by her father, Du Bao, and carried out by her tutor, Chen Zuiliang, who compares himself to the “ancient Dong Zhongshu” (B 9.41) and is comically addressed as “an-

other Ban Zhao” (B 5.16). As a replica of the ancient Confucian authorities, who separated human genders, the tutor is commissioned with the duty to feminize the girl. To cultivate a gender in his daughter, Du Bao resorts to a Confucian canon, The Book of Songs, which he believes to manifest “the virtues of imperial wives” (houfei zhide) (M 5.19), following the ancient-Han Confucian allegorical exegesis. The term “houfei zhide” originates in “The Great Preface” in the Mao edition of The Book of Songs as a comment on Ode I, “Guanjiu” (osprey), which initiates an ideologically driven reading of the canonical work.3 The mention of “the virtues of imperial wives” in the Ming context carries strong overtones of gender enforcement, for the “exemplary deeds” of royal consorts exerted tremendous impact on fashioning womanhood during that period. Thirty-eight out of forty royal consorts “dedicated” their lives to keep eternal company with the founding emperor in his tomb to demonstrate their loyalty,4 and one princess stayed in “widowhood” for many years after her would-be husband died before the marriage could take place, to prove her “chastity.”5 Such life-devouring “virtues” constituted part and parcel of the Ming ideology that shaped the ideal femininity. To be molded into a “perfect lady,” Liniang is symbolically caged in her chamber for sixteen years, insulated from the male world and male values. Although recent scholarship on seventeenth-century Chinese cultural history tends to emphasize the fluid inner/outer boundaries of woman’s sphere,6 historians are soberly aware that the “elite women had the fewest opportunities to venture beyond their own wall.”7 The boudoir that strictly sequesters the heroine in Tang’s play thus functions as a gendered image of her confined femininity, and her incipient longing to break boudoir confinement signals an impulse to deviate from the prescribed gender. Jung’s theory indicates that the suppressed gender identity, such as animus, is bound to be integrated into one’s personality in a growth process known as “individuation.”8 Viewed in such a light, Liniang’s spiritual agitation during her puberty crisis may be attributed to the severe suppression of her animus in its inevitable assimilation into her identity. Similarly, in traditional Chinese medical theory, as Charlotte Furth’s research indicates, the human body is conceived as a meeting ground of yin and yang energies, the balance of which is believed to be indispensable for the maintenance of the “androgynous ideal of health.”9 Yet this medical wisdom was often ignored in social practice, particularly in dealing with female adolescents’ sexual desire, which was deemed problematic. Explicating social suppression of maidens’ desire in imperial China, Furth remarks, “The idea that youth 70

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was a phase of life cycle marked by ascending yang force competed with representation of adolescent girls as delicate.” To maintain the facade of maiden reserve and feminine delicacy, medical theory dictated that “Adolescent girls should remain sexually unaware for ten years after puberty and be married promptly thereafter.”10 According to such a medical theory, Liniang’s strict confinement, which partly aims at keeping her “sexually unaware,” may be viewed as a social measure to stifle her ascending yang energy so as to preserve her pure feminine identity. Since Chinese medical theory and Jung’s analytical psychology both take the balance of sex/gender-related energies as a psychological and physical condition for human health, they point to the excessive feminization of Liniang’s identity as the bane of her life. Tang Xianzu’s play, in a sense, dramatizes the girl’s spiritual quest for an androgynous mode of existence. The need for a masculine component in Liniang’s identity can be somewhat inferred from the key word, huanhun (restoring the soul), in the title of the huaben story from which Tang Xianzu develops his dramatic plot.11 Just as the human body is believed in Chinese thinking to be comprised of yin and yang components, the human soul is seen as twofold, a blend of yin and yang entities. The Daoist classic Baopu Zi (The philosopher who embraces simplicity) by Ge Hong (a.d. 253 – 333?) indicates, “In their bodies they have a heavenly component (hun) and an earthly component (po) of the soul.”12 Although hun and po do not directly relate to human genders, their mutual associations with yin-yang principles suggest a link on a symbolic level. Since in both the huaben story and in Tang’s play, the restored soul is a hun, or yang soul, it suggests that Liniang’s salvation lies in the reclamation of the masculine portion of her identity. As a matter of fact, Liniang’s courage, her masculine drive, manifests itself most prominently in the scene “Soul Roaming” (hunyou) where her hun, or her yang soul/spirit, ventures into her lover’s cabin to “fulfil the dream” of love (B 28.159) she once had in the garden. A gender switch is evidently projected in her character: as a lady brainwashed by patriarchal values, she once resists in scene 10, although perfunctorily, her lover’s advances in the garden dream; as a yang soul (hun) roaming in scene 28, she takes the initiative in a romantic venture. Her nocturnal visit is reminiscent of the love adventure of Hongfu, the archetypal androgyne, who pursues the man of her dreams in a visit to his chamber. The chuanqi tale of the Tang dynasty, repeatedly adapted to dramatic versions during the Ming, appealed immensely to Tang Xianzu, who annotated Zhang Fengyi’s (1527 – 1613) drama “The Tale of Hongfu” and wrote an inThe Peony Pavilion


scription for Zhang Taihe’s “Hongfu”;13 it may have even inspired the conception of Liniang’s nocturnal venture both in his drama and in its antecedent huaben story. Since Hongfu masquerades as a male in her romantic venture, her androgynous propensity may be consciously or inadvertently inscribed in Liniang’s identity. The subtle manipulation of Liniang’s gender is further revealed through an intertextual comparison between Tang’s play and its antecedent huaben story. One of the few alterations that Tang makes in his dramatization of the source story can be found in his change of Du Bao’s two children—a son and a daughter—in the huaben version into one person, Du Liniang, in the play. As a single child, the fragile daughter is brought up with the expectations of a “son,” as her father humorously chants, “My daughter ‘capped and grown’ / she will be a lady secretary” (B 5.18). Since “the cap of manhood” in contrast to the feminine coiVure is a culturally acknowledged symbol of masculinity14 and the secretarial profession in imperial China was exclusively reserved for men, such a joke carries a tongue-in-cheek androgynous expectation, which is further conveyed in his quip: “Delicate maiden substitutes for scepter-wielding son” (B 5.18). The irony here is almost transparent, for the androgynous ideal is voiced through a man bent on feminizing his daughter.15 The subtlety of Tang Xianzu’s superb art lies in the transformation of this comic view into a serious artistic vision that he deftly works out in the play. The motif of androgyny is initiated with irony in Tutor Chen’s instruction of the canonical poem “Osprey” in a lesson of spiritual indoctrination. Not only does the tutor’s moralistic exegesis fail to becloud the student’s vision of the romantic essence of the poem, but his distorted interpretation, in fact, stimulates in her an impulse to deviate from the gendered mode of her cloistered existence. The poem ends with haoqiu, which is usually interpreted as “a good spouse,” although this meaning occasionally yields to its homonym “to seek,” for the poem is essentially about courtship. This poetic ambiguity is deftly manipulated in the drama when the pedantic scholar ironically stays away from its standard interpretation in favor of the less authentic one, “to seek,” as if purposefully to induce the girl out of her chamberprison. The lovelorn girl eagerly takes up this warped explanation, ardently (mis)identifies herself with the male love-seeker in the poem, and turns herself into an active love-hunter in real life. Irony works on another level in this episode, in the conflict between the poem’s intended eVect by the Han exegetes and its real impact on the girl. The Han Confucian commentary of 72

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the poem uses the osprey as a poetic symbol of the loyal consort, who refrains from using her charm to seduce her lord, by secluding herself in the women’s quarters. The proper separation between husband and wife that she exemplarily maintains, the commentator remarks, helps to consolidate social order.16 The orthodox value of male-female separation that the exegesis tries to reinforce is apparently undermined by Liniang’s movement out of her boudoir into the garden, ironically upon reading these verses.

Garden as a Symbolic Landscape of Androgyny In the symbolic landscape of the drama, the garden acts as an antithesis to the boudoir, and it is likewise charged with gendered meanings. The gender associations of the two parts of the property can be perceived both from Chinese and Western perspectives. In Chinese metaphysics, yin refers to the concealed, yang to the manifest. Consequently, in medical theory “the periphery of the body is yang; the inner, hidden parts are yin.”17 Similarly, the Book of Changes indicates that “to close the door is called kun [the yin principle]; to open the door is called qian [the yang principle].”18 Thus in the topographical body of the property, the garden with its peripheral location and its exposure to the sun is associated with yang in relation to the inner chamber with its closed space and its dominance of shadow, the yin. Viewed from the perspective of Jung’s psychology, the boudoir, where the girl has been incarcerated body and soul, can be viewed as an apt symbol of her feminine ego, while the back garden, where she pursues her dream, strongly intimates her unconscious realm. According to Jung’s theory, it is in the unconscious domain of a girl that her animus has lain dormant.19 The girl’s garden trip, a symbolic venture into her subconsciousness to face her awakening animus, thus represents a search for her buried self.20 Liniang’s subconscious yearning for gender freedom is disclosed earlier, in her secret longing for a garden even before she is aware of a real garden behind her chamber, as she chants: I have indulged myself in idle pastimes painting . . . a “garden scene with a swing.” (B 3.10)

Interned in her chamber, the girl can express her yearning for liberty only by committing to canvas an image of a garden, a potentially free zone where The Peony Pavilion


she can realize an unrestrained personality. In the scene “The Schoolroom,” even though she scolds her maid Chunxiang for making continual references to the garden that alarm the garden-phobic tutor, once the tutor turns his back, she loses no time in asking, “Where is the garden?” (B 8.30), a question that reveals her ardent longing for freedom. The attitudes toward gardens betoken one’s gender identity in the dramatic world of Tang’s play. The desire to enter the garden, to bask in the sunshine, and to embrace the spring signifies an aYnity to the yang energy, whereas the inclination to be housebound reveals a yin mentality. Tutor Chen’s slavish imitation of the Confucian exegesis of The Book of Songs and his dogged pursuit of oYcialdom throughout his life point to his spiritual servility to the orthodox. In Yuan Hongdao’s terminology, he is a “concubine” and a “prostitute” to the Establishment. In the spiritual prisonchamber of patriarchy, therefore, he is an eternal inmate, as he admits, “I have never strolled in the garden” (B 9.40). In contrast, Liniang’s gardenobsession signals a strong craving for gender freedom. If the garden stands for yang in relation to the shadowy chamber, by itself, it is an encapsulating figure for androgyny, with pervasive union of yin and yang principles in association with its landscape. The highlight of the garden is, of course, the peony pavilion, the locus of both Liniang’s sexual abandon and her soul-restoration. As a charming flower with resplendent color, the peony is endowed with double-gender attributes in traditional Chinese thinking. Its blooming shape suggests an open vaginal orifice in full flush of engorgement, thus acquiring a yin denotation.21 Hence in the lovemaking scene of The Story of the Western Wing, Scholar Zhang chants: “Lightly splits the flower’s heart: dew drips; the peony opens.”22 The masculine aspect of the floral identity is indicated by a Tang literatus Qiu Xuan in “The Glory and Humiliation of the Peony” (“Mudan rongru zhi”), which oVers the following observation: With handsome features and a large heart . . . facing to the heaven and baring an open soul with self-restraint, the peony blossom impresses one with its virility more than its delicacy. Viewing it from afar, one might suspect it to be a beautiful man. In front of it women would be solemnly in decent dresses.23

In The Records of Strange People (Yiren lu), it is said that once when Empress Wu Zetian (624 – 705) of the Tang dynasty took a winter tour to her garden, she commanded all the flowers to burst into bloom. All burgeoned in time except the peony blossom, which was thereafter banished to Luoyang. The 74

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author then remarks, “The peony blossom not only crowns the floral family in charm and resplendence, it outshines them in mettle and fortitude.”24 In the Pavilion the peony’s importance presents itself in its conspicuous absence in the garden. When the maid Chunxiang observes that “all the flowers have come into bloom now, but it’s still too early for the peony” (B 10.45; M 10.48), Liniang promptly responds: . . . how can she rank as queen coming to bloom when spring has said farewell! (B 10.45; M 10.48)

Like the peony whose charm crowns the floral family, Liniang with her matchless beauty is the “queen” in the female world. On a subconscious level, her garden trip is oriented toward a discovery of self-identity symbolized in the peony image. The peony’s “coming to bloom” with its connotation of an opening vagina strongly suggests the girl’s awakened sexual impulse. Liniang’s plaintive mood in the above lines stems from her failure to find a blooming peony in the garden with which to identify her awakened libido and surfacing animus, and her trepidation that her ethereal beauty will fade, just like the passing spring, before she has time to “bloom.” The garden, however, oVers a peony pavilion, a symbolic peony identity, to “neutralize” her feminized gender in her dream. In the dream that Liniang falls into in her garden stroll, she is carried into the peony pavilion to make love with a man, Liu Mengmei. The physical infusion of semen into her body signifies the transfusion of yang, or masculine, energy into her entity, which makes her more active and determined in her pursuit of love. When Liniang’s soul returns from Hades, in scene 35, it is again in the peony pavilion that she regains life, switching from the yin to the yang mode of existence. The magic potion that Mengmei feeds her to eVect her resurrection is significantly made of a “trouser patch of a potent male” (M 34.185, 35.187), a dramatic source of yang force. While intimating the lifesaving function of love and sexual fulfillment, these details suggest on a symbolic level that the changes in Liniang’s mentality and her resurrection are essentially brought about by neutralizing her feminized identity with yang, or masculine, energy, which proves vital for the maintenance of gender balance in her identity.25 In restoring her inner harmony, the peony pavilion not only provides the locus for successive gender “treatments,” but also symbolizes the principle of androgyny behind such treatments. Besides its topological features, the gendered associations of the garden The Peony Pavilion


are also revealed in its intertextual relation with legendary spots. Time and again, the garden is compared to the Peach Blossom Spring,26 a mythical spot where two legendary immortals, Liu Chen and Ruan Zhao, sought the beautiful fairies they had cohabited with after a period of separation.27 The love theme of the legend is first woven into the dramatic tapestry when Liu Mengmei emerges in Liniang’s dream chanting the following lines: Tracing my path by petals borne on stream, I find the Peach Blossom Source of my desire. (B 10.47)

Liu apparently identifies himself with the immortals seeking love in a wonderland; he takes on their active male roles vigorously in the dream by forcibly carrying the maiden into the peony pavilion to consummate their love. Interestingly, a few scenes later, when the lovesick Liniang reenters the garden in search of her lost love, she also alludes to the legend in her chanting: Can it be the immortal lover tracing again the source of the Peach Blossom Spring? (M 12.59)

Like her lover, Liniang is subconsciously identifying with the male immortals in these lines. Her escape from the boudoir and her pursuit of love in the garden both register a craving to be an active lover rather than a passive beloved, a desiring self rather than a sexualized Other, identities traditionally associated with the male gender.28 Thus, her self-comparison to the immortals signifies a role-and-gender switch to the masculine. Accordingly, her association with the immortals resurfaces at the moment when she takes the most active/masculine step in her pursuit of love—her nocturnal trespassing into a man’s lodging, in scene 28 (B 28.160). Yet Liniang’s association with the legend does not restrict her aYnity to masculinity. Though spiritually attached to the male immortals, she also identifies herself with the fairies in that legend, as she teases her lover later when referring to her romantic venture: “Specter returned to enchant the amorous Emerald Jade” (M 32.172). Her fluctuating association first with the male immortals and then with the fairies symbolize her aYnity to both genders. Parallel to the legend of the Peach Blossom Spring are recurrent allusions to the mythic Gaotang (M 1.1, 14.69, 18.91, 28.156, 35.188), a legendary location where the ancient emperor Xiang of Chu was believed to have had a 76

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dream during his trip. In the dream, a fairy made sexual overtures to him and they consummated their love through sex.29 Because her action clashes with the female behavioral codes later ossified into Chinese conventions, the fairy of Gaotang is generally taken as an archetype of yinnü (a lascivious female). In his study of ancient myths, Wen Yiduo concludes that the forefather of the Chu nation, Gaoyang, is actually a male derivative of this fairy of Gaotang. In other words, her unfeminine deportment makes it convenient to switch her sexual identity into a man in people’s imagination.30 Her unrestricted gender potential probably leads to the frequent references to the myth of Gaotang in the Pavilion: the initiative that she takes in love allegorically points to Liniang’s activism in romantic adventure; her ambiguous gender identity alludes to the gender dislocation of the heroine. Another gendered detail related to the garden can be found in Liniang’s self-portrayal, which she paints to preserve her matchless beauty before it is ravaged by the hostile world. The urge to preserve one’s own beauty registers a narcissistic impulse, or an instinct, as Wai-yee Li puts it, “to perceive the self from the viewpoint of the desiring other.”31 In producing a selfportrayal, Liniang reveals a desire to be both the subject and object, the lover and the beloved, the artist and the work of art, a desire that reflects a duality in her gender identity.32 In fact, the portrait can be viewed as her extended self, entrusted with the mission of continual search for her love after her demise, as she remarks: “telling my heart’s desire / [it] may reach some day someone who understands” (B 20.102). The dual gender identity of the female image on the portrait is further suggested when it is repeatedly mistaken for Guanyin,33 a deity bearing diVerent sexual identities in the course of his/her assimilation into Chinese culture.34 While the topological features of the garden and its related legends all intimate the combination of the gendered associations of yin and yang in the heroine’s identity, the motif of androgyny is most consistently projected through two recurrent botanical images: willow and plum. As strongly gendered and richly charged symbols in Chinese culture, these plants play pivotal roles in presenting the protagonists’ gender identity.

Willow and Plum: Botanical Figures in an Androgynous Union In traditional Chinese thinking, plants and flowers are often endowed with sex- and genderlike attributes. As indicated earlier, the pine with its defiance The Peony Pavilion


of wintry algidity is taken as an emblem of masculine fortitude, whereas the pomegranate with its abundant seeds is associated with female fertility. A conscious eVort to inscribe sex/gender attributes in botanical imagery can be perceived in Tang’s dramatization of the huaben story. The sexual association of plants is explicitly conveyed in Du Bao’s remarks: “No jade tree, no orchid at my knee” (M 5.17), when he refers to his lack of a son. Gender connotations are manifest in Liniang’s deathbed speech when she compares her mother and father respectively to “lily and cedar” (B 20.101). But the most sustained use of gendered botanical figures is to be found in willow and plum, the pervasive presence of which in this drama is unusual even for imagery-crammed classic Chinese literature. In the antecedent huaben tale, willow and plum are no more than symbols of love;35 incorporated into the drama, they become integral parts in the characterization of the protagonists, and their gendered attributes metaphorically merge into human identities. On the symbolic level, they relate the spring garden teeming with androgynous connotations to the human world full of gender fluidity. In her sensible study of the plum imagery in the Pavilion, Catherine Swatek indicates its “metaphoric mutability” by associating it with various aspects of the two protagonist’s identities.36 While generally accepting her analysis, the following examination will, however, explore the underlying uniformity, rather than the mutability, of plum and willow images in relation to human gender. With its pliable twigs and supple leaves, its dancing grace in the spring breeze, the willow is a universal symbol of femininity. In classical Chinese literature, in particular, it is often associated with feminine beauty and amorous passion. Depicting a lovely lady, Bai Juyi writes: “Her face looks like a lotus, her brows resemble willows.”37 In the Western Wing, when the heroine is moving into position for intercourse, her delicate charm is presented in such a line: “gently she adjusts her willowy waist.”38 These conventional connotations of femininity lie behind the recurrent willow images in the Pavilion. Yet in Tang Xianzu’s dramatic world, the willow is also the surname of Liu Zongyuan, a frustrated reformist of the Tang dynasty who adhered to his lofty aspirations through decades of exile. SuVering in political persecution, Liu Zongyuan at times compared himself to Qu Yuan, the primary historical symbol of political conscience in China. Since he is made Liu Mengmei’s ancestor in the drama, his stamina and fortitude with their mas78

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culine connotations are dramatically inscribed in the identities of the hero and the willow image.39 Commenting on the double-gender potential of the willow image in the Pavilion, the early Qing scholar-oYcial Shi Zhenlin remarks, “Willow represents the passion in this world, dormant at one moment, active at the next. Flying in the distant sky with one twig carrying thousands of leaves, it easily rouses one’s emotion. . . . In my opinion, with its joints strengthened, it can be turned into a bamboo pointing at the cloud; with its qi (essence) restrained, it can become a pine defying gelidity. It mirrors the integrity of the Lord of Spring, Liu Mengmei.”40 Although generally a feminine figure both in Chinese literature and in Liu Mengmei’s characterization in the Pavilion, the willow is latent with masculine potential, which surfaces in its association with the plum blossom in projecting Liu Mengmei’s character growth. Our earlier discussion of Chunmei’s characterization indicates that in Chinese culture the plum blossom is also capable of dual-gender association, which Maggie Bickford, in her study of Chinese art, terms the heroic mode and pathetic mode of its presentation.41 Since the Song dynasty the heroic mode of plum imagery has often prevailed over its pathetic mode in Chinese art and literature, for the endurance and fortitude it embodies evokes an easy analogy with the valor and stamina in literati identity in their confrontation of the court. Cheng Jie indicates that the plum blossom started to rank with pine and bamboo as a popular figure of literati’s selfidentity in Chinese poetry from the mid-Tang.42 Bickford observes that “the ultimate in the masculization of the flowering plum image” in Chinese art occurs in the “Yuan personification of old plum as resolute recluse,”43 a point she convincingly illustrates with Wang Mian’s (1287 – 1359) works.44 The idealization of Wang Mian in his various biographies also reveals a tendency to identify the master painter with the hidden masculinity of plum blossoms.45 This heroic mode of plum presentation continued to prevail in the late Ming, an age noted for its literati’s intensified autobiographical sensibility and growing urge for asserting authenticity. With its inherent masculinity, the plum blossom appeals immensely to late Ming scholars, when their burgeoning individualistic impulses ardently sought ways for expression. Thus, as Osvald Sirén’s study of Chinese art history indicates, the plum blossom appears recurrently on the canvas of the well-known hermit Chen Jiru; it becomes a favorite art subject for hermit Wang Guxiang (1501 – 1568), and it engages the lifelong study of Liu Shiru, a close friend of Xu Wei and possibly a like-minded literatus, who devoted eighty years of his life to The Peony Pavilion


painting plum blossoms and died at ninety, leaving behind a special treatise on the subject: Mei pu (A study of plum trees).46 The Ming literatus poet Gao Qi (1336 – 1374) allegedly composed the most beautiful verses in praise of the plum spirit in Chinese history. The following lines from his much anthologized “Nine Odes to Plum Blossoms” (“Meihua jiushou”) have achieved immortality in Chinese literature. The noble man slumbers while the mountain is covered with snow, Under the moonlight a beauty comes out of the plum forest. (Shanzhong gaoshi wo, yuexia meiren lai.)47

The first line alludes to scholar Yuan An (?– 92) of the Han dynasty, a hermit in his youth, who refused to demean himself to seek patronage when the mountain was covered with snow.48 The second line refers to a legendary plum-blossom fairy who came out of a plum forest to console a demoted Sui oYcial Zhao Shixiong on his way to a reduced position.49 Ostensibly only tenuously related to the plum blossom that the poet chants, these lines capture the very essence of the floral spirit, virility in a marginal man, which is symbolically associated with the poet’s identity. Living during the YuanMing transition, when it was hard for literati to find a worthy ruler to serve, Gao Qi repeatedly declined oYcial oVers and spent his life largely as a recluse. Too proud to serve the founding emperor of the Ming, whom he deemed violent, he declined the ranking oYce of the vice presidency of the ministry of revenue, accepting only the politically less involved appointment of an editor for the Yuan history. This noncollaborative stance is generally believed to have courted his persecution by the headstrong sovereign.50 His resistance to the power source, repeatedly surfacing in his declination of office both in the Yuan and Ming, is artistically presented in the image of Yuan An’s slumbering in the preceding cited verse in a poetic gesture of defying the hostile/snowy world. On a symbolic level the nobility and strength of his unbridled will for self-autonomy is projected in the beautiful image of the plum-blossom fairy. The two verses thus graphically present the gender stand of the plumlike poet, his latent masculinity as a marginal man. Among Tang Xianzu’s contemporaries, the literatus-hermit Zhou Lüjing (1542 – 1632), eight years Tang’s senior, stood out as a consummate admirer of plum blossoms. Following the manner of Lin Bu (967 – 1028) and Wang Mian, he planted hundreds of plum trees on a desolate land, where he chanted poetry, whistled songs, and sauntered with a crane, calling himself 80

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plum crazy. A versatile scholar with an encyclopedic mind, he shunned the life of an oYcial and sought joy in compiling books.51 The one hundred odes to the plum blossom composed by a Yuan scholar Feng Haisu (1257 – 1314) struck such a responsive chord in his psyche that he adopted the rhythm to compose one hundred verses of his own to project a kindred soul.52 In the books that he published, he reprinted not only another one hundred odes to the plum blossom by a Yuan Buddhist Zhongfeng,53 but also a Song treatise on plum blossoms, “Flowering-plum classifications of Jade-Radiance Hall” (“Yuzhaotang meiping”), by the self-styled flowering-plum hermit Zhang Zi (1153 –ca. 1211).54 The essay opens with the following lines: The plum blossom is a spectacle in the world; it fascinates particularly the poetic souls. . . . It bursts into bloom early in the spring despite its frozen chill. . . . The flower is endowed with elegant beauty and peculiar detachment, kindred in spirit with the transcendent Qu Yuan and the famous recluses Boyi and Shuqi, who would rather wither in the mountain or marsh than humble themselves by prostrating in front of vulgar men.55

It is probably the emphasis on human masculinity (or heroic spirit) symbolically projected on the flower in these lines that accounts for the popularity of this text as well as the plum blossom among literati in the late Ming, when they felt the compulsion against their feminized status. Similarly, in the Pavilion, the masculine mode of the plum imagery eclipses its feminine mode in its symbolic function, particularly in Liu Mengmei’s characterization. Liu Mengmei is an ambiguous figure both identified with and distanced from the dramatist. His passionate love incarnates the qing that Tang Xianzu preaches, whereas his search for patronage to advance his career is subject to Tang’s mild mockery.56 The dubious status of the hero has led to ambivalent comments from critics, who tend to separate his life into two parts without giving a plausible explanation for the transition, aYrming his role as a passionate lover and negating his career ambition as a scholar.57 Since his quest for love motivates his quest for status, which, in turn, facilitates the realization of love, the two aspects of his identity are actually inseparable. Viewed in the light of gender analysis, his characterization, in fact, reveals a process of gradual masculinization, as his quest for love turns into a driving force for his quest for status, breeds mettle and courage in him, and transforms him into a real man. Like most dramatic and fictional heroes of his time conceived in the The Peony Pavilion


emerging cult of qing, Mengmei is endowed with feminine traits that are associated with his surname “willow.” When he first appears in Liniang’s dream, he symbolically bears a branch of willow in his hand. Although claiming himself a “jade pillar to support the heavens” (B 22.119), he is constantly at his wit’s end, weeping and crying over trifles “like a woman.” His initial search for a benefactor for career advancement discloses a feminine outlook, a “concubine complex.” His “willow” identity is vividly projected in the scene “Traveler’s Rest,” where, on his solitary pilgrimage to the examination hall, he is caught in a storm. In a symbolic battle with snow, he falls into a stream when a frail willow tree fails to support him. The pliability of the willow, which almost makes him “break his trunk” (B 22.118; M 22.116), relates the plant to the feminine aspect of his identity, his anima, which is spiritually insuYcient for him to cope with a hostile world. Yet, just as his name suggests, Mengmei is related to the willow as well as to the plum, whose hidden strength will surface in his character development. His masculine aspiration is conveyed even in his first appearance, where he declares that though “ashen from need and hardship” (B 2.3) he would “nurture an imperishable noble spirit” (haoran zhiqi) (M 2.3), a manly quality originally mentioned in Mencius, referring to the strength of will requisite for a Confucian da zhangfu.58 In the same scene, “Declaring Aspirations,” the hero chants the following highly figurative lines to visualize the accomplishments of his quest for love and status, a common goal for all scholars in imperial China: Some day spring sun will touch in the dimness the willow to yellow gold And the snow’s approach burst open the plum blossom white as jade.59 (P 2.5)

While the golden willow evokes an image of the high rank he will acquire— for the willow is associated with his identity as a solitary quester for status— the plum blossom may be related to his quest for love. As Swatek aptly observes, in the Pavilion “the plum as figure pertains . . . to the world of qing, not the world of li,”60 thus the image of the plum blossom blooming in the snow in the second verse may well convey his determination to pursue love against conventions (li). This connotation is confirmed by the image of unconventional love evoked in the very line preceding the quoted verses, which presents lovers peeping through holes on the garden walls, recklessly in pursuit of love.61 Thus, Mengmei’s feminine association with the willow image as a lonely chaser after status, and his masculine association with the plum 82

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image as a defiant quester for love, are established at the outset of the drama. Significantly, after he has lost the battle in the aforementioned confrontation with snow, it is in the Plum Blossom Shrine, the symbolic sanctuary of love and strength, that the injured hero recuperates, not only from his physical fragility but also from his psychological infirmity. His passionate love for Liniang nurtured in the Shrine engenders a lion’s courage, with which he braves the penalty of death to open her coYn. Mengmei’s character is obviously strengthened in Tang Xianzu’s dramatic adaptation of this episode from the huaben story. In the antecedent tale, it is Mengmei’s father, a local magistrate, who orders his retainers to open Liniang’s coYn to investigate the strange case; in the Pavilion, Mengmei risks his life to unearth her body after his virility has been nurtured in the Shrine. His sojourn in the Plum Blossom Shrine thus fosters in him a gender transition from that of the willow to that of the plum—strength out of passionate love—as his quest for status gradually yields to a quest for love. This plum identity blossoms and mellows when he defends his innocence with majesty at Du Bao’s residence, defying the chief minister’s pomposity and overwhelming the retainers’ arrogance with dignity. It matures and ripens in his unrelenting debate with Du Bao at the imperial court, where he firmly vindicates his amorous relation with his “ghost” wife. Responding to Du Bao’s dogged refusal to accept his romantic love, he adopts a classical verse as a lyrical weapon: “Plum bloom and snowflake vied to crown the spring” (B 55.327; M 55.284).62 The line projects his determination to fight in a second symbolic battle with snow, the life-devouring force of conventions, here personified in Du Bao. While his willowlike “trunk” is almost crushed in his first clash with snow in his quest for status, his plumlike virility triumphs over the obstinacy of Du Bao, the snow figure in the human world, when his quest for love is ultimately legitimized. The Pavilion, therefore, unfolds the hero’s character growth from a willowlike careerist into a plumlike champion for romantic love. This sense of growth is conveyed in Mengmei’s own remarks in scene 39, when he is going to reembark on a career pursuit to finally secure a status for social acceptance of his romantic love: “Ten years by study window until in the ‘frozen nines’ the plum blossom blooms” (M 39.209). Since “ten years by study window” (shinian hanchuang) is an idiom referring to a scholar’s preparation for a career, and the blooming plum in defiance of cold is associated in the drama with the hero’s willpower in pursuit of love, the line inThe Peony Pavilion


timates the final integration of the two aspects of the quest in his existential journey. Through a self-referential metaphor, it suggests that only when love has nurtured plumlike courage in the hero to defy the hostile world will he eventually triumph in his quest for status and grow up into a real man. Inherent in the hero’s character growth is the maturation of his gender identity: the assimilation of plumlike masculinity tempers his willowish femininity in the creation of a fuller personality. Viewed in this light, the fulfillment of Mengmei’s identity essentially lies in the realization of the dream implied in his name, which means, literally, “willow dreaming of plum,” and symbolically, “femininity dreaming of masculinity,” the incorporation of the two genders. While the floral imagery projects the androgynization of the hero’s identity, it also symbolizes the gender dislocation of the heroine. The ethereal and fragile beauty traditionally associated with the willow is manifested in Liniang, whose brow is described as a “willow leaf ” (B 14.68) and who selfconsciously compares herself to “a wavering reed or willow” (B 5.17). Yet Liniang’s identification with the willow remains largely physical; in the symbolic scheme of the play, her spiritual identity is mainly inscribed in the image of the plum. It is beneath a plum tree that she makes her debut in Mengmei’s dream; Mengmei’s name “dreaming of plum” metaphorically associates her with the plum tree, since what he really desires is the lady beneath it. In her self-portrait Liniang holds a plum branch in her hand, signaling her embrace of the values that the plant stands for. This seemingly simple portrait suggests a gender ambiguity of the lady, not only in the artist-art relationship discussed earlier but also in the image itself. The canonical association between a lover and a plum tree originates from the twentieth poem in The Book of Songs, where the persona, assuming a female voice, invites men to pluck fruits from a plum tree, a symbol of her ripened sexuality and ephemeral youth.63 It is strengthened in a poem by the famous poet Li Bai (701 – 762), which depicts a lad plucking plum branches in front of his innocent young lover in a ritual of courtship.64 In both antecedent poems, the plum is symbolically associated with the passive female, who waits for the active male hand to take it. The switch of the plum branch from the male hand in Li Bai’s source poem to the female hand in the drama signifies a shift of behavioral codes between the sexes, a more active role that the female assumes in the pursuit of love. With its pervasive association with Liniang, the plum serves as the central trope for her identity, and its traditional gendered associations are also vis84

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ible in her characterization. While its pathetic/feminine mode is presented in Liniang’s transient beauty and ripening sexuality, its heroic/masculine import finds expression in her valiant will to defy adversity in pursuit of love, which is conveyed most explicitly in the following lines that she chants in front of a flowering plum tree while searching for her lost love: My heart is drawn by chance to this plum tree’s side. If we could love flower and herb as we please, Live and die according to our wishes, Then none would moan for bitter pain. I will marshal my fragrant spirit, Through the dark rains of summer, And keep company with this plum tree’s roots. (M 12.62)65

While Swatek relates the plum tree with Liniang’s lover in a literary reading of the image, “to keep its company,”66 on a symbolic level, the image may well project the heroine’s spiritual longing to identify with the heroic aspect of the plum identity in her defiant pursuit of love against conventions, the “dark rains of summer.” In late Ming/early Qing literature, in fact, it is a wellestablished convention that plum, as a figure of speech, often signals human will in aYrmation of love. This is not only prominent in Liu Mengmei’s characterization but can also be traced to many works in the scholar-beauty romance to be discussed in the next chapter. The heroine’s yearning for spiritual union with the plum tree’s roots, a figure of the plant’s hidden strength, thus conveys her plumlike heroism in her assertion of love. Her defiance of the “dark rains of summer” can be viewed as a rhetorical innovation of the plum blossoms’ snow-defying convention in projecting her plumlike heroic inclination. Due to her spiritual identification with the plum tree, understandably, Liniang’s deathbed wish is to be buried beside it. Once she passes away, the back garden is turned into a Plum Blossom Shrine where her defiant soul is sanctified. When her ghost returns for a visit, it finds in a consecrated vase a sprig of a fading plum blossom, mirroring her “fading” identity. Liniang’s spiritual aYnity to the heroic mode of the plum symbolism is also conveyed in her dramatic association with Hua Mulan, the legendary nüzhong zhangfu, in reference to her defiant quest for love. Before falling into her romantic dream, her maid Chunxiang chants the following lines from “The Song of Mulan” in the garden:

The Peony Pavilion


Open the west chamber door, In the east room make the bed.67 (B 10.45; M 10.48)

The intrusion of Mulan’s verse into such a romantic scene seems quite abrupt, since Mulan is the archetype of militant females. The aYnity between Liniang and this legendary female hero lies in their shared masculine will, which spurs them to deviate from the established norms of femininity. The bedmaking in the verse signifies the mistress’s psychological readiness for an aVair; the door-opening of the western chamber, the literary locus of romance,68 betokens the mistress’s determination to embrace love. The two lines from “The Song of Mulan” chanted by Chunxiang, therefore, are intrinsically related to Liniang’s awakened animus, projecting her psychological preparation to pursue love in the following scene. Liniang’s plumlike identity blossoms in her gallant visit to her lover’s chamber; it culminates in the imperial court, where her vigorous defense of the self-arranged marriage against her father’s accusation recaptures the gist of the Song verse that Mengmei chants: “Plum blossom and snowflake vie to crown the spring.” In their joint pursuit of love in confrontation of convention, the hero and the heroine share a valiant will, which is graphically projected in the image of the plum blossom.

The Literatus Scholar and His Dramatic Personae: The Double Identity of Literary Androgyne The Pavilion sings a paean to the ideal of androgyny, which is ostensibly attributed to Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei, yet intrinsically related to the literatus author himself. As Tang Xianzu’s inscription to the drama indicates, the play is composed primarily to celebrate qing.69 What distinguishes Du Liniang from many of her predecessors in Chinese literature is her courage in pursuing and defending love, which illustrates a new value, qingdan (courage in aYrming qing), that gained currency among liberal-minded scholars in the late Ming and early Qing.70 This value not only constitutes the essence of Liniang’s androgynous identity, but also inspires Tang Xianzu’s spiritual quest for a wholesome identity. Although in his celebration of qing Tang Xianzu was philosophically indebted to the pioneer thinkers of the School of the Mind, Wang Yangming, Wang Gen, Yan Jun, and Luo Rufang,71 he went beyond his spiritual pred86

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ecessors in aYrming the legitimacy of human desire and self-arranged marriage. In initiating the “cult of qing” and stimulating women’s aspiration for conjugal freedom, probably no one played a more significant role. Commenting on the social eVect of Tang’s play, Ellen Widmer remarks, “Peony Pavilion spoke so compellingly to the dreams and desires of young women that it could alter their normal behavior.”72 While the “legitimation of desire,” as Anthony Yu indicates, can be traced to as early as pre-Han texts, this line of thinking has often been regimented by the orthodox after the Cheng-Zhu school of neo-Confucianism gained prominence in the Song dynasty.73 Although Epstein rightly indicates “a gradual shift, between the mid-sixteenth and late eighteenth centuries, towards a more positive conception of qing” in Chinese intellectual circles,74 the pioneering champions for the cult of qing apparently posed a subversive gesture when they initiated this anti-hegemonic trend in the middle and late sixteenth century. Li Zhi, whose endorsement of “selfishness” (si) is generally believed to philosophically fuel this trend, paid a dear price for his conviction. His praise of Zhuo Wenjun, which apparently contributed to the emerging cult of qing, was taken as one of his “moral crimes” by the government to warrant arresting him. Among Tang Xianzu’s contemporaries, as Carlitz indicates, the influential literatus-oYcial Lü Kun censured the concept of qing, understood as aVects between the sexes.75 Tang’s mentors and friends also reprimanded him for his indulgence in qing: while his friend Luo Dahong reproved him for composing “excessively florid lines” in his dramas,76 his mentor, the grand secretary Zhang Wei (1592 – 1598, grand secretary), reproached him for his dramatic indulgence which, in Zhang’s view, “will be laughed at by children.” In response to such criticism, Tang Xianzu remarks: “Like you, master, I am preaching [through drama]. While you teach xing (innate virtue), I preach qing.”77 In Confucianism, xing and qing are defined as men’s basic spiritual components; from xing is derived a man’s innate morality, whereas the outburst of qing, sentiment and emotion, may violate the confines of li, the moral principles.78 In the late Ming revalorization of qing, there was a tendency to blur the distinction between qing with xing, which conservatives, such as Tang’s contemporary Zou Yuanbiao (1551 – 1642), took as a dangerous trend for, as they believed, it trifled with proprieties and treated moral prudence as shackles.79 In his adherence to qing, particularly in his dramatic aYrmation of free love and self-arranged marriage, Tang poses an unequivocally heretical posture against orthodox norms.80 His obsession with qing, in fact, is intellectually akin to He Xinyin’s and Li The Peony Pavilion


Zhi’s radical thinking as well as to the “wild Chan” ardor in late Ming culture.81 Just like Xia Tingmei, the farmer-thinker of the Taizhou School, who derives courage from the Mencian icon da zhangfu to question the neoConfucian separation of “heavenly principle” and “human desires,” Tang Xianzu in his apotheosis of qing, against the dissuasion of his mentor/friends and the antagonism of his opponents, betrays a valiant will to assert personal vision despite the pressure of orthodoxy. In describing Tang’s dramatic masterpiece, Anthony Yu uses the apt term “utmost daring.”82 The courage with which Tang Xianzu defends his marginal outlook betokens an identity of a da zhangfu in ideological confrontation. A similar stance can also be traced in Tang Xianzu’s political career. Educated in his youth by two recalcitrant scholars, both deposed from oYcial positions for political and ideological dissidence,83 Tang grew up into a political dissenter. He was fully aware that “the world hates talents, though it is badly in need of them,”84 because “real talents are often at variance with the world.”85 Although he was successively oVered patronage by the grand secretaries Zhang Juzheng, Zhang Siwei (1535 – 1614), and Sheng Shixing (1526 – 1585), the most powerful men of his time, he declined it to avoid attachment to the leading cliques. After he entered oYcialdom, he was gratified with semi-sinecure positions in Nanjing, a comparatively marginal site in the political map in relation to Beijing, the power center.86 Having experienced vicissitudes in oYcial life, Tang eventually resigned from his post and retired to his home. But these seemingly passive gestures hardly prove Tang’s political apathy. In fact, burning in his numerous writings is ardent political enthusiasm, which exploded like a volcano in 1591 in an imperial memorial, a valiant political criticism of the court that sent him to protracted exile. His propensity to stay on the margin, therefore, reveals a prudent strategy to guard his political integrity. His gender identity in such political postures is nowhere more distinctly presented than in the line quoted earlier, “I dare not follow, or I will lose my chastity as a virgin,” in reference to his declination of Zhang Juzheng’s patronage. After he passed the metropolitan examination and again declined patronage from two other grand secretaries, he made a similar remark: “I close the door to keep my chastity” (yanmen zizhen).87 Tang detached himself from the power source apparently to preserve his personal autonomy. His repeated self-identification with a virgin bespeaks intense awareness of his political marginality/femininity, whereas his vigorous defense of “chastity” betokens a masculine will to


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aYrm his integrity. The coexistence of such opposite gender/sex attributes comprise his “androgynous” identity. A similar gender stand is also discernible in his political philosophy, which can be summed up as a combination of benevolence and force in the art of ruling (wangba bingju).88 Such a principle he practiced exemplarily as a magistrate in Suichang, where he valiantly fought against despots and compassionately took care of local people. Zheng Peikai’s recent study highlights Tang Xianzu’s ardent admiration for his friend Zhao Pangqing (1592, metropolitan graduate), who bravely reformed the tax system in the prefecture under his jurisdiction to shift more tax to the wealthy.89 In a vivid portrayal of Zhao’s courage to confront the powerful and the mighty, a contemporary called him “a man who chews iron and eats rocks.”90 Such indomitable courage also characterizes Tang Xianzu’s other two spiritual icons, Monk Daguan and Li Zhi, both martyring to their conviction, both dying in jail.91 Tang Xianzu’s worship for such men reveals a kindred soul, the spirit of a chivalrous Confucian (xiaru).92 Not only did he risk his career to present a critical memorial to the emperor, he also courageously pressed local gentry for their dodged taxes, as the magistrate of Suichang. Tang’s courage in defying the power is matched by his commiseration for the needy. He helped establish schools to promote education and released criminals to unite with their families during festivals. Commenting on his public service, his contemporaries wrote: “with the heart of a mother”93 “he nurses his subjects.”94 His “manly” pluck and his maternal compassion comprise an androgynous personality, which is dramatically inscribed in the character of Du Bao as a public servant in the Pavilion. Although in domestic life Du Bao reveals a strong patriarchal drift, which is subject to censure in the play, he assumes a diVerent gender stance in public life. As the chief minister he is commissioned to “regulate yin and yang” (banli yinyang B 53.315; M 53.264), and his ability to harmonize gender is exemplified in his function as an oYcial in the public realm. In scene 8, as a prefect he sends flowers and wine to the laboring farmers to “speed the plough,” acting as a “father and mother” to his subjects. Many believe that the role he plays in the public realm is based on Tang Xianzu’s life experience as a local magistrate. Tang’s sound personality engenders spiritual aYnity to flowers with similar gendered attributes. One of them, of course, is the plum blossom. The images of plum blossoms in the Pavilion, which comprise only a part of its pervasive presence in Tang’s corpus, mirror Tang’s craze for the flower. In

The Peony Pavilion


his poetry, plum blossoms nearly always emerge against a background of dazzling snow, whose severity and biting cold throw in relief the plants’ mettle and fortitude.95 Hou Wailu indicates the influence on Tang’s use of the plum image from the Song scholar Chen Liang (1143 – 1194),96 a valiant Confucian da zhangfu, who repeatedly remonstrated against court depravity and appeasement in foreign policy of the Southern Song, a spiritual predecessor that Tang admired and worshiped.97 Chen Liang’s famous ode to plum blossoms, “To transmit the message of the spring / The plum fears not to be buried in snow,”98 with its celebration of the unsuppressed yang spirit in a yin entity, captures the gist of most of Tang’s plum imagery. One such gendered plum image appears in the following lines from Tang’s poem “Written for Building a Grave for Academician Fang Xiaoru at Gaozuo Temple”: In the past when the Academician dedicated his life He resembled the plum blossoms near Yuhua Mountain.99 In the winter the plums are as sturdy as the white poplar, His fragrant soul will return through the gate of the grave.100

Fang Xiaoru, the celebrated Confucian martyr, is a typical “plum blossom” among humans; his valor, gallantry, and purity are all graphically embodied in the lofty image of the flower. When his grave deteriorated owing to the abject poverty of his descendants, who could not aVord to renovate it, Tang Xianzu opened his purse to refurbish it and then composed the commemorative poem cited above. Tang’s worship of the Confucian martyr stemmed from a kindred outlook and personality: Like Fang Xiaoru, he resisted tyrannical politics with an indomitable will and, likewise, he saw a “plum” in himself. Such a “plum” identity is presented in the following verses composed in 1591 on his way to a provincial region in political exile: On Plum Blossom Ridge stands a lonely monk.101 I chant the praise of plum in front of the Bride Shore.102

As Bickford’s study indicates, plum imagery in its heroic mode is typically associated with a recluse and in Su Shi’s poems, composed during his political exile, it often embodies the poet’s “determination to weather the winter of exile with unimpaired integrity.”103 The lonely monk standing on Plum Blossom Ridge in the first verse thus most likely projects a self-image of the alienated poet; Bride Shore in the second verse may similarly intimate the poet’s awareness of his marginal/feminized status. Driven into political 90

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exile, the poet was virtually experiencing the “winter” of his career; his spiritual aYnity to the flower in these verses discloses his defiant spirit in confrontation with a hostile world. Perceivable in such lines is Tang’s spiritual/ gender kinship to his dramatic personae, Liniang and Mengmei, in their shared temperamental aYnity to the plum. Just as the tyranny of conventions suppresses human passion and forces Liniang into a secluded chamber, so it threatens to quench Tang’s political enthusiasm and sends him into political exile. Their mutual gravitation to the plum blossom intimates a common will to aYrm their authenticity in resistance to the repressive Establishment. Another flower often associated with Tang is yuming, a unique camellia with snow-white blossoms and evergreen leaves. Tang entitled his study “Yuming Hall,” where he composed the larger parts of his four celebrated plays and spent the last twenty years of his life after he withdrew from the political arena. In Chinese culture, the yuming flower has always been taken by literati as an emblem of human integrity:104 its snow-white blossoms symbolize spiritual purity, whereas its evergreen leaves signify moral fiber. While betraying a shared fascination for chaste women with his contemporaries, Tang Xianzu apparently saw in the flower a self-image when he chose its name for his study; in fact, the flower was so intimately related to his identity that at times he was simply referred to as “Mr. Yuming.” Just as he was fascinated by xiangcao (fragrant plants), he was captivated by meiren (beauty). While the fragrant plants that appealed to him were nearly all characterized by temperamental fortitude, the beauties that attracted him were mostly endowed with “manly” attributes. Among the numerous knight-errant stories in Chinese literature, four interest him most: “Hongfu,” “The Girl Hongxian,” “The Slave Kunlun,” and “Nie Yinniang;”105 all feature gallant heroines who either masquerade as men or exemplify manly attributes, such as courage, chivalry, and gallantry in the pursuit of love. His fascination with such unfeminine heroines divulges a shared gender position: it is with the same gallantry and courage that Tang and his favorite heroines revolt against the tyrannical feminization of their identity—Tang in his aYrmation of political integrity and spiritual liberty, the female knightserrant in their assertion of romantic impulses. It is partly due to his spiritual kinship to women that in one poem Tang Xianzu calls himself a qie (a humble woman) and compares himself to a flower of female chastity (zhennühua).106 A friend simply addresses him as jiaren (a beauty).107 When he adopts a similar term meiren (a beautiful lady) The Peony Pavilion


to address a friend, a critic at once discerns in it a trope of his own self.108 The flower of female chastity with which Tang identifies himself grows in zhennümu (female chastity tree, hardwood), which, according to Li Shizhen’s Meteria Medica (Bencao gangmo), “remains evergreen in the winter, possesses the will of a chaste woman, hence is called female chastity tree.”109 An ancient legend indicates that a patriotic virgin in the state of Lu once lamented over the misery of the people, yet her mourning and wailing were mistaken by her neighbors to be signs of lovesickness. In great distress she chanced upon a female chastity tree and at once perceived in it a self-image. Inspired by the plant’s indomitable will, and indignant at the public suspicion of her innocence, she chanted a “Song of Female Chastity” and then committed suicide to demonstrate her spiritual purity, making herself an incarnation of female chastity.110 The legend of the girl of chastity is virtually another version of Qu Yuan’s cult, where political integrity is presented through female virtue. Tang Xianzu’s self-comparison to the flower of female chastity not only reveals his intensified awareness of ideological alienation but also conveys his self-aYrmation of political integrity. Tang’s “female” consciousness engenders his empathy for women, which probably accounts for the female superiority discernible both in his own works and in his commentary on others’. In his opinion, Li Wa, a gallant prostitute who helps restore life and fortune to her prodigious lover, behaves like a “real man;”111 and Tang repeatedly applies the phrase “females are superior to males” both in his inscription for the play Qiting ji112 (The tale of a tavern) and in his own play Zixiao ji (The tale of a purple flute).113 In the Pavilion such female worship is most explicitly manifested in scene 49, where Mengmei, in search of his father-in-law, is virtually thrown out of a tavern because Du Bao has put up a public poster to denounce their relations. Frustrated in his appeal for the patriarchal endorsement of his romantic union with Liniang, the hungry and shelterless hero seeks refuge in the Shrine of the Fuller Woman. Chanting in the shrine, he lauds several women of vision who perceive heroes’ worth and passionately endeavor to help them even at the risk of their own lives. One such woman was the “silkwashing girl,” who recognized the noble Wu Zixu (?– 222 b.c.) when he was a fugitive at large, and jumped into a river to drown herself so that he need not worry about betrayal. Seemingly irrelevant to the plot development, his chant, which concludes with the following lines, points to the gender issues under discussion here:


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Before their pointed phoenix shoes I knock my head on the ground three thousand times. (B 49.287; M 49.253)

The women’s pointed shoes and deep compassion betoken their femininity, yet their chivalry, gallantry, and moral superiority align them with the opposite sex in the male-chauvinist culture. They are “fuller” women, therefore, because they transcend their own gender to embrace a more complete identity. Tang Xianzu’s worship of the fuller women, or any other qi nüzi, is essentially a worship of androgyny. Such a fuller woman is Du Liniang, whom Tang Xianzu creates to project his ideal. Tang’s empathy for his heroine can be palpably sensed in a wellknown anecdote that he was found one day weeping on the fagot pile in his court while conceiving Chunxiang’s lines mourning her deceased mistress.114 Critics have repeatedly pointed out that Liniang incarnates Tang’s spirit.115 Such an assertion, though generally sound and valid, tends to be helplessly vague owing to lack of persuasive analysis. Gender provides us with a new perspective on the relationship between the dramatist and his persona, who, as our analysis indicates, share a common aspiration for a fuller personality in defiance of cultural, ideological, and political restraints. In the late Ming discourse of individualism, this aspiration is often conveyed through the aYrmation of human nature or what is natural (ziran). A typical late Ming usage of the term “natural” can be found in the remarks of Yan Jun, the master of Tang Xianzu’s teacher Luo Rufang: “As long as you act according to your instincts and follow your nature, you are upholding the Dao.”116 (Italics of the term “nature” are mine.) Likewise, Yuan Hongdao condemns the neo-Confucians of the School of the Principle for distorting Confucianism—originally only a measure for human behavior—into rigid dogmas imposed on human life, thus making it “unnatural.”117 Commenting on the passionate love songs that he collected from common people, Feng Menglong noted: “These are natural writings that record the impulses of heaven and earth.”118 As if to sum it up theoretically, Li Zhi wrote: “It is the natural instincts that constitute the real philosophy.”119 It is evident that the late Ming craze for “the natural” connotes the aYrmation of all that is inborn and innate. Viewed from our perspective, the aYrmation of the natural implies the endorsement of both the masculine and feminine impulses, the congenital identity of a human being. The Peony Pavilion


It is for the maintenance of such a wholesome identity that Tang Xianzu strove throughout his life. While the orthodox neo-Confucianism smothered qing, the “natural” human emotion, political despotism stifled yi, the human sense of justice. They threatened to twist Tang’s “natural” identity by reducing him to a subservient, or feminine man, just as neo-Confucian ideology distorts Liniang’s “natural” self by suppressing her sexual drive and molding her into a docile lady. Tang’s gallant patriotic gestures and his daring composition of the Pavilion, in aYrming both qing and yi, the suppressed impulses in the conservative and corrupted patriarchal culture, bespeak a potent will of a Mencian da zhangfu resisting the feminization of his identity, just as Liniang’s breach of chamber-confinement marks the germination of her masculinity. The dramatist and the persona face a similar gender crisis, share the same willpower, and take a similar gender stance. In Liniang’s deviation from prescribed femininity and in her defiant pursuit of love is thus inscribed Tang Xianzu’s craving for an androgynous identity.


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chapter 5

Scholar-Beauty Romance Idealistic Expression of the Androgynous Vision

In the wake of Tang Xianzu’s Pavilion, the Chinese literary arena witnessed the emergence of a legion of scholar-beauty romances, which project a more idealistic vision of gender freedom.1 Critics have traced its embryo to the historiography of the Han dynasty, yet its immediate predecessors remain Tang’s Pavilion and Xu Wei’s dramas. The most treasured legacy it inherits from its precedents is a liberal outlook on human gender. In many ways the undercurrents of androgyny that we have traced so far surface and grow into a visible trend in this genre, where transvestism becomes a convention, the plum blossom a ubiquitous trope for idealized personality, while Hongfu and Zhuo Wenjun, the archetypal androgynes, are often adopted as role models. As an aesthetic category a genre may be viewed as a body of varied texts in the form of a single master narrative. Although the master narrative from which all the scholar-beauty romances derive is, of course, nowhere to be found, the following commonly accepted generic sketch provides a glimpse of its contours and serves as a yardstick for determining the works selected for study in this chapter:

In the garden a beauty secretly seals a match with a scholar in distress, Who ultimately heads the list of candidates in the imperial examination. Wading through a round of blockades set by villainous potentates, The couple finally forge a wedding lock under the auspices of the emperor.2

As such, the plots of the genre may well be summed up in the word that Frye uses to depict Western romance: “quest.”3 It is in passionate pursuit of love, often against political tyranny and ideological suppression, that an ideal personality is forged, one that usually crosses gender boundary in aYrmation of a fuller identity. From our perspective this genre may be taken as literati’s idealistic expression of their androgynous vision, although deviations from such a propensity inevitably exist. Despite its inner conflict, the mainstream of the genre adheres to the late Ming ideal of gender freedom. The following inquiry of its gender stand, therefore, starts with an investigation of its legacy from the late Ming, Tang Xianzu’s Pavilion in particular.

The Fragmentation of the Pavilion and the Archetypal Characterization of Androgyne Among late Ming literati thinkers probably no one exerts more profound and lasting impact on the emerging scholar-beauty romance than Tang Xianzu. Worshiping of other late Ming celebrities can no doubt be occasionally traced in this genre. In Renjian le (Happiness in the human world), the hero adores Tang Bohu and names himself after the late Ming idol as Xu Xiuhu, while the twelfth story of Nücaizi shu (Talented female scholars) presents a poem by Xu Wei in praise of its heroine Song Wan,4 but deferential references to Tang Xianzu far exceed those of his contemporaries, apparently because the cult of qing that his drama celebrates has now become the quintessential value of the genre. In “Cui Shu,” the fourth story of Nücaizi shu, Tang’s speculation on dreams is used as a lead to the main story. The printed version of the book itself presents eight character portraits, which bear inscriptions by Tang Xianzu, Xu Wei, Feng Menglong, and Dong Qichang. Although a historical impossibility, for the book was published after the four Ming literati passed away, such forgery reveals the author’s (or the printer’s) adoration for his spiritual predecessors, whose liberal outlooks he disseminates in the book. Veneration of Tang Xianzu can perhaps be most palpably felt in Xihu erji (The stories of the West Lake, 96

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second collection), where lines from the Pavilion are constantly quoted in a deferential manner reminiscent of modern Chinese men’s citations of Mao’s remarks in the late 1960s.5 Tang’s impact on the genre is most evident in the direct imitation of the Pavilion in many scholar-beauty romances, which follow the master drama with unabashed fidelity bordering on plagiarism in plots, characterization, and gender construction. The hero in Feihua yanxiang (Romance of fluttering flowers) is named Liu Youmei (willow befriending plum), only once removed from Tang Xianzu’s protagonist Liu Mengmei (willow dreaming plum). Moreover, like Mengmei, he also descends from Liu Zongyuan, thus he is unmistakably created as a spiritual twin to Tang’s hero. Liniang has a legion of spiritual oVsprings who often bear the second part of her name “niang” (lady). One such “niang” character, named Xiaoniang (lady of nocturnality), appears in Gushan zaimeng (Sequel to the dream in the Lonely Mountain) as a reincarnation of Xiaoqing, a celebrated admirer of Liniang, whose varied legends formed a cult of its own during this period.6 While Liniang carries a plum blossom in her initial appearance in Mengmei’s dream, this floral emblem of gender deviation now appears in Xiaoniang’s hair when she first meets her lover Qian Yulin. A passionate quester for free love whose defiant impulse is forbidden in life, Xiaoniang wastes away pining and dies, following Liniang’s steps, but her corpse comes to life when her lover opens the coYn, in the very manner of Liniang’s resurrection.7 The imitation of the master drama in the fiction is so obvious that the author candidly states in its opening verse: “The romance [of this fiction] matches The Peony Pavilion.”8 Thus in the wake of Tang’s theatrical activity, his master drama fragments into myriad parts to merge into the rising genre of scholar-beauty romance; its liberal gender outlook becomes the very soul of the genre. The gender transgression only symbolically adumbrated in the Pavilion is explicitly displayed, scrupulously delineated, fabulously dramatized, and ardently celebrated in this genre. The paradigmatic statement about gender fluidity in this genre can be traced to the preface of Badong tian (Eight extraordinary tales), where the author claims, “yin can turn into yang; yang can turn into yin.”9 The same line reappears in Feihua yong (The song of fluttering flowers), where it metaphorically refers to the exchange of surnames between the scholar and the beauty in the vicissitudes of their lives.10 In the fictional world of Badong tian, the principle of gender freedom finds expression in its seventh tale, where a man’s breasts miraculously swell up when he oVers to nurture the Scholar-Beauty Romance


infant scion of his master, who has been unjustly executed. In answer to the call of duty, he is fictionally licensed to transcend his physical limitation and expand his gender identity, so that he can be a guard and a nurse at once, a role both paternal and maternal. Characters’ gender freedom in this genre often takes the form of flexible migration between diVerent sex roles as situations dictate. A poem in the opening chapter of Wan Ru Yue (An ideal union of three kindred souls) runs: Yang is endowed with stamina, while yin is graced with charm . . . Some people are honored with the beauty of both yin and yang.11

The fictional androgynes in that work are none other than its two heroines, reigning beauties with dazzling erudition, who are aptly named Wanzi (as if a man) and Ruzi (resembling a man). When Ruzi masquerades as a male to pursue love, she adopts an alias “Bai” (blank) to indicate her rejection of any culturally imposed identity,12 and to reinforce this message she supplements it with a title “Feiyu” (not a jade) to veto the feminization of her identity, for the word yu (jade) most often appears in a female name in Chinese society. A kindred soul appears in Renjian le whose heroine has two names: Zhangzhu (a pearl on the palm) and Yinan (suitable to be a male), pertaining to the two aspects of her gender identity. Having dressed in male clothes since her childhood, been educated with Confucian classics and often accompanied by a “boy”—her maid in disguise—the girl deports perfectly like a man, and “his”/her dashing carriage beguiles numerous beauties to send over matchmakers to seek an ideal union. To avoid troubles, the family moves away and she has to occasionally return to her native sexual role. Thereafter, “if anyone knows she is a male, she will meet him as Yinan; if anyone knows she is a female, she will emerge as Zhangzhu. Changing her gender like a chameleon, she puzzles every one who meets her.”13 Such an androgynous drift is mirrored symmetrically in the hero, her destined soul mate.14 An orphan with extraordinary beauty, the hero is named Ruqi. Ru, the first part in his name, is made of two elements, meaning respectively “water” and “female,” whereas the second part qi usually refers to a vessel. If we ignore the normal meaning of ru as “you,” by taking its ideographical connotations, then the name actually means “a female organ.”15 This feminine implication is reinforced by the two parts comprising his title, hu and lian, both bearing a jade radical, which in Chinese names carries an unmistakable feminine import.16 More accurately, his gender stand is in98

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scribed in a second title, “Xiuhu” (embroidery tiger), which he chooses after a late Ming literatus Tang Bohu, his cultural idol. Since needlework in imperial China was an exclusively female avocation and “tiger” is a conventional trope for masculinity, the title conveys an incorporation of diVerent gender attributes in his identity. Just as Yinan’s gentleman-bearing induces female attention, Ruqi’s feminine beauty courts male aggression: the son of the prime minister jails him in his house and forces him to be both his sister’s husband and his longyangjun (male sex partner), thus seriously treating him as “a female organ.” It is in rejection of this role of prostitute/concubine that the late Ming mentality explicitly spelled out by Yuan Hongdao and Wang Gen surfaces in his identity. Ruqi sneaks out of the palatial prison, and when the prime minister again presses him into the unwanted marriage after he becomes a pawn in the bureaucracy under sway of the latter’s authority, Ruqi asks for a temporary withdrawal in resistance to the invasion of power, thus aYrming his tiger personality, his latent masculinity. The pattern of shared androgyny between the destined couple can also be traced to Xing fengliu (Awakening from romance), a tale set in the Song dynasty. Its beautiful heroine is named Guiying (a hero in the boudoir), who masquerades as a “beardless man” to dodge the unwanted courtship of a powerful man, and then earnestly plays the newly adopted role of the male gender by answering the emperor’s call in the name of a scholar and putting forward a strategy to deal with foreign invasion. In her well-received memorial, she repudiates appeasement in favor of firm resistance: in masculinizing the nation, her own temperamental virility surfaces. The female androgyne is matched by the hero of the romance, who is “stern yet tender, firm yet pliant, self-eVacing or stiV-necked depending on the occasions,”17 the very embodiment of temperamental androgyny. The son of an upright minister who lost his life for impeaching a treacherous potentate, the hero is named Mei Gan (the trunk of a plum tree) and titled Aoxue (defying snow). A marginal man who refuses to ingratiate himself into the favor of the powerful, Mei Gan remains a commoner until his father’s case is rehabilitated. His potent will to defend self-autonomy as a disfranchised man is graphically projected in the plum image of his name. His masculine impulse manifests itself more distinctly when, summoned by the court, he leads an army and triumphantly drives back foreign invasion at the border, implements the masculine strategy put forward by his spiritual kin and would-be spouse. While Xing fengliu celebrates gender fluidity and criticizes forced marriage, it harshly castigates romantic engagement. The work, Scholar-Beauty Romance


therefore, reveals what we might call “partial liberalism” during this transitional period. Another case of symmetrical gender construction can be traced in Haoqiu zhuan (A fortunate union), a classic of this genre. In fact, androgyny is inscribed in the names of both the scholar and the beauty: while the heroine’s name Shui Bingxin (water with an icy heart) suggests a union of soft nature and rational mind, the hero’s name, Tie Zhongyu (jade within iron) signifies a combination of feminine grace and masculine pluck. Scholars’ and beauties’ symmetrical androgyny traced thus far reminds one of “the stylized characterization” that Frye observes in Western romance. Dramatically exaggerated and stylistically inflated, protagonists of this genre often embody perfect combinations of culturally bifurcated gender attributes, and thus function like a metaphor or personification of androgyny. The genre consciously endows its protagonists with opposite gender attributes to project its vision of gender freedom. While Hessney observes “an archetypal Chinese preference for dual harmony”18 in such stylized androgyny in literature, from the cultural perspective that this study takes, it is viewed as fundamentally associated with the social changes, ideological upheaval, and political agitation that destabilized traditional gender dichotomy in the late Ming. The dramatization of gender fluidity in scholar-beauty romances may be viewed as an artistic projection of the late Ming ideal of androgyny as delineated in chapter 2. In the narrative structure of the genre, gender fluidity is largely presented through the characterization of caizi (scholars) and jiaren (beauties), which we scrutinize in the following two sections.

Crossing the Forbidden Line: Beauties (jiaren) Repel Confined Femininity Tang Xianzu’s master drama suggests that the female gender is most visibly incarcerated by their boudoir; to break its confinement thus becomes a dominant female impulse for gender freedom, particularly in a genre that developed in the lingering phase of the cult of qing. To pursue such a subversive impulse, heroines of the genre often take as their role models Hongfu and Zhuo Wenjun, prototypes of the Chinese androgyne much lionized or even apotheosized in the liberal ambience of the late Ming. Although Tang Xianzu’s fascination with Hongfu was discussed earlier, in the Pavilion he reveals seeming ambivalence to Wenjun in Liniang’s reluctance to identify with her. Elsewhere, however, he ranks the enterprising 100

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widow side by side with the emperor: “Emperor Wu of the Han stands out among the dignitaries; Zhuo Wenjun distinguishes herself among the commoners.”19 Unadulterated admiration for these cultural rebels is also voiced by Li Zhi, who worships Hongfu for her “peerless intelligence” in spotting a worthy man20 and praises Wenjun’s elopement for “achieving a great deal at the expense of minor humiliation.”21 Such liberal impulses are bound to find artistic expression in literature. In the late Ming collection Xihu erji, Zhuo Wenjun is deified as a fairy maid to the Queen Mother of the West;22 the nuptial freedom that Wenjun pursues is taken as the supreme felicity of human life by the heroine of Jiaohong ji (Mistress and maid), a drama of the same period.23 In the mind of Ruan Jianglan, the romantic hero in the first tale of Zhaoshi bei (A cup that illuminates the world), maidens and damsels in respectable households should emulate the models of “sublime women and gallant females, such as Hongfu and Wenjun, who elope with the men of their hearts.”24 Indeed, in this genre female aspirants for gender freedom mushroom, consciously following the footsteps of the archetypal androgynes in molding their identity. Inspired by the antecedent of Zhuo Wenjun, Xueer, the heroine of Wufeng yin (Song of five phoenixes), invites her lover to cross the forbidden line of boudoir confinement to seal a connubial compact; emulating Hongfu’s strategy, Miss Zhaohua, the heroine of Liner bao (Granting a prominent son as a reward), masquerades as a man to dodge an imposed marriage. The early Qing romance Hudie mei (A butterfly matchmaker) even unfolds a sequel to the master chuanqi tale of the Tang dynasty, where the Sui dignitary, Yang Su, acquires another unrivaled beauty after Hongfu deserts him to elope with her lover. But this concubine successor turns out to be another Hongfu, who swears a love oath to a scholar before involuntarily filling her position in Yang’s harem and ultimately, like Hongfu, unites with her lover without even losing her virginity. The figures of Hongfu and Zhuo Wenjun loom so large and emerge so pervasively in characters’ dialogues, psychological activities, authorial prefaces, and interlaced poetry that one may almost sense the genre’s obsession with these archetypal androgynes.25 Even Sima and Xiangru, the surname and given name of Wenjun’s lover, become popular components of heros’ appellations in the genre, betokening not only kindred souls in the heroes, but also Wenjun’s presence in the heroines.26 Following the subversive impulses of the antecedent androgynes now unoYcially endorsed in the late Ming popular culture, heroines of the genre perform dramatic actions to deviate from orthodox norms. Their gender fluScholar-Beauty Romance


idity is most graphically presented through recurrent masquerading, crossdressing, and role-switching between sexes, which enable them to pursue love as active agents. In Baigui zhi (A tale of white jade), two cross-dressed girls set out on a journey through mountains and over rivers, in search of the men of their dreams. Assuming the identity of a man, Bi Linyin, the heroine of Chun Liu Ying (A happy triangle), marries a lady in order to forge wedlock with a man related to her. Donning men’s clothes, Lu Mengli, the heroine of Yu Jiao Li (The romance of three ideal lovers), proposes in the following manner to the man of her heart on behalf of “his” sister, who turns out to be none other than herself: I have a twin sister, a replica of me, who is also sixteen years old. In study we consult and instruct each other as peers. . . . Yesterday a glimpse at your dashing manner stimulated her aVection. Fully aware of her feeling, I arrange this meeting with you, desiring to seal a match. (p. 157)

Once under a man’s raiment the heroines speak a literary tongue typical of scholars’ discourse. The ease and grace with which they adopt the male manner and discourse suggest that not only can they be fully men but can indeed be more in control and more capable than any of the real men around them.27 Small wonder, Shi Chizhai, the hero of Chun Liu Ying, exclaims when his “scholar friend” finally turned out to be his lover: “You are really a hero among women, superior to man” (p. 133). The hero’s exclamation, in fact, echoes the literatus author’s playful endorsement of female gender fluidity in pursuit of love under the auspices of qing. With the aid of male garments, heroines penetrate into the examination halls, where they always distinguish themselves in academic competition with men, a miracle that almost becomes a hallmark of the genre. Moreover, talents function as an index of moral superiority: while it serves as a birthmark of caizi and jiaren, villains and bullies are, as a rule, devoid of talents. In the world of romance where intellectual companionship and physical parity are venerated as the supreme justification for nuptial union, talents grant jiaren a legitimate intellectual weapon to resist the invasion from the corrupted power source, often in the form of an imposed marriage with a talentless or ugly man, hence an “unsuitable” match. In Yu zhiji the talented heroine Guan Tongxiu rejects the importunate conjugal demand from Bu Chengren (lack of benevolence), the son of an imperial minister, by beating him in a poetry contest. The generic solution for such nuptial conflicts is often reached through the interference of a judicious king, who arranges 102

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special talent contests in the court to phase out the giftless candidates for a union of talents.28 Such elevation of the value of talents, or, we might say, moralization of talents, mirrors its devaluation and neglect in reality; it may further reflect literati’s increasing longing for talented spouses and companionate relationships, a popular cultural ideal in late imperial China. Within the walls of the property, gender fluidity is largely performed in the garden, whose thematic importance is evidenced in the generic plot just sketched and whose nourishment of androgynous souls has been discussed in preceding chapters. In the scholar-beauty romance, the garden demonstrates even greater potential in freeing human gender from cultural dictates; the dream of love that Du Liniang pursues in vain in her garden is realized in this genre. In the post-Pavilion age, the garden constantly serves as a spot of free love at first sight (Hudie mei, Ping Shan Leng Yan), a site of tryst (Ying Yun meng), a witness to conjugal pledge (Dingqing ren), and a departure station of elopement (the sixteenth tale in Shengxiao jian). Inscribing verses on the walls of pavilions to seek a responsive soul, Feng Yuru, the heroine of Shenghua meng (A masterpiece composed in a dream), turns the garden into a poetic vehicle in pursuit of love. When the suitors come, she, like Shandai and Leng Jiangxue, her spiritual kin in Ping Shan Leng Yan (Two talented couples), turns the garden into an examination hall where she competes talents with her suitors to test their qualifications. The secluded zone of the garden becomes a “cultural vacuum” where jiaren can take the initiative to formulate their own destinies. Their gender fluidity is most explicitly manifested in the characterization of Lu Mengli, whose aforementioned marriage proposal to her lover is, in fact, made in the garden: Its walls conceal her masquerade and grant her the freedom to move from one gender to another. Generalizing female characterization in the genre, Lin Chen observes a shift from the talented and the intelligent to the courageous in its development.29 An outstanding figure in this later category is Bai Lianan, the heroine in Guilian meng (Guilian’s dream), who slays a gang leader and claims herself the chief of a stronghold to confront the Establishment. Her identity as a military leader, interestingly enough, engenders a psychological yearning for a male mode of sexuality, as she contemplates: “Male heroes all have several peerless beauties to entertain themselves, why can’t I, a female hero, have somebody for fun?” And the strategy she adopts to gratify such a need is also unique: “If I choose a husband from among the generals around me, he will turn into my lord and that is not good. I will seek a handsome young Scholar-Beauty Romance


man with literary talents, who can be a fountain of my pleasure, yet he will never interfere into my enterprise.”30 The primary concern of such a woman, therefore, is to maintain dominance over males, whether in politics or in sex. Her gender inversion leads a character in the narrative to address her as a nüzhong zhangfu (p. 78). To deviate from the prescribed modes of femininity, heroines of the genre often philosophize their action with the term fanjing congquan (subvert the principle for expediency). With this defense, Miss Xueer in Wufeng yin summons her lover to her boudoir; Miss Zhaohua in Liner bao puts on male garments to escape an arranged marriage, and Zhang Xiaolian in Nücaizi shu elopes with a man. In the writings of Han Confucians, “expediency” is defined as “that which is at variance with the standard and complies with the Way.”31 In other words, to adopt expedient measures to deal with changing circumstances is still in accordance with Confucian moral principles. Yet even though Mencius endorsed a brother-in-law’s need to extend his hand to a drowning sister-in-law in a classical case of expediency,32 the right to exercise the expedient was reserved for the privileged few. The neo-Confucian master Zhu Xi, for example, believed that only sages could use the expedient for fear that the common people might abuse it for their convenience.33 The recurrent use of quan (expediency) in scholar-beauty romances is meant to moralize its heroines’ deviations from orthodox norms, a strategy that easily reminds us of Tang Xianzu’s and Feng Menglong’s endeavors to “accommodate qing to Confucian morality,” as Hanan observes.34 The authors of this genre like to use quan because the moral implication of the word in Confucian discourse, in a way, lends legitimation to their heroine’s actions.35 A more candid soul would not even seek excuse in expediency, as the heroine in Jiaohong ji remarks, “In pursuit of love and talent I cast to the winds all ritualized principles” (pp. 93 – 94). Su Youbai, a romantic spirit in Yu Jiao Li, apes the tone of Ruan Ji in a rhetorical question: “Rituals and principles are set for the populace, are they supposed to bind bona fide scholars and beauties?” (p. 154).36 If we accept Bakhtin’s view that a genre functions like “eyes,” which can see, conceptualize, and interpret reality in specific ways,37 then in the reality perceived through the “eye of this genre,” scholars and beauties are privileged personalities granted with the freedom to bend cultural conventions.38 Although jiaren prototypes, Wenjun and Hongfu, appear in the writings of Han and Tang, the mushrooming of this character during the MingQing transition is a unique literary phenomenon that mirrors the cultural 104

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ideal of the time. Critics generally agree that, as a flourishing character type, jiaren can be viewed as a “by-product” of late Ming courtesan culture, embodying all its esteemed values,39 yet its relevance to social life remains to be addressed. While the expansion of the female sphere in late Ming society that “had begun to blur the centuries-old boundary between inner and outer spheres,” as Ko observes in her study,40 may have inspired scholars to conceive jiaren’s dramatic actions to break boudoir confinement in the genre, it does not seem to serve as a historical correlate, for in Ko’s discussion the shifting inner-outer boundary is largely attributed to the movements of tutors, travelers, courtesans, and career women, not virgin maidens. Although boudoir confinement might have relaxed a bit during this period, no cultural historian has claimed its breach as an accepted behavioral pattern in respectable families, not even in the Jiangnan area. Jiaren’s cross-dressing and role-switching, the tour de force in the game of romance and the most dramatic presentation of androgyny in the genre, can thus be better viewed as a kind of hyperbolic literary projection of a suppressed cultural impulse, which is inflated in literary presentation under the stimulation of qing. Although a cultural product of the time, jiaren remains very much an idealistic fabrication of liberal-minded scholars who blend in her character all the desirable female qualities in their minds: beauty, talent, courage, and love, making her a literary specimen of female paragon.41

Braving Political Storm: Marginal Men (caizi) AYrm Latent Masculinity In the fictional world presented in this genre, a typical scholar (caizi) always reveals antagonism to the power source, defiance of the hegemonic ideology, and alienation from the Establishment. He is, therefore, a marginal man. His political and ideological marginalization/feminization places him on a par with the beauty (jiaren), whose striving for gender freedom symmetrically matches his aYrmation of latent masculinity. A typical case can be found in Yu Jiao Li, whose hero is named Su Youbai, literally meaning Su Dongpo (from whom he descends) befriending Li Bai (whom he admires).42 The transcendent mood and hidden strength associated with these historical figures surface when Su Youbai hands in his oYcial cap to resist the importunate demand of Governor Yang, his political superior, to marry his daughter. Wandering among rivers and mountains after resignation, So Youbai changes his surname to liu (willow), an emblem of the feminine Scholar-Beauty Romance


principle. The action thus may be viewed as a symbolic embrace of political marginality/femininity to aYrm inner masculinity. This unsuppressed masculinity is an earmark of caizi, who aspire to nothing less than the Mencian ideal personality. Resolved to be “a lie zhangfu (a fearless and awesome man),”43 the hero in Kuaishi zhuan (A tale of gratifying souls) risks his life to avenge his uncle, a Confucian martyr. Infuriated with the feminine bearing (cili ciqi) of an actor who plays the role of eunuch Wei Zhongxian, the hero in the seventh tale of Shengxiao jian (Cutting the raw silk) rushes onto the stage to dispatch the eunuch-impersonator. To such heroes, human gender functions as a measure of one’s values and humanity. A Confucian scholar manifests his masculine impulses, first and foremost, through active political participation to purify the court. The romance is, therefore, often set in a time when a diabolical power—a yin political figure, such as Yan Song (1480 – 1567), Wei Zhongxian and Jia Sidao (1213 – 1275)— rides roughshod over the bureaucracy, marginalizing the scholars and inviting their assertion of masculinity.44 Heroes in “Yuanyang pu” and Mengzhong yuan (Union in a dream) both risk deposition to impeach Yan Song; protagonists in Yuanyang pei (A union of mandarin ducks), Hongmei ji, and Tiehuaxian shi (A romance of sword-flower immortal) all take actions to combat Jia Sidao: they act in a norm typical of the caizi in the genre.45 A marginal man’s flaunting of masculinity is probably nowhere more dramatically displayed than in Kuaishi zhuan, whose hero, called Changqi (constant wonder), is nicknamed “Huzi” (beard), for he wears a heavy beard, an eminent badge of masculinity. The nephew of an upright scholar who was executed for keeping the writings of Fang Xiaoru, Changqi kills the informant to avenge his uncle. His gender stand is most strikingly projected in a series of dramatic actions that he takes after his escape from prison: he shaves his beard, castrates himself, masquerades as a eunuch, travels to a small neighboring country, and rallies an army to march on the Chinese border. The slogan that he raises for the mutinous campaign is “vindicating Fang Xiaoru,” which is finally endorsed by the emperor in an appeasement endeavor. By physically desexing himself he gains control over his body and desire, lifting himself above and outside of the masculine world by assuming ultimate control over his sexuality. On a symbolic level the castration act also signals the renunciation of his gender association with patriarchy as well as his aYnity to the feminine and the marginal, which is reinforced by his identification with a weak, small country located on the border of the central empire, a geographical figure for political marginality. It is in this 106

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female/marginal status that he vociferates in a lion’s roar to vindicate men’s masculinity in political life. In “voicing the forbidden words on everyone’s tongue and pronouncing the aspiration in everyone’s mind” (p. 608), as a fictional character comments, Changqi proves himself an eminently masculine man (haojie), a Mencian da zhangfu. His adoption of a yin position to avow a yang impulse makes him an exemplary “androgyne” by our definition. Interestingly enough, in describing his desexing act, the author uses a familiar phrase fafen zigong (castrate oneself out of frustration and indignation, p. 498), an unmistakable echo to fafen zhushu (write a great book out of frustration and indignation), a term traditionally associated with the great historian of the Han dynasty Sima Qian.46 Fafen (indignation out of frustration) is regarded by Sima Qian as a prerequisite psychological condition for the production of all great writings; its presence in the Qing narrative suggests not only the paramount importance of the hero’s action but also his aYnity to the Han historian. The analogy between Changqi and Sima Qian can be established not only because of their mutual castration but also because of a similar gender stand they take in politics. By choosing castration before death, Sima Qian conveys a hidden desire to fulfill his masculine ambition of producing a grand history to perpetuate his name. His acceptance of physical castration to realize latent masculinity parallels Changqi’s adoption of a “sexless” identity through a self-inflicted castration as a first step to claim his masculinity.47 The dramatic castration of the Qing hero may imply antagonism to the power source, which is politically associated with his biological/sexual identity in the symbolic order: in cutting oV his penis and shaving his beard, he issues a symbolic war to the patriarchal order, which is culminated in his questioning the political stand of the emperor, the phallus personified. Yet his renunciation of male identity remains temporary and symbolic. Once admitted into oYcialdom, he refuses to rank with eunuchs but insists on serving in the out court, the yang realm. His gender status is succinctly defined in his own words: “Though I have lost a male form, I have fulfilled the will of a man” (p. 473). Viewed from our perspective, all the heroes in this genre “lose their male form” in one way or another owing to their political marginalization, yet they remain spiritually masculine in their defense of self-authenticity.48 In addition to political activism, scholars’ masculine impulses often find outlet in political seclusion, hence the archetypal Chinese eremite Tao Yuanming figures pervasively in the genre. The narrator in Tiehuaxian shi explicitly states that its hero, Cai Qizhi, follows the impulse of the Jin master to Scholar-Beauty Romance


hand in his seal when he feels his unbending disposition at odds with the bureaucratic superiors. In the second tale of Zhenzhu bo (Pearl ship), the hero chants Tao Yuanming’s renowned line “how can I bend my waist for five bushels of rice” (p. 44) before withdrawing from the corrupt oYcial realm. In entering the marginal status, the scholars are keenly aware of their identification with the virtuous women defending their virginity, in whom they see a mirror image of their eremitic selves in guarding political integrity. In Hudie mei, for instance, when an elder persuades three young scholars to serve the newly established Sui dynasty by comparing them to “virgins” who have never pledged allegiance to any ruler and hence are different from the “married women,” the oYcials of the previous dynasty, the three men reply in unison: “You are right, sir, but we are afraid that women with vision would rather remain spinsters in their boudoirs until the declining age, than trust their virginity to disgraceful men to humiliate their parents.”49

In seeking seclusion, therefore, the scholars are consciously taking a gender stand identical to that of the beauties defending virginity. The analogy becomes so striking when we consider in the genre the beauties’ collective antipathy to palace service: The heroines in Tiehuaxian shi and Dingqing ren (A Tale of loyal love) both attempt to plunge themselves into the river to dodge a life in the harem, whereas the heroine in Qiao lianzhu (A union ingeniously arranged) first tries to cut her hair to convert to religion and later goes through a mock nuptial ceremony with another girl, to shun palace service. While the scholars decline oYce, the beauties dodge palace enrollment: in their refusal to identify with the power center, they aYrm their masculinity by embracing political marginality. As a rule, the scholars and beauties descend from the lines of retired oYcials or secluded dissenters, from whom they inherit a transcendental outlook. While following the generic pattern, the scholars always pass the oYcial examinations with flying colors and enter oYcialdom; they share a propensity to withdraw instantly or after a brief period of service, which is always conveyed in a generically favored term jiliu yongtui (to retreat while one is on the crest of the wave).50 When withdrawal does not happen, the narrative tends to stop abruptly at the point of the scholar’s entry into the bureaucracy, as if once he identifies himself with the power source and loses his marginal status, his thematic mission is fulfilled. Yet the scholars’ success performs multiple functions in the genre. It first 108

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verifies his identity as a caizi, a man privileged to defy conventions, thus justifying his otherwise dubious relation with the beauty. More importantly, it puts him in a new situation for further test of his gender stand. Once he is recognized as an eminent talent by the court, the scholar becomes the prey object of potentates who always hunt sons-in-law among successful candidates, just as they covetously seek beauties as their daughters-in-law. Although now a member of the bureaucracy, caizi is still at the bottom of the oYcial echelon and his marginal/female status remains in relation to his political superiors, who are bent on depriving him of the initiative in love that traditionally belongs to a man and reducing him to the passive status of a woman. In both Huanzhong zhen (Truth in mirage) and Fenghuang chi, the newly crowned zhuangyuan are confined by the power elite in their houses to wed their daughters. His feminized status is more graphically projected in Renjian le, where, as mentioned earlier, the scholar incarcerated in such an artificial “boudoir” is compelled to be both the husband to the prime minister’s daughter and the “wife” to his son. To be forced into the role of the penetrated in a homosexual relation marks a man’s degradation in a gendered hierarchy both on mimetic and symbolic levels; as Matthew H. Sommer observes, “penetration becomes both the metaphor and physical expression of gender domination.”51 In love and marriage, therefore, the scholar and the beauty face similar social/political pressure to feminize their identity. In their respective endeavor to preserve their “virginity,” the beauties resort to cross-dressing, attempted suicide, and physical resistance, while the scholars resign from oYce (as in Liangjiao hun), appeal for imperial interference (as in Fenghuang chi) or flee from the locked “boudoir” with wit and courage (as in Renjian le). The scholar’s competition for rank also comprises a part of his competition for the beauty, whose hand will never be granted to a rankless commoner in a rigidly hierarchical society. Justifying caizi’s competition for rank, Zhu Weiming remarks: “The rank makes his union with the beauty more satisfactory, while the beauty makes the rank more glorifying.”52 In other words, the scholar’s career success constitutes a supplementary part to his nuptial triumph. Yet, even though he is such a genius that to pass the examinations is “as easy as to pick up a grass” (rushi jieer, a recurrent term in the genre), he will not sit for them until he has sealed a love compact with the beauty. His subsequent entry into the bureaucracy is then often motivated by the necessity of realizing his union with the beauty. In Zhong xu meng (A final dream), the hero, much scorned by the beauty’s father in his Scholar-Beauty Romance


unsuccessful years, exclaims when he finally succeeds in the imperial examination: “The world bullies a man in distress; everyone licks his feet once he carries the day.”53 In Hudie mei, the prime minister voluntarily surrenders a newly acquired beauty to her lover when the latter proves himself a bona fide caizi by crowning the zhuangyuan list. In other words, he is now politically entitled to the beauty.54 In both cases, the triumphant scholars withdraw from the court after they win the beauties. Scholars’ movement in and out of the power structure in their pursuit of love suggests their freedom in gender migration. In Qingmeng tuo, the scholar descends from his social rank in masquerading as a servant to gain access to the beauty; in Ying Yun meng (The dream of Mengyun and Yingniang), the hero condescendingly serves as a secretary to get glimpses of the beauty; in Chun Liu Ying, the hero disguises himself as a beggar in search of his soul mate; in Gushan zaimeng, the passionate scholar even crossdresses as a floral girl to meet the beauty of his dreams. To realize their enamored love, scholars can ascend to the top echelon and descend to the bottom social stratum, fluctuating freely between yin-yang polarities both in political hierarchy and sexual dichotomy. The gender freedom that the caizi enjoys strikes a contrast to the rank obsession of the villain in the genre, who always aims at an upward movement in social hierarchy and once at the top wields the culturally granted power to crush those below.55 Although as a literary prototype caizi can be traced in earlier literature, its idealization as a hero of talent, grace, love, and political/ideological defiance in scholar-beauty romances remains very much a cultural product of MingQing transition. In his passionate pursuit of love is inscribed the revalorized value of qing; his vigorous defense of “virginity” virtually illustrates in art Tang Xianzu’s well-known remark about his resolve to defend his “chastity”; his eremitic inclination reflects late Ming scholars’ penchant for withdrawal; his tactical fluctuations in social ranks in quest of love dramatize a wellknown legend of Tang Yin, who is said to have masqueraded as a servant to gain access to a beautiful maid in a wealthy household. His defiance of power and conventions as a marginal man, or what we may term his political/ ideological “androgyny,” mirrors the quintessential late Ming liberal outlook. Caizi is thus created as an artistic projection of the most esteemed values and admired qualities cherished by literati during this historical period.56 In projecting caizi’s and jiaren’s defiance of political tyranny and established conventions, strength-ridden images gain popularity. Consequently, 110

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plum blossom, sword, and stone imagery become the prevalent rhetoric in this genre.

The Protraction of the Plum Craze and the Cults of Sword and Stone It is beyond doubt that no imagery appeals more than the plum blossom to the authors of this genre, who apply it to name characters or to symbolize their identity with such frequency that it reveals their fascination with the rhetoric, bordering on obsession. The plum craze personified in the late Ming recluse Zhou Lüjing and dramatically glorified in the Pavilion has become an earmark of this genre. At the age of six, the hero of Zhong xu meng is apprenticed to a man named Meishi (plum scholar), thus signaling an initiation into a plum identity. In He puzhu (The union of two pearls) and Feihua yanxiang this aYnity to plum personality is revealed in a name shared by their protagonists: Youmei (befriending the plum).57 When the hero’s mother in Gushan zaimeng conceives him, she sees in a dream Bodhisattva Guanyin holding a plum branch; the boy is thus named Meisheng (plum boy), and he is destined to meet a girl decked with plum blossoms in her hair as his future mate (chap. 1, pp. 2, 6). Plum blossom appears in this genre as a badge of honor, a mark of grace and an emblem of sound gender. All the “plum” characters grow up into ideal personalities who defy cultural imperatives with the virile spirit of the flower. In Wufeng yin this recalcitrant plum spirit is projected in the willful maid Sumei (sterling plum), who schemes the penetration of a caizi into the boudoir of a jiaren. In “Song Wan,” a tale in Nücaizi shu, this undaunted floral spirit is inscribed in a painting of plum blossoms by the title heroine to convey her defiance of fate after she experiences an unsuccessful elopement and many vicissitudes (chap. 12, p. 165). The unruly plum spirit flares in an ode to plum blossoms composed by Yunmeng, the heroine of Ying Yun meng, when she is pressed for an unwanted marriage;58 it blazes in the sixth tale of Huanying (Illusions), where the heroine Noble Plum (Guimei) sacrifices her “noble” life beneath a giant plum tree in resistance to a forced marriage. Other kindred souls are the two heroines in Mengzhong yuan, Shui Lanying and Jin Cuijuan, both sealing secret love compacts with a caizi Ruisheng. Pressed by her mother to marry a wealthy man, Lanying threatens to jump into a well; in confrontation of sexual harassment by a dandy, Scholar-Beauty Romance


Cuijuan chooses to die rather than yield to humiliation. In defending personal authenticity against patriarchal oppression, these girls feel spiritual attachment to the snow-defying plum blossoms. In front of a blooming plum flower, Lanying remarks, “Like us sisters, the plum blossom has experienced the assault of frost and chill, and yet its charm remains intact.” To this Cuijuan responds, “The blossoms are our floral images and we are human forms of the flower. Plum blossoms are our bosom companions.” Seeing a self-image in the flower, the two then chant verses to praise the plum blossom.59 While the plum blossom signals women’s willpower to assert personal autonomy against patriarchal oppression, it also projects female impulses to defy gender dichotomy in other aspects of life. In Tiehuaxian shi a plumlike character is named Yaozhi (jade branch), because a blooming plum tree appears in her mother’s dream at Yaozhi’s birth. When the court accepts a fabricated charge against her father after his death and sends guards to arrest his adopted son to redress his “crime,” Yaozhi steps forward to take the responsibility for her fled brother. Voluntarily acting as a substitute son, she risks her life to challenge the oYcial verdict of her father’s case, with the explanation that “a da zhangfu aYrms righteousness by sacrificing his life” (chap. 3, p. 21). Brought to the court, she refuses to prostrate before the minister of justice, insisting on her innocence as well as her father’s integrity. Her rejection of the prescribed codes of femininity demonstrated in all these actions is symbolically presented in the image of a red plum-blossom that she paints on her fan, accompanied by an ode to plum blossoms, a selfportrait of her plumlike identity (chap. 9, p. 72).60 Perceivable in such a portrayal of heroism is the male use of a female character to project his worship of the Mencian idol. The concerted endeavor to create a plumlike personality gives rise to a convention in this genre of portraying protagonists from the Mei (plum) family. Although Mei is an uncommon surname in Chinese society, it acquires unusual popularity in this genre. Three protagonists of Chun Liu Ying all come from such a Mei (plum) family: the father figure is called Mei Lingche (a ridge replete with plum trees), and he names his son Mei Daila (a plum tree awaiting the twelfth moon) and his daughter Mei Linchun (a plum blossom at early spring). An ode to plum blossoms composed by Linchun awes the world of literati and triggers Shi Chizai, also a deft hand in composing odes to plum blossoms, into a soul chase that becomes the gist of the romance. 112

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Another member of the Mei (plum) family emerges in the feng collection of Gu Zhang Jue Chen (A collection of stories: Gu, Zhang, Jue, and Chen); he is cast into a plum garden by his father in a chaotic age, reared by the gardener and hence gets the name Meier (plum sepal). Educated by a Daoist priest in a nearby Plum Blossom Temple, the child reveals astounding precocity at the age of seven in composing odes to plum blossoms. In the course of the romance, his plum spirit matures into defiance of patriarchal conventions when he elopes with a charming maid/concubine of a former prime minister. In Fenghuang chi, the hero is a spiritual descendant from an eminent member of the Mei family in Chinese history, Mei Fu (happy plum), a celebrated recluse in the Han dynasty. In protest against the abuse of power by the commander-in-chief, Wang Mang, the historical Mei Fu risked his life as a resigned oYcer to send a memorial to the emperor. Later when Wang Mang came to power (a.d. 1 – 5), Mei Fu left his family and disappeared, said to have become an immortal.61 Captivated by the heroism of this historical figure, the fictional hero names himself Mei Zaifu (second Mei Fu, or a descendant from the happy plum) and demonstrates kindred plum spirit in his actions. On the night of a mid-autumn festival, when the inebriated son of the prime minister drives a crowd of high-spirited moonwatching spectators away from a scenic spot in Mount Fuqiu, he refuses to budge from the place and single-handedly topples the harassing drunkard. While Mei Fu challenges the most powerful man of his time as a commoner, Mei Zaifu counters the invasion from a political overlord with might and main. The plum identity that the historical figure and his fictional descendant share boils down to a defiant stance against the power source, as marginal men. So graphic is the snow-defying plum imagery in presenting caizi’s and jiaren’s strength of will in their ideological/political confrontation that it inevitably strikes the fancy of the authors of this genre and becomes their most favorite rhetoric. Consequently, plumlike characters mushroom, the sight-seeing trip to enjoy plum blossoms becomes a popular hobby among scholars, and the poetic skill of chanting the ode to plum blossoms turns into a tour de force and a touchstone of caizi and jiaren.62 The following line, which exalts the willpower of plum blossoms, appears like a literary refrain in this genre: “Without experiencing the bone-biting chill, how can one enjoy the delightful fragrance of plum blossoms.” It is repeatedly chanted by plumlike characters in their confrontation of the power source and orthoScholar-Beauty Romance


doxy.63 Through pervasive plum symbolism literati celebrate the ideal of androgyny in this genre. Parallel to plum symbolism is the recurrent imagery of swords. A weapon traditionally associated with generals and warriors, a sword, as Kam Louie observes, is universally used as an “indicator of penile potency,”64 and such masculine connotation is particularly pronounced in late Ming writings. Describing his admiration for his friend and idol Monk Daguan and for Li Zhi in a letter to a friend, Tang Xianzu writes, “When I see Daguan’s virile manner, when I hear Li Zhi’s gallant words and contemplate on their meanings, [I feel] as if I have got a brilliant sword.”65 Since Daguan and Li Zhi were celebrated heroes noted for their valor and courage, the “brilliant sword” that Tang Xianzu got from them as spiritual nourishment apparently refers to the manly spirit that constitutes the essence of their da zhangfu identity. With such gendered implications, the sword often functions as a mark of latent masculinity in females or marginal men in scholarbeauty romances. In both Haoqiu zhuan and Xing fengliu, the heroines draw out a knife to defend their virginity. In Yu zhiji, the heroine Guan Tongxiu wields a dazzling sword to orchestrate a dramatic show of suicide to drive back the sexual invasion from the son of the prime minister. In Tiehuaxian shi, the chaste courtesan Shui Wusheng brings a sharp knife with her to resist any attempt to defile her virginity. In defending the most valuable asset of a female identity, the sword/knife signals the masculine impulse in its mistresses. Similar to its gendered association with the fair sex, a sword often projects the willpower of a marginal man in defense of his masculinity. In Fenghuang chi, an upright oYcial who resigns from the court after he offends the prime minister names his son Yunjian (a sword in the cloud), after a friend gives him a sword at the son’s birth. Living up to his father’s expectation, Yunjian grows up into a man “with a spine as solid as iron” (p. 6). One day the sword caged in a case miraculously gives out a shrill whistle resembling “the roar of a wild tiger and the moan of an old dragon “ (p. 12), a cryptic voice that recurs in Chinese literature with explicit gendered connotations. In Shiyi ji (A collection of strange tales), it is recorded that a man named Gaoyang had a sword that could fly into the sky and that looked like a shadow in a painting. Whenever there was an oVending army, the sword would soar to the sky, point its tip to the aVronting party, and vanquish the enemy all at once. When it lay in the case in disuse, the sword roared like a


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tiger and moaned like a dragon.66 Shishuo xinyu (A new account of tales of the world) tells that during the Warring States a man tried to rob the tomb of a Prince Qiao, yet he found nothing inside except a sword. Venturing to reach it, he was frightened oV when the sword roared like a tiger and howled like a dragon.67 Respectively associated to a man’s ambition to serve the public and his resolve to defend himself, the roaring tiger-dragon swords in these episodes are charged with strong masculinity. Such symbolic overtones and gendered implication intertextually condition the meaning of the sword imagery in the Qing narrative under discussion, where the tigerdragon shriek of the sword may well be taken as a symbolic wail from the sword-hero Yunjian for the suppression of his masculine ambition as a marginal man. When the son of a military commander takes a fancy to the sword and couples threat with a high price oVer to press for the treasure, Yunjian resists him with these words: “If I am willing, you can get it for one piece of gold; if I am not willing, you will not get it for a thousand pieces.” The sword-hero refuses to part with his sword, because selling it would be tantamount to giving up his latent masculinity, the most valuable part of his identity. To dodge political persecution, he later changes his name to Mei Zaifu (second happy plum) and performs many miraculous deeds worthy of a plumlike character. Even before he adopts the plum name, the sword-hero reveals spiritual aYnity to the flower: he chants odes to plum blossoms and takes a trip to enjoy the sight of the blooming flower, accompanied by a show of sword craft. In the characterization of such a hero, sword symbolism collaborates with plum imagery in reinforcing the latent masculinity of a marginal man. In Tiehuaxian shi, the sword figures prominently in projecting the gender stand of both sexes in their political confrontation and pursuit of love. The romance takes place in a location called Sword-buried Garden, where a protagonist’s ancestor once buried his sword after he resigned from the court to show his determination for permanent seclusion. In Chinese culture, a buried, secluded, or treasured sword is probably a most prominent image for men’s hidden masculinity.68 In a celebrated legend, the emperor of Chu commissioned Gan Jiang, a deft swordsmith, to forge two swords for him. In three years the two weapons were made, one named “yin,” the other “yang.” Lest the emperor persecute him because he had spent too much time in producing the swords, Gan Jiang only handed in the yin sword but buried the yang one, trusting it to his wife and the son she was pregnant

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with. After Gan Jiang was executed, his son dug up the yang sword and avenged him at the cost of his own life.69 The buried sword in this legend with its yang appellation and its destined mission of revenge embodies human masculinity, and such a gender association lies behind the image of the buried sword in the Qing narrative under discussion. In Tiehuaxian shi, above the sword-burying spot, several peonies miraculously spring up. The peculiar connection between the peony and the sword may be built on a common gender stand legendarily associated with their masculinity: While the peony signifies strength of will in pursuing free love in a post-Pavilion age, the sword, buried by a recluse in the fiction, symbolizes men’s unsuppressed virility in political confrontation. The inherent masculinity in these images are related to caizi’s and jiaren’s subversive gender stand in love and politics. The male sword-protagonist in the romance is named Zhichen (purple king), and he has a servant named Jiantong, the Sword Boy. The “symbolic sword” that he “carries” with him in the form of the servant boy signifies his swordlike personality. Indomitable indeed is the courage that he demonstrates in political actions. Once admitted into the bureaucracy, he submits a devastating memorial to impeach the notorious prime minister Jia Sidao, bent on using the imperial sword to behead the treacherous minister. Dissuaded by a friend from taking such a dangerous action, he replies, “I would rather be a headless ghost than a tongueless oYcial” (chap. 18, p. 162). After experiencing vicissitudes in politics, he finally seeks Daoist seclusion, thus embracing the political principle and gender stand that the buried sword embodies. The female sword-protagonist is a floral spirit with a romantic soul who erupts first as a miraculous peony from the sword-burying ground. Enchanted by the presence of a dashing scholar, Chen Qiulin, who chants a romantic verse in the garden, she transforms herself into a charming belle, names herself Sword Flower (Jianhua) and oVers him her love. Banished later from the garden by the Flower Goddess for her seductive behavior, Sword Flower dogmatically aYrms her romantic impulses by transforming herself into another lady to continue her love quest. Consciously following the antecedents of Hongfu and Wenjun, she enters her lover’s chamber at midnight and elopes with him.70 The two images associated with her identity, the sword and the peony, betoken a strong will in pursuing romantic instincts against the puritanical neo-Confucianism personified in the Flower


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Goddess. In its symbolic association with the two sexes, the sword imagery thus functions in the two related motifs recurrent in the genre: love and politics—in both it projects hidden masculinity in marginal characters in their confrontation of the power source and patriarchal conventions. Along with the sword, the stone appears in the genre as a recurrent trope for human gender. Obsession with the stone, like the plum craze, comprises an important part of late Ming culture, in which the stone image is often associated with literati’s compulsion to assert their latent masculinity.71 One of the most eccentric stone addicts in Chinese history, Mi Fu (1051 – 1107), was acclaimed as a cultural celebrity at the time. As Zeitlin’s study indicates, anecdotes about his life appeared in several Ming editions, which gained wide popularity among literati.72 In one of the most well-known episodes of his life, Mi Fu donned oYcial garb to make obeisance to a huge, grotesquely shaped rock, addressing it as “my older brother.”73 From such an appellation, Zeitlin rightly indicates the male gender of rocks in Chinese imagination.74 From our perspective of gender study, Mi Fu’s kinship with the rock can be viewed as derived from the hidden strength shared in their identity. As an artist, Mi Fu was renowned for the unrestrained exuberance and the unconventional style of his works. Though living in the Song, he often wore robes in the fashion of the Tang dynasty. Serving as Adviser in Calligraphy and Poetry to the Court, “he refused to rise and fall with political tides and hence was often frustrated in his political career.”75 The “eccentricity” in his artistic style, dressing fashion, and political attitude reflects an inner urge for personal autonomy, which finds vivid expression in the grotesquely shaped rock, a natural symbol of an unbridled personality. In the rock imagery Mi Fu apparently saw a kindred soul, hence his “older brother.” With their abhorrence to “concubine” identity and their adoration for Mencian da zhangfu, literati in the late Ming inevitably found in the hidden strength of the rock image an ideal vehicle for self-expression. Yuan Hongdao, the celebrated man of letters, entitled himself “Mr. Stone” (Shigong) and “Stone Hermit” (Shitou jushi);76 Shen Zhou, the well-known hermitpainter called himself “Mr. Field of Stone” (Shitian) and “An Old Man of White Stone” (Baishi ong).77 In the paintings of the late Ming and early Qing, stone imagery is often used to project literati’s lofty aspirations and personal dignity. A more striking sample can be found in Xiang Shengmu’s (1597 – 1658) work “Calling a Hermit” (fig. 3), where a wild mountain range

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fig. 3. Xiang Shengmo (1597 – 1658): Calling a Hermit. National Palace Museum, Taipei.

made of gigantic, angular, monstrous rocks creates a compelling impression of strength, which conveys the unbending will of a Ming loyalist who lived in anger and frustration under the subjugation of an alien regime. The cult of stone in late Ming culture with its masculine import inevitably finds expression in literature, scholar-beauty romance in particular. In Chun Liu Ying, the hero, who takes rank and wealth as lightly as floating clouds, is named Shi Yanchuan (Mr. Stone with the name of “a lingering stream”). The association with water in the given name suggests a Daoist drift, the inner strength of which is inscribed in the surname “Stone.” The full name conveys the masculinity of a politically feminized man, who dodges oYcialdom like avoiding poison. When Wen Ruoxia, the heroine of Fenghuang chi, is attracted to scholar Mei Zaifu’s poetry, she dresses herself as a man and entitles herself Scholar Shi (Mr. Stone) to approach her love object. So adroitly does she maneuver her new identity that after the first meeting they become sworn brothers. The surname that she selects to redefine her identity, “Stone,” signifies the strength of her will in determining her own marriage, an inverted gender status, which is also dramatically projected in her male garments. In Haoqiu zhuan, when the lackeys of a villainous Master Guo carry away the heroine Shui Binqxin’s sedan in a kidnap attempt, they find, to their great consternation, a big stone inside. The “double” 118

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in the substitute game graphically points to the beauty’s “stone” identity, her unyielding, masculine will to maintain personal autonomy against the patriarchal aggression. The gendered association of the stone can also be traced to “The Ethereal Rock” (“Shi Qingxu”), a tale about stone obsession that appears in the Liaozhai collection. In Historian of the Strange, Zeitlin analyzes the story in great detail in the context of stone obsession in Chinese history (pp. 74 – 88). It is a bazaar tale about a Mr. Xing, a lover of rocks, who chances to get a precious stone that can miraculously predict rain. A rich bully seizes the treasure, which then slips into a river and later returns to Mr. Xing. Another man comes mysteriously to claim the stone, which is permitted to stay with Mr. Xing only after he expresses his volition to forfeit three years of his life. Thereupon three crannies of the stone are closed. Then a government minister oVers a high price to buy the rock; Mr. Xing’s refusal to sell leads to his imprisonment. Upon release, however, he manages to regain the stone. At the time of his death, he is buried with the stone, which is later stolen by grave robbers. When the stone and the robbers are sent to the court, the avaricious magistrate hatches a plan to embezzle the treasure. The stone, however, miraculously falls to the ground and breaks into a hundred pieces. Only in shards is the treasure finally allowed to return to its master in his tomb. Scholar-Beauty Romance


Ostensibly about a man’s obsession with stone, the piece can also be read as a conflict between the power source and a marginal man, hence a manifestation of the cult of stone in Ming-Qing literature. With the correspondence between the number of crannies on the stone and that of the years Mr. Xing can enjoy in his life span, the narrative strongly suggests that the stone is related to its addict’s identity; in fact, it may well embody the most precious part of his self, his personal autonomy. Mr. Xing’s unrelenting search for the stone, therefore, may represent a search for self-identity. The power source, personified successively in the rich bully, the government minister, and the magistrate, launches repeated invasions on the marginal man to rob him of his stone, i.e., his symbolic personal autonomy. Yet they are staunchly resisted by the joint endeavor of the stone and the stone addict. Mr. Xing’s masculine will in self-defense is most manifestly conveyed in his statement when he braves political persecution in resisting the government minister’s extortion of the treasure: “I will not part with the stone even if for 10,000 pieces of gold,” a line reminiscent of Yunjian’s refusal to sell his sword in Fenghuang chi, though the gendered object has changed from a sword to a piece of stone. Such virility is dramatically projected in the climactic scene of the denouement, when the stone, his symbolic self, shatters itself to avoid surrendering to the power. Through such a symbolic suicide, Mr. Xing gains reunion with his stone to achieve fictional personal autonomy. It is this symbolic suicide with its rich gendered overtone that most concerns the present study. In Chinese culture, the self-inflicted shattering of a vessel to maintain its symbolic integrity is usually conveyed in an age-old idiom ningwei yusui, buwei waquan. Literally it means that one would rather be a shattered jade vessel than intact earthenware; figuratively it states a man’s will to sacrifice his life to maintain personal integrity. Historically, this phrase originates from the biography of Yuan Jingan in the History of Northern Qi, related to the identity of the Mencian icon da zhangfu. The original sentence in the history runs: “A fearless and awesome man (da zhangfu) would rather be a shattered jade vessel, than an intact earthenware.”78 The self-inflicted shattering of the stone in Pu Songling’s tale thus allegorically projects a moral virtue quintessential for a Mencian da zhangfu. The latent virility of such a moral paragon is presented in the very image of the stone. The protraction of the plum craze and the cults of sword and stone traced in the preceding text point to an androgynous stand of the genre. All the


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plumlike, sword-stone-associated characters share a marginal status in the symbolic order, be he/she a lovelorn girl incarcerated in a prisonlike boudoir, a lovesick maid coerced into an unwanted marriage, a romantic soul frustrated by life-suVocating conventions, a righteous man molested by a local bully, or an upright oYcial tyrannized by a fiendish political superior. Yet, in one way or another, these marginal men and women assert their unsuppressed will by breaking boudoir confinement, repelling imposed marriage, defying age-old conventions, and revolting against political tyranny. In projecting the hidden virility of marginal men and women, i.e., their androgynous stance, the rhetoric of plum blossoms, sword and stone proves a most eVective vehicle.

Redefining the Genre: Scholar-Beauty Romance as Literati’s Idealistic Expression of the Androgynous Vision Just as Frye designates Western romance as a fictional “quest,” “a perilous journey,” where “everything is focused on a conflict between the hero and his enemy,”79 the scholar-beauty romance is generally defined as a love “quest” in which an idealized couple hurdle a series of obstacles toward a destined union; its love conflict often unfolds between two camps, mean people and moral paragons, the evil and the virtue personified.80 The gender perspective that we adopt here, however, opens the possibility of a new dimension to its definition. The jiaren (beauty) in the genre is largely Du Liniang’s spiritual kin, who descends from gentry stock and yet deviates from the orthodox norms for expediency. Stimulated by the cult of qing, she follows the precedents of Hongfu and Wenjun to cross the gender boundary in breaking boudoir confinement, repudiating unwanted marriage, defending personal autonomy, and striving for justice. The leading lady jiaren in the genre, therefore, is an extraordinary woman, whose salient inclination is to deviate from her prescribed gender at appropriate moments. While jiaren is marginalized because of her sex, caizi is alienated because of his political and ideological status; his marginality is projected in an epithet commonly attributed to him, luonan gongzi (a literatus in distress), which usually appears in the Chinese version of the generic sketch cited earlier. A romantic soul, an outstanding talent, endowed often with a tran-

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scendent outlook and always with a recalcitrant spirit, he is forever at war with an overlord. It is in his resistance to power, his eremitic propensities, and his defiance of convention that his latent masculinity surfaces. The genre, therefore, can be viewed essentially as presentation of human marginalization and the unsuppressed masculinity of marginal souls. In the cultural context of the late Ming and early Qing, caizi and jiaren may be taken as diverse artistic projections of the quintessential values embodied in Mencian da zhangfu and embraced by the cult of qing. Their gender stand is related to the authorial identity, outlook, and the social ambience in which the genre emerges. Numerous prefaces to the romances support Dong Guoyan’s observation that the genre is largely composed by underprivileged scholars who comprised the bottom rung of literati stratum.81 Unlike the orthodox thinkers and scholar-oYcials who readily embraced the revival of conservatism in the Qing, most authors of this genre did not pass the higher level civil service examinations or served only for brief periods as low-rank oYcials. As a consequence, they were marginal in social status and relatively liberal in outlooks. In the transitional period of the early Qing, they remained openminded to late Ming cultural legacy. The Mencian da zhangfu, looming large in the late Ming, remained an icon for them; the cult of qing, questioned by the conservative after the fall of the Ming, continued to appeal to them. In popular fiction, a peripheral genre frowned upon by the highbrow aesthetes, the marginal literati found a means to project their ideal and to aYrm the masculinity that had been suppressed in their life. This is perceptible in the preface to Kuaishi zhuan, a sort of authorial confession, which opens with an admission of the scarcity of satisfying materials to meet the psychological need of the author and then proceeds with the following lines: Let us brandish a heartening brush to sweep away anxiety; let us change sad things into happy occurrences and turn pitiful men into gratifying souls. (pp. 1 – 2)

A Tale of Gratifying Souls (Kuaishi zhuan) is thus the result of the fabrication of a “heartening brush.” The lack of gratification in personal life leads the frustrated literatus to turn to heroes in history and in his own imagination, whose wills are never bent and from whom he can derive spiritual consolation:


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These heroes gratify my soul as well as others. I love them, worship them, and take great pleasure in describing them. I hence call them gratifying souls and proceed to compose a tale about them. (p. 8)

The gratifying souls that he creates in the fictional world can be nothing but the icons in his psyche, who share his ideal gender stand and often play the forbidden roles he longed yet probably failed to play in his own life. In Kuaishi zhuan one of such gratifying souls takes the shape of Changqi, whose self-inflicted castration, as our earlier discussion indicates, may project the feminization/marginalization of the literatus’ identity, whereas his “quarrel” with the emperor to rectify Fang Xiaoru may spiritually release the masculine energy suppressed in the author’s life. In his study Zhao Yuan indicates that in scholars’ writings during the Ming-Qing transition, Yongle Emperor’s usurpation of the throne is often taken as a precedent to the seizure of power by the Manchus;82 both events cut short the continuity of the authentic Ming royal line, and in both cases righteousness was subdued. Such a parallel suggests that the rectification of Fang Xiaoru in Kuaishi zhuan may also convey nationalistic sentiments of the author, who, given his bitter agony expressed in the preface, might have cherished loyalist sentiments to the Ming.83 Fang Xiaoru’s descendants were persecuted for the second time in the Kangxi regime, because the excessive use of Fang Xiaobiao’s writings in an oVensive history book compiled by Dai Mingshi (1653 – 1713) infuriated the Qing emperor.84 The fictional persecution of pro-Fang forces may allude to the Qing persecution of Ming loyalists. In rehabilitating Fang Xiaoru, the author may not only have been exonerating an early Ming Confucian martyr, but also reaYrming the suppressed Ming identity. The allegorical projection of authorial aspirations and the vicarious purging of authorial frustration traced in Kuaishi zhuan are, to varying degrees, typical of the genre, which is essentially an artistic vehicle to project marginal men’s ideals and to relieve their anxiety.85 As underdogs in political life, literati authors must have felt antagonism to the power source. It is through caizi’s triumph in the fictional war that the literati scholars reap psychological gratification for the political contest that they would like to launch in real life but could never expect to win. The authors’ alienation from the power source often prevents caizi from complete identification with the court, contributing to the trend of seclusion in the genre.86 While we define the genre largely as a projection of the liberal impulses of the late Ming, ideological discrepancy can be easily traced in it. A literary Scholar-Beauty Romance


text, as Jameson indicates, can be read as a socially symbolic act.87 A genre, therefore, inevitably engages an ideology.88 The Chinese scholar-beauty romance, however, emerged in a period of ideological transition when the late Ming liberalism began to be questioned by the reviving conservatism, thus inevitably reflecting competing ideologies. In Xing fengliu and Haoqiu zhuan, for instance, both caizi and jiaren refrain from romantic involvement, although the works adopt some generic patterns and motifs of the scholar-beauty romance, such as cross-dressing, resistance to imposed marriage, confrontation between a marginal hero and a powerful villain, and the symbolic use of plum imagery. Moreover, a cautionary note is spelled out distinctly by the narrator of Xing fengliu: I advise you to stay away from amorous love, An honest man is one who awakens from romance. (p. 196)

Such warning virtually projects a neo-Confucian crusade against qing, the gist of the genre and the motivating force behind gender fluidity in many of its works. In more conservative works of the period, gender fluidity falls under attack and the archetypal androgynes appear as spiritual seducers rather than liberating agents. In Tiehuaxian shi, Hongfu is metaphorically related to the aforementioned amorous flower spirit, Sword Flower, who is so infatuated with a young scholar that she masquerades as the daughter of a respectful family, concocts an impudent lie, and hoodwinks the caizi into an elopement. She is thereby subdued, punished, and restored to her original shape. In the tenth tale of Huanxi yuanjia, a scholar plays a piece of plaintive music that falls on the understanding ears of a beauty who then orchestrates a rendezvous to start a romance. An obvious late Ming imitation of the liaison between Zhuo Wenjun and Sima Xiangru, the romance, however, degenerates into a farce when the ardor-laden scholar is discovered by the public while walking on a plank in his venturesome love journey to the beauty’s boudoir. It further sinks into a tragedy when the travesty of Sima Xiangru is taken to be a burglar and is sent to jail. The censure of historical models is probably nowhere more distinctly conveyed than in the third tale of Huanying, whose heroine Fangqin is determined to follow Wenjun’s footsteps in choosing her own spouse. Her initial endeavor to use poetry to flirt with a household tutor, however, misses the mark and her proposal for elopement is declined. While her second advance is accepted by her next love object, she is dumped into a brothel after passing through pregnancy and elope124

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ment. The activism in her nuptial search indicates a displacement of her gender, which aims at self-salvation but leads to self-destruction. In chastising violation of the orthodox, the author casts Zhuo Wenjun in the role of an instigator whose heretic model ruins the girl’s life. Such works may well be classified as antiromance, where love is misdirected, romance goes afoul of treachery, and reunion gives place to tragedy; they point to a countercurrent to the genre during the period of its development. Alarmed by the iconoclasm of the late Ming, authors of such works create a world turned upside down as a cry to turn it right side up again. Historically, such works tend to emerge in two periods: 1640s, the last decade of the Ming dynasty, when glaring signs of the disintegrating imperial order led literati to question the liberalism they embraced,89 and the mid-Qing period when the liberal late Ming sensitivity gradually phased out.90 The ideological confrontation in literati writings shows that literary texts dialogue not only with history but with one another as well. The conflict between the scholar-beauty romance and antiromance may also be attributable to the changes in a literatus’ outlook even during the span of his life. One literatus writer, Li Liufang (1575 – 1629), admitted that he was enamored of qing in his youth, claimed himself a would-be martyr to the cult of qing and even engraved such remarks on a seal and carried it with him. But in retrospect he felt that his past obsession with qing was like a dream and that he could not help laughing at his own stupidity.91 Yuan Zhongdao (1560 – 1600), the eldest of the three celebrated brothers of the Yuan family, was so inspired by his meeting with Li Zhi in his youth, that thereafter he claimed himself an “eminent man.” But when he grew older, he regretted his youthful indulgence in wine and romance.92 Although there is no evidence that these two men composed scholar-beauty romances, they were intellectually and spiritually associated with the authors of the genre; the similar vacillations in the latter’s outlooks during this transitional period may account for the discrepancy in their writings. The conservative countercurrent notwithstanding, the scholar-beauty romance remained a vibrant genre in the late Ming and early Qing. The scarcity of authorial information about the genre keeps us from ascertaining whether the ideal of gender freedom celebrated in the genre was seriously pursued by the writers in their own lives, though numerous prefaces seem to indicate that the genre was primarily created to alleviate a psychological burden; the ideal personalities presented here are most likely imaginative fabrication at a distance from authorial identity. Many scholar-beauty roScholar-Beauty Romance


mances were produced during the turbulent years of bloodshed when Ming royalists were still resisting the alien regime.93 Under such circumstances, the desire for recognizing one’s talents and the dream for career success projected in a large portion of this genre cannot but reveal the literati’s timidity to face, or indiVerence to, a compelling national concern. Even if the writers were born after the takeover, hence seeing themselves as a part of the Qing order, their endeavor to relieve personal anxiety through fabricating a fictional triumph betrays Quixotic self-deception. Unlike The Peony Pavilion, and The Dream of The Red Chamber, discussed in chapter 7, where the celebration of latent masculinity in marginal characters is intrinsically related to literati authors’ own subversive/masculine impulses against the status quo, and the works themselves challenge conventional ideology or politics, the scholar-beauty romances, except for a few cases, demonstrate little evidence of such direct, personal involvement and dissidence. While they may echo Tang Xianzu’s discourse and imitate Du Liniang’s characterization, they want Tang’s strong, urgent, personal ideological engagement, given the abundant stereotypes and repetitions in their works. Many authors of the genre composed “dream-land stories” to relieve personal anxiety or to entertain the public.94 Some wrote probably out of pecuniary motives, resorting to plagiarism and stereotypes to grind out cheap products.95 Critics have indicated a trend to evade grave, sensitive contemporary subjects in the genre.96 For its tenuous relation to reality, John Hu labels the genre an “escape literature.”97 The lack of literati’s strong personal involvement in the production of the genre and the wild fabrication and repetition of its plots make the ideal of the androgyny it celebrates a romanticized fantasy, a dramatized cliché, somewhat detached from serious ideological and political confrontation. Yet even such an artistic vision can be sustained only when the late Ming androgynous ideal remains a residue of the cultural heritage. In the course of history, when such cultural legacy was phasing out in literati consciousness, a note of ambivalence merges into their celebration of androgyny, as shown in the following discussion of Kong Shangren’s masterpiece The Peach Blossom Fan.


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chapter 6

The Peach Blossom Fan An Ambivalent Hymn to Political Androgyny

The late Ming literati’s antagonism to the “concubine” identity was partly attributable to the lack of masculinity of the ruling clique, consequently gender features prominently in literary characterization when scholars turn to presenting the political conflict between the virilized subjects and the emasculated power center. So far we have only peripherally touched upon this issue, to which we now devote our close attention in the following study of the Fan. Unfolding romantic love against political turmoil, Kong Shangren’s masterpiece presents the confrontation between two camps who hold diVerent stances in the face of the national crisis in the last days of the Ming dynasty. In the Ming and Qing, politics was regarded as a man’s vocation that called for courage, resolution, and virility; political attitude hence functioned as a barometer of human gender in Kong’s dramatic world. At a moment when the empire was ridden with internal conflict and devastated by an alien aggression, the nation was in dire need of a strong ruler, who was, however, pathetically missing from the scene. While those dominating the power structure wallowed in debauchery in disregard of their oYcial duty, a group of righteous Confucians rallying under the banner of Fu She,

the Restoration Society, strove valiantly to purify the court. Politically alienated, these marginal Confucians, among whom a prominent figure was aptly a woman, Li Xiangjun, aspired to play active, masculine roles in politics. It is largely with this group of purists that the dramatist is spiritually aligned. The play sings a hymn, although with certain reservation, to their gender stance in a national crisis: their political activism and combative spirit as marginal subjects. On the symbolic level, the ideal gender stand of the protagonists, which we might term “androgynous,” is projected through a series of peach-related images that bespeckle the dramatic structure as marks of values. The ambiguity of the peach image with its multiple connotations and shifting gender import, deeply entrenched in Chinese culture and reverberating in Kong’s drama, points to the ambivalence in the dramatic celebration of androgyny in political action. This attitude mirrors the ambiguity of the dramatist’s identity when the bygone Ming order associated with his loyalist father1 and the nascent Qing regime headed by his patron, the Kangxi emperor, simultaneously appeal for his loyalty and solicit his commitment.2 The following study thus focuses on three gender-related areas: political stance, peach-blossom imagery, and the dramatist’s identity.

A World of Inversion: Gender Switch between the Monarchy and the Demimonde The Fan unfurls before the approaching doom of the Ming regime; its bane lies in its very want of yang energy. By the time the play begins, not only has Chongzhen Emperor terminated his life by hanging himself from a tree like a woman, but Hongguang, the successor to the throne, appears to be no more “manly.” Although the royal heir does not tie a noose around his neck in the face of foreign invasion, he takes to his heels,3 as he explains, “Of all possible stratagems, the best is escape” (F 36.259).4 While on the throne, he indulges in sensual pleasure for lack of courage to face the crisis, slighting his duty and perverting his ordained identity as the “son of the heaven”;5 oV the throne, he beseeches his subordinates for a political haven and is eager to give up his crown in exchange for personal safety. A puppet manipulated by his courtiers while in power, he is reduced to a “jewel” in the pockets of the turncoats to barter for their career advancement. Such a feeble and feckless emperor personifies the eVeminate refugee regime of the Southern Ming over which he reigns.


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In the dramatic world of the Fan, the perverse eVeminate identity of the ruling clique is most vividly projected in the characterization of its ranking oYcial Ruan Dacheng, the egocentric dramatist whose insatiable desire for rank and status has consumed his masculine will and reduced him to a feeble accomplice of the eunuch clique, politically the yin incarnate. Thus he humbly degrades himself to be the “godson of Wei, the godson of Ke;6 / to any family he will go” (F 3.27) for political patronage and fosterage. His self-conscious identification with the eVeminate is graphically conveyed in his obsequious appeal to the Hongguang emperor: I am ready to wear powder and rouge and carry a lute, Tripping in the role of a tender light-foot maiden, To win a glance from your majesty at the feast. (F 25.188)

Such want of masculinity finds apt expression in the image of an impotent male organ when he is tauntingly addressed as the “soft thing in the pants” (kuzidang li ruan F 14.106), punning on his surname, Ruan, which is homophonous with ruan (soft) and playing on his home address (kuzidang), which literally means “in the crotch of the pants.” Ruan’s political impotence is graphically demonstrated in the two alternatives that he presents as strategies to face the Qing invasion: running and surrendering (F 32.242);7 he kneels while making such a statement in a dialogue with his accomplice Ma Shiying, disclosing further the soul of a spineless man. Ironically, the most salient feature of this demasculized man is his beard, a male trait, which easily reminds one of Changqi, the man of virility, in Kuaishi zhuan (The gratifying soul); as a matter of fact, he is initially introduced as “Bearded Ruan,” Ruan huzi (F 1.8), a nickname that sticks throughout the play. A typical male feature, the beard functions as a mask that conceals his feminized identity. Thus upon reentering the political arena, he chants, “Brushing my eyebrows and beard again, I shall play a role [of a man] in the drama [of politics]” (F 12.89). A beard on him is like the short hair on a eunuch, concealing rather than revealing his gender identity; Fu She partisans hence repeatedly attempt to pluck his beard (T 3.25; T 8.59) in their symbolic endeavors to unmask his fake masculinity and to expose his emasculated identity. Chinese literati were well aware of the pivotal importance of the seemingly minor plot of beard-plucking in the play. In the late 1940s, when Guo Sifan adapted the play into a novel, Xin taohua shan (New

The Peach Blossom Fan


peach blossom fan), he drastically changed many plots, but insightfully retained this episode, although the assailant on the Fu She side is appropriately changed into Huang Zongxi, the most staunch champion against eunuch politics and Qing invasion, the arch symbol of yang energy during the Ming-Qing transition.8 The eVemination of the Southern Ming is also projected in its recurrent associations with the image of “the golden powder,” a female cosmetic, which is metonymical to the decadent Six Dynasties (220 – 589) liuchao jinfen, a historical antecedent of gender perversion to the Southern Ming.9 This highly gendered image emerges in the very first scene when the hero Hou Fangyu, a prominent Fu She scholar, steps on the stage to introduce the times: . . . Under the setting sun The tavern is inviting travelers with its liquor and pleasure painted and powdered gold in the fashion of the southern courts. (T 1.5)

It is in pursuit of the “lingering fragrance of the golden powder” (T 5.36) that Hou later patronizes a brothel to ask for the hand of a matchless beauty Li Xiangjun.10 The glamour of the sensual life that the “golden powder” graphically pictures so enchants the world of the Fan that even the examination halls stand opposite the pleasure houses, and “the young candidates compete at once for honors and for soft charms” (T 8.55).11 In the imperial palace the emperor is busy selecting consorts and staging Ruan Dacheng’s Swallow Notes, a romantic comedy whose denouement of peace and happy reunion veils the chaotic turbulence of his regime as a chimeric layer of “golden powder.” Such indulgence in sensual pleasure marks the dereliction of manly duty, hence a gender perversion of the males during a national crisis; “the golden powder,” ostensibly decorating the fair sex that men court, signifies their own want of masculinity. An object of these men’s romantic pursuit and yet miraculously standing apart from them is Li Xiangjun, a girl of ravishing beauty with the adamant will usually attributed to men. The germination of Xiangjun’s animus is symbolically projected when she is coached to play Liniang’s role by singing the following lines to launch her into a courtesan career: See how deepest purple, brightest scarlet open their beauty only to dry well crumbling


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“Bright the morn, lovely the scene” listless and lost the heart. (T 2.18)

Taken from another text and sandwiched into the present drama, these verses function much like a “quotation” in a narrative structure. As such, they act, as Judith Still and Michael Worton put it, “as textual strategies, as tropological events, as metaphors.”12 Speaking of a context that is absent and engaging the readers/audience in a speculative activity, they point to a conscious manipulation of what Barthes calls the circular memory of reading.13 In the absent/present context of the Pavilion, these lines celebrate the beauty of spring, the rebirth of yang energy; metaphorically they mirror the awakening animus in Liniang’s psyche, which is dramatically transmitted to Xiangjun through their intertextual identification. By learning to play Liniang’s role and to chant her lines, Xiangjun merges herself with her literary predecessor, taking in her burgeoning male sensitivity. The two phrases in Liniang’s lines that Xiangjun chants, “Bright the morn, lovely the scene” and “deepest purple, brightest scarlet exhibit their beauty,” are originally taken and adapted from the speech of Crimson (Hongniang), the saucy and mettlesome maid in the Story of the Western Wing, when she urges the hero Scholar Zhang to seize the day in pursuit of love.14 This intertextual relation, though once removed, further associates Xiangjun with the most heretical and plucky maid in Chinese literature, whose nerve, courage, and strong sense of justice match Xiangjun’s personality.15 Appropriately, these lines are taught by Su Kunsheng, a man who has deserted the eVeminate camp of Ruan Dacheng in search of a life of self-authenticity. By teaching the Pavilion, the virile coach initiates the apprentice into a process of masculinization. Xiangjun’s germinating animus soon surfaces in her resolute rejection of a trousseau that Ruan Dacheng oVers her, an ill-intended gift to facilitate his reconciliation with Fu She; her gesture eclipses Hou’s inclination for compromise. In a society where male approval is the single criterion of female worth, the triumph of Xiangjun’s unyielding will over Hou’s unprincipled pliability suggests a gender reversal, as she clearly states in her scolding of her husband for being inferior to women in perspicacity (F 7.60). The little woman thus emerges as a “man” with “a fiery temper,” “an awesome peer” (weiyou), to whom her husband “looks up with respect and trembling” (F 7.60). Commenting on Xiangjun’s rejection of Ruan’s gift, Kong Shangren’s close friend and fellow dramatist Gu Tianshi calls her a yiji (a right-

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eous courtesan).16 Since in traditional Chinese thinking the word yi connotes “righteousness, justice, gallantry, and chivalry,” all key concepts in the Confucian code of male behavior, the epithet thus indicates explicit gender dislocation in the girl. After Hou leaves her to evade Ruan’s persecution, Xiangjun’s extraordinary strength of will is further projected in her heroic resistance of the second invasion from the eVeminate camp, which takes the form of a forced marriage to Tian Yang, a member of the Ruan clique. Fighting like a warrior, she brandishes the silk fan, Hou’s love token, like a sword, in self-defense; symbolically she is drawing spiritual support from Fu She, which Hou’s love token stands for, the masculine camp in late Ming politics. To resist the fate that society imposes on her as a member of the fair sex, she dashes her head on the ground. By destroying her peerless beauty, the badge of her feminine identity, she symbolically rejects the culturally prescribed gender. Moreover, in the dramatic world of the Fan, blood is emblematic of yang energy; the virility and patriotism of the three Ming generals Shi Kefa, Zuo Liangyu, and Huang Degong, are all presented through the blood they shed for the crumbling empire. Xiangjun’s bloodshed in her boudoir to parallel the three men’s devotion on the battlefields betokens the remnant yang, or masculine, energy of the eVeminate Ming.17 The peach blossom image that her blood miraculously forms on the fan scintillates with her dauntless courage and unflinching will—her masculine attributes. Yet a peach with its deep cleft is a favorite symbol for the vulva, and in Chinese culture, as shown in the sixth poem of The Book of Songs, a peach blossom is traditionally related to a beautiful woman; both identify the flower with the heroine’s female identity. Thus the image of the peach blossom becomes a combined symbol of both her masculine propensity and her female identity, a symbol of androgyny par excellence: The more violent means she adopts to defend her chastity makes her stronger as a woman. Androgyny even features the chastity she so vigorously defends: her marriage with Hou Fangyu is, at least in Xiangjun’s mind, a marriage to Fu She, the masculine camp that Hou personifies;18 her chastity, therefore, not only displays her personal devotion as a wife to her husband, but also points to her fidelity to the political stand of the masculine camp, which was marginalized in the Southern Ming court. The two aspects of Xiangjun’s gender identity mirrored in the peach blossom are refracted separately through two other floral images, willow and plum. In front of her house “a tender willow leans over the gate” (T 4.33), “drooping as if with dew” (T 5.36); its pliancy and allure betoken the girl’s 132

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delicate charm and ethereal beauty. The assimilation of plumlike fortitude in her willowy delicacy is explicitly presented in scene 21 and scene 24, where Xiangjun valiantly confronts the villainous Ruan clique just as an unyielding plum tree defies the life-devouring winter. In scene 21, “The Invented Match,” the newly appointed prime minister Ma Shiying throws a banquet to entertain his minions in his Plum Studio.19 Enjoying plum blossoms in full bloom, the merrymaking group desire a singing girl to consummate their pleasure, as the host chants: The scarlet buds of the plum tree open; The voice of a lovely girl would add perfection. (F 21.158)

The courtesan they finally invite to match the plum is none other than Li Xiangjun, thus intrinsically relating the girl to the flower. Xiangjun’s resistance to Tian Yang’s nuptial demand mentioned a few lines later and her refusal to sing for the group in the Plum Studio at once relate her temperamentally to the heroic spirit of the flower. The Plum Studio, ostensibly located in Ma Shiying’s mansion, is thus spiritually associated with Xiangjun; it provides a location for the girl to demonstrate her plumlike personality. Her conscious identification with the flower materializes in scene 24 when the roguish triad again urge her to sing while they enjoy the splendor of snow in the imperial palace. Following the historical antecedent of the third-century literatus Mi Heng (173 – 198), she turns the theatrical performance into a vehement condemnation of the satanic patrons. Threatened to be cast into the snow, she proudly proclaims, “With a will as strong as iron, I have no fear of freezing” (T 24.157). Her defiance of snow evokes the familiar association with the plum blossom’s resistance to winter, here personified in the knavish politicians. In confronting the snow, Xiangjun fulfills her role in the metaphor that Ma Shiying originally alludes to, though what she identifies with is not the pathetic but the heroic mode of the plum identity.20 Intertextually, Xiangjun’s challenge to the ruling clique in this scene virtually reenacts the battle between the “plum blossoms and snow flakes vying to crown the spring” in The Peony Pavilion, a continuation of Liniang’s and Mengmei’s struggle against the feminization of their identities, although the battlefield has now moved from the domestic realm to the political arena. Xiangjun’s name, Fragrant Princess, associates her with another flower, the orchid, which is painted on the wall of her house by the retired magistrate Yang Wencong to match a fist-shaped rock, an artistic projection of her The Peach Blossom Fan


virile identity. Her name comes from an association between the painting and the two lines from Zuo zhuan (Commentary on the Zuo annal), “The orchid is the most fragrant flower of the nation; it captivates everyone” (T 2.17). In Chinese tradition, as Rubie S. Watson indicates, “Names have transformative powers” and “are an important form of self-expression.”21 In Zuo zhuan, the orchid carries strong political overtones, serving as the name of a prince with semi-supernatural origins who played an active role in politics and brought peace to his state.22 Identified with Xiangjun in the Fan, the flower associates the girl with the ancient prince as well as the male realm of politics that he dominated, wherein she is destined to assume significant roles. In imperial China, women had no public identity outside the familial system. Their roles were normally “defined by and through others,”23 and many women in rural areas virtually stayed nameless. A growing awareness, however, developed in late imperial China to acquire a name through which to express their identities, particularly among courtesans in the demimonde. As Dorothy Ko indicates in her study of Liu Rushi: “Courtesans . . . get great liberties in assigning themselves new given names or even family names. For these women, a change of name was an act of individuation and selfexpression, one that often marked a significant transition in life.”24 The Fan indicates that Xiangjun’s acquisition of her name marks the preliminary to her nuptial bond with Hou Fangyu and the Restoration Society that he aligns with; it signals the initial politicization of her identity and her symbolic entry into the sphere of men. Here Watson’s remark is relevant: “New names anchor them to new roles and privileges.”25 Explored further, Xiangjun’s orchid identity also relates her to two of the most prominent political figures in Chinese history: Confucius and Qu Yuan. In his long and futile search for a discerning lord capable of appreciating his virtues and talents, Confucius experienced numerous setbacks and frustrations. To pacify his disciple, Zi Lu’s complaint of the hardship and poverty that they suVered despite their virtuous behavior, Confucius remarked: “It is common that men of erudition and intelligence fail to meet an appropriate time to serve; is mine the only case? Deep down in the forest the orchids do not refrain from sending out fragrance simply because no one enjoys it; likewise, a gentleman cultivating the Dao should not abandon his integrity in times of destitution.”26 In the vivid metaphor that Confucius employs, the regal flower in seclusion symbolizes his lofty virtues unrecognized by men in power. As a well-read descendant of Confucius, and the composer of 134

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a Confucian genealogy, Kong Shangren cannot be ignorant of the orchid’s association with his revered ancestor; in relating the flower with Xiangjun’s name, he is consciously inscribing the Confucian identity in his heroine. Confucius’ identification with the orchid established a convention; the flower was thereafter identified with the lofty spirit of upright literati often alienated from the court. Consequently, the persona in Qu Yuan’s wellknown poem “Encountering Sorrow,” generally taken to be the poet’s selfimage of a loyal minister estranged from his lord, “twines autumn orchids to make a garland”27 as an ornament, just like a badge of personal integrity and marginality. Commenting on the orchid imagery in Qu Yuan’s poetry, Schneider observes: “The flower imagery is meant to suggest his purity of spirit and the beauty of his inner talent and virtue.”28 Since Qu Yuan’s time, the image of the orchid came to be related with saoren, literati with poetic inclinations and dissident sentiments.29 In the Fan the aYnity between the flower and saoren is, in fact, manifested in the lines Yang Wencong chants when he applies his brush to the wall: The white wall gleams like silk for me to paint on, The picture will present the mien and spirit of a saoren. (T 2.16)

While the literatus painter may be claiming himself a saoren, in the dramatic context it alludes more explicitly to Xiangjun, the solemn soul of the orchid that is to be painted on the wall. As a kingly woman with a defiant soul, her orchid identity associates her with the long-established tradition of political dissidence personified in Qu Yuan, a predecessor of Chinese saoren, who created the first persona bearing a symbolic orchid garland in Chinese literature. The identification of the girl with the patriot is reinforced in scene 7, where, after Xiangjun casts Ruan Dacheng’s gift to the floor, Hou Fangyu chants: “Only Xiangjun (Xiangjun) is willing to take oV the ornaments of his/her robe” (T 7.54). The “Xiangjun” in Hou’s line, homophonous with the name of his lover, refers to a character in “The Nine Songs,” attributed to Qu Yuan, who dedicates the ornaments to his/her lost lover, the Lord of River Xiang. The persona’s devotion to the lord is generally believed to convey the poet’s loyalty to his sovereign.30 Transposed to Kong Shangren’s drama, the image of Qu Yuan’s persona may well allude to the heroine’s patriotism. The significant pun on the two Xiangjuns’ names and the dramatic association of their actions in Hou’s line merge the archetypal Chinese patriot into the girl’s identity. Small wonder, Xiangjun’s masculine behavior in The Peach Blossom Fan


the play is often intrinsically related to Qu Yuan’s patriotism: In scene 17 Xiangjun resists Tian Yang’s matchmakers on Duanyang, or “Dragon Boat” festival, the fifth day of the fifth month (5/5). On the same date many centuries ago, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River to demonstrate his loyalty to his sovereign. In scene 8, during the celebration of the previous Duanyang, the girl is admitted into the masculine camp of the Restoration Society as a “sister-in-law” (shesao) right after her staunch rejection of Ruan’s gift near another festival, Qingming, the annual day for memorials to the dead. Xiangjun’s masculine propensity displayed around Qingming and Duanyang festivals can be related to the yearly cyclical rotation of yin-yang energy on a symbolic level. In Chinese cosmology it is generally believed that the yang principle was in the ascendant at Qingming (3/3)31 and reached its climax at Duanyang (5/5), the summer solstice in the lunar calendar and the longest day of the year;32 thus the swell and culmination of yang energy in the universe seem to correspond to the upsurge and apex of masculinity in the girl’s personality. The above analysis demonstrates that in its associations with Xiangjun’s name, the orchid carries strong masculine import; behind it stand the three male politicians whose activism and moral integrity in history allude to the girl’s yang identity and her roles in the male realm of politics. In the inverted world of the Fan, those who largely share Xiangjun’s gender stance are all somewhat related to the demimonde: singing girls, courtesans, a storyteller, a minstrel, and a patron. Associated with the characterization of all these figures is another floral image, the peach blossom, a highly charged trope pregnant with complex gender association. As the title image of the play, it projects the central theme of the drama. In the next section, we first trace its antecedents in earlier Chinese literature and the dramatist’s own writings in an attempt to establish a literary context. In such a context the following analysis of the peach blossom symbolism in the dramatic characterization aims to shed light on Kong Shangren’s ambivalent exaltation of the androgynous personality.

A World Replete with Peach Blossoms: Gender Signification of the Title Image The copious references in the play to peaches, peach blossoms, peach blossom fans, and the Peach Blossom Spring have long since caught critical at136

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tention. Scholars have made strenuous eVorts to untangle these knotty images, and they often assign them individual significance.33 Some uniform assumptions accumulated through intertextual association in literary writings, however, do exist behind all these peach-related images; they can illuminate our understanding of the gender issue under discussion. As indicated before, the earliest figurative application of the peach imagery in Chinese poetry compares it to a beautiful woman; the feminine import of the flower developed in history when the metaphor ossified into stereotyped rhetoric. Cao Zhi’s (192 – 232) famous verse, “There is a beauty in the Southern State; / her visage illuminates like peach and plum blossoms,”34 is typical of the numerous applications of this trope to Chinese poetry; in “Zhuangtai ji” (Anecdotes about the dressing table), an essay written in the Tang, a palace lady’s complexion decorated with powder is called “peach blossom face”;35 likewise, a Ming play is titled Taohua renmian (Peach blossom complexion). Probably owing to its physical beauty, the flower is endowed with spiritual nobility in Chinese imagination. Elevated from its mundane roots, the peach imagery is associated with spiritual transcendence and paradisiacal bliss as envisioned in the images of the celestial Peach Garden of the Queen Mother of the West and the Daoist Peach Blossom Temple. Partly due to this spiritual dimension of the peach identity, the Peach Blossom Spring becomes a Chinese symbol for moral sanctuary, as it emerges in Tao Yuanming’s celebrated poetic fable.36 Since the “Peach Blossom Spring” was created as an imaginative pastoral locus by Tao Yuanming, who withdrew from the court in defense of personal authenticity, and peach imagery constantly appears in Tao’s poetic descriptions of his “fields and gardens” as an essential component of his earthly shiwai taoyuan (the celestial peach garden or otherworldly paradise),37 the flower becomes emblematic of eremitism. As a way of preserving one’s masculine impulse by adopting a marginal/feminine mode of life, eremitism, as discussed earlier, is generally regarded as an androgynous way of life. This aspect of the floral identity, the hidden strength in a feminine entity, resonates in Xiangjun’s characterization, particularly in the blood she sheds in self-defense that creates the striking image of a peach blossom, an emblem of her unswerving political integrity as a marginal subject. Owing to its short blooming span and its vulnerability to external forces, the peach blossom also evokes a sense of transience. Developed from this implication of transient existence is the denotation of illusion and irony disThe Peach Blossom Fan


cernible in Tao Yuanming’s fable, where a fisherman ventures into a wonderland of bewitching beauty and perpetual peace, but finds himself unable to return once he has left it. The irony of the peach image lies in the conflict between its apparent allure and illusory existence: The fisherman could experience the utopian bliss in the otherworldly paradise only for a brief span, leaving him to wonder whether it was a dream, a trance, or a reality.38 Since Tao Yuanming’s time, the irony and the sense of transience/illusion inherent in the peach blossom image have often conditioned its use in literati writings: A peach blossom image in literature nearly always projects an enchanting ideal or object that, however, fades away quickly, is beyond one’s ken, or is charged with irony and ambiguity. A prominent case relevant to Kong Shangren’s play is Tang Yin’s (1470 – 1524) famous poem “Taohuaan ge” (A song of the Peach Blossom Cottage), in which the poet compares himself to a Peach Blossom Immortal planting peach trees in his retreat. Amid the blooming flowers he quaVs wine to disperse his anxiety: Intoxicated, I sleep under the peach blossoms, Awakened, I sit in front of the flowers . . . I would rather die among flowers and wine Than bow before carts and horses. . . .39

The Peach Blossom Cottage was a resort that the poet bought after an academic scandal blocked his way to oYcialdom.40 Given Tang Yin’s Buddhist/Daoist, or syncretic, propensity,41 the name he chose to entitle his resort, “Peach Blossom,” carries a religious overtone; in fact, the cottage can also be taken, at least linguistically, to be a spiritual retreat, for the Chinese word “an” is charged with the double meaning of “a study” and “a hermitage.” Apparent in the poem is Tang Yin’s self-analogy to Tao Yuanming: The copious peach imagery and the familiar phrase “carts and horses” at once remind one of Tao’s “fields and garden” poetry.42 As a literatus frustrated in his career and noted for his defiance to conventions, Tang Yin apparently took his cottage as a shiwai taoyuan to escape mundane reality. Yet, while Tao Yuanming retreated to his garden to live a transcendent life of simplicity, anecdotes about Tang Yin’s sensual indulgence indicate a life far from simple.43 Residing at the cottage/hermitage as an “immortal,” he was supposed to transcend carnal desire, to which, however, he was tenaciously bound. Tang Yin’s strong romantic urge suggests that the “peach blossoms” he clung to not only symbolize his detachment from orthodoxy but also project his attachment to sensuality, although his dissipation may be viewed 138

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as a kind of “seclusion in wine and sex” jiuse zhiyin in defiance of conventions. Consequently, both the positive and negative connotations traditionally associated with the peach blossom image, “spiritual transcendence” and “sensual indulgence,” ironically coexist in the poem as well as in his personal life. As an artistic prodigy, Tang Yin was much admired by Kong Shangren. Of the three Tang Yin artworks in Kong’s collection, two are thematically related to the peach blossom: one a painting Taohuawu tu (The picture of Peach Blossom Basin) that portrays his “earthly paradise,” the other an armrest for calligraphy practice bearing an image of a plum tree.44 To acquire Tang’s paintings the impoverished Kong Shangren even sold his bedding in a chilly early spring, after he dodged a creditor’s importunate demands for debts.45 Kong’s obsession with such antiques may well intimate his fascination with the intrinsic irony associated with the peach imagery in Tang’s art. As a literatus steeped in classical literature, Kong Shangren was keenly interested in peach blossom imagery. His ironical application of the image can be seen in a poem “Qingjiang fu” (The woman of the Pure Stream), which he composed during a stay in Yangzhou (1686 – 1689), a period when he was probably writing the early drafts of the Fan. The poem describes the tragic fate of a woman who falls in love with a monk; she is subsequently beheaded by her vengeful husband and her bloody corpse is thrown into the “Pure Stream.” Two lines with lyrical touches relevant to our discussion stand out prominently in the prosaic context of the poem: Oh, those beautiful floating peach blossoms Which a fisherman found by luck.46

The image of the peach blossoms, with its traditional connotation of feminine beauty, clearly stands for the “fallen” woman; its “floating” on the river suggests her desertion by society. Yet the appearance of the “fisherman” in the second line associates the poem with Tao Yuanming’s fable and relates the heroine with the “Peach Blossom Spring,” the symbolic human spiritual sanctuary: in quenching the sexual hunger of the monk, the “sinner” functions as a spiritual “savior” for the lonely soul. The irony is reinforced through the contrast between the name of the river “Pure Stream” and its pollution by the adulterer’s body; the adjective “beautiful” modifying the peach blossoms further suggests latent positive attributes of the fallen woman, conveying the poet’s sympathetic recognition of the “legitimacy of human needs and the tragedy of being trapped by the social order,” as Strassberg The Peach Blossom Fan


puts it.47 In the image of the “beautiful floating peach blossoms” is thus locked the ironical juxtaposition of both the sympathetic and the critical, the private and the public appraisals of the woman. She is “pure,” yet “stained with blood”; she sins, yet her sinning saves a man’s soul; she incarnates feminine beauty and yet such beauty lasts only a transient moment. The irony and ambiguity intrinsic in the peach blossom image enable the poet to project his ambivalence onto the tragic event. Most likely, it is with this awareness of the inherent irony in the peach blossom image that Kong Shangren entitles his masterwork The Peach Blossom Fan; his virtuoso manipulation of the image similarly casts a layer of ambiguity onto the gender identity of the characters. One of the characters inherently related to the irony of the title image is Hongguang Emperor, who produces another peach blossom fan, in scene 25, as an award to Xiangjun in the palace rehearsal of “The Swallow Notes”; the fan tells as much about his gender identity as about the girl’s. As a ruler beset by both internal conflict and external crises, Hongguang occupies a throne as precarious as a leaking vessel; his obsession with theatrical entertainment under such hazardous conditions reveals a desperate chasing after the illusion of sensual pleasure as a distraction from his royal duties.48 Such an illusion is symbolically projected in the peach blossom fan that he presents to Xiangjun, the best actress and the queen of the sensual world. Ostensibly, the fan carries the emperor’s encouragement to the young actress in her rehearsal; implicitly, it conveys the emperor’s wish that the “queen” would help him build a theatrical shiwai taoyuan in his palace to gratify his yearning for a voluptuous wonderland. As a symbol for a hedonistic asylum from the masculine world of politics, the fan signifies the eVemination of the monarchy; its peach blossom image functions as another version of the “golden powder.” Xiangjun is presented the fan when she is asked by Hongguang to play a dan (young female) role instead of the chou (clown) role imposed on her by Ruan Dacheng. Her acceptance of this fan, a token of grace from the “matriarch” of the eVeminized political regime, inevitably compromises the androgynous ideal symbolized by her own peach blossom fan, the love token from the masculine realm. Her successive acceptance of two diVerent peach blossom fans signifies a compromise between two diVerent values. It is with the imperial palace fan in hand that she chants the following lines from the Pavilion, both the fan and the lines indicating her gender switch to a more feminine role:49 140

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Why did the Immortal lovers trace again the source of the Peach Blossom Spring? Here too flying petals fleck the ripples. The Lord of Heaven need pay the florist nothing, but for us below, what grief for fallen blossoms as springtime passes unfulfilled!50 (F 12.57)

Transplanted from the Ming play into the Qing drama, these verses again function like a “quotation.” As such, they include, as Plett indicates, “two or more levels of meanings. . . . The interrelationship . . . covers its primary and secondary contexts as well.”51 On the surface, these lines refer to the two male immortals in a Yuan drama Entering the Peach Blossom Spring by Mistake. In Tang Xianzu’s Pavilion, as we discussed in chapter four, these verses chanted by Du Liniang in the garden project a gender switch of the heroine in her subconscious identification with the active, male mode of courtship. Sung by Xiangjun in the Fan, while retaining the original implication of a girl’s (Liniang’s) lament over her lost love and fleeing youth, these lines also transmit a tacit solicitation to the emperor. The “Lord of Heaven” in the fourth line may well allude to the emperor, the son of heaven and the lord of the palace; the “fallen blossoms” in the fifth line strongly suggest her lost love and wasted talents. Through self-comparison to a divinity seeking paradise, the “Peach Blossom Spring,” in the palace, she seems to convey a subtle appeal to the emperor to extricate her from her plight, as she confesses a few lines later: “Perhaps His Majesty will some day release me from the palace, so that I may dream of finding my love again” (F 25.192). Her acceptance of the palace fan, and her talent show through such a theatrical supplication, reveal that Xiangjun has bent her will and forced herself to please the emperor. Particularly interesting in her song is the mention of the “Peach Blossom Spring” in the second line. In the context of the Pavilion, this spring clearly refers to the one in the High Heaven Terrace (Tiantai Mountain), a locus of amour in the Yuan drama.52 But when this image appears in Xiangjun’s lines, readers cannot help reading the messages of Tao Yuanming’s tale into it, because Tao’s fable was so popular, so closely intertwined in the whole dramatic framework, and the two Peach Blossom Springs were often deliberately confused in literati’s writings, presumably for comic eVect.53 Since Tao’s “Spring” is essentially a symbol of eremitism, an emblem of androgThe Peach Blossom Fan


yny, its appearance in Xiangjun’s appeal to the emperor, the authority of the eVeminate regime, cannot but undercut its original values. Despite Xiangjun’s repeated resistance to serve the palace, in her willing demonstration of theatrical talents in front of the emperor, she joins the endeavor of the eVeminate camp to create an illusory shiwai taoyuan in the crisis-ridden kingdom. The theatrical dan role she plays points to her gender shift back to a real dan role in life: in her tacit appeal to the emperor, she yields her masculine will and assumes a feminine part.54 The girl’s gender switch is further conveyed through the stylistic and linguistic contrast between the “quotation” that she chooses to chant in front of the emperor and her vehement denunciation of the Ruan clique in the preceding scene. Ann JeVerson indicates that “the presence of quoted speech inside another discourse implies a certain attitude on the part of the text toward the type of discourse quoted, and so, by extension, towards language in general.”55 When a quotation appears, its language is exhibited for our attention, and a stylistic and linguistic “dialogue,” to borrow one of Bakhtin’s favorite terms,56 is going on between the quotation and the host text. In the case under discussion, the “quoted” verses are all in long, meandering sentences couched in sentimental, flowery, and passionate language typical of the elegant style of the Linchuan school of drama that Tang Xianzu pioneered, whereas Xiangjun’s accusation of the Ruan clique is composed in short, caesural lines framed in direct, bold, and stormy terms. When these verses are chanted in adjacent scenes, they create a sharp stylistic contrast (or dialogue) that suggests a noticeable gender shift in the girl. Here lies Xiangjun’s intertextual subversion of her theatrical predecessor, Du Liniang: breaking through the immurement of her boudoir, Liniang chants these verses to identify with the male immortals in active pursuit of love; Xiangjun, however, reduces them to an oblique appeal to the monarch, retrogressively identifying with the traditional norms of her own sex. The irony inherent in Xiangjun’s characterization, conveyed through peach-related images, casts a dubious light on the simplistic eulogy of the heroine as the most brilliant female image in the long gallery of Chinese literature.57 Xiangjun’s androgyny symbolized in the bloody peach-blossom image on the fan is compromised on more than one level; in fact, the fan acquires its peach blossom identity even before the girl sheds blood on it. When granting her the love token early in scene 6, Hou Fangyu inscribes the following poem on the fan:


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On a path between two rows of crimson towers, The lucky prince advances in his chariot. From the magnolias he turns aside To gaze in rapture at the breeze-blown peach blossoms. (F 6.52)

Here is Kong Shangren’s dramatized version of Tao Yuanming’s “The Peach Blossom Spring.” Although the magic stream now gives way to a path, along it the prince, like the fisherman, advances in search of his wonderland; although the fisherman is substituted by a prince, both are fascinated by peach blossoms. The flower in Hou’s poem apparently stands for Xiangjun, the princess of the sensual world. In composing these lines, Hou is initiated into a glamorous realm that, like Tao’s otherworldly paradise, will soon evaporate. The identification between Hou and the fisherman, in fact, is established from the very beginning of the play, where we are ushered into a war-torn age: “The war-flags wave, the drums of battle beat” (F 1.7). Hou’s reaction to such a turbulent world is suggested in his opening chant: “. . . the swallows frolic regardless of the fall of kings” (F 1.5). No wonder, while searching for a way to pass time, he proposes to “visit the beauties of the Water Pavilion.” While Tao’s fisherman rows upstream to his dreamy land in subconscious escape from the tumultuous human world, Kong’s scholar looks for refuge in sensual life to dodge the political chaos of his time. As another variant of the “golden powder,” the peach blossom image in the love poem thus projects his romantic shiwai taoyuan, wherein he endeavors to shun the social duty of a man at a national crisis. The idea of the consumption of yang energy by sensual indulgence is also conveyed in Yu Huai’s description of the pleasure quarter in Nanjing, where “frivolous dandies and erudite scholars all lost their souls and exhausted their yang energy in the sexual games.”58 This latent eVeminacy in the love token of a peach blossom fan hinders it from complete identification with the concept of androgyny in political action, even though Fangyu’s and Xiangjun’s combat against the “eVeminate court” presented later in the play tends to suggest such an association.59 The most crucial link between Tao Yuanming’s philosophy and the Fan lies in the concept of eremitism, which seems to oVer a spiritual haven for those caught in the dilemma of dynastic change at the end of the drama. The interlinear commentary on the play repeatedly points out that eremThe Peach Blossom Fan


itism “is in the soul of the Fan,” and that “the brush that composed the Fan is the same brush that wrote ‘The Peach Blossom Spring.’ ”60 The most conscious seeker of eremitism is Zhang Wei, a loyalist who serves two Ming emperors. Seeing through the corruption of the Hongguang regime, he builds a Pine Wind Pavilion in the suburbs; staying there, he feels “as far from the world as the Peach Blossom Spring” (F 29.215). When this “sanctuary” is trespassed on by a court runner, the symbolic intrusion of the power source, he hangs up his oYcial cap and sets oV for the religious “ream of immortals, separated from the world’s dust by a few wild peaches” (F 24.177). Following his footsteps, nearly all the inhabitants of the masculine camp finally turn to religious conversion after the fall of the Ming. The culmination of the eremitic impulses presented in the final collective conversion not only pushes the tragic plot to a climax but also brings Kong Shangren’s paean to androgyny to a crescendo. But this tribute to androgyny is again undercut by the underlying irony metaphorically presented through the peach blossom imagery. The “wild peaches that separate the Buddhist monasteries and Daoist temples from the Red Dust” (F 30.228) suggest that the androgynous wonderland the renouncers settle in is another illusory shiwai taoyuan of Tao Yuanming’s fable. Many individuals come to this “realm of immortals” largely to seek temporary asylum, rather than permanent seclusion, and few seem capable of religious transcendence in a genuine sense. Bian Yujing, a former courtesan, is now the abbess of a Buddhist temple, but in her heart she can hardly extinguish her romantic desires; Xiangjun approaches the shrine primarily in search of love, a forbidden impulse in this asexual land; Hou Fangyu enters the temple only for a few days’ sojourn before a plan is made to return home. Despite a few cases of determined conversion, the secular values and mundane life that many “monks” and “priests” are irresistibly drawn to undercut their eremitical ideal. As Frederick W. Mote points out, since the Song dynasty, religious conversion had become a convention during the period of dynastic transition: the loyalists of the fallen dynasty were expected to take seclusion to show their devotion.61 In their movement from the city to the mountains, therefore, the converted are largely following a trend, pursuing a fashion, fulfilling a duty, or seeking a haven; the conventionality of their action adulterates their subversive stance. On the allegorical level, the hymn to androgyny is curbed by the (con)fusion of two Peach Blossom Springs, and the respective values and gender implications they represent in the concluding scenes. In response to a co144

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convert’s remark concerning his religious hermitage that “in the Peach Blossom Cave there will be no battle,” Xiangjun replies: “Possibly I can find two blooming lotuses side by side” (T 36.230). While the first line alludes to the pastoral enclave in Tao Yuanming’s fable, a symbol of his androgynous stronghold, the second relates to Emerald Jade’s romantic paradise, a realm dominated by amorous impulses that may be deemed eVeminate at the moment of national crisis. This (con)fusion of the two springs and their related values and genders finds more manifest expression when Xiangjun refers to the temple as her “refuge of High Heaven Terrace” (F 39.279),62 yoking eremitism (the refuge) and romanticism (High Heaven Terrace) into a single image. Similarly, when Fangyu meets Xiangjun in the temple, he gazes at the bloody peach-blossom image on his fan and chants: Are they the petals that rained down when the Holy Abbot preached? (F 40.295)

The holy flower descending from the heavens is a common Buddhist and Daoist symbol signifying spiritual transcendence and religious illumination,63 which are, however, undercut by the perfunctory religious conversion of the heroine who comes essentially in search of love. The disruption of the romantic dream is symbolically projected in scene 40 when the peach blossom fan is finally smashed by Zhang Wei; this action, however, also points to the vulnerability of the eremitic ideal that is associated with the peach blossom image on another symbolic plane. Of pivotal importance is the debate between Fangyu and Zhang Wei right after the destruction of the fan, one defending the legitimacy of familial life, the other negating it at a time of alien domination. The debate boils down to the fundamental issue of which gender identity one should take at such a historical moment. In late imperial China the courses of action open to a scholar were extremely restricted; the choice was neatly expressed by a Qing poet: The immortal, the distinguished civil servant, the recluse, Procrastinating, I have let each slip up to now.64

Except for oYcialdom and seclusion, therefore, a literatus virtually had no other alternative as a mode of existence. Zhang Wei’s violent destruction of the fan on the Daoist altar poses a symbolic gesture to block Fangyu’s way out of the mountains, which will eventually reduce him to a yin-status subThe Peach Blossom Fan


ordinate to the alien ruler.65 Fangyu’s protest that “the marriage of man with maid accords with the basic principle of human life” (T 40.205) reveals the inveteracy of his earthly desire as well as the want of faith in his conversion. Although he is silenced and admits guilt, his conversion does not carry full conviction. In a sense he is forced out of familial bondage and the conventional gender paradigm into the genderless or androgynous status. Liao Yuhui perceives with insight the dramatist’s ambivalence to the hero’s reluctant conversion as expressed in an allusive reference in his “Epilogue”: “The famous scholar-oYcials, the great men of aVairs, all these left their retreats three years ago” (F E.311). She sees in this line an allusion to the conversion of Hou Fangyu’s type.66 In Mote’s terms, such conversion can be called “compulsive eremitism.”67 The superficiality of such eremitism tarnishes the androgynous ideal traditionally related to seclusion. Even a scholar who seriously believes in the “ideal of reclusion” presented in the Fan has to admit the “precariousness” of such an ideal.68 In the “Epilogue,” when the Qing oYcer intrudes in the mountains—the autonomous realm of the religious converts—to chase after the Ming loyalists, the hermits have to be constantly on the run to maintain their independence. Its ambivalent and ironical overtones notwithstanding, the Fan sings an anthem for the androgynous stance in the political arena. The play teems with episodes that reveal the indomitable strife of the marginal against the perverted power source: Xiangjun’s bloodshed in defense of personal autonomy, Fangyu’s vehement censure of the depraved prince, Liu Jingting’s and Su Kunsheng’s defection of the villainous Ruan Dacheng and their final seclusion, Zhang Wei’s resignation from his oYcial post, and Shi Kefa’s majestic martyrdom for his country. The flare of masculine spirit in an eVeminized culture, these actions project the most ideal personality at a time when spiritual decadence and political philistinism ran in the blood of the nation. A closer examination indicates, however, that none of these episodes can be verified by oYcial historical records despite the drama’s acclaimed fidelity to historicity;69 they are either adapted from legendary anecdotes or grafted from the lives of other historical figures.70 Here we get glimpses of fraudulent outlines, motif repetition, characterization, and selection of story elements—all fiction-making devices that Hayden White observes in historical narratives.71 As a historical play rather than history, the Fan takes further license to manipulate historical records. These fictional devices are employed, as White indicates, to project a “point of view,”72 which, in the case of the Fan, represents Kong Shangren’s view on gendered human roles in 146

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shaping recent history. In recasting historical personages and events, Kong Shangren glorifies the masculine spirit of marginal subjects and inscribes in the drama his ideal of androgynous personality; the full realization of such an ideal, however, is beyond even his choicest character. The gap between the ideal and reality gives rise to a note of ambivalence in his dramatic paean to androgyny, which is symbolically projected through the irony inherent in a chain of peach-related imagery. Such equivocation is somewhat related to Kong Shangren’s outlook as well as to his age.

A World of Ambivalence: A Literatus Scholar Caught between Conflicting Values Strassberg sees in Kong Shangren an emblematic figure through whom we can perceive an age;73 the keynote of the postconquest age, in Lynn A. Struve’s opinion, is its variegated ambivalence in the literati’s attitudes toward political loyalty, personal conduct, and public service.74 While Struve indicates that contradictory urging among scholars of the Kangxi regime “seldom appear in full complement in an individual,”75 Kong Shangren seems to be an exception. The footsteps of his life’s journey constantly divulge directions of conflicting impulses. The ambiguity in the dramatist’s identity inevitably aVects his portrayal of the historical figures in the Fan. Although born and raised after the dynastic changeover, Kong Shangren was torn, by political commitment and ideological inclination, between the fallen and the risen orders. As a scion of a loyalist who refused to serve the alien conqueror and even personally participated in anti-Qing activities, Kong inherited a spiritual aYnity to the deposed dynasty, although this did not keep him from sitting for civil service examinations and rendering service to the new regime.76 As a prestigious member of the Confucian lineage chosen by the Qing emperor to serve in the palace, he was politically indebted to the new regime, although his physical presence in the Qing power structure belied a sentimental attachment to the Ming. Ideologically he was also pulled by the conflicting values of the two adjacent ages. Growing up in the ambience of restoring conservatism of the early Qing, he diligently studied Confucian classics in serious preparation for public service, yet his orthodox career orientation did not seem to conflict with his spiritual aYnity to late Ming liberalism. The late Ming cultural heroes fading away in many people’s consciousness loomed large in his mind. On a river inspection tour, when he passed the hometown of Wang Gen, a The Peach Blossom Fan


pioneer of the Taizhou School and a zealous champion of autonomous personality, Kong paid tribute to Wang’s temple, oVered a sacrifice, and composed a pious anthem, venerating Wang as a saint.77 In his biography of “The Wood-and-Leather Wanderer,” a Ming loyalist who resorted to storytelling to scorn and laugh at the conformist multitude, Kong regards the hero to be a disciple of the saint and compares his witty style to those of Li Zhi, Xu Wei, and Yuan Hongdao.78 It is evident that all the late-Ming cultural heroes glorified in his writings shared a common aversion to the “concubine” identity and a strong urge to assert personal authenticity. Such psychological traits are discernible both in Kong Shangren and his dramatic personae. In the Fan, Zhang Wei’s resignation from his oYcial post is reminiscent of the late-Ming literati’s apathy to public service; Xiangjun’s defense of her chastity reminds one of Tang Xianzu’s guarding of his “virginity”; Liu Jingting’s storytelling lines, adapted from those of “The Wood-and-Leather Wanderer,” smack of the witticism and sarcasm of Li Zhi, Xu Wei, and Yuan Hongdao. The staging of Li Xiangjun’s and Hou Fangyu’s romance itself reveals Kong Shangren’s fascination with the late-Ming courtesan culture as well as its inherent ideal of androgyny, which he celebrates through the dramatization of the heroine’s spiritual valiance. The late Ming “mad ardor” can even be palpably felt in Kong Shangren’s very composition of the Fan; its passionate exaltation of Ming loyalists inevitably invites disfavor from the Qing authority. Composing Ming history in the early Qing, though a popular avocation among the literati, was a risky enterprise which cost many lives.79 To write historical plays with patriotic themes was particularly suspect, with Hong Sheng’s (1645 – 1704) purging from the Imperial Academy still fresh in memory for staging “The Palace of Eternal Life” during the mourning period of an empress. Kong Shangren’s eulogy of Li Xiangjun covers thinly veiled nostalgia for the Ming, as Paul Ropp indicates: “In the early Qing period . . . literati nostalgia for the now-lost glamour associated with late Ming courtesans is an indirect way to express nostalgia for the fallen Ming dynasty and to mourn its demise.”80 Kong’s craze for composing the Fan, a mania that obsessed him for three decades, therefore, reveals a “suicidal” impulse to release his suppressed sentimental aYnity for the bygone order and to fulfil filial piety through a dramatic endeavor. In relation to the established, dominant Qing order, the Ming was a deceased, ghostly, yin entity. In his spiritual identification with the fallen order, Kong Shangren embraced a marginal status, and in his explicit pro148

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jection of nationalist sentiments on the stage, he also demonstrated his moral courage. As Ropp observes, “In the eyes of Ming loyalists, a number of famous courtesans came to symbolize . . . the possibility of heroic action.”81 Li Xiangjun’s heroism celebrated in the play, therefore, may be sentimentally related to the dramatist’s. Kong’s possible spiritual aYnity to his heroine gains support also from Kang-i Sun Chang’s much-quoted remark: “After the fall of the Ming, the courtesan became a metaphor for the loyalist poets’ vision of themselves.”82 Although Kong Shangren can certainly not be taken as a loyalist, given his complex life experience, his emotional attachment to the “heroic loyalists” can be easily traced in many of his poems and correspondences.83 His inner strength displayed through composing the Fan, in a way, shows his shared heroism with Li Xiangjun, the exemplary “hero among women” during the Ming-Qing transition. His dramatic masculinization of the girl, therefore, not only suggests his “own sense of inadequacy,” as a critic has observed,84 but may also be sentimentally related to his inner strength in using theater as a channel to vicariously vent his own sentimental aYnity to the Ming. In 1700, not long after the initial staging of the Fan, Kong Shangren was deposed. Although the cause for his deposition remains a mystery, many believe it is related to the Fan.85 He was spared further trouble perhaps because of his Confucian stock, a factor he seemed to be aware of as he wrote in a poem to a friend: “It is the emperor’s virtue and generosity that exonerate my headstrong and mad demeanor.”86 Kong Shangren’s gratitude to the Kangxi emperor begets a “Qing mentality,” which coexists with his “Ming outlook.” Graced with the imperial favor of a special promotion, he pledged, “I can only hope to render faithful service for the rest of my days until my teeth fall out.”87 It is generally believed that such gratitude accounts for the tribute that he pays to the Kangxi regime in his “Prologue” (F P.1 – 2). But this enthusiasm did not last long, for his writings soon revealed deep alienation from the court, which critics often attribute either to his disillusion with the corrupt Qing bureaucracy or Kangxi Emperor’s dissatisfaction with his performance in the flood control task.88 Upon his return to the capital after the aborted water-control mission, his scanty duty, meager income, and sinecure oYce soon made him realize that he was enshrined in the palace largely as a symbol of Confucian endorsement of the alien rule; with such a vision he felt himself like a “flower in a vase”89 decorating the palace. This awareness of his manipulated, subservient identity stimulated empathy for the female. Thus adopting the voice of a neglected palace lady he wrote: The Peach Blossom Fan


Though I am only inches away from the son of the heaven, A screen separates us like a wall in the palace . . . Since the loss of the Lord’s favor, few tidings have reached me.90

As an oYcial chosen by the emperor to “garnish” his politics, Kong Shangren felt a spiritual bond to the palace ladies, particularly because in Chinese tradition oYcials and wives share the yin status in their relation to the emperor/husband; this aYnity is reinforced by their mutual neglect by the emperor, whose visits were always few and far between. In Chinese the place where the neglected imperial consorts stayed was called a “cold palace” (lenggong); significantly, in his writings Kong Shangren repeatedly moans about his “cold oYce” (lengshu)91 and “icy hall” (bingliang yamen),92 alluding to his spiritual alienation from the power source. Such estrangement inevitably engenders in his psyche a poignant loss of self-authenticity, as revealed in the following lines: When I laugh, the laughter does not come from my heart; When I sing, the song does not come from my soul.93

His spiritual alienation from the court may have strengthened his sentimental bond to the Ming, as reflected in the Fan. Yet, even though he constantly complained of “poverty and hardship”94 and “felt it hard to bow”95 in front of the mighty, he stayed in the oYcial world for eighteen years and was even reluctant to leave thereafter. Throughout his life Kong remained loyal to the Kangxi emperor, to whom he obediently served as a decorative “palace flower” and a male “imperial lady.”96 Kong Shangren’s docility to the sovereign marks the conservative aspect of his identity, his Qing mentality, which inevitably compromises his late Ming “mad ardor” and aVects his dramatic characterization. Thus in the Fan, Xiangjun can vehemently censure the decadent Ruan clique, just as Kong himself once criticized the corrupt oYcials of his own time.97 In front of the sovereign, however, she turns back to a dan, the female role, just as Kong Shangren assumed the role of an “imperial lady” in the Qing palace. Although Hongguang and Kangxi are rulers of entirely diVerent types, Kong Shangren’s abiding fidelity to Kangxi even after his disillusionment with his decorative function in the palace reveals a traditional view of subjectruler relationship, which may have conditioned Xiangjun’s pliability in front of Hongguang Emperor. The most glaring ambivalence in Kong Shangren is found in his shifting, 150

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ambiguous attitudes toward public service, which often function as a barometer of a literatus’ political stance in imperial China. As a descendant of a Ming loyalist, he felt it embarrassing to pursue an oYcial career,98 to which, however, he was irresistibly drawn. Thus having invested money in purchasing an oYcial title after repeated failure in civil service examinations, he laughed at himself and admitted to a friend that he “had done an awful thing.”99 Later, he went to the Stonegate Mountain to pose as a recluse, entitled himself “The Hermit of the Cloud Pavilion,” and claimed his superiority to the profit-minded multitude; yet deep in his heart he worried that to such an isolated place “the luminaries may not come and it would be diYcult to gain recognition.”100 Probably owing to a lack of faith in eremitism, he soon jumped at a lucrative chance to quit his seclusion. His mountain retreat, therefore, had been simultaneously prompted by a desire for self-cultivation and a hidden motive to improve his self-image so as to facilitate an entry into public service. In Li Chi’s terms, such a retreat came not only as a “moral necessity,” but also as a “deliberate choice.”101 In Kong’s eighteen years of oYcial life, the call of the mountains often rang in his ears when he experienced frustration and poverty. Serving as an Erudite in the imperial academy, he repeatedly wrote to his friends: “I expect to return and to climb the hills with you.”102 But to the hills he would not go when he was actually dismissed from oYce at the pinnacle of his career; instead, he lingered in the capital for two years, wishing for a rehabilitation. The conflicting pulls of both spiritual transcendence and oYcial career can be palpably felt in a poem that he composed during this period when he invited a group of friends to enjoy the sight of a peach tree in full blossom: In the late spring even my chilly study turns warm, A peach blossom bursting into bloom intoxicates one’s soul . . . In the city where can one find a land of the immortal? Just fill your cup to the brim with wine. In inebriation one hears no noise from the court and the market, Beneath the red peach branch lies a village in the mountain.103

The transcendence that he seeks in alcoholic intoxication at once reminds one of Tang Yin’s life strategy. Reluctant to retreat to the mountains, he employs a blooming peach blossom to vicariously indulge his eremitic urges. Although despair finally drove him back to his hometown, he later joined others to welcome the emperor in an imperial inspection tour with the inThe Peach Blossom Fan


extinguishable hope of being recalled to the palace.104 After Kong Shangren returned to his hometown—even though his eremitic mood deepened with his advancing age when oYcialdom turned ever remote from him and he repeatedly visited Stonegate in his last years while writing bucolic poetry—his eremitism was largely a synonym for unemployment, a Daoist psychological therapy to comfort his thwarted Confucian ambition, and a conventional escape from a spiritual quandary.105 In such eremitic gesture the traditional import of political protest and self-assertive will, the yang energy, is pathetically deficient, leaving it a largely passive mode of life. Kong Shangren’s life reflects a corrosive trend of eremitism in Chinese society since the Tang dynasty.106 This trend deteriorated in the Ming-Qing period when “men in society strove to fashion a self of recluse or pundit to seek patronage from those in power, who, in turn, reaped honor and prestige as their patrons.”107 It is this fad that incited Li Zhi to mock at the “mountain-men” prevalent in late Ming society.108 The extreme of such degeneration can be seen in the life of Ruan Dacheng, both as a dramatic character and a historical figure. When his eunuch-patron Wei Zhongxian lost his satanic dominance in the court, Ruan withdrew to his “Rocky Garden” (shichaoyuan) and entitled himself “a woodcutter in the mountain.”109 To fashion himself into a hermit, he not only composed many bucolic verses110 but also entitled his study Yonghuai tang (A room to vent one’s aspirations), evidently after Ruan Ji’s (201 – 263) famous poetic sequence “Yonghuai shi” (Poems to vent one’s aspirations) in an endeavor to associate with the eminent anchorite of the third century. But once his confidant Ma Shiying (ca. 1591 – 1646) became the prime minister of the Southern Ming, Ruan immediately came out of his “hermitage,” jumped at oYcial appointments, and savagely avenged himself on the Donglin Party. His contemporary Xia Wanchun thus perceptively observed, “Ruan stayed a hermit for seventeen years only to get a position in the court.”111 Such corroded eremitism is dramatically presented in the characterization of Ruan Dacheng in the Fan (T 4.29; T 14.95). In the literature of Ming-Qing transition, as Wai-yee Li indicates, there is “a tendency to romanticize the pathos of the courtesans’ choice of renunciation.”112 While Kong Shangren faithfully follows such a convention in his dramatization of Li Xiangjun’s seclusion, the degradation of eremitic values in late imperial China, their ironic reflection in Ruan Dacheng’s character and their encroachment on Kong Shangren’s personal life inevitably cast a


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shadow on the collective conversion to religion presented in the Fan. In the concluding scenes, Xiangjun’s and Fangyu’s approach to the shrine with a vague goal to find a refuge in the mountains is reminiscent of Kong Shangren’s initial trip into the Stonegate with an undetermined will to transcend the mundane concern; the couple’s change of mind and intended return to the “Red Dust” after their reunion on the Daoist altar, in a sense, parallels the dramatist’s change of plan, which leads to his return to the temporal and his consequent entry into oYcialdom. Similarly, the couple’s final compulsive conversion to religion under the pressure of circumstances points to Kong Shangren’s forced departure from the capital, his reluctant retreat to his hometown, and his composition of bucolic poetry in his advanced age. Although such analogies cannot exist historically, for the play was written before Kong’s retreat from the court, they point to a latent psychological aYnity between the dramatist and his personae: In their respective seclusive gestures they share a lack of initiative momentum, a deficiency of will, an irresistible pull to the secular, and an indisposed resignation to the fate— in other words, a want of masculine intent traditionally associated with eremitism. Although the Fan lionizes Zhang Wei, whose withdrawal from oYcialdom in defense of personal integrity exemplifies the androgynous principle in political life, such exaltation is undercut by the perfunctory, reluctant conversion of the couple. Historically, Zhang Wei belonged to the bygone age; his loyalty to the late Ming was admired, worshiped, but not inherited by the so-called ambivalent generation,113 of which Kong Shangren was a member. In molding this paragon androgyne, Kong has a ready model in the historical figure of Zhang Yi, to whom he even paid a visit.114 But when he deviates from historical facts in dramatizing Xiangjun’s and Fangyu’s conversion, his own deflated sense of eremitism cannot but merge into dramatic characterization. Consequently, a note of ambivalence is integrated into his hymn of praise for their retreat. Parallel to the note of ambivalence is the absence of the rosy optimism and idealism so prominent in the works discussed earlier. Rather than benefit from gender deviation, like Du Liniang, Shui Bingxin, Lu Menli, and numerous protagonists of scholar-beauty romances, the heroes and heroines in the Fan suVer a tragic fate, either bereaved of a social order they ardently identify with, or torn from the human love they tenaciously cling to. The tragic undercurrents of the play reveal a sober insight of the dramatist who,

The Peach Blossom Fan


viewing Ming history with the hindsight of the early Qing, perceives the inevitable suVering that marginal subjects’ aYrmation of masculinity, or their androgynous propensity, would incur in a decadent patriarchal order. This vision is brought to sharper focus decades later in Cao Xueqin’s masterpiece The Dream of the Red Chamber, which, according to Strassberg, inherits the insights of Kong’s drama.115


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chapter 7

The Dream of the Red Chamber A Shattered Dream of Androgyny

To probe into the fictional world of the Dream is to venture into a realm of sex/gender (con)fusion, where males and females often deport in manners deviating from their prescribed genders, hence are mistaken for the opposite sex. This prominent sex/gender aberration has fascinated scholars for centuries and has engendered several full-scale inquiries in recent decades.1 Representative of the Republican commentary is Jing Meijiu’s observation: “Baoyu’s gentility takes after female bearing, whereas Tanchun’s resolution partakes of male carriage.”2 The paradigmatic statement in contemporary criticism is made by Angelina Yee when she indicates that Baoyu occupies “the center of the feminine world”3 while Xi-feng “proves superior to men” in the masculine world of the novel.4 From our perspective of androgyny, Baoyu’s existential struggle in the novel can be decoded as his persistent endeavor to resist culturally dictated gender dichotomy both in constructing his own gender identity and in shaping his society. More than any case examined thus far, Baoyu’s inclination toward gender freedom finds expression in the relation between the self and the other, i.e., his spiritual union with his soul mate, Daiyu, his sympa-

thetic identification with the female world, over which he reigns as a “crown of the beauties” (zhuyan zhi guan),5 his egalitarian relation with his subordinates, and his espousal of the philosophies of diVerent hierarchical orders.6 In all of these aspects of his characterization, the yin-yang dichotomy traditionally dictating the relationship between the sexes, ranks, and ideologies is either dissolved or transcended to a certain degree. In the narrative structure, gender deviation is tropologically projected through the magic stone on which is inscribed the hero’s identity, presented in the Garden of Total Vision—where the walls “muZe” the dictates of convention—and catalyzed by the force of qing, which frees human souls from gender imperatives. Accordingly, the following exploration of its theme of androgyny will focus on these three aspects: love, stone, and garden— winding up with an association with the author’s identity.

Two Types of Androgyny in Love: Gender Significance in the Daiyu-Baoyu-Baochai Triangle In recent decades, with the introduction of feminism into the study of literature, Baoyu’s relation with his two fated female mates has often been designated as one between a master identity and its two gender components. Both Liao Xianhao and Louise Edwards associate the feminine principle/ values with Daiyu and the masculine principle/values with Baochai, and both identify their symbolic function in projecting Baoyu’s existential dilemma.7 In constructing their gender paradigms that relate Baoyu with his two cousins, both turn to an episode in chapter 5: In a dream Baoyu is initiated into what critics term “puberty rites” or “adulthood rituals” to make love with a fairy, Combined Beauty, who possesses both Daiyu’s grace and Baochai’s charm. Liao Xianhao interprets this episode as a “dream of androgyny” that projects the hero’s attraction to the two girls and foreshadows his incorporation of the gender principles that they respectively embody, in his growth.8 While such gender designation of the two heroines may carry conviction to a certain degree—given Daiyu’s excessive sentimentality, musical/poetic propensity, and her apathy toward career in contrast to Baochai’s stern rationality, pragmatic bent, and career enthusiasm9—the complexity in their characterization begs for modification. In fact, discordant voices can be heard even from some Qing critics, as in the following note by Tu Yin:


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If one asks, “Between Baochai and Daiyu, which one is superior, which one is inferior?” My answer goes: “Baochai is soft, Daiyu is virile; Baochai bends her back, Daiyu keeps her body straight.”10

The associations of virility with Daiyu and of malleability with Baochai explicitly relate the former to yang and relegate the latter to yin. Similarly, in his recent seminal study on the Dream, Anthony Yu questions Edwards’ stand by perceptively pointing out: “For Baoyu at least, his two beloved cousins represent in actuality two kinds of ‘the feminine’: one that openly subscribes to the norms of the Confucian discourse and an emergent one that reflects a more resistant and skeptical attitude.”11 The complexity of “the feminine” that Yu observes in the narrative12 lies epistemologically behind the perspective that I adopt to explore and redesignate the gender implication of the triangle among the three lovers. The judgement on the two heroines in the Dream, as known to all, has triggered perennial dispute among readers and scholars. Relevant to our discussion is the seemingly perpetual debate on whether the two characters are conceived as “complementary” or “contrasting” entities in the narrative. Based on Zhiyan Zhai’s remark that “the gold and the jade are two in name, but are one person in fact,”13 Yu Pingbo indicates the comparable status of the two girls in the narrative, which is generally termed “complementarity theory” (Chai-Dai heyi).14 While the “complementarity theory (two-inone)” has gained much ground in Western scholarship,15 it does not work well to rationalize the two heroines’ diVerent ideological stances.16 Since gender is primarily an ideological construct, in the present study of the two heroines’ gender in relation to Baoyu’s identity, it is deemed more fruitful to emphasize their diVerences rather than their complementarity. Probing from the vantage point of Lacan’s semiotic theory on sexuality and the late Ming idealization of the feminine, the following inquiry addresses the “androgynous union” that Liao Xianhao observes in the triangle, and relates Baoyu’s spiritual quest to a diVerent type of androgyny. According to Lacan’s theory, when a male enters the symbolic system of patriarchal power—which Lacan terms “the phallus”—he is bound to lose part of his integral identity. In his full association with the symbolic order, he is alienated from the real and deprived of the fullness of life. Interestingly enough, the precious part of a man’s self that he forfeits to gain access to this symbolic register of power is called by Lacan “penis,” probably intimating

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its link to his authenticity, integrity, and virility, the attributes generally related to one’s masculinity. This process of metaphorical identification with the symbolic order through personal sacrifice is thus “to mortgage the penis for the phallus.”17 This symbolic castration, however, does not befall the female, since her sexuality is represented negatively in the symbolic order as the “no-phallus” and her identity is censored rather than repressed. Because she “lacks lack,” as Lacan puts it, the female subject “neither succumbs to as complete an alienation from the real, nor enjoys as full an association with the symbolic as does the male subject.”18 As a consequence, women maintain a more authentic identity than men. But the “woman” in Lacanian discourse actually embodies a special quality of gender stance that can be termed “femininity.” While ordinary women may also be susceptible to the symbolic castration, “femininity” in the Lacanian discourse, as Montrelay explicates, “designates a complex of drives which remain outside of cultural structuration,”19 relating an impulse to maintain the purity of human identity uncontaminated by cultural values. Hence there is a crucial distinction between the “feminine” in the Lacanian paradigm and the modern understanding of the term. Whereas the latter constitutes the negative side in the patriarchal binary system, which views women as weaker and inferior, the former stands for an outlook and a personality that escape categorization by the symbolic order in aYrmation of a “natural” gender identity akin to the concept of androgyny used in this study. Such a distinction between the two kinds of “feminine” is epistemologically associated with the two distinctive types that Anthony Yu observes in the Dream, and will bear on the following discussion of Daiyu’s and Baochai’s gender stand. A man’s awareness of his loss of “penis” upon his entry to the symbolic order, and the authenticity enjoyed by the “feminine,” also are the two main contributing factors for the late-Ming idealization of the “feminine.” Pondering over the moral dilemma that a literatus faced in his competition for a post in the court, the late-Ming scholar Chen Jiru remarked: “Since the government uses examinations to select oYcials, a gentleman (junzi) cannot but behave like a dog (xiaoren); if the government selects oYcials according to their virtues, then a wicked person will have to behave like a gentleman.”20 The corruption and hypocrisy infesting the Establishment, particularly the examination system, engendered in the scholar a poignant sense of loss, or deprivation of his “penis,” which drove him to forsake the career path.21 Just as they lament their personal loss in serving the court, literati scholars cele158

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brate the unsullied state of the female identity. In his preface to a late-Ming female poetry anthology, Mingyuan shigui (Selection of poems by famous ladies, ca. 1600), Zhong Xing (1574 – 1624) remarks that females are innately endowed with the spiritual purity indispensable for composing the best poetry.22 The materialistic concerns and career ambitions that motivate the men’s studies inevitably obscure their vision and perception, leading to the artificiality of their poetry. Female poetry is superior because, according to Zhong Xing, “Those who wear oYcial hats have lost the way of purity and grace, which is now only to be found among those who wear embellished silk.”23 The exaltation of female purity, a Chinese parallel to Lacanian “femininity,” finds expression in another influential Chinese phrase, “the pure essences of the universe are concentrated in the female of the species” (Tiandi jian lingshu zhiqi zhi zhongyu nüzi). Though it originated in the writing of a Song scholar,24 the phrase acquired great popularity in the Ming-Qing period with its recurrent presence in literati writings,25 particularly in scholarbeauty romances.26 Most relevant to our discussion, a variant of the phrase appears in the portrayal of Daiyu’s pre-mundane identity in the Dream(“shou tandi jinghua”) (H 1:1.7),27 and the phrase itself emerges verbatim in Baoyu’s internal monologue to project his veneration of women (H 1:20.311). This suggests a palpable aYnity between the Lacanian theory and Cao Xueqin’s outlook. It is the “purity”/“femininity”—which endows a “woman” (or “she” can be a man) with the privilege to preserve her (or his) invisible “penis” —that bears on the theme of androgyny in the Dream under discussion. The pursuance of such “femininity” motivates Baoyu’s existential struggle, wherein he desperately shuns identification with the symbolic order, to avoid mental castration. As the sole male heir from the principal wife in the family of a ranking oYcial, Baoyu is privileged by the patriarchal order. In deference to his status, a poor relative, Jia Yun, five years his senior, even seeks to be his “son,” apparently mistaking him as a would-be patriarch in the symbolic order.28 Baoyu’s show of partiality to women’s cosmetics and jewelry during his birthday rite divulges an inborn aversion to the privileged gender imposed on him, a subversive impulse that grows with age into persistent resistance to an oYcial career.29 His life demonstrates an inversion of the Lacanian pattern of male gender construction: While men generally pay a price to gain social privileges, “mortgaging the penis for the phallus,” he barters his social phallus, granted to him at birth, for the autonomy of his identity, his “penis.” To achieve such a goal, he identifies with the “feminine,” for only in this cenThe Dream of the Red Chamber


sored gender status can he maintain his “penis.” His men/mud and women/ water analogies reveal that in his mind the unsullied state of maidenhood approximates to the “femininity” in the Lacanian discourse. His ardent embrace of “femininity” is tropologically presented in his impassioned female worship, as shown in the pleasure he takes in rinsing his face with the water used (thus “feminized”) by girls. While “femininity” provides an asylum for Baoyu from the regimentation of patriarchy, it does not reduce him to an eVete man. Although not on a par with his father in their ideological confrontation, Baoyu never gives in spiritually. In chapter 34, after he is brutally flogged by his father for his intimacy, alleged as sexual dalliance, with the maid Gold and the actor Qiguan, a female impersonator, Baoyu pledges, “People like that are worth dying for. I wouldn’t change even if he killed me” (S 2:34.159).30 Since a maid and a female impersonator ranked among the most marginalized in Qing society, Baoyu’s vow reveals a potent will to aYrm his seditious gender preference in his spiritual identification with the marginal/”feminine.” Baoyu’s resolve to preserve “penis” is most distinctly projected in his final withdrawal from the Red Dust. In the last stage of his mundane sojourn, Baoyu faces a challenge to his chosen gender identity when the “feminine world” around him has disintegrated and he is virtually beset by the “masculine” forces. Under such circumstances, the only alternative to further maintain his “penis”/integrity/autonomy is to enter another feminine world beyond the mundane: the realms of Buddhism and Daoism, which constitute the marginal/“feminine” discourses in China’s ideological arena. While the narrative presents the hero’s earlier dalliance with Buddhism and Daoism (chaps. 21 and 22) to foreshadow his final exit, and Lin Fangzhi even detects eremitic values in the names of his male servants,31 critics remain somewhat divided in their judgement on his “spiritual enlightenment,” owing to his seemingly inextinguishable love for Daiyu. While some equate his exit to a Buddhist path to spiritual liberation,32 others question the validity of his “religious enlightenment.”33 Viewed from the perspective of Baoyu’s unrelenting search for gender freedom, however, the debatable issue of his religious transcendence becomes irrelevant. Whether Baoyu has fully renounced mundane values or exits the Red Dust with lingering love, the religious realm he enters represents to him a free zone, a “feminine” territory where he can aYrm his autonomy/individuality and stay as an ungendered being. Due to Baoyu’s fascination for “the feminine,” it is inevitable that he is 160

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most attracted to Daiyu, the quintessential femininity in the Dream. On top of her ethereal beauty and exorbitant emotionality, Daiyu’s yin identity is manifested in many other aspects of her characterization. She is born on the twelfth day of the second lunar month (2/12), hence her horoscope is related to two yin numbers. She is most vulnerable to fenghan (chill and wind), revealing a deficiency of yang energy, for the supplement of which she must take cinnamon and ginseng. Her physical bond to yin is translated symbolically into her marginal status: As an orphan dependent on her relatives, she is most tenuously linked to the Jia household. In chapter 22 she is compared to an actress, the most peripheral member in Qing society; in chapter 82 she dreams of being forced into a repulsive engagement with a widower, divulging an intense awareness of her own marginality. As if from subconscious cognizance of her marginal standing, Baoyu grants her the school name Pin-pin (Frowner) upon their first meeting. The lower part of the Chinese character pin is a bei, which denotes humbleness, ingloriousness, and modesty, particularly in one’s social origin. This denotation is strengthened in the narrative by Daiyu’s explicit comparison to Xi Shi (H 1:3.48), a celebrated beauty in Chinese history renowned for her frowning (pin), an “attractive symptom” of her heartache.34 Since Xi Shi was a country girl of obscure origin, Daiyu’s symbolic tie with her through their mutual pathological symptom and shared habitual frowning not only suggests her peerless beauty but also emphasizes her social marginality, which contributes to her liminal outlook. In the “Verses on Five Beauties” that Daiyu composes in chapter 64, the first piece is devoted to Xi Shi, revealing Daiyu’s spiritual aYnity to the legendary belle. Despite her early exposure to Confucian classics under the tutorship of Jia Yucun, which might have accounted for her maiden reserve and kept her from becoming a real “heroine”35 (or a hero among women), of all her peers in the Dream, Daiyu is the least polluted by the orthodox values, hence the most “feminine” in the Lacanian sense. (The quotation marks here are important in defining Daiyu’s gender identity.) Baoyu’s application of pin in defining Daiyu’s identity, therefore, reveals a keen, almost superhuman, insight into her gender fabrication. In his subconscious identification with the “feminine,” it is inevitable that he finds in Daiyu a most desirable lover, a most congenial soul mate, and a most compatible female-half to his identity. The spiritual bond between the two protagonists is intimated upon their first meeting, when each sees a familiar image in the other, and Baoyu promptly bursts out, “I have seen this cousin before” (S 1:3.103). While reThe Dream of the Red Chamber


vealing a karmic bond between them in the realm of immortality, such a detail intimates subconscious cognizance of self in the other. Their spiritual aYnity is explicitly conveyed in the narrative: while Baoyu believes “her heart is identical with mine” (H 1:78.432), Daiyu feels that “he can read my mind and express it more sincerely than my own inner drives” (H 1:32.501). The union of the two souls is graphically presented in Zhiyan Zhai’s comment: “They inhale and exhale the same breath.”36 Unlike anyone else, Daiyu seldom urges him to follow an oYcial career. In defiance of conventional wisdom, she occasionally nurtures his drinking inclination (H 1:8.132).37 Against patriarchal inhibitions she joins him in reaping spiritual gratification from reading forbidden books. In their joint pursuit of love, she shares an unrelenting will with him in weal and woe. It is her bent to bolster his subversive impulses that leads Baoyu to see in her love a source of “femininity,” whereby he might derive energy to repudiate his inherited gender. Their spiritual union is so vital to Baoyu’s identity that whenever the “female half ” threatens to detach from him, a crisis emerges: in chapter 57, upon hearing the rumor of Daiyu’s pending departure from the Jia household he turns into a dumb automaton; in chapter 97, Daiyu’s death turns him telepathically into an idiot, a half man. In Baoyu’s desperate struggle for a full life, Daiyu comprises such an inalienable part of his identity that her departure foreshadows his own from the mundane world. Just as Baoyu takes Daiyu as a symbolic source of “femininity” in his resistance to the patriarchal “masculinization” of his identity, Daiyu, in her existential struggle, draws strength from her lover to sustain her relatively natural, “feminine” identity. While Lacan’s theory indicates that “femininity,” with its preservation of “penis,” entails virile energy, with which one resists the categorization by the symbolic order, recent Western scholarship on the late-Ming female idealization associates the “feminine” with the “authentic subject position,”38 both suggesting implied virility in the “feminine.” As the most “feminine” character in the whole female cast of the Dream, Daiyu is endowed with an inner strength that led to Tu Yin’s ambiguous assertion of her virility, cited earlier. As the only child of her family, Daiyu “is raised as a substitute son” jiachong yangzi (H 1:2.23), and this seems to have aVected her lifestyle: In the eyes of an outsider, Grannie Liu, her boudoir appears to be a gentleman’s study. The strength of Daiyu’s willpower is first and foremost demonstrated in her tacit adherence to Baoyu’s unorthodoxy. From her boundless love for Baoyu, she derives the nerve to identify with him in outlook. Her strength 162

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of will is further revealed in her tenacious pursuit of love—a love that, in Yu’s observation, “has the potential to challenge some of the most esteemed values of a cultural tradition.”39 A typical female attitude toward marriage that neo-Confucianism promotes is exemplified by Baochai, who, despite her hidden desire for Baoyu, puts her nuptial decision completely at the disposal of her mother and brother, refraining from the expression of any personal preference whatsoever. In contrast to such feminine servility, Daiyu’s dogmatic assertion of will in her love quest cannot but appear masculine and virile. Daiyu’s willpower in her pursuit of love is also projected in her figurative association with a seditious version of Chang E, the moon goddess, in two closely related episodes. In chapter 85, at her birthday party, a play is put on entitled The Palace of Pearls, in which an amorous Chang E escapes from the icy moon and falls in love with a mortal. But she passes away before the marriage can take place (H 1:85.1413), foreshadowing Daiyu’s demise before her forbidden love can materialize. Four chapters later Daiyu selects the painting Chang E Combating the Chill (Douhan tu) and hangs it on the wall of her room (H 1:89.1474). Levy aptly points out the shared existential pattern between Daiyu and the moon goddess, in her analysis of the former episode,40 yet it is more fruitful to examine the two episodes as a related sequence. In fact, a subtle diVerence exists between the characterization of Chang E and Daiyu: whereas the moon goddess in the Yuan play is enlightened by Bodhisattva Guanyin before her death, Daiyu retains an unsevered tie to her love even at the last moment of her mundane existence, revealing a stronger will in her adherence to love.41 In Daiyu’s poetic mind the radiant white moon stands for the spiritual purity that she adheres to, as she chants in chapter 87: “A moon-like purity remains my constant goal” (S 4:87.173). Her selfidentification with the moon goddess hence conveys her lofty aspiration for spiritual chastity. As a legendary figure known for her “containment” in the chilly lunar realm, Chang E serves as a graphic symbol of Daiyu, who suVers the iciness of human conditions in the sublunar sphere. The painting Chang E Combating the Chill that the heroine puts on her wall apparently projects a self-image of spiritual defiance in her valorous battle against the “frost” and “gale” of human conventions. The moon goddess is used in the narrative, therefore, as a figure to present the heroine’s chilly existence and her combatant will more than as a mirror to evoke her destiny. Daiyu’s association with Chang E suggests an intertextual relation to Liniang who, in her lovesickness, also compares herself to the moon goddess. Significantly, LiniThe Dream of the Red Chamber


ang passes away on the night of the mid-autumn festival when “the moon is at her brightest” (B 20.102; M 20.99), betokening yin at the zenith of its dominance. Even in the last moment of her life she beseeches others to “steal herbs to oVer Chang E” so as to deliver her from “the ice-toad moon” (B 20.99; M 20.98), a transparent metaphor for her “chilly chamber” and the hostile conventions that deprive her of her life. Liniang’s yearning for the stolen “herbs” projects a desire to rely on an external force to “combat the chill” of the life-devouring convention. Daiyu’s spiritual kinship with Liniang lies in their mutual identification with the seditious versions of Chang E, which suggests not only their oppression by conventions but also their revulsion of the institutionalized yin identity. In chapter 16 Daiyu’s defiance of patriarchal authority is further voiced in her rejection of an Indian rosary, a gift that Baoyu oVers her, which comes originally from the emperor: “What, carry a thing that some coarse man has pawed over? I don’t want it!” (H 1:16.233; S 1:16.307). The reference to the emperor as a “coarse man” amounts to nothing less than a challenge to the symbolic order as a whole over which he reigns. Daiyu avoids touching such a gift for fear that its muddy “masculinity” might pollute her pure and natural “femininity.” Yet as an orphan marginally related to the host household, Daiyu is in constant need of spiritual support in her unrelenting pursuit of love. This accounts for her endless testing of Baoyu’s devotion; from his vows and pledges, she derives strength and courage to sustain her spiritual quest. Consequently, in Daiyu’s life Baoyu functions as a fountain of virile energy, her “male half,” a union with which her life may be made more full, her identity more complete. Daiyu’s need for her “male half ” is no less vital than Baoyu’s want of his “female half ” in shaping their respective identities. Correspondingly, at the vaguest indication of his departure, she, too, experiences a crisis in her life. In chapter 89, upon overhearing the news of Baoyu’s engagement to an official’s daughter, Daiyu immediately pines away. In chapter 96, when Baoyu is finally taken from her in an imposed marriage, Daiyu, like her heartbroken lover, is reduced to a dolt. The two of them snicker at each other like half-wits with their vital link being cut oV, a link that might have made both of them full humans. The love between Baoyu and Daiyu signifies an androgynous ideal on a symbolic level. While the boy sees in the girl a source of “femininity” to neutralize his born gender, the girl takes the boy to be a fountain of mascu164

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line energy to sustain her spiritual pursuit. Such a relationship, as Kaplan and Sedney put it, “allows each to see a reflection of the self in the other”; “for both of them it symbolizes wholeness.”42 Such love in the Dream, however, is doomed from the very beginning, for patriarchy will not tolerate the union of two souls who seek to stray from its symbolic order. The medium by which patriarchy suppresses the androgynous ideal in the Bao-Dai love is the third party in the triangle, Xue Baochai. As a “cold beauty” (leng meiren), Baochai is well-known for her association with snow: her surname Xue is homophonous with xue, the snow; her whitewashed room looks like a “snow cave” (xuedonger); the medicine she takes, “Cold Fragrance Pills,” is made from snow-white flowers. Such ubiquitous metaphorical connections with wintery imagery point to the dominance of the yin principle, or conventional values, in her life. Embracing wholeheartedly the feminine status in the symbolic register, she identifies with the hegemonic values and becomes its most subservient slave. In a recent book review, Martin Huang resorts to a Qing comment that “Baochai is hot within but cold without” to back his view of the girl’s burning desire for the young master, concealed beneath aVected nonchalance.43 While the girl’s inner heat in such an interpretation apparently is derived from an ailment that she suVers, redu (the poisonous heat or the congenital tendency to overheatedness), the association between heat (re) and poison (du) may suggest a more negative connotation. In Daoist writings human spiritual transcendence is often presented in terms of psychological solitude or inner coolness, whereas one’s worldly craving is often related to pathological agitation or inner heat. Daoist cultivation aims ultimately at the state of “a mind like dead ashes” (xinru sihui)44 when the fire burning in the heart is extinguished, its heat consumed.45 Viewed from the Daoist perspective, Baochai’s “poisonous heat” may well be seen as a symptom of the baleful eVects of the noxious patriarchal values on her identity. If she is related to any part of the stronger sex, ironically it is her slavish adherence to the phalluscentric values of the patriarchal culture. When the word “masculine” is associated with her, therefore, it should be put in quotation marks to distinguish it from its connotation of virility in aYrming one’s personal authenticity against the invading orthodoxy, as frequently used in this study. Given her ideological aYnity to patriarchy, critics have logically considered her as Baoyu’s “male half,” with whose values the boy must come to terms for an “androgynous” existence.46 The argument, of course, is based on her share in the composite identity of Combined Beauty, “androgyny” The Dream of the Red Chamber


personified. The ostensible logicality of this argument carries conviction, however, only before we examine the ideological stand of Disenchantment, who initiates Baoyu into a relationship with Combined Beauty to experience “androgyny” in love. In the world of the Dream, the supernatural and the superintendent are often ideologically associated with the superstructure. Despite their female sex, even matriarchal figures who dominate—in the absence of a patriarch in the celestial, sublunar, and phantasmal realms—act in the paternal interest. Patriarchy was so deeply entrenched in the fibre of Chinese culture that its symbolic function transcended any individual subject. Its ubiquitous influence in society is best stated by Silverman, in the following observation: The symbolic order . . . is a machine which can be operated by “Any individual, taken almost at random . . . in the absence of the [father].” Moreover, no matter who actually assumes responsibility for operating the machine, that person— even if it is the mother—will always represent the phallus.47

Thus in the opening scene of the Dream, the goddess Nüwa is presented patching the heavenly breach at a critical moment when “heaven did not wholly cover (earth) and earth did not completely support (heaven)” (tianbu jianfu, dibu zhouzai).48 In Chinese cosmology, earth and heaven represent the cardinal yin and yang entities, and their separation at the moment of creation symbolizes yin-yang division. Since Nüwa mends heaven to prevent it from collapsing to merge with earth, her activities can be viewed as an endeavor to consolidate the cosmic order founded on heaven-earth separation, or, symbolically, yin-yang division. In Chinese history the yin-yang dichotomy adopted by Dong Zhongshu to designate human relations has been used to justify patriarchal rule. Viewed from the post-Han Confucian perspective, which definitely conditioned Cao Xueqin’s outlook, the goddess’ labor in the celestial realm to maintain the yin-yang dichotomy in the universe may carry the symbolic import of consolidating the social order in the human realm. In fact, in some versions of the Nüwa myth, such as the one presented in Wang Chong’s (27 –ca. 97) philosophical tract “On Balance” (“Lunheng”), the breach in heaven is believed to be caused by Gong Gong in his strife with Zhuan Xu for the throne.49 According to such a source, Nüwa’s service, ostensibly feminine needlework on a cosmic scale, is thus rendered to benefit a male ruler. A theory once popular in the past even assumes Nüwa is a man, taking the first word of her/his name Nü (female) as a surname.50 166

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In the secular realm Nüwa has a counterpart in Grandmother Jia, the female authority in the household. Although the venerable lady does not physically engage in needlework, her endeavors to guard against aberrant behavior in her domain and to save her world from disintegration through her liberal donation, in chapter 107, suggest a symbolic patching of the household breach. In chapter 54 she forbids two storytellers from entertaining the household with a scholar-beauty romance, lest its heretic messages lead astray her oVspring, the subjects of the “maternal patriarchy”51 over which she rules. Despite occasional outbursts of maternal impulses in spoiling Baoyu, her final decision to force a marriage on him at the risk of ruining Daiyu, her dearest granddaughter, divulges cold-blooded rationality. Behind her disaVection for Daiyu’s “eccentricity” lies an unspoken concern that the girl’s “feminine” drift might lead Baoyu further from the patriarchal expectations of the family. Her preference, therefore, is given to Baochai, another “seamstress” in the novel. Soon after Baochai joins the Jia household, in chapter 4, the narrative repeatedly refers to her engagement with embroidery (H 1:7.109, 1:8.126). In chapter 36 Baochai and Aroma are successively involved in needlework for Baoyu. As needlework is a typical female occupation in nearly any culture, in the Dream a woman’s engagement in needlework indicates her acceptance of the prescribed feminine role, and her labor nearly always symbolizes her devotion to a patriarchal cause. The given name of a female Confucian paragon, Li Wan, for instance, means a kind of silk, signaling her dedication to needlework. Thus, parallel to Nüwa’s mending of heaven and Grandmother Jia’s patching of the household breach, Aroma’s and Baochai’s engagement in needlework signifies their endeavor to “mend” Baoyu’s “flawed” gender/personality, i.e., to repair his “feminine” identity through their accepted “masculine” ideology. Daiyu, on the other hand, is peculiarly uninterested in needlework. Commenting in chapter 32 on such an unfeminine bent, Aroma makes the following remarks: “Last year she took practically the whole year embroidering one little purse [as a love token], and this six months I don’t think she’s picked up a needle” (S 1:32.129). Grandma’s preference for Baochai over Daiyu thus reveals her shared gender stance with the former and her hidden expectation that Baochai’s orthodox outlook might contribute to the mending of Baoyu’s male identity.52 In fact, throughout the narrative she is repeatedly addressed as lao zuzong (a forefather), a male epithet that was often adopted to accost Xiaoqin Empress (1835 – 1908) in the imperial court of the Guangxu regime (1875 – 1909).53 Therefore, just as Silverman indicates, in The Dream of the Red Chamber


the absence of a patriarch, a matriarch in charge of the symbolic machine, like Grandmother Jia, feels obliged to represent the “phallus.”54 In the phantasmal realm of the Land of Illusion, Grandmother Jia has a counterpart in Disenchantment, a ruler in a purely female domain and yet entrusted by the forefathers of the Jia family to admonish their wayward scion to turn a new leaf. The strategy they adopt is “to initiate him in the pleasures of flesh so as to detach him from his obsession and then guide him to devote himself to serious things in life” (H 1:5.79). Thus before introducing Combined Beauty into Baoyu’s life, the goddess addresses him as follows: It is my earnest hope that . . . you will henceforth be able to gaihui qianqing (to repent and rectify your former addiction to qing), devoting your mind seriously to the teachings of Confucius and Mencius. (H 1:5.85)

The term “gaihui” (to rectify, and by association, to mend, to repair, and to repent) in her speech at once suggests associations with mending and needlework. Like her counterparts in the human world and celestial realm, Grandmother Jia and Nüwa, Disenchantment feels obliged to identify with the “phallus” as a matriarch who carries the responsibility of a patriarchal mission. In fact, she functions as another “seamstress” commissioned to “repair” Baoyu’s identity.55 Her presence, through her sister Combined Beauty’s participation in Baoyu’s love ritual, aims at nothing less than reforming his gender through sex. The fatal flaw that Disenchantment urges Baoyu to remedy, his qianqing (former passion, or previous sentimental attachment), points to Baoyu’s infatuation with Daiyu, which had already germinated prior to his initiation into the Land of Illusion. While Baochai has only recently arrived, Daiyu and Baoyu, growing up together under one roof, have fostered such intimacy that “it was almost as if they had grown into a single person” (S 1:5.124). As shown earlier, in the tropological scheme of the narrative, Baoyu’s qing, or his spiritual attachment to Daiyu, betokens an inner urge to identify with the “feminine” in his identity construction. Disenchantment’s patriarchal mission is thus inscribed in her name: to disenchant Baoyu from his obsession with the “feminine.” Her strategy is to enchant him with a diVerent gender principle, the “masculine,” as revealed in her orthodox injunctions cited in the preceding text and her introduction of a deceptive ideal lover discussed in the following text: this is called “disenchantment through en-


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chantment,” to borrow an expression from Wai-yee Li,56 though not her idea. The enchantment process starts with introducing Combined Beauty into Baoyu’s life. At the crucial stage of adolescence when Baoyu’s burgeoning obsession with the “feminine” ominously points to his ultimate detachment from the symbolic order, the introduction of Combined Beauty as an ideal lover serves a vital function: under the camouflage of “androgyny” (two-inone) it smuggles in a “masculine” principle, the patriarchal values, personified in Baochai’s presence in the fairy’s identity. Since Combined Beauty is presented right after Disenchantment’s preaching of the “masculine” discourse, it follows that the lesson in sexuality she oVers essentially aims at restoring Baoyu to his “proper” gender. With her orthodox outlook and feminine charm, Baochai stands out as the best candidate for the patriarchal mission; her sexual service can “initiate the boy to the pleasures of flesh so as to detach him from his obsession [with Daiyu] and then guide him to devote himself to serious things in life.” Here the symbolic relation between sex and gender is projected with the same import, though in an inverted direction, as that in The Peony Pavilion: in Tang Xianzu’s play, semen, the yang energy, is infused into the body of a feminized lady to “moderate” her excessive yin; in Cao Xueqin’s novel, semen is induced from a boy to “reaffirm” his yang identity in society. The fairy’s mission of reforming Baoyu’s gender through sex is carried on in the secular realm by Baochai and Aroma in their nuptial and premarital relationship with the boy. It is not a coincidence that right after Baoyu experiences the “androgynous love” in his dream, the narrative presents his sexual relation in life with Aroma, Baochai’s shadow, as if to further intimate the deceptive nature of the “two-inone” love and to foreshadow the ultimate dominance of “masculine” values in his marriage. Commenting on the juxtaposition/parallel of Daiyu and Baochai in the fate registers that Disenchantment presents to Baoyu in the same dream, Li Huiyi remarks, “Daiyu has lost her original superior position [in love].”57 Similarly, the two girls’ equal share in the ideal lover Combined Beauty’s identity deprives Daiyu of her dominant status in Baoyu’s love relationships. Daiyu’s presence in the fairy lover is, in fact, largely deceptive; it functions first to facilitate Baoyu’s acceptance of the Beauty as his ideal lover and then to induce his approval of Baochai as his wife: once the boy returns to reality, Baochai will be forced on him, while Daiyu is deprived of him. In

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this episode the manipulation of Daiyu’s “feminine” identity as a cover to sneak Baochai’s “masculine” identity into Baoyu’s life foreshadows the trick played in his wedding ceremony, in chapter 97, where the innocent bridegroom is told that he is going to marry his beloved cousin Lin but ultimately finds behind his bride’s veil her “masquerade,” a Baochai under the disguise of Daiyu. Zhang Xinzhi delineates Baoyu’s bewilderment in the wedding scene: “In front of him sits the new bride, in the background lurks Combined Beauty. Perfect are both masquerades” (H 2:97.1611). As if in response to Baoyu’s perplexed question “Am I in a dream?” Zhang Xinzhi writes in the interlinear commentary: “The dream in the Land of Illusion [where Baoyu meets Combined Beauty] . . . has eventually led to the present [dreamlike] situation [in the wedding chamber]” (H 2:97.1611). One may choose not to buy some of Zhang’s philosophical abstractions; these remarks, however, reveal an insight into Combined Beauty’s function as a medium for Baochai’s entry to Baoyu’s life by indicating the hidden link between the two “masquerades” in the narrative. In a Chinese idiom, such a game is termed “touliang huanzhu” (to steal a pillar by replacing it with a post). The basic principles of the two games played respectively in the conscious and the subconscious states are identical, only as a divinity, Disenchantment is subtler in her approach than Wang Xifeng, her counterpart in the terrestrial realm. While the mortal can only use a veil to conceal an alien identity/disinclined gender, the divine can wield magic power to create an illusory union between the alien and the congenial, the “masculine” and the “feminine.” The ideal of “androgyny” that the fairy lover embodies is thus both deceptive and illusory, as illusory as the Land of Illusion wherefrom she emerges. Critics often see the sudden death of Qin Keqing, Disenchantment’s secular self, as an indicator of the transitoriness and evanescence of the two-in-one ideal she embodies.58 Once the boy returns to his wakeful state, the ideal lady bifurcates, and he is ultimately compelled to take the one less congenial. Given the ideological diVerence between the two heroines, Combined Beauty can exist only in illusion; the ideal of “androgyny” that she invokes is purely a patriarchal ideology. It is presented in Baoyu’s dream to enchant him with Baochai’s beauty, so as to lure him to remain within the symbolic order and to prevent him from breaching the enclosure of orthodoxy. While Baoyu’s captivation by the fairy and his occasional attraction for Baochai reveal his lingering attachment to one type of feminine charm, it is, however, overwhelmed by his yearning for spiritual freedom. The narrative 170

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shows his disillusionment with the illusory “androgynous ideal” in his growing attachment to Daiyu and increasing attraction for religion. This trend culminates in his desertion of Baochai after Daiyu’s death and his final embrace of seclusion, the genuine androgynous ideal. The love triangle among the protagonists thus entails two types of androgynous union. The fraudulent “androgyny” symbolized by Combined Beauty implies a compromise and a coalition between the hegemonic and marginal outlooks, hence a mirage in patriarchal culture. The genuine androgyny embodied in Baoyu’s spiritual union with Daiyu and his final retreat into religion projects a pro-Daoist vision: to preserve one’s masculinity/penis by identifying with the marginal/“feminine.” Apart from the love triangle, the motif of androgyny is also reflected in the recurrent image of the stone, which invites our scrutiny in the following section.

Two Sets of Tropological Patterns: Gender Signification in the Stone-Baoyu-Jade Relationships In the mythological framework of the novel, Baoyu originates from a legendary stone that the goddess Nüwa made to restore the collapsing firmament. Since Nüwa is noted for her creation of human beings, the hero’s mythic origin relates him to the creation myth,59 according to which the world began in a formless, chaotic state known in Chinese as hundun.60 In the narrative, Baoyu’s being rooted in the primordial realm is conveyed by his origin at the Titanic Mountains, dahuangshan, and Boundless Crags, wujiya, images of cosmic entities, amidst hongmeng (the undiVerentiated) and miaomang (the obscure and boundless), the misty cosmic void darker than any mystery. Prior to his eternal departure from the mundane world, Baoyu sings the following song to bid farewell to his father: . . . In the Cosmic Void (Hongmeng) I roam . . . Wilderness (Miaomiao mangmang) To which I return. (H 2.1971; S 5.360) ( . . . wosuo youxi, hongmeng taikong . . . miaomiao mangmang xi, guibi dahuang)

As Baoyu’s final destination in the realm of immortality, hongmeng and miaomang refer to a primeval state of “chaos”61 identical to the concept of hundun, although these terms may have originated respectively from religious The Dream of the Red Chamber


Daoism and Daoist philosophy. In his study of the creation myth of chaos, David Yu indicates that “religious Daoism, sharing a common outlook with Daoist philosophy, viewed the primordial condition prior to creation as chaos and implicated it with various meanings of potency such as: vast prime (hong-yuan), the boundless (ming-xing), the undiVerentiated (meng-hong).”62 The consanguinity among these terms is conveyed linguistically in the nearrhymed compound in their composition and the water radical they share, which convey, as Eoyang indicates, “the sense of the turbulence, the whirling action of water currents”63 assumed to be present in the primal chaos. Ideologically, they are also kindred terms; all embody, in Norman Girardot’s words, “a way of viewing the world,”64 which bears on the gender issue under discussion and that will soon reengage our attention. In almost all cultures, cosmic chaos is regarded as a universal image of androgyny, although here the definitive parameters of the term “androgyny” go beyond mere union of genders to incorporate “all conceptions of unitytotality in which the integration of sex-role components is prominent but not exclusive.”65 In Western religions, the primeval undiVerentiated mode of existence is described as being “without form and void.”66 In her study of the creation myths throughout the world, June Singer observes that the earliest being assumes the identity of the Primal Androgyne, a prehuman form containing all dimensions, including maleness and femaleness. In the act of creation it falls to earth, splits into male and female, loses its immortality, and becomes human.67 Singer’s paradigm can also apply to Oriental mythology. In the Daoist myth, yin-yang harmony rules the realm of precreation, where all dichotomies coexist in a state of unity-totality before they are torn asunder in the act of creation. In explicating the earliest Daoist concept of cosmic chaos/androgyny, most illuminative are the two terms mentioned earlier, hundun and hongmeng, to which we now return for further exploration. Hundun and hongmeng are not only descriptive terms for cosmic chaos but are in the Daoist classic Zhuang Zi two important characters who personify an essential Daoist outlook related to the state of primeval harmony. In “Emperor Hundun of the Center,” the titular hero is a creature without any bodily aperture. Shu and Hu, two neighbors of his kingdom, who have received favor from the ruler, decide to bore seven openings in his face so as to reciprocate his kindness. When the holes are done, however, the emperor dies.68 In Daoist thinking, the primordial chaos personified in Hundun is viewed as “a benevolent disorder”69 or “a perfect order” that embodies the hidden harmony in nature and men. This condition is believed to 172

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have existed in the prehuman world and prehistoric stage when “Yin and yang were harmonious and still, ghost and spirits made no mischief ” (yinyang hejing, guishen burao).70 When seven holes are dug into the “uncarved block,” the primeval harmony is destroyed and Hundun dies.71 The parable alludes to the creation mythology, intimating the fall from the paradise of the beginning to a civilized form of existence. In Zhuang Zi this fall from the original perfection is ascribed to “the misguided eVorts of the legendary heroes Suiren, Fuxi, Shengnong, the Yellow Emperor, Yao and Shun,”72 whose imposition of rules and government gave rise to hierarchy and disrupted the “androgynous” chaos. An important message of this fable, as Girardot indicates, is the Daoist refusal to accept “face,” which in Confucianism is always related to “name,” or the human identity defined by the ethical principles of ritualized institutions.73 Like Hundun, Hongmeng is a character in Zhuang Zi, a Daoist master who instructs the quintessential principles of no-action, no-knowledge, and no-self. The practice of such doctrines, he alleges, will lead one to the “origin,” which he calls “the faceless condition of hun-hun dun-dun.”74 As an ardent advocate and practitioner of hun-dun discourse, Hongmeng is a close replica of Hundun; the two are virtually identical twins in Daoist genealogy. Baoyu’s yearning to return to hongmeng thus reveals a spiritual aYnity to the “androgynous totality” captured in the image of cosmogonic chaos, hundun. The hero’s “hun-dun” identity is, first and foremost, inscribed in its mythic origin, the stone, which in Chinese thinking is traditionally believed to have originated from the primordial chaos. In his “Inscription on a Stone Man,” scholar Sun Zhi of the Jin dynasty (265 – 420) wrote: “From the celestial air the vast universe came into being; from the dark and the obscure rocks were formed.”75 The hero’s hun-dun identity is further disclosed in the composition of the stone, which is called wuseshi (a stone of five colors). Its beautiful, well-blended five colors betoken a perfect balance of the five elements in its essence—earth, water, fire, metal, and wood. In Chinese metaphysics, five elements and yin-yang are just two diVerent patterns of metaphor commonly used in philosophical speculation, and the balance in five elements often carry similar connotation to yin-yang harmony. The stone with the balance of five elements in its composition thus serves as a microscopic emblem of yin-yang harmony and union-totality characteristic of the existential mode of cosmogonic chaos. Its gender identity is further revealed in its uselessness in Nüwa’s heaven-patching mission. Viewed from the Daoist perThe Dream of the Red Chamber


spective, Nüwa’s role in the late stage of Chinese creation myth represents a regrettable blunder that “messes up” the primeval harmony—as Girardot puts it, “early Taoism makes a distinction between the sacred condition of the hun-dun times and a secondary degeneration into the ‘chaos’ (luan) of civilized ‘order.’ ”76 The goddess, in her endeavor to consolidate “order,” takes a position that is essentially anti-chaos/anti-androgyny. The stone’s lack of “talents” and its dismissal by the “divine fixer,” a clear parallel to Baoyu’s lack of use in the oYcial realm during his mundane sojourn, reveal an indigenous aYnity to the hun-dun state and a latent antipathy to the “civilized order.” The conflict between cosmic chaos and order, implicitly conveyed in the mythological framework of the novel, unfolds in the main body of the narrative in the confrontation between the patriarchal endeavor to impose an “order” in the form of a prescribed gender on the hero and his resistance to such an imposition. The stone’s final return to hongmeng, parallel to Baoyu’s withdrawal from the Red Dust, signals the merging of the trope and the subject, and its eventual dodging of such an imposed gender. The stone’s existential drama is orchestrated by two immortals, Mangmang Dashi (the Buddhist Mahasattva Impervioso) and Miaomiao Zhenren (the Daoist illuminate Mysterioso), who initiate it into the terrestrial, guide it in its mind journey of self-discovery, and finally pilot it back to its cosmic origin after instructing a spiritual lesson. The water radical in the names of the two immortals betokens their kinship to Hundun and Hongmeng; in fact, the words that compose their names, miaomiao (boundless, indistinct), and mangmang (vast, vague), often appear in classic writings to depict primordial chaos.77 The two immortals are, therefore, none other than spiritual mentors who teach the art of “no-face” and the discourse of hundun. In designing the stone’s spiritual journey, they adopt a typical Taoist strategy by stimulating the subject’s secular desire, creating an illusion of transitory gratification, the shattering of which will lead to an insight into the futility and vacuity of mundane existence.78 In its reincarnation, therefore, the stone is taken to an elegant household and made a male scion of an aristocratic family; its sexless, genderless essence in its original state is thus subsumed by a prescribed “masculine” identity. Accordingly, the stone, a cosmic symbol of hundun doctrine, changes into a piece of jade, which in Chinese culture is taken as the “crystallization of the yang principle,”79 with its symbolic association with the powers of heaven, divinity, and the privileged.80


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Jing Wang’s study indicates that Confucius even assigned to jade all the virtues requisite for an ideal gentleman.81 The most explicit link between the piece of jade and the elite culture is, of course, conveyed in the fated union between jade and gold (jinyu liangyuan), which not only preordains Baoyu’s unseverable tie to the privileged status, but also his lifelong exposure to Baochai’s nagging to make a “name” and to accept a “face,” much against his hundun instincts. In the allegorical framework of the narrative, the jade’s relation to Baoyu, as Sun Xun perceptively indicates, resembles that of the Golden Hood to Monkey in The Journey to the West; both are spiritual chains restraining the freedom of individualistic souls.82 While the Golden Hood is charged with the power of orthodox Buddhism evoked at Tripitaka’s chanting to bridle Monkey’s free Chan spirit,83 the jade embodies the orthodox values adopted by Baochai and her like to rectify Baoyu’s heterodox gender. Baoyu’s artificial link to the jade leads many critics to discern in his name as well as in his identity a piece of “false jade,” a “mask” and an “illusion” for the “real stone.”84 Small wonder, the patriarchal authority sets great store by the jade, wherein is embedded their expectations of Baoyu’s final conversion to a “jade personality,” a part of the power structure. In chapter 3 Grandmother Jia sees the jade as the roots of the boy’s life (minggen zi); in chapter 117 Aroma and Baochai defend the jade from being given away with all their might. Before Grandmother Jia passes away in chapter 117, she asks her maid Faithful to ransack her trunks for a family heirloom, a piece of precious jade made in the Han dynasty. The grandmother presents it to Baoyu to make up for his namesake jade that has been lost, saying, “This was handed down to me from my great-grandpa, and now I’m passing it on to you” (H 2:109.1789). The time of the jade’s production is significant, since the Han dynasty was not only the time when the Jia household witnessed its initial ascendance (H 1:2.24) but was also a period when Confucianism was institutionalized as a state cult. The family heirloom thus amounts to nothing less than the ideological heritage of China’s orthodox tradition. In such a before-death ritual, the jade carries the matriarch’s last wish that her wayward grandson would eventually turn a new leaf by carrying on the patriarchal tradition entrusted to her by her ancestors. It is not a coincidence that when Baoyu embarks on a mock pursuit of an oYcial career to make a “name” for the family, in chapter 119, his mother, Madam Wang, cannot help regretting that grandma is no longer alive to see his “reformation.” In the value-saturated

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world of the Dream, jade is so intrinsically related to elite status that its presence has to be deleted from the name of a chambermaid, Hongyu (Red Jade), who is obliged to change her name to Xiaohong (Little Red, hence a small potato) to avoid the misleading connotation in the symbolic register. Yet, just as the jade is related to Baochai and the orthodoxy she stands for, with almost equal propinquity it is associated with Daiyu and the values that she embodies. The word “jade,” yu, in fact, forms the last part of her name, marking her shared identity with Baoyu. Her bond to jade/stone is, moreover, doubly cemented, for the other half of her given name, dai, in Baoyu’s interpretation, also stands for “a stone in the west” (H 1:3.48). In chapter 3, in an attempt to coax the frustrated Baoyu into accepting his mouth-jade, Grandmother Jia blurts out a significant line: “Sister Lin also carried a jade in the past” (H 1:3.49). Indeed, as Li Yuanzhen indicates, Daiyu’s name in Chinese is actually homophonous with daiyu (to bring a jade).85 Keenly aware of her consanguinity with the jade, Daiyu, like Baochai, defends it with all her might. In chapter 29, when Baoyu is caught in a fit of rage, bent on smashing his jade, Daiyu cries, “If you want to smash something, let it be me” (S 2:29.87). It is commonly acknowledged that Daiyu’s aYnity to the jade is largely derived from her addiction to purity, which constitutes one of the five Confucian virtues traditionally associated with jade.86 Unlike the other virtues promoted by Confucianism, purity is almost exclusively related to dissident impulses that motivate Confucian martyrs and eremites in their protest against demonic politics. Such a Confucian moral vision is canonized by Mencius as dushan (preserving one’s purity),87 which is only once removed from the Daoist ethics of withdrawal.88 Largely due to Daiyu’s obsession for purity, critics have repeatedly compared her to a hermit. In the brief span of her life, purity remains an unremitting goal of her spiritual pursuits. In the symbolic scale of the Dream, where dirt is synonymous with men and cleanness is attributed to maidens, her obsession with “purity” carries strong gender implications. Daiyu’s aforementioned rejection of a gift from a “coarse man,” the emperor, suggests an aYnity between the “purity” she vigorously defends and the “femininity” in the Lacanian paradigm as well as the “authenticity” inherent in the late-Ming idealization of the “feminine”; all are related to an inner drive to remain uncontaminated in the symbolic order. Her obsession with purity seems to have cast such an aura around her that not even the lascivious minds and lusty souls in the Jia household dare to 176

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covet her ethereal beauty. In the grimy world around her she keeps aloof from nearly every man, except for Baoyu, “the male symbol of female purity.”89 Her suicidal resolve upon Baoyu’s marriage reveals a tragic will to guard purity with her life, since to live thereafter in a possibly loveless marriage with a widower, as disclosed in a prophetic dream, is to yield herself to the contaminating forces of patriarchy. The spiritual purity and moral strength embodied in the jade suggests its kinship with the stone; the latter’s associations with such human qualities can be traced to early Chinese writings. In The Book of Change, for instance, a man who “neither flatters those above nor neglects those beneath him” is presented “as firm as a rock.”90 In Chinese literature, the human will to defend spiritual purity against patriarchal defilement is often projected in the stone image, a literary convention originating at latest from the Song dynasty and gaining immense popularity in Ming paintings and scholarbeauty romance, as the preceding discussion indicates. The bond between stone and jade is further observed by Zhu Tong, who remarks: “Jade is produced from stone, which serves as its mother. This is proved by an ancient saying ‘when the rock contains jade, the mountain glitters with beauty.’ ”91 In the Dream, stone’s and jade’s shared association with purity/virility is projected in a second stone identity, Stony Idiot (Shi Daizi), who was in possession of a collection of twenty rare antique fans and guarded it with his life: The fansticks were made of very special kinds of bamboo—naiad’s tears, black bamboo, fawnskin and jadewood—and the paintings on them were all by old masters. When he told Sir She [Jia She] about them, Sir She said at once that come what may he must have them and that Stony could name his price. But Stony didn’t want a price—not if they oVered him a thousand taels a fan, he said. He said he would rather die of hunger and cold than sell them. (S 2:48.455)

True to his word, Stony ultimately became a martyr to his fan when he killed himself in “lunacy” after his treasure was extorted from him through an oYcial blackmail concocted by Jia Yucun, the “masculine” man. We are not given the name of this “lunatic” fan-guardian; the narrative gives only a nickname, “Stony.” In the absence of a real name, the character functions like an allegorical figure, personifying the moral strength embodied in the stone that makes up his nickname. The inherent kinship between the two tropes of jade and stone in this The Dream of the Red Chamber


episode is suggested by the construction materials of the valueless treasure; the fan’s sticks are made of “special” bamboo of “naiad’s tears, black bamboo, fawnskin and jadewood,” each in one way or another associated with Daiyu’s identity. The bamboo of naiad’s tears establishes the most explicit link to Daiyu, the resident of the bamboo-surrounded Naiad’s House in the garden. The profuse tears she shed in repaying Baoyu for the pre-mundane grace conferred on her make her a perfect match to the legendary consorts of the ancient ruler Shen, whose tears falling on the plant created the purple specks characteristic of the bamboo of naiad’s tears.92 The second item that composes the fan’s sticks, “black bamboo,” puns Daiyu’s name, which, according to Baoyu’s interpretation, means “black stone.” “Fawnskin bamboo,” the third item, is a precious species of the bamboo family, noted for its hard and solid fibre, which correspondingly mirrors Daiyu’s inner strength in her tenacious pursuit of love. The jade image in the last item, “jadewood,” explicitly associates the fans with Daiyu, the black jade. The bamboo treasure that Stony Idiot defends so vigorously is, therefore, inherently related to the values guarded by Daiyu, the “bamboo girl,” which are nothing but personal autonomy and spiritual purity. In Chinese culture since the Tang dynasty (618 – 907), bamboo, pine tree, and plum blossom have converged in literati writings into a symbolic moral triad.93 Commonly known as the “three friends in the winter” (suihan sanyou), they often serve as figures of moral strength for literati scholars. Bamboo’s “lofty nature” was thrown into relief particularly in the arts and poetry of Zheng Banqiao (1693 – 1765), a contemporary of the Dream’s author and a kindred soul, whose impassioned eulogy of bamboo may have inspired Cao Xueqin’s portrayal of the bamboo girl and Stony Idiot.94 In the Dream, Stony’s vigorous defense of his “bamboo treasure” parallels the bamboo girl’s unrelenting guarding of her love. While Stony takes a stand against Jia She, the most despotic agent of the power structure, Daiyu unwittingly engages herself with the invisible patriarchal conventions. In their respective suicidal endeavors, they embody one’s tenacious adherence to the spiritual purity inherent in the bamboo-stone-jade imagery in confrontation of the common foe of patriarchy. In the Stony episode, the import of purity and virility shared by the three images of bamboo, stone, and jade is probably most eminently presented. In the Dream, the implied purity/virility of the jade is not only associated with Daiyu’s disposition and Stony’s eccentricity but is also visible in the characterization of Baoyu, the jade boy, whose lodging in the garden is ac178

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cordingly decked with the engravings of pine, bamboo, and plum blossoms, the three friends of winter (H 1:17.261). Baoyu’s defiance of convention and his dogged pursuit of a chosen path, culminating in his final withdrawal from the Red Dust, are temperamentally related to the values embodied in jade: a marginal man’s impregnable virility in adhering to his authenticity. The dual association of the jade with Baochai and Daiyu discloses deep ambiguity in its signification potential in relation to human gender identity. As a metonymy of elite culture, it is emblematic of the glory of patriarchy; as a variant of stone, it embodies the intrepidity of human will to guard one’s inner purity (or “femininity”). The hero’s quandary about his symbolic association with the conflicting gender import of jade is revealed in his puzzlement over the following koanlike quip with which Daiyu addresses him: Bao-yu, I wish to propound a question to you: “Bao” is that which is of all things the most majestic [hence related to “masculinity”] and “yu” is that which is most solid [hence associated with the virility for maintaining one’s “penis” and “femininity”]. Wherein lies your majesty and wherein lies your solidity? (H 1:22.340)

Baoyu’s loss of words at such a psychological test divulges the want of an intellectual grasp of his hidden bonds with the jade. In his desperation to detach himself from patriarchy, he sees the jade largely as a link to the symbolic order. In chapter 3, upon Daiyu’s first arrival at the Jia household, learning that this fairylike cousin does not carry a jade as all the other girls do, Baoyu is thrown into a fit of exasperation, determined to destroy the “beastly thing.” What infuriates the boy is his discovery that the jade carries a gender, and a muddy one in his perception. Being insulated from all the girls, the jade, like a phallus in the shape of a piece of art, categorizes his identity as “masculine” and stigmatizes his born “superiority” in the symbolic order.95 Baoyu’s destructive mood erupts again in chapter 29, when the fated union between jade and gold interferes with his love for Daiyu. His second endeavor to shatter the jade bespeaks an intensified urge to repudiate the elite culture that the jade-gold union embodies and to identify with the “feminine,” since the riddance of the jade aims essentially at cementing his bond with Daiyu. Given the double import of elite values and spiritual virility inherent in the jade image, the indestructibility of the jade signifies not only the impossibility of a man’s rejection of his masculine identity and the irrevocability of The Dream of the Red Chamber


the hero’s fated union but also the irreversibility of his will to repudiate his prescribed gender and imposed marriage. The knowledge about his relation to the jade and the stone will dawn on Baoyu in the course of his spiritual journey. After Daiyu’s death, Baoyu’s unrelenting quest for “femininity” is enacted in the unconscious realm when his soul wanders into Hades in search of his beloved. Most relevant to such a spiritual quest are the remarks and the action of a stranger in the nether realm, who tells the boy that his search for Lin Daiyu is “a case of futile self-delusion” (S 4:98.372). When he had finished speaking, the man took a stone from within his sleeve and threw it at Bao-yu’s chest. The words he had spoken and the impact of the stone as it landed on his chest combined to give Bao-yu such a fright that he would have returned home at once for fear that he would have got lost. (S 4:98.373, italics mine)

In the preceding passage the four italicized parts, “stone” (shi), “chest” (xinkou), “return home” (huijia), and “got lost” (mi le lu), acquire new significance once examined in the context of Baoyu’s quest for self-understanding. The “stone” mysteriously harks back to the boy’s origin in primordial chaos; it now reemerges by the end of Baoyu’s journey to claim its authentic identity. The image of “chest” recalls Baoyu’s line: “I have a heart which I have given to cousin Lin” (H 2:97.1598). Baoyu’s heart, a trope for his ardent yearning to identify with the “feminine,” is lost upon Daiyu’s departure. In its vacant cabinet, the stone now lands as a substitute heart, signaling the acquisition of a new identity in place of the one given away. “To return home,” as Anthony Yu indicates, is a common religious trope for the recovery of one’s original nature in Buddhism and the reversal of the natural course of physical decay in Daoism.96 The phrase “get lost” recalls the four words inscribed on the jade, moshi mowang (don’t get lost, don’t forget [your origin]), which convey the divine warning against the hero’s wayward inclinations. Baoyu’s anxiety over “getting lost” and his longing to “return home” intimate a burgeoning urge to restore his stone identity, having learned through his vicissitudes that his single-minded pursuit for Daiyu, his “feminine” soul mate, is in fact a “case of futile self-delusion.” The stranger in Hades turns out to be none other than Mangmang Dashi in disguise, a spiritual guide who ushers him back to the hongmeng state. Baoyu learns a further lesson in his second spiritual journey to the celestial realm. In chapter 116, he is upset after his meeting with Zhen Baoyu, his 180

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childhood double but adulthood reverse, whose conformity to orthodoxy presents a dire threat from the symbolic order to rectify his gender. Such a threat materializes in Baochai’s importunity that he should establish himself and build up a name (lishen yangming). The boy’s consequent relapse into stupor brings back the mangy monk, who ushers his soul to the Precinct of the Celestial Visitants for further spiritual illumination. Baoyu’s celestial journey can also be viewed as his second subconscious search for his lost “femininity” under an ever tightening siege by “masculine” forces. Although Daiyu repeatedly sends envoys to invite him for a meeting, it is an invitation for the Divine Luminescent Page, his pre-mundane self, which reaYrms their sublime bond beyond the terrestrial domain. Once he betrays his secular aVection in an inadvertent outcry to Daiyu, a blind is lowered between them and he is driven away. One way to look at this episode, which is clearly charged with a Buddhist message against emotional attachment,97 is to apply a gender perspective. “Femininity,” the pristine purity free from human contamination, symbolically presented in Daiyu’s divine image of Hibiscus Goddess, can only be approached in a transcendental mood and in a superhuman realm; it slips out of one’s grasp once it is pursued with secular emotion by a mortal being. Daiyu’s inaccessibility in this scene reinforces the warning that the stranger in the nether realm conveys, i.e., the hero’s singleminded pursuit to identify with “femininity” as a mortal being is essentially “a case of futile self-delusion.” The celestial journey reinforces the hellish quest by disillusioning the boy about his ideal in “femininity” in the terrestrial realm and awakening in him a renewed craving to return “home,” his hundun origin. In his interesting reading of the narrative, Haun Saussey concludes that the story is essentially the bildungsroman of a hero who discovered he was a trope.98 Tying up the complicated threads of the hero’s identity, Zhen Shiyin remarks, “Baoyu is none other than a baoyu [a piece of jade]” (H 2:120.1981). The trope that the hero finds in his own identity crisis is associated with the trope that he discerns in his jade: its “masculine” import associated with elite culture pictured in Baochai’s character repels him, yet it accords with cultural imperatives; its “feminine potential” associated with the spiritual purity and freedom inherent in Daiyu’s nature appeals to him, yet it is not realizable in the patriarchal order. These are the alternatives that he is obliged to choose in formulating his gender identity, as a jade boy. This insight into the conflicting essence of his jade, which leads to the dilemma of his mortal existence, lies at the back of his motivation to return The Dream of the Red Chamber


the jade to the monk, an action that heralds his own return to the hundun origin. Explicating his enigmatic behavior, he again speaks the Zen language of double meaning: “I have a heart now. What is the use of the jade?” (H 2:117.1910). The substitute heart of the stone is now accepted as a part of his organic body, signaling his embrace of a new identity, which is in fact as old as his origin. The line thus illustrates the hero’s ultimate understanding of his identity: a piece of “false jade, and true stone,” as critics have repeatedly pointed out. In rejecting the jade, he forsakes both the “masculine” mode of life as well as the illusory ideal of “femininity,” whose infeasibility has dawned on him in his successive infernal and celestial quests, in pursuit of a gender-free identity beyond the mundane. The narrative concludes with the hero on his way back to the Titanic Mountains and Boundless Crags, his pre-mundane hongmeng origin, accompanied by the two immortals, Mangmang Dashi and Miaomiao Zhenren, the masters of hundun discourse. Alienated from Confucian society and revolting against its gender imperatives, the hero turns back to his hundun origin for a congenial mode of existence. His tolerance for living nineteen years in the Jia household is partly due to the existence within its walls of a Garden of Total Vision, a transient hundun oasis amid the desert of patriarchal society.

The Garden of Total Vision: A Hundun Oasis within the Desert of Patriarchy From early adolescence, Baoyu grows up in the Garden of Total Vision, whose name suggests a holistic perspective, or an all-embracing hundun outlook.99 The date when the garden starts to accommodate its inhabitants, the twenty-second day of the second lunar month (2/22), suggests a combination of yin and yang implications, as the Qing commentator Zhang Xinzhi remarks: “It is spring time now, and yet the date is made of a couple of yin numbers” (haochunye, eryipai yinshu) (H 1:23.355). Except for Baoyu, the inhabitants of the garden are exclusively females, the yin or “water” elements. Such abundance of “water”/female elements in the garden, physically projected in the presence of a pure “Fragrant Blossoms Stream” (qinfang quanqi), provokes a symbolic association with the primordial chaos, for the Chinese term hundun is made of two words, each carrying a water radical. Moreover, this rhymed compound conveys the sense of the turbulence of water currents imaginatively related to chaos.100 The analogy be182

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tween the garden and chaos gains striking relevance when we notice Cao Xueqin’s deliberate selection of the word hundun (chaos) in the depiction of the world of pristine ignorance related to the girls of oblivious innocence in the garden, among whom Baoyu grows up: All the girls in the garden are still in the innocent stage of the hundun world. When they sit and sleep they do not avoid others; when they smile and laugh they are not flirtatious. (H 1:23.357)

On a symbolic level, this world of innocence where the divisions between sexes and genders are still submerged bears close resemblance to the precreation state where potential yin-yang dichotomies are kept in primal chaos/ androgyny. With his prehuman identity of a cosmic stone free of gender division, Baoyu cherishes a born aYnity to the female hundun world around him. In the congenial companionship of female denizens in the garden, he goes fishing, flies kites, roasts a deer, composes poetry, solves riddles, plays chess, throws dice, and enjoys all the fun of life in the locus amoenus, idling away his carefree life unbound by the duties of a man. The garden thus becomes his androgynous paradise where his inner urge to cross gender borderlines is gratified in the innocent gender/sex integration in his relationship with the girls around him. As the “crown of the beauties,” Baoyu’s aYnity to the hundun outlook is prophetically alluded to when Madam Wang labels him a hunshi mowang (a fiendish sovereign in a realm of chaos) (H 1:3.45) as she forewarns the newly arrived Daiyu of her cousin’s waywardness. The “chaotic” condition of the garden over which he reigns as a symbolic ruler is conveyed in another similar term, luanshi weiwang (to be a ruler in an anarchic domain, H 1:60.979), an expression used by Skybright to comment on a scene in the garden, where four adolescent actresses take on Aunt Zhao in a skirmish to challenge her seniority. Viewed through the lens of conventional ethics, the life in the garden, particularly that related to Baoyu’s existence, assumes a semblance of hundun state with the yin-yang dichotomy being constantly dissolved in terms of career outlook, social hierarchy, and the relation between sexes and generations. The garden is thus projected as an artistic oasis of androgyny within the desert of patriarchy.101 In the garden life, Baoyu’s hundun inclinations find expression first and foremost in the blurring of sexual distinctions. To erase the gender boundary, he seeks to merge its biographical origins: sexes. Just as he sleeps in the same bed with Daiyu during their childhood, in adolescence he tickles SkyThe Dream of the Red Chamber


bright’s armpits and takes her under his covers to warm her chilly body, and he sleeps side by side with Parfumee in inebriation.102 Physical contact with the opposite sex gratifies his psychological longing to dissolve a distinction between self and the Other, reassuring his spiritual identification with the pure sex, giving him a sense of belonging. In defiance of cultural prohibition, Baoyu intends to maintain such intimacy with the females even after the departure of the age of innocence. Its ultimate loss thus assumes a tragic dimension when, upon the advent of puberty, the females themselves, the sex he aims to identify with, resist his casual contacts. Upset by Daiyu’s reprimand for his eVorts (dongshou dongjiao) to console her by holding her hand (S 2:30.96) and wiping her tears (S 2:32.133), Baoyu breaks down when even her maid Nightingale asks him to talk “without pawing about,” for they are now “beginning to grow up.” The eVect of this rebuV on Bao-yu’s feelings was as if a bowl of icy water had been emptied over him. For some moments he was stunned and stood gazing stupidly. . . . Tears rolled down his cheeks, but he did not feel them. For an hour or more he continued to sit there motionless, turning the same question, “What am I to do?”, over and over in his mind, but never reaching a conclusion. (S 3:17.89)

In his pro-“feminist” mind, Baoyu perceives in such rebuVs an ominous signal from the cultural unconsciousness, which denounces his hundun mode of existence and portends the inevitable doom of his endeavor to suppress sex/gender division, or his “androgynization” enterprise, in the garden. Such a message evokes excessive poignancy in him, for it is delivered through the voices of the females themselves. Yet, in fact, the “disorder” of sexual anarchy that Baoyu longs to maintain in his chaotic botanical land, with its intended disruption of sexual hierarchy, stands for a greater, or truer, order that transcends the binary polarization of the symbolic order. His penchant for casual contact with female bodies notwithstanding, Baoyu is miraculously freer from prurient impulses in comparison with any other male protagonist in the Dream. When Adamantina sends him a pink birthday card, he never suspects its sexual innuendo; when she solicits his company late one night on her way to the monastery, he is utterly impervious to her sexual invitation. While Liao Xianhao may have gone a bit too far in asserting that the author keeps “sex out of his [Baoyu’s] life,”103 and the recent scholarship in the West by Wai-yee Li, Maram Epstein, and Martin 184

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Huang certainly rectifies a scholastic extreme in their emphasis on Baoyu’s paradoxical combination of innocence and experience,104 the scanty description of sex in the hero’s characterization does seem to point to a tendency to deliberately deemphasize his identity as a male desiring agent in sexuality, which not only reinforces the spiritual dimension of his love but also suggests his transcendence of sexual polarization. In defining Baoyu’s indiscriminate aVection for the tender sex, his “lust of mind,” C. T. Hsia and Angela Jung Palandri respectively use the terms “disinterested” and “altruistic”;105 both suggest conscious suppression of the male self as the dominant party in sexuality and the merging between the desiring self and the sexualized other, the male and female gender stands polarized in traditional sexual relationship. In Baoyu’s poetic perspective, feminine physical beauty acquires a botanical dimension, blooming with the flower and reinvigorating the life and vitality of the garden; maidenhood represents the unsullied stage of human life, contributing to keeping the garden a “feminine” pure land. This mentality accounts for Baoyu’s beauty worship as well as his insatiable demand for beautiful girls in the garden, a “poetic urge,” which in Nightingale’s “prosaic light” looks like an excessive appetite for food/sex that he cannot digest (tanduo jiao bu lan) (H 2:94.1546). When the girls finally reach the age of matrimony and leave his botanical “land,” his grief knows no bounds. Their departure dooms his “kingdom,” for it is their maidenly essence that purifies its ambience and makes up its “femininity”; a girl’s entry into wedlock, just like his involuntary nuptial bond to a “masculine” woman, threatens to defile her/his unspotted identity, their “femininity.” Sexuality and matrimony are associated with the institutions that enforce gender division. The Garden of Total Vision as a botanical projection of Baoyu’s lyrical ideal functions largely as a pure land of spiritual love in contrast to the sex-infested world without. The “androgynous” mode of love in the garden versus its patriarchal counterpart outside is manifestly presented in the following two scenes. In chapter 77, when Baoyu ventures outside his precinct to pay the last visit to his dying maid Skybright, he unexpectedly gets entangled in a “love connection” as Skybright’s lecherous sister-in-law approaches him in the following manner: She . . . drawing him down on top of her, put up her legs and gripped tightly between them. This is something totally outside Bao-yu’s experience. His heart The Dream of the Red Chamber


started pounding wildly, his face turned scarlet, and his whole body began to tremble. . . . She began to get to work on his clothing, while Bao-yu made frantic eVorts to pull himself away. (S 3:77.546 – 547)

The gender reversal in such an eye-catching “rape” scene has been discussed by Louise Edwards and Martin Huang;106 what is relevant to us here is Baoyu’s revulsion at the gendered roles he is expected to play in such a sexual game. This “rape” of a male by a female is reminiscent of Pan Jinlian’s “molestation” of Ximen Qing discussed earlier, only the physical positions of the two parties are not reversed here. By putting Baoyu on top of her and granting him the “dominant” position in sex, the woman endeavors to arouse his desire, invites him to take action, soliciting him to assault her like a real “man.” Only after she has sensed the boy’s refusal to play such a masculine role does she begin to work on his clothes, trying to reduce him to a pure sex object, her sexualized Other, the feminine role. Among other things, Baoyu’s resistance to both roles reveals an aversion to the gender polarization in sexuality itself. Such naked sexuality outside the garden stands in marked contrast to the refinement of spiritual love within, of which chapter 58 oVers us a glimpse. One day while sauntering in the garden, Baoyu is startled by a sudden burst of flame beyond a rockery. Approaching the spot, he finds an unexpected scene. A Tear-stained Nenuphar crouched on the ground, holding the chafing-dish with which the recent blaze had been kindled, and gazing with a sorrowful expression at the charred, still smoldering remains of a pile of gold paper “spirit money.” (S 3:58.124)

It turns out that the girl, the Principal Boy in the household dramatic troop, is mourning her deceased “theatrical spouse,” Pivoine, who used to play the Principal Girl. The mutual aVection they acted on the stage fostered a spiritual union that led them to become lovers in real life. Baoyu responds to the scene with “a powerful mixture of emotions: pleasure, sorrow and an unbounded admiration for the little actress” (S 3:58.133). The sympathetic chord that this scene strikes in Baoyu stems from the kinship between the girl’s spiritual passion and his altruistic “lust of mind” (yiyin), which, in Zhiyan Zhai’s interpretation, amounts to nothing less than the consideration for others (titie);107 both transcend the carnal dimension and the gendered hierarchy characteristic of the traditional sexuality prac186

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ticed outside the garden by lavishing one’s unpossessive aVection on the beloved. As an expression of homoerotic sensibility, it also parallels Baoyu’s quasi-homosexual attachment to the four male characters in the narrative: Qin Zhong, Liu Xianglian, Jiang Yuhan, and Prince of Northern Tranquility. While Baoyu’s attachment to feminine men is often taken as manifestation of his interest in shared rapport,108 kindred souls,109 or an extension of his female worship,110 it also carries an androgynous dimension. As Kang Zhengguo indicates, homosexuality in imperial China projects a mirror image of its heterosexual counterpart, with the wealthy, powerful, elder often lording over or physically abusing the poor, weak, and young (in the role division of the penetrator and the penetrated). Such gender polarization is absent in Baoyu’s relationships with his male confidants, which remain largely spiritual rather than physical. Even in his possible physical contacts with Qin Zhong, only vaguely hinted at in the narrative, the active/ passive gender division remains indeterminate or maybe mobile.111 Homoerotic sentimental attachment presented in the garden thus enables a person to cherish aVection both for a male or for a female despite his/her own sexual identity, pointing to fluidity of gender in love relationships. In opposition to yin (lust, lewdness, concupiscence) it originates from qing, a cultural legacy that Cao Xueqin inherited from Wei-Jin scholars and late-Ming thinkers such as Tang Xianzu and Feng Menglong. Zhiyan Zhai insightfully indicates the irreconcilability between the two values: “By indulging in yin one destroys qing; by practicing qing one abstains from yin” (yinbi shangqing, qingbi jieyin). The sex game and possessive love practiced outside the garden, typified in Jia She’s lust for Faithful, Jia Lian’s dalliance with You Erjie, and Xue Pan’s homosexuality with schoolboys, indicate the dominance of yin in sexuality, which reinforces patriarchal gender dichotomy; the spiritual love thriving within the garden, exemplified in Baoyu’s aVection for girls and the quasi-homoerotic sentimental attachment, embodies qing, which destabilizes the sexual polarization in the traditional relationship, adding an androgynous dimension to Baoyu’s life in the garden.112 In addition to the submerged gender division in sex and sexuality, subversion of traditional yin-yang division is also manifested in hierarchical anarchy in Baoyu’s society. Notwithstanding strict division of ranks among chambermaids and family members, hierarchical division somewhat blurs in Baoyu’s social network. He combs hair for his maid (H 1:20.310), runs errands for his subordinates (H 1:36.563), and thinks of sending all the maids home, as if to eradicate the roots of hierarchy (H 1:60.975). In chapter 16, The Dream of the Red Chamber


when everyone is elated at Yuanchun’s selection as a royal consort, he alone remains indiVerent. To cement friendship with the brother of his nephew’s wife, Qin Zhong, he insists that this member of a younger generation call him “brother,” thus dismantling a genealogical hierarchy. Under his limited jurisdiction, the small world around him resembles an Eden of gender freedom, where he can be a male and a female, a master and a servant, an uncle and a brother all at once. The rules of ritualized institutions that dominate the world outside the garden slacken and relax within. As if to explicate the ideological principle governing Baoyu’s hundun paradise, Zhiyan Zhai remarks: “It is qing that makes Baoyu oblivious to the division between the respectable and the despicable.”113 Recent scholarship so glamorizes the concept of qing in the Dream that it is elevated to a metaphysical level, somewhat transcending the traditional values of the three discourses.114 The androgynous feature of the botanical kingdom is further manifested in the ambiguity of the gender identity of its female inhabitants, whose lifestyles and spiritual states often resemble those of the opposite sex. Life in the garden is made up largely of plucking the zither, playing chess, painting pictures, and practicing calligraphy—activities that are traditionally related to the literati way of life in ancient China. Even the four maids of the Jia household are named after qin (zither), qi (chess), shu (calligraphy), and hua (painting), intimating the quasi-male style of their mistresses’ lives in the garden.115 Cai Yijiang is one of the earliest to observe the double function of the “collective biography of the gentler sex (guige zhaozhuan) and the portrayal of literati life in the narrative.116 Most self-conscious in pursuit of a male identity is Tanchun, Baoyu’s half sister, who addresses herself as di in her invitation to Baoyu to join the poetry club.117 In ancient China the term di was used to refer to the wife of one’s brother-in-law; its deliberate abuse by the girl divulges a subconscious urge to assume an androgynous personality, since the Chinese word di, composed of two parts respectively standing for “female” and “younger brother,” projects a literal image of “female brother” that the girl claims herself to be. The specific type of males that she aims to identify with is revealed in her letter: In the olden days men . . . would keep some quiet retreat for themselves with its tiny corner of mountain and trickle of running water. . . . Why should the founding of Lotus Club be the sole prerogatives of the whiskered male?


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Why can’t the gathering at the Eastern Mountain be a meeting of the fair sex? (H 1:579 – 580)

Since the Lotus Club refers to the earliest Buddhist society of the Pure Land sect and the Eastern Mountain is the hermitage of the Jin dynasty recluse Xie An (320 – 385), it is evident that, as an artistic projection of the author’s mentality, what the girl aspires to is spiritual transcendence of literati eremites. Tanchun even claims herself to be the recluse of the Autumn Studio (qiushuang jushi). As a daughter of a despised concubine, Tanchun is relegated to the marginal in the Jia household. Masculinization in her characterization, presented in her anchoritic aspirations, literary talents, and management capacity, thus assumes an androgynous dimension, spiritually akin to the author’s gender stance. In the Garden of Total Vision, gender ambiguity is further inscribed in the flowers, which are none other than botanical tokens of the flowerlike girls.118 Among the floral family, plum, hibiscus, crab, and peach blossoms feature most prominently in projecting the gender stance of the garden residents, particularly the three “jade” protagonists, Miaoyu (Adamantina), Daiyu, and Baoyu. In front of the Green Bower Hermitage, where Miaoyu lives, stand a dozen or so winter-flowering red plum trees, which, as critics concur, emblematize the girl’s personality.119 Miaoyu comes to the garden because “she will not conform to the ways of society and her eccentricity has courted persecution from the powerful and the mighty” (H 2:1042). Her defiance of power and resistance to conventions lead the Qing commentator Tu Yin to remark: “Miaoyu stands like a lofty cliV with an air of disdaining to serve the emperor and to befriend the nobility.”120 Her spiritual virility as a doubly marginalized social member is thus graphically projected in the winterdefying plum blossoms.121 Although the plum blossom as a floral image of female virtues is associated with many garden residents, its heroic mode is most prominent in Miaoyu’s characterization.122 Through the lens of a friend, Xiuyan, she looks like “neither a male nor a female, neither a nun nor a layman” (H 2:63.1042), a specimen of gender ambiguity. Her final abduction by a gang and possible reduction to prostitution signal the refusal of patriarchal culture to endorse her ambiguous gender in the symbolic order and its imposition on her of an assigned sex/gender identity: the female. The plum blossom has a twin sister in the garden, the hibiscus, which, as

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the Song poet Mei Yaochen’s (1002 – 1060) tribute runs, “takes roots in infertile soil, yet its blossoms brave the biting frost” (tuogen disuibei, lingshuang ye huamao).123 Its unbending spirit earns it a revealing epithet jushuang (resisting frost).124 With its origin in inferior soil, which is charged with the feminine connotation of humble status, and its unyielding spirit in defying frost, which is endowed with the masculine import of spiritual virility, the flower emblematizes the androgynous principle and is often associated with Qu Yuan.125 In the narrative the flower is related to the two kindred souls, Daiyu and Skybright, the “little Daiyu.”126 The maid’s hibiscus identity is most prominently projected in the eight words recorded in the divine register: shenwei xiajian, xinbi tiangao (a noble and aspiring mind /in a baseborn frame confined) (S 1:5.133). Like the flower, the maid comes from a humble (social) origin and yet transcends it with her lofty aspirations. Daiyu’s aYnity to the hibiscus is projected in the following self-comparison to flowers, which virtually rephrases Mei Yaochen’s tribute to the hibiscus cited above: From swords of frost and from the slaughtering gale How can the lovely flowers long stay intact? . . . Pure substance the pure earth to enrich, Than leave to soak and stink in some foul ditch. (S 2:27.39)

Spiritually and socially marginalized, the girl feels herself constantly assailed by the forces of convention, just like the tender flower under the onslaught of the killing gale. Their aYnity finds further expression in the parallel between the flower’s defiance of frost (jushuang) and the girl’s determination to maintain purity in the contaminating world, which is similarly projected in the image of the flowers’ resistance to frost. The “Hibiscus Elegy” that Baoyu composes ostensibly to mourn Skybright is generally believed to be addressed to Daiyu.127 Symbolically related to the third jade protagonist, Jia Baoyu, is another flower, the crab flower, which blooms in his backyard and is significantly called the “maiden crab.” As if to adhere to the feminine implication of the epithet, all scholarship associates this flower with the maidens in the garden.128 Yet, just as the bamboo shading Naiad’s House symbolizes Daiyu’s aloofness and integrity, the exotic herbs and fragrant plants in Allspice Court signal Baochai’s virtues and austerity, and the rice fields in Fragrant Rice Village betoken the artificiality of Li Wan’s feminine virtues, the crab flower in Green Delights projects Baoyu’s identity despite its pervasive as190

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sociation with the girls in the garden. In chapter 51 Baoyu explicitly compares the crab flower to himself as well as to the girls (H 1:51.828). In the first garden tour in chapter 17, Jia Zheng attributes the female identity of the flower to its legendary origin in the “Land of Maidens”; Baoyu, however, asserts that it is the saoren yunshi (alienated literati transcendent in spirit) who grant it such a feminine epithet (H 1:17.260). If the father’s words associate the flower with the prospective female residents in the garden, the son’s correction presumably inscribes in it males’ marginal/feminine identities, including his own. One episode that may relate the crab tree to Baoyu emerges in chapter 94, when its wilted body miraculously revives and blooms unseasonably in the early winter. While critics have taken this mystery to be either a signal of Baochai’s wedding129 or an omen of Daiyu’s death,130 it is probably more logical to associate it with Baoyu, in whose court the crab tree stands and blooms. The hidden link between the enigmatic phenomenon of the flower and the cryptic behavior of its master is hinted at in a line in Tanchun’s internal monologue: “To her mind, the strange flowering of the crab-tree had been the first of a series of ill omens, followed by the still stranger loss of the Precious Jade” (S 4:95.313). Since “The loss of the jade,” as Zhang Ailing aptly indicates, “reveals Baoyu’s intent to return [to the origin],”131 the link between the crab tree and the lost jade established in Tanchun’s musing can be logically extended to associate it with the disappearance of Baoyu, the jade in human form. The esoteric phenomenon of the flower thus may foreshadow the mysterious behavior of Baoyu. Just as the crab tree’s unseasonable blooming in winter signals an unyielding will to sustain life against the rules of nature, so Baoyu’s final retreat into religion projects adamant assertion of human will against social and familial imperatives. With its willpower to sustain life against destructive forces in nature, the blooming crab tree in chapter 94 matches the dauntless plum blossom in spirit. In the Dream and the Pavilion, therefore, they function respectively as floral symbols for the spiritual strength of marginal subjects under the tyranny of patriarchy, projecting the theme of androgyny.132 As a central floral image of the narrative, the crab flower becomes the title of the poetry club upon its founding, in chapter 37, betokening the feminine ideal, lyrical aura, and pastoral dimension of the garden life. Upon its resuscitation, in chapter 70, however, the poetry club changes its name from crab flower to peach blossom, which ominously portends the pending disintegration of the botanical paradise. In the study of Kong Shangren’s play, The Dream of the Red Chamber


we have become acquainted with the multiple layers of significance in the peach blossom image: female beauty, romantic love, spiritual transcendence, eremitic aspirations, and the ironic conflict between its apparent charm and transient/illusory existence; all these lie behind the peach blossom imagery in the Dream. In chapter 23 Baoyu sits beneath peach blossoms reading The Western Wing; his romantic ideal pictured in the flower is undercut by the same image that signifies the transience and illusion of such an ideal. Similarly, in the verse prediction of chapter 5, Li Wan’s youth is associated with peach blossoms (H 1:5.78), signaling the transience of her nuptial life. The melancholy lines of “The Verses of Peach Blossoms” that Daiyu chants in chapter 70 also project the dark vision of her imminent doom. This sense of transient charm inherent in the peach blossom image lies behind the final designation of the poetry gathering as the Peach Blossom Club, which, as the Qing commentator Huhua zhuren observes, “exists only in name, never in reality” (H 2:70.1160) after its “resuscitation.” Since the poetry club lies at the heart of the hundun botanical land as its spiritual essence, its association with the peach blossom imagery symbolically points to the transient existence of the garden and heralds its pending doom. The Qing commentator Erzhi daoren observantly indicates that the garden is just “another version of the Peach Blossom Spring,”133 destined to vanish like a utopian dream, as the title of the novel suggests. The disintegration of the garden is triggered by the discovery of a purse embroidered with an obscene picture, which is generally seen as a love token between two servants, Si Qi and Pan Youan. While most critics believe that such transgression to naked sex in the botanical sanctuary violates its lyrical ideal and hence marks an end to its innocence,134 Zhu Danwen indicates that in the gengchen edition, Pan’s souvenir takes the form of a fragrant rosary, hence it has nothing to do with the purse and its implication of naked sex.135 In the first eighty chapters of the narrative, in fact, the two cousins remain ardent lovers without physical union (H 2:72.1183).136 While Cao Xueqin portrays their courtship with his typical ambivalence, it is celebrated in the sequel without reservation.137 Viewed from the perspective of androgyny, such a relationship inspired by the concept of qing certainly contributes to the ambience of chaos in the garden. The given name of the principal accomplice in the “sin,” Qi (chess), referring to a game popular among males in China, betokens ambiguity in her gender. After the tryst is discovered, she censures the cowardice of her cousin who escapes the Jia house192

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hold to dodge punishment. When their appeal for marriage is senselessly rejected by her mother, each dies a martyr to their love. The girl’s uncompromising resolution in pursuing love and her unyielding determination to mold her own destiny divulge a masculine willpower that leads the Qing commentator Zhang Xinzhi to perceive in her a shadow of Hongfu, the archetypal androgyne (H 2:92.1516). The love between the maid and her cousin, cultivated in their tender age, parallels the aVection between Daiyu and Baoyu, also cousins; yet the servants move one step further in their subversion of norms, which pushes the hundun state to an extent no longer tolerable to the patriarchal authority.138 The subsequent ransacking of the garden represents the patriarchal endeavor to establish “order” in the hundun land, which culminates in imposing a “masculine identity” on the boy through a misrepresented marriage and ultimately drives him out of the garden. Although the evicted “crown of the beauties” repeatedly returns to his lost kingdom to commune with his departed “feminine soul” and to renew his dream, his botanical land is gone once and for all. As a hundun realm where the yin-yang dichotomy traditionally defining the human relation between sexes, in ranks, genealogy, and hierarchy, is subversively disrupted, the garden is doomed from the very beginning. The “androgynous” mode of garden life can exist only transiently because it violates the fundamental creeds of the ritualized institutions on which it relies for its very existence.139 Baoyu’s aYnity to “femininity,” his embrace of the hundun discourse, his obsession for purity, and his final religious withdrawal are all intrinsically related to Cao Xueqin’s philosophical bent and his gender stand. A brief examination of the author’s life may further illuminate the theme of androgyny in the narrative.

Shared Androgyny: The Literatus Author behind the Hundun World of His Fiction Probably more than in any other classic Chinese novel, the authorial voice is distinctly audible in the Dream,140 as Zhiyan Zhai observes, “The book records the wail of the author,”141 “it presents his own portrait.”142 Descended from a Han Chinese family that had surrendered to the Manchus and served as royal “bondservants” (baonu) for the Qing conqueror in China, Cao Xueqin experienced the psychological quandary of being torn between the conflicting identities of a dominating alien and an enslaved Chinese, a master and a servant, a ruler and a slave.143 Such an ambiguous gender idenThe Dream of the Red Chamber


tity is reinforced by the fact that a power shift in the upper echelon compromised his family and reduced his social status from that of the central to the marginal, from the masculine to the feminine in the power structure.144 The forced fluctuation of his status between yin and yang polarities may have granted him a vantage point from which to perceive the artificiality of the symbolic order and engendered antipathy to the cultural institutions that dichotomize human gender. In literary creation he found an imaginative outlet to release his aspirations to transcend arbitrary gender divisions through the creation of a hero who can move with ease among the roles culturally polarized. The political frustration that Cao Xueqin experienced powered insight into the contamination of the power structure, which bears on the “masculine world” that he portrays in the Dream. The marginality that he was relegated to aligned him spiritually and temperamentally with the “weaker” sex, which artistically became a source of purity and a wellspring of inspiration. Visible in the characterization of the females, particularly that of Tanchun and Daiyu, is the inscription of his own sensibility and outlook. His shared gender status with Tanchun has been ably addressed in recent scholarship;145 herein we explore further his spiritual aYnity to Lin Daiyu. In a discussion of Daiyu’s famous chrysanthemum verses, Anthony Yu indicates that “Tao Qian’s lofty, reclusive spirit . . . remains for her more a conceit of poetic exercise than a cherished model.”146 While Daiyu may have never nurtured an eremitic ideal with which the chrysanthemum image in Tao Qian’s poetry is identified, a shared value can be traced to their mutual adherence to spiritual purity. Just as Tao Qian defends personal integrity by withdrawing into his garden, Daiyu guards her love and autonomy by embracing death. This obsession of spiritual purity may also be traced to Cao Xueqin’s identity, as biographers concur that he might have once declined an oVer to serve as an artist in the court (yuanzhao)147 and lived in a quasihermetic mode in the last years of his life, when he was composing the Dream.148 Most likely, it is Cao Xueqin’s own spiritual bonds to his fictional heroine and to the Jin dynasty recluse, forged by their mutual adherence to personal authenticity and spiritual purity, that serve as a bridge to link Lin Daiyu and Tao Qian, two figures ostensibly belonging to diametrically opposed realms. Most critics will probably agree that it is largely Cao Xueqin’s lyricization of Daiyu’s adherence to purity that has won Chinese readers’ sympathy for his tragic heroine for over two centuries. Purity in Daiyu’s characterization resists the feminist paradigm, according to which there 194

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often exists an intricate relation between the sacred and the profane, the pure and the polluted, goddess and whore in the female images in literature.149 Applying this paradigm to explain Daiyu’s suicidal impulses, Edwards remarks, “Young women are imprisoned . . . by discourses of feminine purity”;150 in other words, they are polluted by the hegemonic ideology in their pursuit of purity. Yet, given Daiyu’s premonition of her possible reduction to a widower’s wife, as revealed in a prophetic dream, it is more logical to see in her determination for quick death a desire to preserve love and to defend self-autonomy, rather than her deference to the convention of female chastity. Daiyu remains sublime and pure throughout. Cao Xueqin’s refusal to “defile” Lin Daiyu may very likely be motivated by his empathy for her spiritual purity, as a man politically and ideologically “feminized” yet determined to guard his personal integrity/purity. Lin Daiyu’s rejection of a gift from a “coarse man” in chapter 16, a plot with rich overtones, has triggered diVerent interpretations.151 Although the episode has been mentioned twice in this chapter, it invites further investigation in relation to Cao Xueqin’s identity. The Chinese modifiers of the rosary, which vary in diVerent editions, appear largely in three forms. In editions commonly categorized as the Zhiyan Zhai series, the modifier takes the form of jiling (wagtail);152 in Yu Pingbo’s variorum edition, a homophone appears, jiling;153 in Cheng-Gao editions and related versions, the modifier is lingling.154 Since the last two modifiers do not exist as meaningful phrases in Chinese,155 critics have generally accepted the first expression, wagtail,156 apparently taking the second one as a case of Cao Xueqin’s punning on homophones for allusive eVects in his work.157 With such a choice, the ostensibly unrelated images of a bird and a rosary can form a sense group if we examine their relationship in the intertextual framework of Chinese literary tradition and early Qing politics. In a poem entitled “Cherry-Tree” (“Tangdi”) collected in The Book of Songs, the image of wagtails nesting side by side serves as a metaphor for brothers in a royal family suVering together in misfortune.158 However, when the crisis is over, the poem goes on to say, conflicts emerge among siblings who turn out to be less fraternal than friends. Since its appearance in the earliest verse collection, the imagery of the bird acquires the significance of brotherly kinship embedded with the seeds of latent feud. This paradoxical import of both fraternity and hostility works subtly in the Dream. Associated with a rosary as a gift sent by the emperor to his brother, it strongly alludes to the rampant homicide among siblings in the royal family after it seized The Dream of the Red Chamber


power in the early Qing period. In conquering the Han nationality, the brothers of the Manchu royal family collaborated with one another to a certain degree; once the mission was accomplished, they competed among themselves for the throne. The ostensible fraternity, conveyed through the royal gift and strengthened by its association with the bird, is undermined by the implied malevolence, suggested by the same wagtail image through its intertextual relation to the poem in The Book of Songs. This intertextual association between the Dream and the early verse is further referred to in Zhiyan Zhai’s comment on the author’s intention for composing the book: “The author tells the life stories of the fair sex (guige tingwei zhizhuan) largely out of his personal sorrow as a wagtail under the sway of his kin (jiling zhibei, tangdi zhiwei).”159 While these remarks explicitly relate the wagtail to the author, it also implicitly associates the bird with the emperor, for in the source poem the image of the wagtails allegorically points to the two parties destined to become a victim and a victimizer.160 The tyranny of the imperial force is vaguely conveyed in the expression “under the sway of his kin” possibly for political reasons. It is the bloody murder among the royal siblings alluded to in the bird imagery and the subsequent power shift that brought ill fortune to Cao Xueqin’s family and reduced the writer’s status to the marginal—symbolically identical to that of Lin Daiyu.161 Daiyu’s categorical rejection of the rosary thus may well be read as Cao Xueqin’s resistance to the contaminated court; her accusation of the emperor as a “coarse man” may voice the authorial condemnation of the power source that victimized him.162 The existent poetry of Cao Xueqin’s friends clearly indicates his spiritual alienation from the Establishment, which may well account for his possible declination to serve as a court artist. Just as Stony refuses to sell his valueless fans in the Dream, he may have refused to sell his talents and personal integrity. His spiritual estrangement from the court, the “terrestrial heaven,” is artistically presented through Baoyu’s aversion to “pluck the laurel branch on the moon” and the stone’s lack of talent in repairing the sky. Failing to make a “name” in society, he sought company among actors and took pleasure in dramatic performance, associating himself with the most “nameless,” “faceless” members in society.163 The “no-name,” “no-face,” hundun discourse he presents in Baoyu’s characterization may very likely mirror his own life philosophy as a disenfranchised citizen. Noted for his unyielding personality (aogu)164 and spiritual aloofness,165 Cao Xueqin is fascinated with stone, an emblem of hidden strength, wherein 196

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he apparently perceives a self-image. He is not only celebrated for writing a story of the stone but is also noted for a stone painting, of which the following verse comment by his friend Dun Min gives us a glimpse: Rare is the rugged spirit such as yours, Yet more jagged is the stone on the canvas. Brandishing a brush with an inebriated mind, Pouring out a soul as stout as the stone.166

The rugged stone on the canvas betrays an unbridled soul. Its defiant spirit makes it spiritual kin to the fictional stone as an artistic signifier of Cao Xueqin’s identity. A similar gender stand is also inscribed in Cao Xueqin’s name, or, more exactly, his sobriquet, which literally means “celery in the snow.”167 Both Zhou Cecong and Zhou Ruchang trace its source to a verse in a poetic sequence, “Eight Verses on the Eastern Slope,” composed by Su Shi during his political exile at Huangzhou.168 A Qing commentator perceives in this title the identity of a “cold-defying hermit,” naileng daoren,169 which is apparently discernible in Su Shi and Cao Xueqin, both enduring political suppression with a lofty soul. In the Dream, the “celery in the snow” has its floral kin in the plum blossom, the hibiscus flower, and the crab flower, all endowed with a “cold-defying” spirit in confrontation of the “frost” and “snow” of the cultural “winter.” Behind the floral spirits Daiyu, Skybright Baoyu, and Miaoyu lurks the insubordinate soul of the literati author, the “celery in the snow” personified.170 Although no evidence indicates that Cao Xueqin ever took refuge in a Buddhist monastery or a Daoist temple, the scanty existent biographical materials point to a quasi-hermetic mode of existence in his advanced age. In two poems, his friend Zhang Yiquan addressed him as a jushi (hermit);171 he is repeatedly compared to Ruan Qi (210 – 263), Ji Kang (224 – 263), and Liu Ling, the most celebrated among the Seven Recluses of the Bamboo Grove during the Six Dynasties.172 From the writings of his friend Dun Cheng, it is revealed that about a month prior to his death he still invited friends for an outing on a boat, enjoying a day on Lu River, drinking, chatting, and chanting fishermen’s songs. Just a few days before he passed away, he was present at a friend’s party; though too weak for drinking, he talked with friends overnight.173 His longing for a carefree life is confirmed in a few will-like remarks quoted in Dun Cheng’s elegy to him: “If I can follow my will, I have no need to travel among Five Famous Mountains. If The Dream of the Red Chamber


only I could roam between a hill and a valley with a pair of black shoes and in coarse clothes, if only I could leave my wife as if she were a pair of broken shoes, my life will be fulfilled.”174 Such a transcendent outlook may be spiritually related to Baoyu’s final retreat into religion, a withdrawal from the symbolic order, which Cao failed to achieve in his life and yet accomplished through art. The Qing commentator Jieyu jushi thus remarks that the two immortals, Mangmang Dashi and Miaomiao Zhenren, in the narrative are none other than the incarnation of the author’s soul.175 As the acknowledged acme of Chinese narrative art, Cao Xueqin’s masterpiece seems to illustrate Sima Qian’s observation that great literature comes from deep frustration. In a gifted writer, political frustration often catalyzes literary inspiration. In composing the Dream, Cao Xueqin turns his insights about the artificiality of the symbolic order, born of bitter personal experience, into an artistic momentum, which disintegrates it to a degree in the imaginative garden he creates in the Dream. His defiance of gender imperatives is inscribed in the various aspects of the narrative that we have discussed: the masculinization of the feminine; the virilization of the floral; the exaltation of the hidden strength in bamboo, stone, and jade as human tropes; the hero’s spiritual bond with the subordinate and the downtrodden; his rejection of the “masculine” mode of life; and the celebration of qing as an artistic agent to disrupt gendered relationship. Behind the hundun phenomena in the garden, the fluidity of sex roles, mistaken identity, genealogical confusion, and hierarchical inversion in the Dream lurked the shadow of a literatus androgyne, who projected his vision of gender freedom onto the art, although he painfully recognized the inevitable shattering of such a vision in the society where he lived.


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chapter 8

Conclusion Androgyny as Literary Trend and Strategy in Fashioning Chinese Literati Identity

In our study of the canonical works of late Ming/early Qing literature, we have examined the theme of androgyny and other related motifs from the Ming classics The Plum in the Golden Vase and The Peony Pavilion through the scholar-beauty romances, to the Qing masterpieces The Peach Blossom Fan and The Dream of the Red Chamber. The trend of gender fluidity traced in late Ming/early Qing literature is unprecedented: no other time in Chinese history has witnessed so many nüzhong zhangfu in literary presentation. In light of the new historicists’ views of cultural production of texts, such a phenomenon is intrinsically related to the gender ambiguity in Chinese culture. Pan Jinlian’s arrogation of male roles in the bedchamber presents a hyperbolic case of female masculinization in late Ming society; Tang Xianzu’s sympathetic portrayal of female gender deviation in the Pavilion and Cao Xueqin’s exaltation of a nonconformist hero in the Dream reveal literati’s valiant assertion of personal vision in defiance of orthodoxy. The perverted world in the Fan demonstrates the gender inversion in the political realm, where the subjects assume active roles striving for moral purity,

while the sovereign passively recedes to the inner palace, wallowing in debauchery. The three trends of gender ambiguity of the late Ming that we traced in chapter two through the relationship between male and female, subject and ruler, hegemonic ideology and peripheral thinking, therefore, are all fictionalized and dramatized in literature. We have now come to the point in our discussion to look back at the works examined in this book and attempt to reach some general conclusion. In the following sections, we will explore the cultural significance of gender flux in literature during this period and address its trends and modes of presentation as a summary and conclusion of the present study.

Literary Androgyny Viewed in the Late Ming Cultural Context Androgyny, as discussed in this study, refers to the gender stance taken by those who are marginalized by sex, ideology, or political position, and yet who revoke their institutionalized yin status for an alternative mode of gender identity. In literary presentation, they roughly take the character types of caizi and jiaren. The male protagonists in this study largely fit into the category of caizi, of which Jia Baoyu can be regarded as a derivative. Taking Mencian da zhangfu as their icon, they guard personal integrity at all costs and, in the spirit of qing, defy convention in pursuit of free love. Viewed in the context of the late Ming, it is obvious that this group embody the most treasured values, admired qualities, and aspirations of the literati scholars of this period. In fact, the masculine fibre in the characterization of Liu Mengmei, Hou Fangyu, Jia Baoyu, and many caizi in scholar-beauty romances can be easily traced to the antecedent neo-Confucian heroes that we discussed in chapter two: Fang Xiaoru’s death-defying protest against usurpation, Luo Yifeng’s militant stance in the court, Wang Gen’s rejection of a “concubine” identity, Tang Xianzu’s gallant defense of political “chastity,” Tang Bohu’s defiance of convention, and Li Zhi’s iconoclastic challenge to orthodoxy. The heroes under discussion are, therefore, essentially literary projections of the cultural icons of the neo-Confucians, including both members of the Donglin Party and of the left-wing liberals in the School of the Mind. The female androgynes in this study can be largely viewed as variants of jiaren. From Du Liniang’s breach of chamber incarceration and Bi Linyin’s active nuptial proposal to the numerous cases of cross-dressing in scholar200

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beauty romances, the heroines repeatedly seek to cross gender boundary in pursuit of love. Even given women’s expanded freedom in late Ming society, or what Dorothy Ko terms the “spaces” to maneuver between the ideal norm and social practice that grant them the possibilities to move, to write, to publish, and to build communities,1 household and boudoir confinement of unmarried daughters in genteel families remained a cultural norm that served to measure the respectability of their maidenhood. Conveying his wisdom in selecting wives and concubines, a Ming scholar, Huang Shengzeng, warned his contemporaries against taking women “who liked to lean on the doors of their households since their childhood or escaped from their homes”; only thus, he alleged, can they expect to get “genuine oVspring.”2 Lecturing on female virtues, another Ming scholar, Shen Gongli, admonished girls not to “put on male garments, or imitate masculine demeanor.”3 In light of such social expectations of womanhood, the gender inversion traced in the heroines’ love pursuit cannot but appear liberal or even subversive. Dramatically presented in literature, these heroines act in a mode of behavior that is not realistic, but idealistic for the new women. In a certain way, women’s “expanded sphere of activity” in the late Ming as traced in recent historical study is further augmented by literati imagination to endorse their freedom to break boudoir confinement. The gap between social reality and literary presentation may suggest that the fervor of qing has inspired literati scholars to project a germinating social consciousness, or even subdued impulses, in a magnified form in literature to illustrate their gospels and to preach their “religion.” Apart from the positive gender fluidity that brings about personal salvation, the preceding study also touches upon one case, that of Pan Jinlian, where gender inversion is presented as radical, excessive, or “perverse.” Commenting on the “spaces” that women crafted between the ideal norms and their actual practice under the auspices of a shifting ideology, Dorothy Ko observes that their gender inversions “were by and large temporary transgressions that served to perpetrate the prevailing oYcial gender ideology.”4 The presence of the antiromance and amazon/virago type in literature indicates, however, that some literati scholars felt that such culturally endorsed “spaces” had been “abused,” that female gender inversions had gone beyond the limit of social tolerance. Palpable in such literature is a male fear that the excessive gender inversion will threaten to destabilize the hierarchical relation between the sexes. The vehemence with which some scholars condemned gender perversion matched the enthusiasm with which others celConclusions


ebrated androgyny in literature. In both cases, social phenomena are hyperbolized in literary presentation to throw into relief literati’s ideological stands.

The Trend of Androgyny in Late Ming/ Early Qing Literature The works discussed in the preceding chapters point to a general trend of gender inversion in the changing ideological ambience from the late Ming to the early Qing, despite the limited number of samples that we have examined. Pan Jinlian’s usurpation of masculine roles signals gender anarchy in late Ming literature. In Du Liniang’s active pursuit of love, a male mode of courtship, we perceive the embryo of an androgynous identity. Such a penchant for gender freedom is dramatically and sometimes artificially presented in jiaren’s cross-dressing and role-switching, prevalent in the romances produced largely in the early Qing. The androgynous stance is both upheld and undercut in the characterization of Li Xiangjun, who is politicized/masculinized, and yet her political integrity (yang identity) remains compromised. The endeavor to deviate from orthodox norms falls flat in the Dream, where not only are the hero’s feminine impulses relentlessly suppressed, but the two heroines, Baochai and Daiyu, are both drawn more closely to polarized sex-roles compared to their predecessors in late Ming literature. As a faithful adherent to orthodoxy, Baochai exemplifies all the female virtues in patriarchal culture. Notwithstanding her strong urge to remain uncontaminated in patriarchy, Daiyu is largely bound by prescribed codes of behavior. Her ethereal beauty and passionate love remind one of Liniang, and both pine away in lovesickness. In addition to their intertextual relationship as traced in chapter seven, Daiyu’s burial of flowers in the Garden of Total Vision further reminds one of the burial of Liniang in the garden in the prime of her youth. Among other things, Daiyu is most profoundly touched by Liniang’s verses celebrating the approach of spring, which, while awakening the latent animus in Tang Xianzu’s and Kong Shangren’s heroines and encouraging them in pursuit of a more “masculine” identity, in Daiyu only evokes an intensified lament over the evanescence of youth and the ultimate advent of autumn, the symbolic death. Daiyu shares Liniang’s spiritual longing, remains unsullied in patriarchal culture, and passionately pursues love in her heart, yet she lacks Liniang’s courage to trans202

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late her radical impulses into action. Caught between ideal and reality, and wanting the nerve to bridge the gap, she, as Waltner observes, fails to become a “heroine” or a “female hero” (nüzhong zhangfu), such as the Hongfu that she admires.5 The configurations of androgyny in characterization as traced herein are also discernible in the motifs of boudoir, garden, flower, and dream that have engaged our attention in previous chapters. A physical barrier to women’s movement in gentry families, the boudoir functions as a symbolic jail of the female gender. The extent to which a woman reacts against such confinement marks the scope of her freedom from her prescribed gender, or the strength of her androgynous propensity. Rejecting her assigned identity as a wife to a dwarf, Jinlian sits at the door of her room so as to entice the men outside, aspiring to escape from her gendered cage; the decisive step across the threshold is made by Liniang in answer to the call of the animus emerging from her psyche. Boudoir confinement breaks down in some scholarbeauty romances where heroines disguised as males roam freely in society. It resumes, however, in the lives of the two heroines in the Dream: While Baochai embraces the boudoir with religious zeal, Daiyu pines away there with a saddened soul. The fluctuations between conventionality and androgyny traced in the boudoir motif are also perceivable in the garden motif. In the Plum, the garden emerges largely as a pleasure paradise whose walls, grottoes, and bushes camouflage the cross-gender behavior of its residents, the titular trio. The freedom from gender confinement that the garden symbolizes is thrown into relief by its contrast to the boudoir in the Pavilion, where the garden not only projects a botanical metaphor of yin-yang harmony but also serves as a locus classicus of the heroine’s romantic dream. Liniang’s impulse to switch to the male mode of courtship, betrayed in her soul’s nocturnal venture in the garden, materializes in a marriage proposal that Bi Linyin makes in the scholar-beauty romance Chun Liu Ying, where the garden turns into a stage on which gender switching is dramatically presented through crossdressing. Such a paradise of androgyny, (re)presented in the Garden of Total Vision as Baoyu’s botanical kingdom, finally disintegrates in the Dream under the pressure of ideological and social orthodoxy. The varying distance from the androgynous ideal in these works can also be discerned in their dominant floral images. In The Peony Pavilion, this image takes the form of plum blossoms vying with snowflakes to crown the spring, which graphically capture the valiant spirit of the marginal subjects Conclusions


in their challenge to the orthodox. In scholar-beauty romances the plum blossom becomes a prominent trope for characters’ anti-patriarchy stance; this gives rise to a large number of plumlike protagonists, or even plumsurnamed families, revealing the plum craze of the genre. Although the plum blossom continues to feature Li Xiangjun’s characterization, its symbolic function is minimal in Kong Shangren’s play, where the two aspects of the androgynous stance, the masculine personality and the marginal/female status, are both compromised. While the hero’s moral pliability and the heroine’s submission to the monarch call into question their political integrity, their involuntary conversion to religion makes problematic their marginal status. As a floral emblem of their identity, the plum blossom accordingly gives way to the peach blossom, whose inherent irony casts a shadow of ambiguity on the celebration of androgyny in the play. The plum blossom continues to function in the Dream in cooperation with the hibiscus, the crab tree, and the chrysanthemum, as a signifier of androgynous propensity, yet, ultimately, they all yield to the peach blossom, signaling the evaporation of the androgynous dream. The varying strength of the androgynous theme in these works finds further expression in the recurrent dream motif. In The Peony Pavilion, the heroine’s androgynous drive is given expression largely in her dream or the dreamlike experience of her wandering soul. Such a dream turns into reality in many scholar-beauty romances where the transgression of gender boundaries becomes a fashionable game. A catastrophe, however, emerges in Cao Xueqin’s masterwork where the hero’s dream to transcend gender boundary is shattered under the pressure of patriarchal rule. The configurations of the androgynous motifs traced in this study generally mirror the changing cultural and ideological climate of this period. The high tide of the androgynous fashion in literature emerged in the late Ming when the thriving liberalism and political antagonism of liberal-minded scholars shook the ideological/political foundation of gender division. In the course of history, as the ideological drift moved back to conservatism and literati became less radically inclined, androgyny as a theme, particularly as a literati’s rhetorical device for self-expression, inevitably lost its initial momentum despite its lingering presence in literature.


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Symbolism as a Mode of Literary Presentation of Androgyny While the gender flux in Ming-Qing society is inevitably related to the phenomenon of androgyny in literature, it is literati’s revulsion in reaction to their institutionalized yin status that bears more significantly on the symbolic presentation of androgyny in literature. After the mid-Qing, women continued to demonstrate preference for a freer gender identity, as recorded in Shen Fu’s autobiographical narrative, Six Chapters of a Floating Life, whose heroine disguises herself as a man to keep her husband’s company in a visit to a flower festival. Yet in literature as a whole, particularly in male-authored literature,6 the frequency of androgynous characters seems to decline perceptibly. Among other factors, literati’s increasing adaptation to their subordinate roles in a consolidated political structure and their weakened individualism might have made their yin status less poignant, their inner drive for asserting a masculine self less urgent and their psychological aYnity to nüzhong zhangfu less strong. After the mid-Qing, the plaintive voice comparing the self to a “concubine,” a “servant-maid,” a “prostitute,” or a “virgin” vigorously defending “her chastity” almost faded out in literati writings; the weakened psychological identification with the female gender inevitably disinclined literati from creating androgynous characters in their writings. Literati scholars’ spiritual aYnity to the androgynous characters in their works points to an allegorical mode of presentation, which, both in technique and spirit, carries Qu Yuan’s legacy of “fragrant plants and beautiful women” tradition. Qu Yuan’s name frequently appeared in literati writings of this period; his spirit and personality inspired literati-scholars both in their writings and their lives. Liang Chenyu (1521 – 1594), a failure in his political career, composed several poems in memory of Qu Yuan;7 Kong Shangren followed Qu Yuan’s suit, comparing himself to a discarded flower after he was deposed from an oYcial post;8 Tang Xianzu’s repeated selfcomparison to a “beauty” betrays spiritual identification with Qu Yuan; and Cao Xueqin conveys his aYnity to the ancient patriot most explicitly through Baoyu’s “Elegy on the Hibiscus” in the Dream, where images unique to Qu Yuan’s well-known poem “Encountering Sorrow” are incorporated into a dirge for Skybright, an innocent maid persecuted by the matriarchal patriarchy.9 AYnity to the allegorical tradition is also revealed in the poetic mode of the works under discussion. The two plays that we have studied, the Conclusions


Pavilion and the Fan, are generally acknowledged as verse drama (shiju), while the Dream is often noted for the lyric vision that it projects.10 The poetic veins running through these works enable them to transcend the limitations of their own genres and strengthen their capacity for selfexpression, a function traditionally attributed to poetry in Chinese literary convention. Spiritually akin to the xiangcao meiren tradition, these works become poetic vehicles on which literati writers inscribe their own sentiments and aspirations, often via gender identification with their heroes and heroines. Corresponding to the allegorical veins in these works, nearly all the writers under discussion were alienated from the power source, and several of them explicitly compared themselves to women at one time or another. Tang Xianzu’s self-comparison to females has been discussed in the preceding chapters. Frustrated at his deposition, Kong Shangren chants in a poem: “I compose this verse to query the heavens / Why did you discard a fragrant flower like dirt? / Why did you neglect the charm of a beauty?”11 In his introductory note to the Dream, Cao Xueqin also compares himself with his female protagonists: “Shameful to say, for all my masculine dignity, I feel short of the gentler sex.”12 The male penchant to identify with the female is, of course, most explicitly presented in the preface of the scholar-beauty romance, Nücaizi shu, where the frustrated literatus writer openly admits the psychological consolation that he derives from glorifying females.13 Yet, as literati’s symbolic Other, the female character has to incorporate masculine traits; androgyne thus becomes a character type par excellence for self-expression in literary creation. The most cherished heroines under our discussion, therefore, are all endowed with hidden strength: Du Liniang’s relentless will in pursuit of love, Li Xiangjun’s valiant strife to maintain personal authenticity, and Lin Daiyu’s death-defying resolve to retain physical purity. The literary production of masculinity in marginal characters brings about “therapeutic” eVects, particularly in the writing of scholar-beauty romances, where the creation of fictive virility in caizi and jiaren vicariously compensates for the suppressed masculinity in marginalized/feminized writers. Literati’s need for relieving personal anxiety is matched by their desire to make social impact with their literary endeavors, a motive that is sometimes spelled out explicitly. Cao Xueqin admitted that he produced “biographies of the beauties” to “enlighten my contemporaries” (H 1:1.3); Kong Shangren dug up a tragedy in history to “convey a lesson to the people . . . so that it may save the world from its fin de siecle” (T Preface.1); and Tang Xianzu 206

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openly claimed that he wrote the Pavilion to preach qing. It is this sense of social mission and ideological commitment that sustained the Chinese literati in their protracted, profitless, or even dangerous enterprise of literary creation; and they achieved the desired eVects. Kong Shangren’s Fan was noted for stirring Ming royalists to tears.14 The passion contained in Cao Xueqin’s works turns out to be so contagious that, as Anthony Yu observes, “the eVect of its sympathetic reading could be lethal.”15 It is said that one female reader was so moved by the Pavilion that she even took the initiative to marry Tang Xianzu, the qing personified.16 Another female scholar, Wang Duanshu (1621 –ca 1701), cited the example of Huang Chonggu, a cross-dressed female oYcial of the tenth century, to justify her adoption of the male occupation as a professional writer, artist, and teacher of the inner chamber.17 Since Huang Chonggu’s influence was significantly strengthened in the late Ming by Xu Wei’s dramatization of her gender inversion in his well-known play Nü zhuangyuan, it is most likely that Wang Duanshu got her inspiration from the antecedent androgyne by watching or reading Xu Wei’s immensely popular dramatic production. The literary production of androgyny, therefore, may also give impetus to the androgynous fashion in society, with its “capacity to impact upon the social formation,”18 for literature is not only “socially produced” but is also “socially productive.”19 The phenomenon of androgyny thus functions, to use Stephen Greenblatt’s term, as “an aesthetic form of social energy” circulating and negotiating between social and aesthetic domains.20 Yet androgyny as a social ideal or an artistic vision could hardly be anything but illusory in imperial China. With its aYrmation of both masculine and feminine values, androgyny implies an acceptance of sexual equality that conflicts with the valorization of men over women in Chinese patriarchal culture. Although late Ming liberalism, with its individualistic and humanitarian tenor, led literati to a more sympathetic attitude toward women, such liberalism has its limitation. Conditioned by the cultural milieu wherein they lived and aVected by their own status as male members of society, literati writers were drawn into an irreconcilable conflict between the liberal ideal they pursued and the antifeminist social values they had been imbued with, between their sympathy for the weaker sex and their own identity as members of the “stronger sex” dominating the weaker one. Their attitude toward sex and gender, therefore, is one of ambivalence and ambiguity. Li Zhi, for example, is regarded by de Bary and Hegel as an advocate of reciprocal relationships and equality between the sexes,21 yet he was a frequent Conclusions


patron of brothels, treating the fair sex as a vehicle for relieving his desire. In Ray Huang’s words, he is a “self-contradictory philosopher” with “a divided conscience.”22 Such ambivalence also characterizes the thoughts of Feng Menglong, a well-known admirer of female virtues. As Joanna Handlin indicates, while praising one of his heroines, Feng remarks that “there are fellows whose wisdom cannot match hers”;23 yet on another occasion, he heartily concurs with a current saying of his time: “Only the virtuous man is talented; only the untalented woman is virtuous.”24 The distinction between the sexes that the first remark seeks to obliterate is aYrmed by the second one. The eccentric Xu Wei is noted for his creation of androgynous characters in his dramas and his eulogy of nü zhangfu in his writings, yet he stabbed his wife to death, presumably out of suspicion and jealousy.25 A critic even labels him a “misogynist.”26 While Kong Shangren moved generations of Chinese readers with his dramatic celebration of Li Xiangjun’s political zeal, in an essay dedicated to Lady Zuo, a friend’s mother, he censured women for debating in public, dominating over their husbands, and claiming to be guides for their sons—in short, for arrogating male roles in society.27 The literati writers, therefore, alternatively identify themselves with and disassociate themselves from the fair sex, depending on their practical needs as well as on specific issues involved. Such ambivalence toward gender deviation—a marker of conflicts as well as compromises among liberal ideals, conventional values, and personal interests—determines that the eulogy of nüzhong zhangfu under their pens can only be a passing whim for fashioning a self, a psychological strategy to relieve personal anxiety, an artistic projection of male-cherished values in a female image, a literary channel to disseminate the cult of qing, or a vehicle to preach patriarchal values for women, rather than a cordial celebration of female gender freedom. Out of such complex psychological needs, male writers could occasionally lavish praise on their female characters, making them “heroes among women,” yet secretly they believed they themselves were still the “superior” sex. This tacit male superiority, latent in political unconsciousness, may account for the one-directional gender migration from the feminine to the masculine present in nearly all the works under discussion, a convention that presupposes a preference for the andric to the gynic.28 As now generally acknowledged, patriarchal bias is also embedded in the term so frequently adopted by literati to compliment superior women, nüzhong zhangfu, which explicitly valorizes the male (zhangfu) over the female (nü) by associating the latter with the inferior. 208

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The want of complete identification on the part of literati writers with women often prevented them from writing from a feminist point of view and led to the inscription of patriarchal values on the “heroes among women” they created. Nüzhong zhangfu are celebrated in literati writings often because the masculine roles they play exemplify the Confucian paragon that many men fail to match. This leads to the recent trend in Western literary study, as indicated in my “Introduction,” to emphasize the patriarchal values in the characterization of nüzhong zhangfu, while neglecting the complexity of such a character type. The subversive aspects of masculine female characters and feminine male characters have been addressed in this study, which stresses neo-Confucian left-wing’s deviation from orthodoxy, the cult of qing, and literati’s ideological and political dissidence as contributing factors for the gender inversion in literature. When literati portray emerging social phenomena or inscribe new values and dissident impulses on literature, it often leads to subversive gender fluidity in literary characterization. Thus, Pan Jinlian’s arrogation of the male mode of sexuality, Du Liniang’s breach of boudoir confinement, Bai Lianan’s confrontation with the royal armies as a gang leader, Lin Daiyu’s rejection of a contaminated gift from the “stinking” emperor, and Jia Baoyu’s resistance to his prescribed masculinity all pose threats to the “greater social order”; some of them also violate the codes of Confucianism. In their respective literary worlds, Pan Jinlian claims herself a “man who does not wear a turban,” Lin Daiyu and Du Liniang are portrayed as either conscious or subconscious followers of Hongfu, while Bai Lianan is explicitly addressed as a nüzhong zhangfu. The unfeminine modes of psychology and behavior that these heroines adopt in one way or another trespass the “spaces” of female freedom acquiesced by society and disqualify them for the rubric of “exemplary women.” Although the patriotic roles that Li Xiangjun played during the Ming-Qing transition may justify her classification as an “honorary man,” her dramatic use by Kong Shangren in the Fan to stimulate royalists’ sentimental identification with an overthrown dynasty carries subversive intent. Literary trends and motifs often mirror contemporary ideology and politics. In the course of history when the neo-Confucian left-wing thinking went out of vogue, the cult of qing lost its initial appeal, literati’s sense of marginality eased, and the traditional concept of gender dichotomy regained its lost ground; androgyny as a social ideal and a symbolic mode for self-expression inevitably lost its urgency in literati’s psyche as well as its popularity in their literary productions. Conclusions


appendix Symbolic Values and Gender Associations of Some Flowers and Plants in Chinese Literature Bamboo Bamboo can be compared to a gentleman in its heroic spirit. Its upright poise signals men’s integrity; its powerful trunk and lonely height signal men’s heaven-defying aspirations and a transcendent mind. It is, therefore, a major trope for literati identity in Chinese literature and arts.

Camellia Its snow-white blossoms symbolize spiritual purity, while its evergreen leaves signify moral fibre. Camellia thus often serves as an emblem for literati scholars’ personal integrity.

Chrysanthemum Like many members of the floral family chrysanthemum symbolizes feminine beauty and charm. A favored image in Qu Yuan’s and Tao Yuanming’s poetry, it is also associated with the concept of seclusion. As “the hermit among flowers,” it is endowed with such yang attributes as moral integrity, spiritual purity, and temperamental virility.

Crab flower Once compared to Consort Yang Yuhuan of the Tang dynasty in her charming intoxication, red crab flower often serves as a trope of feminine beauty and is related to the concept of romantic love. The white crab flower, on the other hand, can also project human beings’ spiritual purity.

Hardwood (nüzhen mu, the female chastity tree) The female chastity tree, a kind of plant that yields hardwood, often serves as a trope for marginal literati’s spiritual purity, political loyalty, and unyielding willpower, i.e., their innate yang identity, although they are politically “feminized.”

Hibiscus With its charm and allure hibiscus often symbolizes feminine beauty. Because it takes roots in the infertile soil beside water (the yin base), yet blossoms in defiance of biting frost in the autumn (the yang spirit), the flower embodies the principle of androgyny. In Chinese literature, therefore, it is often associated with marginal men with unyielding spirit or base-born women with lofty aspirations.

Peach Blossom Associated with feminine beauty in early Chinese poetry, the peach blossom also signals spiritual nobility in Chinese literature. Its prominent presence in Tao Yuanming’s poetic fable and his “fields and gardens” poetry relates it to the values of eremitism, or the hidden strength in a marginal subject, hence suggesting its dual gender association. Vulnerable to frost, insects, and viruses, the flower, with its often brief life span, also signals the transience of the positive values that it symbolizes.

Peony Because of its peerless beauty the peony is often taken as the queen or the king of the floral family. Its blooming shape suggests an open vaginal orifice in full flush of engorgement, thus associating it with the feminine; its legendary refusal to bloom in time for Empress Wu Zetian’s tour of the imperial garden relates it to temperamental virility. The peony is, therefore, endowed with double gender attributes.

Plum Blossom In early Chinese poetry, plum symbolizes a girl’s maturing sexuality, and plum blossoms emblematize the charm of femininity. Yet this yin connotation is later compounded with yang import when the flower is used as a literary trope for personal identity in Chinese literature. A noble member of the “three friends of winter” along with pine and bamboo, it often projects hidden strength and indomitable will of the marginal men and women in their confrontation of the tyranny of a decadent court or patriarchal conventions.

Orchid With its presence in Qu Yuan’s “Encountering Sorrow” and a Confucian legend, the orchid symbolizes the spiritual purity and unrecognized worth of a marginal man. As the name of a prince who played an important political role in Zuo zhuan, the flower is endowed with the values related to political activism. Although emblematic of female beauty as a charming flower, orchid often signifies values associated with male literati identity in Chinese culture.



Willow With its pliable twigs, supple leaves, and its dancing grace in the spring breeze, the willow is a typical symbol of femininity. Often metonymically related to a woman’s brows and waist, it projects feminine beauty and amorous passion.




Introduction: Androgyny Defined 1. According to Jonathan D. Spence and John E. Wills Jr., late Ming and high Qing basically span from 1590 to 1730, in From Ming to Ch’ing: Conquest, Region, and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century China (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), p. xii. I slightly expand the duration in this inquiry of literature. 2. This phrase and its variants appear in Lü Kun, Gui fan [Regulations for the women’s quarters] (Boru zhaicang ban, ed., ca. 1613 ), 2:16 – 17; Li Zhi, Lishi Fenshu Xufenshu [A book to be burned and its sequel by Mr. Li] (Kyoto: Zhongwen, 1971), pp. 68, 224; Yu Huai, “Banqiao zaji” [Miscellaneous records at the Wooden Bridge], in Xiangyan congshu, comp. Wang Wenyu (1911; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1991), vol. 7, collection 13, juan 3, p. 188; Feng Menglong, “Liu xiaoguan cixiong xongdi” [Liu brothers became husband and wife], in Xingshi hengyan (Xian: Sanqin chubanshe, 1993), p. 187; Ling Mengchu, “Nüxiucai yihua jiemu” [The female scholar masquerading as a male], in Erke paian jingqi (Xian: Sanqin chubanshe, 1993), p. 293; Xu Wei, “He ruren zhuan” [The biography of Lady He], in Xu Wei ji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983), 4:1138; Tang Xianzu, “Zixiao ji” [The tale of a purple flute], in Tang Xianzu ji (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1973), 3:2545. Appearances in scholar-beauty romances are too numerous to cite here. For the appearance of this expression in Gui fan, I am indebted to Joanna F. Handlin, “Lü Kun’s New Audience: The Influence of Women’s Literacy on Sixteenth-Century Thought,” in Women in Chinese Society, ed. Margery Wolf and Roxane Witke (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975), pp. 13 – 38. 3. Judith Zeitlin, Historian of the Strange: Pu Songling and the Chinese Classical Tale (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 130. 4. Louise Edwards, Men and Women in Qing China: Gender in the Red Chamber Dream (New York: E. J. Brill, 1994), p. 92.

5. See Toril Moi, Sexual/ Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory (London and New York: Methuen, 1985), p. 166. 6. Maram Epstein, Competing Discourses: Orthodoxy, Authenticity, and Engendered Meanings in Late Imperial Chinese Fiction (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2001), pp. 91, 88. 7. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. “androgyne.” The word was at one time a synonym of “hermaphroditism” and also referred to eVeminate men. 8. June Singer, Androgyny: The Opposites Within (York Beach, Maine: Nicolas-Hays, 2000), p. vii. 9. See Cynthia Secor, “Androgyny: An Early Reappraisal,” and Daniel A. Harris, “Androgyny: The Sexist Myth in Disguise,” in Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2, 2 (1974): 161 – 170, 171 – 184. 10. See Diane Long Hoeveler, Romantic Androgyny: The Women Within (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990), pp. 1 – 23. 11. Moi, Sexual/ Textual Politics, p. 13. For detailed introduction to the recent feminist debates on androgyny, see Kari Weil, Androgyny and the Denial of DiVerence (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1992), pp. 145 – 169; Catriona MacLeod, Embodying Ambiguity: Androgyny and Aesthetics from Winckelmann to Keller (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), pp. 11 – 23. 12. In defining the Chinese gender stand revealed in its philosophy, David L. Hall and Roger T. Ames use the term “relative sexism.” For their interesting discussion, see Hall and Ames, Thinking from the Han: Self, Truth, and Transcendence in Chinese and Western Culture (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), pp. 88 – 100. 13. Cynthia Secor, “The Androgyny Papers,” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2, 2 (1974): 139. 14. Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Toward a Recognition of Androgyny (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973), p. x. 15. In her discussion of the late Ming fascination with sexual anomaly revealed in historical records, Charlotte Furth observes: “Hardly a year passed without the appearance of some local gazette record of a cock-crowing hen or bearded women.” See “Androgynous Males and Deficient Females: Biology and Gender Boundaries in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century China,” Late Imperial China 9, 2 (Dec. 1988): 24. This interest in sexual transgression, according to Furth, is related to the unusual gender roles men played in late Ming politics, and it “points to the sexual politics peculiar to the MingQing transition” (p. 24). 16. Although it is still uncertain when the Dream was written, it is generally assumed by both Eastern and Western scholars that its composition began in the 1750s, based on the commonly accepted date of Cao Xueqin’s death in 1763 (or 1764) and the fact that he worked on it for many years. 17. Tracing the friendship between Cao Yin (1658 – 1712), the author’s grandfather, and prominent supporters and writers of popular literature in the early Qing, such as Li Yu (1611 – 1680), Wang Shishen (1634 – 1711), Liu Tingji (b. 1653), and Hong Sheng (1645 – 1704), Chen Dakang concludes that through family influence Cao Xueqin inherited enthusiasm for popular fiction initiated in the late Ming by Li Zhi, Yuan Hongdao (1568 – 1610), and Feng Menglong, and brought that tradition to its culmination. See Chen


Notes to Pages 2 – 6

Dakang, Tongsu xiaoshuo de lishi guiji (Changsha: Hunan chubanshe, 1993), pp. 275 – 280. 18. Alison Black, “Gender and Cosmology in Chinese Correlative Thinking,” in Gender and Religion: On the Complexity of Symbols, ed. C. W. Bynum, S. Harrell, and P. Richman (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989), p. 184. 19. Lisa Raphals makes a thorough exploration of the correlation between yin-yang and gender in early Chinese writings in her Sharing the Light: Representations of Women and Virtue in Early China (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), pp. 139 – 168. 20. Charlotte Furth, A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China’s Medical History, 960–1665 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 27.

Chapter One: Androgyny in Chinese Philosophy 1. Plato, Symposium, trans. Benjamin Jowett, in Great Books of the Western World (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1990), 6:157 – 158. 2. One lost gospel predicts that the Lord’s kingdom will come when the male and the female become one. See The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. M. J. James, quoted in Heilbrun, Toward a Recognition of Androgyny, p. 20. 3. For discussion of androgyny in Western creation myths, see Alexandria G. Kaplan and Mary Anne Sedney, Psychology and Sex Roles: An Androgynous Perspective (Boston: Little Brown, 1980), pp. 57 – 60. For discussion of androgyny in Western classic literature, see Heilbrun, Toward a Recognition of Androgyny, pp. 1 – 137. 4. For discussion of Freud’s concept of “original bisexuality,” see Sarah Kofman, The Enigma of Woman: Woman in Freud’s Writings, trans. Catherine Porter (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), pp. 122 – 131. 5. For discussion of androgyny in Jung’s theory, see June Singer, Androgyny: The Opposites Within, pp. 20 – 31. Jung’s attitude toward androgyny seems ambiguous: theoretically, he regarded it as a distant goal of man’s self-development, but he expressed discomfort over a woman exploring animus in her search for economic freedom and professional accomplishment. Daniel A. Harris criticizes Jung’s patriarchal bias, in “Androgyny: the Sexist Myth in Disguise,” pp. 178 – 181. 6. See Dong Zhongshu, Chunqiu fanlu, in Sibu congkan (1934; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985), vol. 10, juan 12, ch. 53, p. 7b. For the English translation of his passage designating relationship in the gendered terms “yin” and “yang,” see Yu-lan Feng, A History of Chinese Philosophy, trans. Derk Bodde (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953), 2:42 – 43. 7. W. T. de Bary, comp., “Selections from The Analects,” in Sources of Chinese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963), p. 22. 8. Shao Yong, “Huangji jingshi shu,” selected from Sibu peiyao, in de Bary, Sources of Chinese Tradition, p. 518. 9. Li ji, Sibu congkan (1934; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1989), vol. 20, ch. 17, p. 5a. 10. See Wright, “Values, Roles, and Personalities,” in Confucian Personalties, ed. Arthur F. Wright and Denis Twitchett (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962), p. 8. 11. Upon receiving eighty beautiful girls and abundant gifts from the neighboring kingdoms, Duke Ting neglected his court and abandoned himself to pleasure. Thereupon

Notes to Pages 6 – 8


Confucius resigned from his ranking post and went forth to thirteen years of homeless wandering. See James Legge, trans., Confucian Analects: The Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean (1893; reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1971), pp. 75 – 76. 12. W. T. de Bary cites Wu Han’s allusive criticism of Mao through Wu Han’s historical play Hai-rui Dismissed as a contemporary case of the dissenting Confucian tradition. See de Bary and Tu, “Introduction,” Confucianism and Human Rights (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), p. 22. This dissenting impulse finds more violent expression in such action as the students’ death-defying petition in Tiananmen Square in 1989. 13. John Knoblock, Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Work (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), vol. 3, bk. 29, p. 251. For the Chinese version, see Xun Zi yinde (Harvard-yenching Institute, 1966), p. 104. 14. Mencius said that “a ruler who carries the oppression of his people to the highest pitch, will himself be slain, and his kingdom will perish.” See James Legge, trans., The Chinese Classics: The Works of Mencius (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895), p. 293. 15. For discussion of courage in Mencian discourse, see Lee H. Yearley, Mencius and Aquinas: Theories of Virtue and Conceptions of Courage (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990), pp. 113 – 168; Kwong-loi Shun, Mencius and Early Chinese Thought (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), pp. 74 – 75. 16. King uses this term “elasticity,” in reference to a Confucian’s flexible roles in social groups, in “The Individual and Group in Confucianism: A Relational Perspective,” in Individualism and Holism: Studies in Confucian and Taoist Values, ed. Donald J. Munro (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, The University of Michigan, 1985), pp. 60 – 63. 17. The most authoritative advocate of this interpretation is Joseph Needham; see his Science and Civilization in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956), 2:33. See also Ellen Marie Chen, “Tao as the Great Mother and the Influence of Motherly Love in the Shaping of Chinese Philosophy,” History of Religion 14, 1 (Aug. 1984): 51 – 64. 18. Roger T. Ames, “Taoism and the Androgynous Ideal,” in Women in China: Current Directions in Historical Scholarship, ed. R. Guisso and S. Johannesen (Youngstown, N.Y.: Philo Press, 1981), p. 32. Ames reinforces this argument in his more recent work Thinking from the Han, pp. 90 – 95. My observation is indebted to his pioneering works in the field. 19. Ames, Thinking from the Han, p. 93. 20. Tao Te Ching, trans. D. C. Lau (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1982), p. 113. 21. For discussion of gender implication of this symbol, see Schuyler Cammann, “Symbolic Expression of Yin-Yang Philosophy,” in Chinese Ideas about Nature and Society, ed. Charles Le Blanc and Susan Blader (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1985), p. 102. 22. For discussion of the basic principles involved in internal alchemy, see John Blofeld, The Secret and Sublime, Taoist Mysteries and Magic (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), pp. 140 – 151. In her work introducing internal alchemy, Isabelle Robinet indicates that in Daoist classics there is “discussion of the celestial flow that moves downward and the terrestrial one that rises up [in the human body], of the Yin and the Yang that pass on their power and enter into resonance.” See Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, trans. Phyllis Brook (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), p. 228. 23. Ames, “Taoism and the Androgynous Ideal,” p. 37. 24. Lao Zi, quoted in Lao Tzu Text, Notes, and Comments, trans. Rhett Y. W. Young and Roger T. Ames (San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, 1981), p. 154.


Notes to Pages 8 – 10

25. For this episode, see The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), pp. 187 – 188. 26. For discussion of Buddhist attitudes to women, see Diana Y. Paul, Women in Buddhism, Images of the Feminine in Mahayana Tradition (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1979); Alan Sponberg, “Attitudes toward Women and the Feminine in Early Buddhism,” in Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, ed. Jose Ignacia Cabezon (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985), pp. 6 – 37. For discussion of androgyny in Buddhism, see Cynthia Ann Humes, “Becoming Male: Salvation through Gender Modification in Hinduism and Buddhism,” in Gender Reversals and Gender Cultures: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, ed. Sabrina Petra Ramet (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), pp. 123 – 137. 27. The Buddhist ideal of asexuality is projected, first and foremost, in the concealment of a male sex organ in a sheath as one of the distinguishing marks of a Buddha. Such an image signifies the Buddhist endeavor to control and eliminate sexual desire, so as to clear a formidable hindrance from the way to detachment. This concept of asexuality is also revealed in certain Buddhist practices: nuns are requested to shave their heads, erasing a physical sign of femininity; celibacy is imposed on all clerics, who usually live in singlesex communities, where sexual identity is somewhat concealed. 28. Paul, Women in Buddhism, p. 285. 29. Miranda Shaw, Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 157. 30. For discussion on this Tantric technique for spiritual salvation, see Shaw, Passionate Enlightenment, pp. 140 – 178; GeoVrey Parrinder, Sex in the World’s Religions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 51 – 53. Bernard Faure indicates that the Tantric approach represents one of “the two roads” to spiritual transcendence in Buddhism, and desire in Tantrism is used according to the principle that “one nail drives another,” “poison expels poison.” See Faure, The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), pp. 4, 48. 31. For discussion of Huiyuan’s treatise, see de Bary, Sources of Chinese Tradition, pp. 280 – 282. 32. In the history of the Wei dynasty (386 – 550), it is recorded that Buddhist monks bowed in front of the ruler. See Wei Shou, Wei shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 8:3025. 33. Kaplan and Sedney, Psychology and Sex Roles, p. 75. 34. Scholars of Chinese eremitism all emphasize its practitioners’ hidden strength. Alan J. Berkowitz observes: “Throughout all cultural contexts, if there is a trait universally shared by all who chose reclusion, it is strength of character.” See Berkowitz, “The Moral Hero: A Pattern of Reclusion in Traditional China,” Monumenta Serica 40 (1992): 8. 35. See Sima Qian, “Sima Xiangru liezhuan,” Shi ji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1972), 9:3000. 36. Hongfu is the heroine in Du Guangting’s story “Qiuran ke zhuan” [The tale of a bearded man], in Tangren chuanqi xiaoshuo ji (Taipei: Shijie shuju, 1966), pp. 178 – 184. 37. While Liang Hongyu and Qin Liangyu devoted their military feats to repelling respectively a foreign invasion and a domestic uprising, Lady Gongsun dazzled the world with her terrific sword craft. For detailed discussion of Chinese female warriors, see Edwards, Men and Women in Qing China, pp. 87 – 89; Sufen Sophie Lai, “From Cross-

Notes to Pages 10 – 12


dressing Daughter to Lady Knight-Errant: The Origin and Evolution of Chinese Women Warriors,” in Presence and Presentation: Women in the Chinese Literati Tradition, ed. Sherry J. Mou (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), pp. 77 – 107. 38. Joseph Allen noted a trend in the evolution of Mulan legend in Chinese history; in the later versions of the legend, Mulan’s military prowess is highlighted, and she even assumes the “role of General Hua Mulan.” See Allen, “Dressing and Undressing the Chinese Woman Warrior,” Positions 4, 2 (fall 1996): 353. This trend to reinforce Mulan’s military identity may contribute to her status as an archetype of Chinese Amazon. 39. See Lai, “From Cross-dressing Daughter to Lady Knight-Errant,” pp. 77, 86. 40. Wolfgang Bauer writes, “To be sure, neither Ch’ü Yuan nor the notorious old fisherman were ‘hermits’ in the proper sense. . . . Nevertheless, they had a tremendous influence on the development of all anchoretical ideas in China”; see Bauer, “The Hidden Hero: Creation and Disintegration of the Ideal of Eremitism,” in Individualism and Holism, p. 165. 41. Ban Zhao, “Nü jie,” in Fan Ye, Hou Han shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1965), translation cited from R. H. Van Gulik, Sexual Life in Ancient China (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1961), p. 99. 42. For discussion of some leading neo-Confucian scholars’ views on gender division, see Raphals, Sharing the Light, pp. 254 – 256. 43. Dorothy Yin-yee Ko explores the gap between Confucian norms and social reality concerning women’s lives in late imperial China in Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994); Lisa Raphals conducts a similar enquiry into Warring States and the Han dynasty in Sharing the Light. 44. For discussion of Ban Zhao’s role in the formation of controls imposed upon women in traditional China, see Lily Xiao Hong Lee, The Virtue of Yin, Studies on Chinese Women (Australia: Wild Peony, 1994), pp. 11 – 24. 45. For discussion of this text, see Theresa Kelleher, “Confucianism,” in Women in World Religions (Albany: State University of New York, 1987), p. 148. Lisa Raphals similarly observes that “in Nü xiao jing, she [Ban Zhao] appears as an advocate of female independence,” in Sharing the Light, p. 257.

Chapter Two: Gender Ambiguity in Late Ming and Early Qing Culture 1. Empress Renxiao wrote Nei xun [Precepts for the ladies of the palace] in 1404 and Empress Zhangsheng wrote Nü xun [Instructions for women] in 1406; both were influential in China and abroad. See Shen Defu, Wanli yehuo bian (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1997), vol. 1, juan 3, p. 71. See also Gulik, Sexual Life, p. 98 n. 1. 2. For a comprehensive introduction to the cultural background of Ming-Qing literature, see Andrew H. Plaks, The Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 3 – 52; Robert E. Hegel, The Novel in Seventeenth-Century China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), pp. 1 – 32. I explore in this chapter cultural issues only related to gender. 3. For discussion of homosexuality in the Ming, see Bret Hinsch, Passions of the Cut Sleeve (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 118 – 138; Wang Shunu, Zhong-


Notes to Pages 12 – 16

guo changjishi (1934; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1992), pp. 225 – 230; Liu Dalin, Zhongguo gudai xingwenhua (Yinchuan: Ningxia renmin chubanshe, 1993), pp. 785 – 791. 4. For studies of homosexuality in Ming-Qing literature, see Giovanni Vitiello, “The Dragon’s Whim: Ming and Qing Homoerotic Tales from The Cut Sleeve,” T’oung Pao 78 (1992): 341 – 372; Vitiello, “The Fantastic Journey of an Ugly Boy: Homosexuality and Salvation in Late Ming Pornography,” Positions 4, 2 (1996): 291 – 320; Sophie Volpp, “The Discourse on Male Marriage: Li Yu’s ‘A Male Mencius’s Mother,’ ” Positions 2, 1 (1994): 113 – 132; Volpp, “Gender, Power and Spectacle in Late-Imperial Chinese Theater,” in Gender Reversals and Gender Cultures, pp. 138 – 147. 5. In recent studies—by Matthew H. Sommer on Qing legal documents and Michael Szonyi on a popular cult—the existence of homosexuality in the Qing is demonstrated and Hinsch’s notion of “imported Manchu concept of sexuality” (see Hinsch, p. 162) as an ideological basis for the Qing homophobia is challenged. See Sommer, “The Penetrated Male in Late Imperial China: Judicial Constructions and Social Stigma,” Modern China 23, 2 (April 1997): 141; Szonyi, “The Cult of Hu Tianbao and the EighteenthCentury Discourse of Homosexuality,” Late Imperial China 19, 1 (June 1998): 1 – 25. 6. Gulik, Sexual Life, p. 294. 7. Martin Weizong Huang, “Dehistoricization and Intertextualization: The Anxiety of Precedents in the Evolution of the Traditional Chinese Novel,” CLEAR 12 (1990): 57. 8. Keith McMahon, Causality and Containment in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Fiction (New York: E. J. Brill, 1988), p. 51. 9. Volpp, “Discourse on Male Marriage,” p. 129. 10. See Fu Yiling, Mingdai jiangnan shimin jingji shitan (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1963), p. 107. 11. Xie Zhaozhe, Wu zazu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959), vol. 1, juan 7, p. 198. 12. See William Willetts, Chinese Calligraphy: Its History and Aesthetic Motivation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 133. 13. See Kang-i Sun Chang, The Late-Ming Poet Ch’en Tzu-lung: Crises of Love and Loyalism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), pp. 41 – 68. 14. For discussion of kunqu in the Ming dynasty, see John Hu, “Ming Dynasty Drama,” in Chinese Theater from Its Origin to Its Present Day, ed. Colin Mackerras (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1988), pp. 61 – 90. 15. In “Gender, Power and Spectacle,” p. 139, Volpp bases her observation on the study of the Ming play The Male Queen, which dramatizes the peerless feminine charm in a male body. For detailed study on this subject, see Volpp’s “Male Queen: Boy Actors and Literati Libertines” (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1995). In their study of eighteenth-century Chinese society, Susan Naquin and Evelyn S. Rawski indicate the immense popularity of female impersonators in another dramatic form, qinqiang, because of their seductive charm; see their Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), p. 61. 16. Epstein, Competing Discourses, p. 118. 17. Prominent among recent scholarship that sheds light on female literacy in the late Ming are: Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers; Ellen Widmer, “The Epistolary World of Female Talent in Seventeenth-Century China,” Late Imperial China 10, 2 (1989): 1 – 43; Kang-i Sun Chang and Haun Saussy, eds., Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).

Notes to Pages 16 – 18


18. See Dorothy Ko, “Pursuing Talent and Virtue: Education and Women’s Culture in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century China,” Late Imperial China 13, 1 (June 1992): 9. Kang-i Sun Chang similarly observes: “It was not until the Ming that the ideal ‘talented woman’ (cai nü) emerged as a popular central figure,” in “Ming-Qing Women Poets and the Notions of ‘Talent’ and ‘Morality,’ ” in Culture & State in Chinese History, ed. Theodore Hunter, R. Bin Wong, and Pauline Yu (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), p. 247. These two studies also indicate the contemporary ambivalence to the issue. 19. The fashion of androgyny salient in late Ming courtesan culture has attracted much academic attention in recent years. A prominent case that lies at the center of scholastic scrutiny is that of Liu Rushi (1618 – 1664), one of the most accomplished courtesans in late Ming Jiangnan. Donning male garments, rubbing elbows with the most renowned literati of the day, she drank and composed poems with them, romantically pursued them, often passing herself oV as a man. For study on the androgynous inclinations of Liu Rushi and Wang Wei, another eminent courtesan, see Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, pp. 274 – 290, and her essay “The Written Word and the Bound Foot: A History of the Courtesan’s Aura,” in Writing Women in Late Imperial China, ed. Ellen Widmer and Kang-i Sun Chang (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), pp. 80 – 81; Wai-yee Li, “The Late Ming Courtesan: Invention of a Cultural Ideal,” in Writing Women in Late Imperial China, ed. Widmer and Chang, pp. 54 – 64. Also see Kang-i Sun Chang, The Late-Ming Poet Ch’en Tzu-lung, p. 17; “Ming-Qing Women Poets and the Notions of ‘Talent’ and ‘Morality.’ ” p. 250; “Liu Shih and Hsü Ts’an: Feminine or Feminist?” in Voices of the Song Lyric in China, ed. Pauline Yu (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), p. 176. 20. See Yu Songqing, “Ming Qing shiqi minjian zongjiao jiaopai zhong de nüxing,” Nankai daxue xuebao 5 (1982): 29 – 33. For a case study of a female patriarch, see Beata Grant, “Female Holder of the Lineage: Linji Chan Master Zhiyuan Xinggang (1597 – 1654),” Late Imperial China 17, 2 (Dec. 1996): 51 – 76. 21. Yenna Wu assiduously studies this social and literary phenomenon in the following works: “The Inversion of Marital Hierarchy: Shrewish Wives and Henpecked Husbands in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Literature,” HJAS 48, 2 (Dec. 1988): 363 – 382; The Chinese Virago: A Literary Theme (Cambridge: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1995). 22. In the late Ming, Chinese commerce flourished particularly in Huizhou, a town in present Anhui province, and in Shanxi province. Seventy to 90 percent of the male population in those places was engaged in commerce. Usually, a man began his business trips at the age of sixteen and was absent from his home for most of the year. See Huishang yanjiu lunwen ji (Hefei: Anhui renmin chubanshe, 1985), pp. 61, 74, 412. In Feng Menglong’s well-known story “The Pearl Shirt Reencountered,” set against this cultural background, the heroine Sanqiao’s adultery after her husband’s prolonged absence from home discloses her subconscious rejection of a feminine identity. 23. Feng Menglong, comp., Ming Qing minge shidiao ji (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986), pp. 299 – 300. 24. Shuhui Yang indicates that “folk songs in Chinese tradition were almost always subject to appropriation, alteration and manipulation in the process of assimilation by the literati.” See Shuhui Yang, Appropriation and Representation: Feng Menglong and the Chinese Vernacular Story (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michi-


Notes to Page 18

gan), p. 36. Andrew Plaks even argues that Feng Menglong’s Mountain Songs “should be read as literati exercises in the imitation of popular song” (Four Masterworks, p. 40). Yet a diVerent view is presented by Yasushi Oki, who believes that these songs may originate from peasants’ planting songs and festival ceremonies, and that they express genuine feelings and inject new life to the artificial world of the late Ming poetry. See Oki, “Women in Feng Menglong’s ‘Mountain Songs,’ ” in Writing Women in Late Imperial China, ed. Widmer and Chang, pp. 136 – 137. 25. Gu Qiyuan, “Kezuo zhuiyu,” vol. 1, cited in Xia Xianchun, Wanming shifeng yu wenxue (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1994), p. 48. 26. For discussion of the inner-outer shifting boundary in women’s lives, see Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, pp. 12 – 14, 65, 115. Yet Ko admits that “In spite of . . . these temporary transgressions, the premise of separate spheres remained intact” (p. 142). 27. For introduction to Qin Liangyu’s life, see Zhang Tingyu et al., Ming shi (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 23:6944 – 6948. 28. For a brief introduction of the loyalist Amazons, see Dorothy Ko, “Toward a Social History of Women” (Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University, 1989), pp. 22 – 25. Xie Zhaozhe records more cases of woman warriors in the Ming, in Wu zazu, pp. 220 – 221. Victoria Cass discusses woman warriors, including the well-known female knight errant Tang Saier, in Dangerous Women: Warriors, Grannies, and Geishas of the Ming (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999), pp. 70 – 85. 29. See Xu Wei, Xu Wei ji, 2:363 – 365. 30. Tian Yihen, a late Ming scholar, recorded that two women disguised themselves as men, one to pursue the profession of a merchant and the other to seek refuge in the army during a time of riots; a monk masqueraded as a woman and seduced many women. See Tian Yiheng, Liuqing rizha (Taipei: Guangwen, 1970), pp. 98 – 100, 141. The first two women’s cross-dressing cases are cited in Handlin, “Lü Kun’s New Audience,” p. 24. Similar cases are also recorded in Zhang Tingyu, Ming shi, 25:7693. 31. See de Bary, “Individualism and Humanitarianism in Late Ming Thought,” in Self and Society in Ming Thought, ed. W. T. de Bary (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), pp. 197 – 199; Chen Guibing, “Li Zhi de funü guan,” in Li Zhi yanjiu, ed. Xu Zaiquan et al. (Beijing: Guangming ripao chubanshe, 1989), pp. 152 – 159. 32. Li Zhi, “Ti Xiaofu jingshe,” in Lishi Fenshu Xufenshu, p. 282. 33. For details about the tale of the dragon’s daughter, see The Lotus Sutra, trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), pp. 187 – 189. 34. For the tale of the Moon Lady, see J. Takakusu and K. Watanabe, eds., “Foshuo Yueshangnü jing,” in Dazang jing (Tokyo: Society for the Publication of the Taisho Tripitaka, 1962), 14:615 – 625. 35. This episode is included in “Shelifu zunzhe,” in Wudeng huiyuan, comp. Pu Ji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1984), 1:114, cited in Xu Sumin, Li Zhi de zhen yu qi (Nanjing: Nanjing chubanshe, 1998), pp. 86 – 87. 36. Paul, Women in Buddhism, pp. 217 – 223. 37. See Beata Grant, “Patterns of Female Religious Experience in Qing Dynasty Popular Literature,” Journal of Chinese Religions (1995): 30; Susan Mann, “Grooming a Daughter for Marriage: Brides and Wives in the Mid-Ch’ing Period,” in Marriage and Inequality in Chinese Society, ed. Rubie Watson and Patricia Chambers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), p. 226 n. 26. During the early stage of Buddhist presence in

Notes to Pages 18 – 21


China, such as the Wei-Jin period (220 – 420), resistance to female religious practice was formidable: women risked being disowned by their families and persecuted by oYcials. See Lee, Virtue of Yin, p. 5. 38. See Li Zhi, “Da yi nüren xuedao wei jianduan shu,” Lishi Fenshu Xufenshu, pp. 67 – 69. 39. Grant, “Female Holder of the Lineage,” p. 60. After she had repeatedly postponed her entrance into a convent, the heroine Xinggang was finally permitted to leave her home only after she refused to eat and drink. 40. Li Zhi, Lishi Fenshu Xufenshu, p. 360. 41. Ibid., p. 224. 42. Miriam L. Levering indicates that in Buddhist writings gendered expressions of masculine heroism, such as zhangfu and da zhangfu, are often used to describe women who displayed courage, endurance, and willpower in their pursuit of enlightenment. Whatever progress it may signify, Levering indicates, such “rhetoric of equality” “shows the androcentric character of Chinese Buddhism,” for Buddhism “remained shaped by men as the primary participants, by their imagination and their language.” See Levering, “Lin-chi (Rinzai) Ch’an and Gender: The Rhetoric of Equality and the Rhetoric of Heroism,” in Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, pp. 150 – 151. Interestingly, as Grant points out in “Female Holder of the Lineage,” p. 73, “the same rhetoric is also used by the nuns to describe both each other and their disciples.” 43. Xu Sumin, Li Zhi de zhen yu qi, pp. 81 – 90. 44. Another like-minded literatus is Tang Shunzhi (1507 – 1560), who ardently praised and encouraged female literacy. See Handlin, “Lü Kun’s New Audience,” p. 27. 45. This theory was clearly stated by Mencius and made more articulate by Dong Zhongshu. See Yu-lan Feng, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy (New York: Macmillan Company, 1961), p. 200. 46. Dong Zhongshu, Chunqiu fanlu, in Sibu congkan, vol. 10, juan 11, ch. 43, p. 4b, cited in Rafals, Sharing the Light, p. 163. 47. See Wen Zi, “Shangdao pian,” Wen Zi zhuzi suoyin, ed. Liu Dianjue (Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan 1992), p. 33. 48. See Cammann, “Symbolic Expression,” p. 109. Also, in his study John Hay indicates that although in ancient times the dragon was associated with both yin and yang, in the Han dynasty it “became primarily yang.” See John Hay, “The Persistent Dragon (Lung),” in The Power of Culture: Studies in Chinese Cultural History, ed. Willard J. Peterson et al. (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1994), p. 135. To illustrate the yang connotation of the dragon image, Hay also quotes the philosopher Wang Chong (a.d. 20 – ca. 100), saying, “Dragon, a yang phenomenon,” p. 145, and notes Sima Qian’s comparison between the face of Emperor Wu-ti of the Han (r. 561 – 578) and the visage of a dragon, p. 136. 49. Kam Louie, “Sexuality, Masculinity and Politics in Chinese Culture: The Case of the ‘Sanguo’ Hero Guan Yu,” Modern Asian Studies 33, 4 (1999), p. 840. 50. Frederick W. Mote and Denis Twitchett, eds., The Cambridge History of China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 7:511. 51. Ibid., pp. 515, 517. 52. Ibid., p. 517.


Notes to Pages 21 – 23

53. See Ray Huang, 1587, A Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), p. 32. 54. See Frederic Wakeman Jr., “The Shun Interregnum of 1644,” in From Ming to Ch’ing, ed. Spence and Wills, p. 44. 55. Zhao Yuan, Ming Qing zhiji shidafu yanjiu (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 1999), p. 78. With evidence from various oYcial and unoYcial historical records, Zhao indicates that the Chongzhen emperor gave up the plan to move the capital to the south for personal safety, under pressure from his subordinates, and he showed interest in negotiating a peace treaty, which he also had to give up under pressure from public opinion (pp. 24 – 27). 56. For a detailed discussion of the Chongzhen emperor’s performance in the last day of his life, see Wakeman, “The Shun Interregnum of 1644,” pp. 47 – 50. In Chinese culture, suicide is generally regarded as feminine; drowning and hanging, in particular, are common methods used by women; see Ju-K’ang T’ien, Male Anxiety and Female Chastity, A Comparative Study of Chinese Ethical Values in Ming-Ch’ing Times (New York and Leiden: Brill, 1988), p. 15. Chongzhen’s suicide seems to parallel the collective female suicide that happened in the next year (1645) in Yangzhou when that city fell prey to the invading Manchu army. 57. For discussion of the Ming enthusiasm to serve in the inner court, see Xiyuan wenjian lu, comp. Zhang Xuan (1632; reprint, Taipei: Huawen shuju, 1968), 12:7261 – 7263. 58. For positive roles that eunuchs played in the Ming, see Shih-shan Henry Tsai, The Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996). 59. For discussion of eunuchs’ negative roles in late Ming politics, see Mote and Twitchett, The Cambridge History of China, 7:596 – 602. See also de Bary, “Chinese Despotism and the Confucian Ideal,” in Chinese Thought and Institutions, ed. John K. Fairbank (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 176 – 177. 60. See W. T. de Bary, Waiting for the Dawn: A Plan for the Prince: Huang Tsung-hsi’s Ming-i-tai-fang lu (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 165. 61. Ode 264. The line is modified from Joseph Allen’s translation in Arthur Waley, trans., The Book of Songs: The Ancient Chinese Classics of Poetry (New York: Grove Press, 1996), p. 284. 62. For a discussion of Chinese attitudes to the Qing takeover, see Lynn A. Struve, “Ambivalence and Action: Some Frustrated Scholars of the K’ang-hsi Period,” in From Ming to Ch’ing, ed. Spence and Wills, pp. 321 – 367. 63. Ying-shih Yu, “Toward an Interpretation of the Intellectual Transition in SeventeenthCentury China,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 100, 2 (1980): 115 – 125. 64. Wing-tsit Chan, Chu Hsi: Life and Thought (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1987), p. 24. 65. For a full account of Zhu Xi’s life, see Tuo Tuo et al., Song shi (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1977) 36:12751 – 12770; for an excellent study on his roles in Song politics, see Conrad M. Schirokauer, “Chu Hsi’s Political Career: A Study in Ambivalence,” in Confucian Personalities, ed. Arthur Wright (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962), pp. 162 – 188. 66. In his biographical study of the Song master, Huang Zongxi ardently praises Zhu Xi’s independent personality; see “Huiweng xuean,” in Huang Zongxi quanji (Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1985) 4:809 – 889. For a discussion of neo-Confucian prince-

Notes to Pages 23 – 25


minister relationship exemplified by Zhu Xi and other Song scholars, see de Bary, Learning for One’s Self (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), pp. 31 – 37. For a discussion of Zhu Xi’s view on the need to restrain imperial authority, see Zhang Liwen, Zhu Xi sixiang yanjiu (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1994), pp. 98 – 101. 67. de Bary, Waiting for the Dawn, p. 92. 68. The death-defying attitude is most graphically shown in Hai Rui’s action: Before submitting his critical memorial to the emperor, he bought a coYn in anticipation of the punishment. For an introduction to Hai Rui as an unyielding oYcial, see Joanna F. Handlin, Action in Late Ming Thought: The Reorientation of Lü Kun and Other Scholar-OYcials (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), pp. 54 – 64. 69. Quoted speech in Zhang Xuan, Xiyuan wenjian lu, vol. 2, p. 947. 70. Zhao Yuan, Ming Qing zhiji, p. 177. 71. Wang Fuzhi, “Du Tongjian lun,” in Chuanshan quanshu (Changsha: Yuelu shushe, 1988), 10:93, cited in Zhao Yuan, Ming Qing zhiji, p. 177. 72. Huang Zongxi, “Fang Zhengxue Xiaoru” [A biography of Fang Xiaoru], in Mingru xuean (Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1965), 1:1. 73. Huang Zongxi, “Wenzheng Fang Zhengxue xiansheng Xiaoru” [A biography of Fang Xiaoru], in Mingru xuean, 8:97. 74. For a discussion of eunuchs’ political involvement during this period, see Mote and Twitchett, The Cambridge History of China, 7:345 – 350, 366 – 376. 75. For these episodes of Luo Yifeng’s life, see Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 9:9. 76. My translation of the quoted lines from Mencius is adapted from James Legge’s translation, The Works of Mencius, pp. 189, 190, 265. 77. Cited in Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 1:4 – 5. 78. Ibid., 1:5. 79. Ibid., 9:9. 80. Ibid., 1:4 – 5. 81. Luo Yifeng, “Yaoyu” [Important remarks], in Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 9:10. 82. The hidden masculinity of the “soft” approach can be seen in the life of Wen Zhengming (1470 – 1559) who gave up his position in the imperial academy to preserve personal integrity. Similarly, in his writings, Wen argues that “the excessively hard will break”; see Zhang Xuan, Xiyuan wenjian lu, 2:953 – 954. While the marginal scholars who take the “firm” approach and the “soft” approach may argue with each other, their behavior may both be charged with inner strength. 83. See Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 1:48. “The people of Heaven” in Mencius refers to those who could carry out their principles throughout the kingdom if they were in oYce. 84. See Huang Zongxi, “Mengzishi shuo,” in Huang Zongxi quanji, 1:48 – 166. 85. See Zhang Xuan, Xiyuan wenjian lu, 2:954. 86. See Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 1:34. 87. He Tang’s defiance of the demonic eunuch Liu Jin seems to be a quite well-known event in the Ming dynasty; it is recorded in diVerent books. See Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 9:80; Zhang Xuan, Xiyuan wenjian lu, 2:1040. 88. See Zhao Yuan, Ming Qing zhiji, p. 196. 89. For a detailed introduction to Donglin scholars and their writings, see Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 11:46 – 116; 12:1 – 31. Most relevant to our study is Huang Zongxi’s


Notes to Pages 25 – 29

comment on this school in 11:47. For discussion of the active roles the Donglin Party played in late Ming politics, see Charles O. Hucker, “The Tung-lin Movement of the Late Ming Period,” in Chinese Thought and Institutions, pp. 151 – 156. 90. For this episode in Daguan’s life, see Tang Xianzu, “Teng Zhao Zhongyi sheng ci jixu,” in Tang Xianzu quanji (Beijing: Guji chubanshe, 1999), 2:1079. For a study on the relationship between Daguan and Tang Xianzu, see Zheng Peikai, “Tang Xianzu yu Daguan heshang,” Tang Xianzu yu wanming wenhua (Taipei: Yuncheng wenhua shiye chuban gongsi, 1995), pp. 357 – 443. For a study on Daguan, see Shi Guoxiang, Zibo dashi yanjiu (Taipei: Dongchu chubanshe, 1987). 91. Shen Defu, Wanli yehuo bian, vol. 3, juan 27, p. 691. 92. Tang Xianzu, “Da Ma xinyi,” Tang Xianzu ji, 2:1402. 93. Legge, The Works of Mencius, p. 265. 94. De Bary, Waiting for the Dawn, p. 95. 95. Zou Diguang, “Tang Xianzu zhuan,” in Tang Xianzu, Tang Xianzu ji, 2:1522. 96. Tang Xianzu, “Ji Li Rude,” Tang Xianzu ji, 2:1438. 97. For this memorial, see “Lun fuchen kechen shu,” in Tang Xianzu, Tang Xianzu quanji, 2:1275 – 1281. 98. According to the oYcial history Ming shi (vol. 18, pp. 5541 – 5542), by Zhang Tingu, Lady Yang presented an appeal to the emperor, oVering to die on behalf of her husband, but this was obstructed by Yang’s political rival, the grand secretary Yan Song (1480 – 1567). The heroine’s martyred death in Ming feng ji is most likely a fictitious touch of the dramatist, who elevates and ennobles the woman, making her intended martyrdom a dramatic fact. Dietrich Tschang believes that Lady Yang’s death in the drama may be “one version of her death popular at the time of the composition of Ming feng ji and that the playwright used and reshaped it to demonstrate the theatricality of Yang Jisheng’s martyrdom.” See Tschang, “History and Meaning in the Late Ming Drama Ming Feng Ji,” Ming Studies 35 (Aug. 1985): 10. 99. Also relevant here is the long poem “A Song on Hearing the Taoist Priestess Bian Yujing Play the Zither,” composed by Wu Weiye (1609 – 1671), a Ming scholar who cherished loyalist sentiments. The poem projects the voice of an ex-courtesan lamenting her tragic eremitic existence after the fall of the Ming. Tracing many similarities between the heroine and the poet himself in their respective lives, Kang-i Sun Chang perceives in the former a mask for the latter, who relies on the public voice of the ex-courtesan to unleash his private emotions. See “The Idea of the Mask in Wu Wei-yeh (1609 – 1671),” HJAS 45, 2 (1988): 289 – 313. 100. For an excellent discussion of literati identity crisis during the Ming-Qing period, see Martin Weizong Huang, Literati and Self-Re/Presentation: Autobiographical Sensibility in the Eighteenth-Century Chinese Novel (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), pp. 26 – 36. Xia Xianchun oVers a detailed discussion on the elevation of merchants’ status in the late Ming; see Wanming shifeng yu wenxue, pp. 19 – 21. Zhao Yuan indicates that the flourishing commence and merchants’ improved status notwithstanding, there still existed a tendency to debase merchants; see Ming Qing zhiji, pp. 131 – 132. For evidence he quotes Wang Fuzhi’s lines: “If the ruler favors commerce, the country will perish; if the scholars turn to commerce, they will lose their sense of humiliation” from “Du Tongjian lun,” in Chuanshan quanshu, 10:123. 101. Martin Weizong Huang discusses this analogy in the history of Chinese literature,

Notes to Pages 29 – 33


delving into the works by Sima Qian, Bai Juyi, Shi Zhenlin, and others, in Literati, pp. 74 – 86. For another study, see Shuhui Yang, Appropriation and Representation, p. 119. 102. Yuan Hongdao, “Shun sili,” in Yuan zhonglang quanji, ed. Yang Jialuo (Taipei: Shijie Shuju, 1965), 3:41. 103. In his study, Huang Mingli indicates that the beauty of Xu Wei’s writings so pleased his patron, Governor General Hu Zongxian, that for composing an essay upon the completion of Zhenhai lou (Building of conquering the pirates) the general rewarded Xu Wei with an honorarium almost equivalent to the annual salary of a ranking oYcial. On top of the limited quota for successful candidates, Huang also attributes Xu Wei’s examination failure to his individualism, which cannot be bound by the rigidity of eightleg-essay conventions, and to his militarism, which conflicts with the examiners’ genteel aesthetic tastes. See Huang Mingli, “Xu Wenchang shu, shi, wen, hua, ziping zhi tanjiu,” in Wanming sichao yu shehui biandong, ed. Danjiang daxue zhongwenxi (Taipei: Honghua wenhua shiye, 1987), pp. 472 – 473. 104. Yue is the ancient name for an area located in the southern part of the present Zhejiang province, where Xu Wei’s hometown was located. 105. Xu Wei, “Huanghu ge,” in Xu Wei ji, 1:160. 106. See Zhu Qingyu’s poem “On the Eve of Government Examination,” composed in the Tang dynasty, in One Hundred Quatrains by the Tang Poets: English Translations, ed. Lü Shuxiang (Changsha: Hunan renmin, 1980), p.78, cited in Yang, Appropriation and Representation, pp. 120 – 121. 107. Other cases at hand are the three poems Pinnü xing [Lines of a poor girl], Meinü pian [A verse of beauties] and Gu yi [An ancient verse], composed by Wu Jingzi (1707 – 1754), the author of The Scholars, also a failure in the civil service examination. In all these poems the frustrated literati are projected through female images, signifying their failure to identify with the male power structure. See Wu Jingzi, Wenmu shanfang ji (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1957), vol. 2, chap. 1, p. 5a; vol. 3, chap. 2, pp. 1b, 2a. Paul Ropp translates in his study a poem composed by Mao Xiuhui, a gentry wife in the Qing dynasty, in which the poetess applies the same rhetoric comparing her husband, an examination failure, to a virgin girl unable to catch men’s attention. See “Love, Literacy, and Laments: Themes of Women Writers in Late Imperial China,” Women’s History Review 2, 1 (1993), p. 118. 108. Xu Wei, “Wen Zhang Zijin jiebao cheng xueshigong,” Xu Wei ji, 3:890. 109. Xu Wei, “She jiang fu,” Xu Wei ji, 1:36. 110. Xu Wei, “Shang xiaoxianfu shu,” Xu Wei ji, 4:1110. 111. In Confucianism, a small man is always related to a woman, as an inferior human being. This view originates in Confucius’ notorious statement: “Women and people of low birth [xiaoren small men] are very hard to deal with. If you are friendly with them they get out of hand, if you keep your distance, they resent it.” Arthur Waley, trans., The Analects of Confucius (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1964), chap. 17, sec. 24, p. 217. 112. Yuan Hongdao, “Xu Wenchang zhuan,” in Quanji, p. 1. 113. See Chen Wanyi, Wanming xiaoping yu Mingji wenren shenghuo (Taipei: Daan chubanshe, 1988), p. 82. 114. Waley, Analects of Confucius, chap. 7, sec. 6, p. 123. 115. Yuan Hongdao, “Xu Wenchang zhuan,” in Quanji, p. 1. 116. Ibid.


Notes to Pages 33 – 34

117. Ibid. 118. Xu Wei, “Huiji Wu housheng cibei,” in Xu Wei ji, 2:614. According to Zhang Xinjian’s study, Wu Chengqi’s battle against the Japanese invaders was fought near Cao E River; see Xu Wei lungao (Beijing: Wenhua yishu chubanshe, 1990), p. 27. This geographical location apparently inspires Xu Wei to associate the patriot with the female hero. 119. Xu Wei, “Baimu zhuan,” in Xu Wei ji, 2:626. 120. Xu Wei, “He ruren zhuan,” in Xu Wei ji, 4:1138. 121. Xu Wei, Xu Wei ji, vols. 1 – 3, pp. 168, 363, 817. 122. de Bary, “Introduction,” in Self and Society in Ming Thought, ed. W. T. de Bary (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), p. 3. 123. See Mote and Twitchett, Cambridge History of China, 7:515, 528. It is said that in his old age Zhang Juzheng resorted to aphrodisiacs to sustain sexual relations with his many concubines, and he died of its side eVects (Shen Defu, Wanli yehuo bian, 2:550). 124. Yuan Hongdao, “Xiti zhaibi,” in Quanji, p. 12. 125. Yuan Hongdao, “Yu Qiu Changre,” in Quanji, p. 2. 126. Quoted by Huang Zongxi in Mingru xuean, 6:74, cited by de Bary in “Individualism and Humanitarianism in Late Ming Thought,” p. 167. 127. Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 6:62. 128. “Huiyu” [Inspirations], in Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 11:94. 129. Yan Yuan and Min Shun are distinguished disciples of Confucius. 130. Wang Longqi, “Yulu” [Quoted remarks], in Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 3:13. 131. See John Meskill, Gentlemanly Interests and Wealth on the Yangtze Delta (Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, 1994), p. 159. 132. See Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 6:78. 133. Ibid. 134. There are many references to the relation between heavenly principle and human desires in Zhu Xi’s writings, and his complex attitude has engaged much scholastic attention in recent decades. See Wing-tsit Chan, Chu Hsi: New Studies (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1989), pp. 197 – 211; Zhang Liwen, Zhu Xi sixiang yanjiu, pp. 382 – 392; Qian Mu, “Zhuzi xinxuean,” part one, in Qian Binsi xiansheng quanji (Taipei: Lianjing chuban shiye gongsi, 1998), 11:467 – 481. 135. In his recent study on the cult of qing, Martin Huang cites the following remarks by Chen Que (1604 – 1677) that reveal a similar attempt to legitimize the compatibility between human desires and heavenly principle: “Originally there was no heavenly principle in one’s mind; heavenly principle is only perceptible through human desires. Human desires, when proper, become heavenly principle. Without human desire, there would be no heavenly principle to talk about.” Huang believes that such revaluation of the status of desire reveals literati’s need to revalorize qing in the late Ming; see Desire and Fictional Narrative in Late Imperial China (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2001), p. 30. 136. See Li Zhi, “Deye ruchen lun,” Cangshu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962), vol. 3, juan 32, p. 544. 137. He Xinyin ji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981), p. 40; see also Huang Zongxi, Mingru xuean, 6:64, cited in Rong Zhaozu, Li Zhuowu pingzhuan (Taipei: Taiwan shangwu yinshuguan, 1970), p. 51. While He Xinyin indicates the inevitability of human desire, he cau-

Notes to Pages 34 – 38


tions against the indulgence in desire. Ronald G. Dimberg states, “If Ho claimed that the mind cannot exist without desires, however, he also admitted that it cannot tolerate unrestricted desires,” in The Sage and Society: The Life and Thought of Ho Hsin-yin (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1974), p. 62. The radical stands of late Ming liberals may be better understood as a reaction against the suppressive orthodoxy, rather than a manifestation of ideological revolution. 138. Li Zhi, “Shenjiao xiaoyin,” in Lishi Fenshu Xufenshu, p. 408. 139. Li Zhi, “Yu Geng Kenian,” in Lishi Fenshu Xufenshu, p. 350. 140. Willard J. Peterson, Bitter Gourd: Fang I-Chih and the Impetus for Intellectual Change (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), p. 4. 141. For a study on Yuan Hongdao’s intermittent hermetic impulses, see Chih-P’ing Chou, Yüan Hung-tao and the Kung-an School (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 93 – 106. Zuo Dongling analyzes the causes of Yuan Hongdao’s withdrawal three times from oYcialdom in Li Zhi yu wanming wenxue sixiang (Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1997), pp. 279 – 286. 142. For Wen Zhengming’s repeated eVorts to resign, see Wang Shizhen, “Wenxiansheng zhuan,” in Wen Zhengming ji, ed. Zhou Daozhen (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987), 2:1626 – 1627. 143. See Nelson Wu, “Apathy in Government and Fervor in Art,” in Confucian Personalities, pp. 260 – 293. 144. In 1526 Wang Longqi and Qian Xushan went to Beijing to participate in the imperial examination. “Disappointed by the mediocre calibre of the oYcials of the time and angered by the veiled attacks made on their master’s (Wang Yangming) teachings, they returned without taking the final palace examination.” See L. Carrington Goodrich and Chaoying Fang, eds., Dictionary of Ming Biography (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), p. 1351. 145. Chen Wanyi, Wanming xiaoping yu Mingji wenren shenghuo, pp. 1 – 36. 146. Peterson, Bitter Gourd, p. 5. 147. For discussion of the distinction among the three groups of Ming artists, see James Cahill, The Painter’s Practice: How Artists Lived and Worked in Traditional China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 123 – 124. Robert Hegel provides an in-depth introduction to the three groups, in Reading Illustrated Fiction in Late Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), pp. 270 – 286 148. Richard Barnhart comments on the diYculty of distinguishing painting schools in the late Ming; see Painters of the Great Ming: The Imperial Court and the Zhe School (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1993), p. 291. See also Hegel, Reading Illustrated Fiction in Late Imperial China, pp. 274 – 277. 149. Nelson J. Wu, “Tung Ch’i-Ch’ang (1555 – 1636): Apathy in Government and Fervor in Art,” in Confucian Personalities, ed. Wright and Twitchett, p. 273. 150. Wei-kam Ho, “Late Ming Literati: Social and Cultural Ambiance,” in The Chinese Scholars’ Studio: Artistic Life in the Late Ming Period, ed. Chu-tsing Li and James C. Y. Watt (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987), p. 25. 151. Accordingly, James Cahill’s study on late Ming paintings is entitled The Compelling Image: Nature and Style in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Painting (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982).


Notes to Pages 38 – 40

152. My translation here is adapted from Osvald Sirén’s in A History of Later Chinese Painting (New York: Hacker Art Books, 1978), 1:160. 153. Career aspiration can also be traced to Xu Wei’s dramas. In The Dramatic Performance of a Defiant Drummer (Kuang gushi yuyang sanlong), the hero Mi Heng’s (173 – 198) accusation of Cao Cao (155 – 220) is generally accepted by critics as Xu Wei’s denunciation of Yan Song. Zhang Zhihe convincingly argues that the plot of Mi Heng’s final ascendance to heaven to be promoted as Jade Emperor’s secretary conveys the dramatist’s unextinguished career aspiration. See Zhang Zhihe, “Xu Wei de shengping jiqi Sishengyuan chuyi,” Henan shifan daxue xuebao 2 (1989), pp. 52 – 53. 154. For introduction to Wen Zhengming’s and Shen Zhou’s lives, see Ming shi, 24:7361 – 7363; 25:7630 – 7631. 155. Sirén, A History, 1:110. 156. The masculine fiber of Wen Zhengming’s painting seemingly contradicts the feminine veins traceable in his calligraphy, yet they essentially mirror two complementary aspects of his identity. A master hand in the style of Wang Xizi (321 – 379, the greatest Chinese calligrapher in the Jin dynasty), Wen Zhengming practiced calligraphy with excessive grace and elegance, which may reflect his aYnity to the feminized late Ming aesthetics, and may even be temperamentally associated with his preference for a carefree existence of a commoner to a duty-bound, anxiety-ridden life of an oYcial. Yet as a literatus scholar imbued with Confucian values, Wen inherited the masculine spirit of the master discourse, which would surface when he defended self-autonomy. His strong moral fiber is particularly manifest in what critics term “landscape paintings of deep seclusion” which, as Shou-chien Shih observes, reflects his disillusionment with politics; see “The Landscape Painting of Frustrated Literati: The Wen Cheng-ming Style in the Sixteenth Century,” in The Power of Culture: Studies in Chinese Cultural History, pp. 218 – 246. 157. Craig Clunas, Fruitful Sites: Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996), p. 38.

Chapter Three: The Plum in the Golden Vase: A Prelude to the Androgyny Craze 1. Although it is generally acknowledged that the printed edition of this book first came out in 1618, a variety of evidence indicates that the early part of the book was in existence by at least 1596. For discussion on the early versions of the novel, see Patrick Hanan, “The Text of the Chin P’ing Mei,” Asia Major 9, 1 (1960): 4 – 33; Wei Ziyun, Jin Ping Mei de wenshi yu yanbian (Taipei: Shibao wenhua chuban shiye, 1982), pp. 51 – 62. 2. Zhang Zhupo, “Jin Ping Mei dufa,” in Jin Ping Mei ziliao huibian, comp. Zhu Yixuan (Tianjin: Nankai daxue chubanshe, 1984), p. 217; the English version is in “How to Read the Chin P’ing Mei,” trans. David Roy, in How to Read the Chinese Novel, ed. David L. Rolston (Princeton: Princeton University, 1990), p. 220. 3. Plaks, Four Masterworks, p. 144. 4. Katherine Carlitz, The Rhetoric of “Chin p’ing mei” (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), p. 72. 5. Wu, The Chinese Virago: A Literary Theme, p. 107. 6. In his play Pan Jinlian (1925), Ouyang Yuqian recasts the heroine as an intrepid

Notes to Pages 40 – 47


quester for freedom who happily embraces Wu Song’s sword to fall before the man she loves. In Wei Minglun’s contemporary “opera of the absurd,” Pan Jinlian: A Story of One Woman and Four Men (1985), not only is the heroine presented in a more sympathetic light, but many historical and literary figures, such as Jia Baoyu, Hongniang, Empress Wu Zetian, Shi Naian, and Anna Karenina, emerge to debate on Jinlian’s verdict. For discussion of these two plays, see Mu Hui, Jin Ping fengyue hua (Hong Kong: Zhonghua shuju, 1989), pp. 68 – 72; Hualin Li and Qing Ling, “Pan Jinlian: An Opera of the Absurd,” Beijing Review 29, 52 (27 Dec. 1986): 28. 7. For gender analysis of Pan Jinlian in the mainland, see Luo Derong, “Cong xunzhao dao mousha,” in Jin Ping Mei yanjiu, ed. Zhongguo Jin Ping Mei xuehui (Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 1991), pp. 189 – 204; see also Li Jianzhong [a mainland critic], Pingzhong shenchou (Taipei: Wenshizhe chubanshe, 1993), pp. 65 – 68, 88. For criticism from Taiwan, see Ying-Ying Chien, “Sexuality and Power: a Feminist Reading of Chin Ping Mei,” Tamkang Review 19, 1 – 4 (autumn 1988 –summer 1989): 607 – 629. 8. Upon initial publication of the story in the 1950s, critics talked of Emily’s “murderous instincts,” but in the 1980s, with the popularization of feminism in America, she gradually turned into a victim, a woman who is more sinned against than sinning. For discussion of the changing verdicts on the heroine, see Robert Crosman, “How Readers Make Meaning,” College Literature 9, 3 (fall 1982): 207 – 215; George L. Oillon, “Styles of Reading,” Poetics Today 3, 2 (spring 1982): 77 – 88. For a feminist reading of the story, see Judith Fetterley, The Resisting Reader (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), pp. 34 – 45. 9. See Jauss, “Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory,” in New Directions in Literary History, ed. Ralph Cohen (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), pp. 13 – 25. 10. David Der-wei Wang, “Feminist Consciousness in Modern Chinese Male Fiction,” in Modern Chinese Women Writers: Critical Appraisals, ed. Michael S. Duke (New York: M. E. Sharp, 1989), p. 239. 11. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1980), 1:78. 12. C. T. Hsia, The Classic Chinese Novel (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), p. 187. 13. The edition of the fiction used in this study is Lanling Xiaoxiaosheng, Jin Ping Mei cihua (Hong Kong: Taiping shudian, 1986), indicated by the letter J in parentheses. References are to chapter and page numbers. 14. C. G. Jung indicates, “. . . as a rule the feminine unconscious [anima] of a man is projected upon a feminine partner, and the masculine unconscious [animus] of a woman is projected upon a man,” in Psyche and Symbol (Garden City: Doubleday, 1958), p. 143. 15. Luo Derong, “Cong xunchao dao mousha,” p. 189. 16. The two brothers, Wu the Elder and Wu Song, personify the two polar principles, yin and yang, of human personality; yin-yang complementarity may account for the perfect harmony characteristic of their relationship. 17. Hsia, The Classical Chinese Novel, p. 184. Kang Zhengguo observes that in the eyes of Ximen’s female sexual partners, in fact, the penis serves as a substitute for his identity. See Chongshen fengyuejian: xing yu zhongguo gudian wenxue (Taipei: Maitian chuban youxian gongsi, 1996), p. 270.


Notes to Pages 47 – 50

18. See Havelock Ellis, Psychology of Sex (1933; reprint, New York: Emerson, 1960), p. 3. The discussion of human psychology in sexual activities in that study sheds light on the gender issue discussed here. 19. Most translations of the book used here are mine. A P appears in the parentheses when I use David Roy’s translation from The Plum in the Golden Vase or Chin P’ing Mei, vol. 1 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993). References are to volume, chapter, and page numbers. 20. Sun Xun and Zhan Dan, “Jin Ping Mei gaishuo,” Wuda xiaoshuo pingshu (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubnshe, 1997), pp. 39 – 41. 21. For the relation between metal and autumn, see Feng, A Short History, p. 134. 22. Carlitz, The Rhetoric of “Chin p’ing mei,” pp. 79 – 80. 23. Jinlian occasionally yields to the imperatives of conventions largely out of circumstantial compulsion. In chapter 76 she “humbly” admits to Yueniang, “You are the heaven, I am the earth” (J 76.2251) to pacify the principal wife’s rage after a quarrel between them. But such “surrender” reveals more her strategy of survival as a concubine than her resignation to the hierarchical subordination in the Ximen household. 24. Wing-tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963), p. 482. 25. The yin-yang attributes of numbers are mentioned in the appendices added by anonymous Confucians to the original text of the Book of Change. For discussion of numerology in Chinese philosophy, see Feng, A Short History, p. 140. 26. David Roy, “A Confucian Interpretation of the Chin P’ing Mei,” in Guoji hanxue huiyi lunwenji (Taipei, 1982), pp. 39 – 62; Carlitz, The Rhetoric of “Chin p’ing mei.” Indira Satyendra illustrates this motif by exploring the symbolic association between the individual body and the body politic in “Metaphors of the Body: The Sexual Economy of the Chin P’ing Mei tz’u-hua,” CLEAR 15 (Dec. 1993): 85 – 97. 27. Susan Mann, Precious Records, Women in China’s Long Eighteenth Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), p. 27. 28. Ko, “The Written Word and the Bound Foot,” p. 99. Ko also traces in women’s poetry their delight in their bound feet; see “Pursuing Talent and Virtue,” p. 11. For a similar view, see Francesca Bray, Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), pp. 270 – 271. 29. I borrow the expression from Charlotte Furth, which I think most aptly defines this social convention. See “Poetry and Women’s Culture in Late Imperial China: Editor’s Instruction,” Late Imperial China 13, 1 (June 1992): 7. 30. For the view of foot-binding as a social practice of containment and oppression, see Howard S. Levy, The Lotus Lovers: The Complete History of the Curious Erotic Custom of Footbinding in China (BuValo: Prometheus Books, 1992), pp. 23 – 35. 31. Paul S. Ropp, “Women in Late Imperial China: A Review of Recent Englishlanguage Scholarship,” Women’s History Review 3, 3 (1994), p. 12. 32. Mann, Precious Records, p. 56. 33. C. Fred Blake, “Foot-binding in Neo-Confucian China and the Appropriation of Female Labor,” Signs 19, 3 (spring 1994), p. 691. 34. Ping Wang, Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), pp. 9 – 11. 35. For an exploration of zodiac symbolism in the narrative, see Plaks, Four Mas-

Notes to Pages 50 – 52


terworks, pp. 99 – 100. To a certain extent, my discussion is built on Plaks’ pioneering work. 36. The calendrical chapters of Lüshi chunqiu (ca. 240 b.c.) define the relationships among the five elements, seasons, colors, and yin-yang principles as follows: woodspring-green-yang, fire-summer-red-yang, metal-autumn-white-yin, water-winter-blackyin. This pattern later passed in the Confucian tradition as the Monthly Orders (yueling) in the Book of Rites. See A. C. Graham, Yin-Yang and the Nature of Correlative Thinking (Singapore: Institute of East Asian Philosophy, 1986), pp. 47 – 59. 37. In chapter 13 Ping’er’s maid Yingchun imitates a cat’s mew to arrange a rendezvous for her mistress (J 13.345), and Jinlian, with her excessive sexual urges, perfectly matches the image of a female cat in heat. 38. Gulik, Sexual Life, pp. 40, 84. 39. The inscription at the top of this picture is: “picture of the intercourse of dragon and tiger.” The accompanying poem reads: The white-faced boy rides on the White Tiger, The green-robed girl straddles the Green Dragon. After lead and mercury have met by the cauldron, At once they shall therein be blended together.

See Gulik, Sexual Life, pp. 84 – 85. 40. For discussion of the zodiac association of tiger and lamb in Jinlian’s and Ping’er’s characterization, see Plaks, Four Masterworks, p. 109. 41. Ban Zhao, “Nü jie,” Hou Han shu, vol. 10, juan 84, chap. 3, p. 2788; the English version is cited in Gulik, Sexual Life, p. 100. 42. In a story mentioned in Yenna Wu’s recent study The Chinese Virago, a jealous wife turns into a tigress and devours a concubine (p. 84). Reacting against such gender perversion, there appeared in the Qing dynasty a book, Tigress-Taming Tactics (pp. 180, 182). 43. Ellen Pile Cook, Psychological Androgyny (New York: Pergamon Press, 1985), p. 3. 44. Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. H. M. Parshley (1953; reprint, New York: Vintage, 1974), p. 307. 45. “Dadai liji,” in Sibu congkan (1934; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985), vol. 4, juan 13, p. 69. 46. Li Shiren, Jin Ping Mei xinlun (Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe, 1991), p. 48. 47. Keith McMahon takes female adultery in late Ming literature to be a subversion of male centrality, Causality and Containment, p. 7. 48. Liu Hui, “Ruyijun zhuan de kanke niandai jiqi yu Jin Ping Mei zhi guanxi,” in Jin Ping Mei lunji (Taipei: Guanya wenhua shiye, 1992), p. 59; Lu Ge and Ma Zheng, “Mantan Ruyijun zhuan yu Jin Ping Mei,” in Jin Ping Mei zonghengtan (Beijing: Yanshan chubanshe, 1992), p. 28. 49. For discussion of this subject, see Chen Dongyou, Jin Ping Mei wenhua yanjiu (Taipei: Wenhua shiye, 1991), pp. 133 – 138. 50. I owe this expression to Plaks, Four Masterworks, p. 145. 51. The Chinese version is cited in Liu Dalin, Zhongguo gudai xingwenhua, p. 191; English translation is quoted in Gulik, Sexual Life, p. 157. 52. For discussion of the usual position in coitus during the Ming, see Gulik, Sexual Life, p. 330. Wei Boyang traces such a recurring pattern, in Can tong qi: “Man is born


Notes to Pages 52 – 55

lying face down, and woman lying on her back. They were endowed in this way while still in their foetal stage, when they were conceived by the vital essence. And not only do men and women assume these positions when they are born, they are seen to assume those respective positions also when they are dead (the positions of their drowned bodies). . . . It is rooted in the basic position assumed during the coitus, which fixes the original pattern” (Gulik, p. 83). 53. “Nü jie,” in Fan Ye, Hou Han shu, vol. 10, juan 84, chap. 2, p. 2788. 54. Patrick Hanan, “Sources of the Chin P’ing Mei,” Asia Major 10, 2 (1960): 45. 55. See Lanling Xiaoxiaosheng, Jin Ping Mei cihua 2.96; 8.220; 12.319; 37.976; 38.999, 1010; 44.1152; 50.1321; 52.1374, 1394, 1402; 61.1667; 82.2497; 96.2853. In the popular songs that Feng Menglong collected in the late Ming, we can also find this term with high frequency, a fact that indicates its popularity in daily speech and folk songs of this period; see Ming Qing minge shidiao ji, pp. 38 – 152. In Huanxi yuanjia (Enamored enemies), a collection of short stories published around 1641, forty-five years after the emergence of Jin Ping Mei cihua, the term “yuanjia” modified by “huanxi” (love) refers to illicit lovers who are bound to separate in misery. 56. Victoria Cass, “Celebration at the Gate of Death: Symbol and Structure in Chin P’ing Mei,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California Berkeley, 1979), p. 19. 57. For the ancient concept of sex as “the battle of stealing and strengthening” and the Daoist yogic discipline, see Douglas Wile, Art of the Bedchamber: The Chinese Sexual Yoga Classics (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), pp. 5 – 11; Liu Dalin, Zhongguo gudai xingwenhua, pp. 180 – 184. In a polygamous household, it is believed, the practice of coitus reservatus is essential for maintaining its sexual hierarchy. Douglas Wile observes that “for the patriarch of the polygamous household, outnumbered by the adult females, the one chink in his amour is closed, and he is able to uphold his yang dominance over the yin majority. Each act of coition with emission exposes his ‘Achilles heel’ and saps his will to rule, but multiple contacts without ejection reinforce his right to dominance” (p. 15). 58. Bencao gangmu (Systematic materia medica) (1598; reprint, Beijing: Renmin weisheng chubanshe, 1975), 52:2953, cited in Charlotte Furth, “Blood, Body and Gender: Medical Images of the Female Condition in China, 1600 – 1850,” Chinese Science 7 (1986): 48. 59. Lacan calls the penis “le significant sans pair,” Ecrits (Paris: Seuil, 1966), p. 642. 60. Fellatio, oral sex, is called “pinxiao” (tasting or playing the flute) in Chinese euphemism. C. T. Hsia aptly observes that such games played between Jinlian and Ximen also make the man more passive in bed (The Classic Chinese Novel, p. 194). According to Douglas Wile’s introduction in Art of the Bedchamber, fellatio is used to “open the passes” as a prelude to intercourse (p. 50). 61. Plaks, Four Masterworks, p. 108 n. 155. 62. June Singer, Androgyny: The Opposites Within, p. 46. 63. Plaks, Four Masterworks, p. 175. A similar view is expressed also in his “The Problem of Incest in Jin Ping Mei and Honglou meng,” in Paradoxes of Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. Eva Hung (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1994), p. 137 64. “Jin Ping Mei de tupuo yu shiluo—Jin Ping Mei xingmiaoxie de wenhua pipan,” in Jin Ping Mei yanjiu (Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 1990), p. 156. 65. Cass, “Celebration,” p. 217; see also her “Revels of a Gaudy Night,” CLEAR 4, 2 (July 1982): 213 – 232.

Notes to Pages 55 – 59


66. The history of the Sui dynasty (581 – 618) records that during the Lantern Festival, generally taken as the Chinese carnival, “Men donned women’s garments.” See Wei Zheng et al., Sui shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975), 5:1483 – 1484. 67. See Mo Fushan, ed., Zhongguo minjian jieri wenhua cidian (Beijing: Zhigong jiaoyu chubanshe, 1990), p. 400. 68. According to Mikhail Bakhtin, carnival impulses can be “translated” and “inscribed” into literature during periods of carnival popularity when the whole culture undergoes a process of “carnivalization.” See his Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, trans. Caryl Emerson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), p. 122. 69. For diVerent interpretations of the title, see Li Fuqing, “Lanling Xiaoxiaosheng jiqi xiaoshuo Jin Ping Mei,” in Guoji Jin Ping Mei yanjiu jikan, ed. Wang Liqi et al. (Chengdu: Chengdu chubanshe, 1990), pp. 10 – 11; Cass, “Celebration,” p. 7; Peter Halliday Rushton, “The Daoist Mirror: Reflections on the Neo-Confucian Reader and the Rhetoic of Jin Ping Mei,” CLEAR 8 (1986): 79; Carlitz, “Puns and Puzzles in the Chin p’ing mei,” T’oung Pao 67 (1981): 237; Andre Levy, “Introduction to the French Translation of Jin Ping Mei cihua,” Renditions 24 (autumn 1985): 111, and his “Review on Chin Ping Mei de yi-shu [by Sun Shu-yu] in CLEAR 1 (Jan. 1981): 181. For Zhang Zhupo’s interpretation, see Rolston, How to Read the Chinese Novel, p. 242, item 106. In her recent study Yenna Wu explores the paradox of the title; see “Reading Jin Ping Mei As a Satire,” Tamkang Review 28, 1 (autumn 1997): 16 – 22. 70. Longzhu Ke, “Jin Ping Mei xu,” in Jin Ping Mei ziliao huibian, comp. Zhu Yixuan, p. 189; translation cited in Plaks, Four Masterworks, p. 113 n. 117. 71. GeoVrey Parrinder indicates that in Chinese culture, the female sex organ is often represented by images of the Jade Gate, the Open Peony, the Golden Lotus, the Receptive Vase, the Lute Strings, the Golden Gully, the Deep Vale, and the Chicken’s Tongue (Sex in the World’s Religion, p. 88). For the relation of vase to vagina, see also Levy, “Introduction,” p. 112. 72. In poem number 20 in The Book of Songs, the plum fruits are explicitly compared to a girl’s youth. 73. Huo Xianjun points out that Eunuch Hua, Hua Zixu’s uncle, brings Ping’er with him to Guangnan to take his oYcial position, gives her most of his property upon his death, including the erotic paintings and sexual paraphernalia that eunuchs often rely on to release their sexual desire. With these plots, Huo convincingly argues that Ping’er actually has physical relations with the eunuch. See Jin Ping Mei xinjie (Shijiazhuang: Hebei jiaoyu chubanshe, 1999), p. 198. 74. In Western criticism, Plaks’ assessment of Ping’er is probably the most wellrounded and balanced: he points out both the “figural similarity” between Jinlian and Ping’er and their “dramatic contrast”; see Four Masterworks, pp. 107 – 113. 75. Here I basically concur with Hsia’s view (The Classic Chinese Novel, pp. 189 – 190). For various interpretations of Ping’er’s dramatic change, see Lin Shuming, “Shixi Jin Ping Mei cihua de nanxing jiazhi yizhong,” Guizhou daxue xuebao 4 (1993): 53. 76. For discussion of the dual association of plum blossoms with masculinity and femininity, see Maggie Bickford, Ink Plum: The Making of a Chinese Scholar-Painting Genre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 52 – 60, 212. 77. Zhang Zhupo, “Jin Ping Mei dufa,” in Jin Ping Mei ziliao huibian, comp. Zhu Yixuan, p. 217.


Notes to Pages 59 – 62

78. See Andre Levy, “Introduction,” p. 127. 79. Plaks, Four Masterworks, p. 116. In his study, Plaks takes figural reflection, or figural parallelism, as a major aspect of the art of the literati novel genre (p. 120). 80. Yao Mang, “Jin Ping Mei jiazhi xinlun,” Xueshu jiaoliu (Haerbin) 4 (1996): 115. 81. Yueniang’s most vicious critic is Zhang Zhupo, whose spiteful attacks are discussed in Plaks’ Four Masterworks, p. 170. Plaks’ judgement, as usual, is more balanced (p. 171). 82. Jinlian cannot concentrate when Buddhist monks preach in the house, a fact that reveals her unbridled mentality. In chapter 82, while burning incense to Guanyin, she is approached by Jingji; the two at once strip to make love, mocking the Buddhist injunction against sexual craving in front of the very image of a Buddhist goddess (J 82.2498). In chapter 83 Jinlian takes advantage of an evening sermon, when everyone is attending the Buddhist gathering, to arrange another tryst with her lover (J 83.2524). 83. See Zhang Zhupo, “How to Read the Chin P’ing Mei,” in Rolston, How to Read the Chinese Novel, pp. 223 – 224. 84. Plaks, Four Masterworks, pp. 79 – 85. 85. In her study of the garden imagery in the Plum, Mary Scott also identifies the garden with Ping’er and Jinlian, associating the former with the garden in springtime in the generative part of its cycle, relating the latter to the garden’s declining and destructive autumnal aspect. See “The Image of the Garden in Jin Ping Mei and Hongloumeng,” CLEAR 8 (1986): 88 – 91. 86. Zhang Zhupo, “Jin Ping Mei dufa,” in Jin Ping Mei ziliao huibian, comp. Zhu Yixuan, p. 222. 87. Margaret Jackson, “ ‘Facts of Life’ or the Eroticization of Women’s Oppression? Sexology and the Social Construction of Heterosexuality,” in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality, ed. Pat Caplan (New York: Tavistock Publications, 1987), p. 74. 88. Yueniang even threatens to cut oV his penis (J 86.2591). 89. Y. H. Henry Zhao, The Uneasy Narrator: Chinese Fiction from the Traditional to the Modern (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 67. 90. Ibid., p. 68. 91. See Hanan, “Sources of the Chin P’ing Mei,” pp. 34 – 35; Zeng Li, “Cong yuanxing dao bianti—lun Pan Jinlian de wenxue xingxiang,” Jin Ping Mei yishu shijie (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, 1991), pp. 413 – 414. 92. See “Sources of the Chin P’ing Mei,” p. 34; Hsia, The Classic Chinese Novel, p. 178. 93. Yenna Wu, “Venturing Beyond the Domestic Sphere: Suggestions of Proto-Feminist Thought in Ming-Qing Fiction,” Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association 32 (Feb. 1997): 82. 94. See Roy, The Plum in the Golden Vase or Chin P’ing Mei, 1:512. 95. Ling Mengchu, Erke paian jingqi, pp. 177 – 178. 96. See “Zhidao,” in Lü Kun, Shenyin yu (Beijing: Xueyuan chubanshe, 1993), p. 310. 97. Singer, Androgyny: The Opposites Within, p. 46.

Chapter Four: The Peony Pavilion: A Paean to the Androgynous Ideal 1. This is the date given in Xu Shuofang’s biographical study, “Tang Xianzu nianpu,” in Xu Shuofang ji (Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1993), 4:379. In his study Huang

Notes to Pages 62 – 69


Zhigang believes that Tang finished the draft of the play in 1597 but printed it in 1598; see Tang Xianzu biannian pingzhuan (Beijing: Zhongguo xiqu chubanshe, 1992), p. 216. 2. Some of the translations of Tang Xianu’s Mudan Ting quoted here are mine; some are taken from Cyril Birch’s in The Peony Pavilion (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980). When Birch’s are used, a B appears in the parentheses following them; an M indicates the translations are mine. References are to scene and page numbers. The Chinese version that I use in this study is Mudan ting, ed. Xu Shuofang and Yang Xiaomei (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1994). 3. For discussion on the ancient Han allegorical reading of the canon, see Anthony Yu, Rereading the Stone: Desire and the Making of Fiction in Dream of the Red Chamber (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), pp. 89 – 96; Haun Saussy, The Problem of a Chinese Aesthetic (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993). 4. See Shen Defu, Wanli yehuo bian, vol. 1, juan 3, p. 80; see also Carrington and Fang, Dictionary of Ming Biography, p. 391. Upon the Yongle emperor’s death, more than thirty concubines committed suicide. For discussion of this topic, see the chapter “Moral Indoctrination and Imperial Encouragement” in T’ien, Male Anxiety and Female Chastity, pp. 1 – 13. 5. See Shen Defu, Wanli yehuo bian, vol. 1, juan 5, p. 133. Chen Dongyuan indicates that in the Ming women were encouraged to be chaste after they were engaged even without going through marriage; see Zhongguo funü shenghuo shi (1928; reprint, Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1975), pp. 177 – 183. In the oYcial history, Zhang Tingyu’s Ming shi, there are a number of records of such chaste virgin wives. 6. Ko, “Pursuing Talent and Virtue,” p. 14. 7. Bray, Technology and Gender, p. 143. Similarly, Susan Mann indicates literati’s anxiety about female mobility in late imperial China; see “Grooming a Daughter for Marriage,” pp. 220 – 221; and Paul S. Ropp remarks that “female seclusion was strongly encouraged by oYcial and unoYcial admonition” in the Qing; see “Love, Literacy, and Laments,” p. 111. Even Ko has to admit that those who enjoyed the freedom of movement were the privileged few. 8. For discussion of this process, see Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954), pp. 413 – 415. 9. Furth concludes: “In sum, in everyday diagnostic and therapeutic situations, doctors considered the actual balance of yin and yang in a person’s functioning, and health could be disturbed by excess or deficiency of either yin or yang. In any individual, whether male or female, the imbalance that so often tinged male bodies with disproportionate yang heat or female ones with intensified yin cold were in fact potential vulnerabilities, departures from the androgynous ideal of health.” See A Flourishing Yin, p. 52. For discussion of yin-yang balance in human psychology and health, see also Julian F. Pas, “Yin-Yang Polarity: A Binocular Vision of the World,” Asian Thought and Society 8, 24 (Nov. 1983): 197. In a tale in Zhuang Zi, a man fell sick because, as he remarked, “The qi of yin and yang is all awry.” See Zhuang Zi jinzhu jinyi, ed. Chen Guying (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983), chap. 4, p. 189. Here, I am indebted to Lisa Raphals for the citation and translation (Sharing the Light, p. 150). 10. Furth, A Flourishing Yin, p. 89. 11. For the source story, see “Du Liniang muse huanhun huaben” [Du Liniang regains


Notes to Pages 69 – 71

her life in pursuit of sexual pleasure] in Xu Fuming, ed., Tang Xianzu yanjiu ziliao kaoyi (Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, 1987), pp. 12 – 19. 12. Baopu Zi, collected in de Bary, Sources of Chinese Tradition, 1:260. The concepts of hun and po as heavenly and earthly aspects of human soul can be traced to the writings of sixth-century b.c.; see Wing-tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 12. For discussion on this topic, see Julian F. Pas, “Yin-Yang Polarity,” p. 197; Ying-shih Yu, “ ‘O Soul, Come Back!’ A Study in The Changing Conceptions of The Soul and Afterlife in Pre-Buddhist China,” HJAS 47, 2 (Dec. 1987), p. 374. 13. See “Hongfu ji tici,” in Tang Xianzu yanjiu ziliao huibian, comp. Mao Xiaotong (Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, 1986), 1:27, hereafter cited as TXZZL; Zhou Yude, Tang Xianzu lungao (Beijing: Wenhua yishu chubanshe, 1991), p. 166. According to Fu Xihua, there should be at least another dramatic version of Hongfu’s tale in the Ming composed by a scholar with the pseudonym of Jinzhai waihan; see Mingdai chuanqi quanmu (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1959), p. 400. 14. In imperial China, a man would put on a cap once he reached the age of twenty to show his adulthood; see Liji Zhengzhu (Taipei: Zhonghua shuju), 1:10. Judith Zeitlin indicates that according to Menglin xuanjie (10.20) by He Dongru (1527 – 1637), for an unmarried woman to dream that she is capped like a man means that she is a nüzhong zhangfu; see Zeitlin, Historian of the Strange, p. 259. 15. Irony is a prominent feature in the Pavilion. In the dramatist’s cultural dialogue with his age, he often makes “negative” characters undermine the traditional values they are commissioned to guard, thus creating a wealth of irony to enrich his art. In scene 18, for instance, Tutor Chen suggests that Liniang in sickness should “get a prince to cover her” (B 18.91). Though remarkably eVective, such a “therapy” apparently violates the Confucian propriety he is expected to cultivate in the girl. Cyril Birch even goes so far as to indicate in the tutor a “champion against the rigidity of Tu [Du] Bao”; see “Some Concerns and Methods of the Ming Ch’uan-ch’i Drama,” in Studies in Chinese Literary Genres, ed. Cyril Birch (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), p. 240. 16. For the Confucian exegesis of this poem, see Shisanjing zhushu (Taipei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1982), 2:20. For partial English translation, see Raphals, Sharing the Light, pp. 200 – 201. 17. See Pas, “Yin-Yang Polarity,” p. 199. 18. “Zhouyi zhengyi,” in Shisanjing zhushu, 1:156. 19. C. G. Jung wrote: “In the psyche it is only the conscious mind, in a man, that has the masculine sign, while the unconscious is by nature feminine. The reverse is true in the case of a woman.” See Psyche and Symbol, p. 141. 20. In the light of Jung’s theory of psychology, the dream apparently projects the subconscious province where one’s repressed gender identity is bound to surface in the growth of his/her personality (see Neumann, Origins and History, pp. 413 – 415). The dream’s relevance to reality is indicated in Tang Xianzu’s own remarks: “Must the love that comes in dream necessarily be untrue?” (B ix). Critics have generally taken the garden dream as another version of reality, or even a higher form of reality. The Three Wives’ Joint Commentary indicates: “Liniang does not know Liu’s dream, neither does Liu Mengmei know Liniang’s dream. Each dreams his/her dream and neither takes the dreams as dreams. Finally both dreams turn into reality” (Xu Fuming, Kaoshi, p. 115). In

Notes to Pages 71 – 73


scholar-beauty romance, a genre to be discussed in chapter 5, the boundary between reality and dream is further blurred. In both Fengyun shanren’s Tiehuaxian shi and the tenth tale of Yuyinzhuren’s Huanxi yuanjia, the love souvenirs exchanged in the dream materialize in reality, making the dream an extension of reality. 21. As GeoVrey Parrinder indicates, in traditional Chinese writings, the open peony is a common trope for the female sex organ; see Sex in the World’s Religions, p. 87. 22. Shifu Wang, The Moon and the Zither: The Story of the Western Wing, trans. Stephen H. West and Wilt L. Idema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), p. 334. 23. Qiu Xuan, “Mudan rongru zhi,” cited in Cheng Zhaoxiong, Lun Zhongguo zhi huahui: Zhongguo huahui yu xingqing zhi jiao (Taipei, 1965), p. 11. 24. Yiren lu, cited in Cheng Zhaoxiong, Lun zhongguo zhi huahui, p. 13. 25. The vital importance of semen to women, with similar gendered connotations, is also dramatically presented in another Ming play, The Plantain Kerchief (Jiaopaiji) by Shan Ben. In this play Xi Shi comes to the stage as a fox spirit after three thousand years of alchemical eVort to search for the final ingredient, semen, for a pill as an antidote, as Birch reads it, to her excessive femininity. After much painstaking scheming and comic impersonating, she finally succeeds in securing the male essence through “a sexual treatment,” like Liniang’s, and achieves immortality. For partial translation of that play and a brief discussion, see Cyril Birch, Scenes for Mandarins: The Elite Theater of the Ming (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), pp. 107 – 139. Judith T. Zeitlin discusses the restoration of female life through the generative power of male sexuality in Liaozhai zhiyi in “Embodying the Disembodied: Representation of Ghosts and the Feminine,” in Writing Women in Late Imperial China, ed. Widmer and Chang, pp. 250 – 251. 26. For allusions to the legend of Peach Blossom Spring in the play, see pp. 47, 57, 137, 156, 160, 161, 182, 206 in Birch, The Peony Pavilion. 27. The tale stems from a Yuan drama Wuru taoyuan [Entering the Peach Blossom Spring by mistake]; see Yuanqu xuan, comp. Zang Jinshu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), 4:1353 – 1367. 28. The gendered contrast between the “lover” and the “beloved” is interestingly explored in Carson McCullers’ novella “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe,” where the androcentric heroine, Amelia, drives away her handsome husband in her refusal to be a “beloved” and then miraculously falls in love with a hunchback dwarf because she is able to play the role of his lover/protector. 29. This legend finds its earliest expression in Chinese literature of the third century b.c. in the preface to “Gaotang fu” (Rhapsody of the Gaotang terrace) attributed to Song Yu. “The fairy said to the king: ‘I am the Lady of the Wu Mountain, and temporarily reside here in Gaotang. Having heard that you have come here I wish to share pillow and couch with you.’ Thereupon the king had sexual intercourse with her.” See Wen xuan (Selections of refined literature), comp. Xiao Tong (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986), 2:875 – 876. 30. Wen Yiduo, “Gaotang shennü chuanshuo zhi fenxi,” Wen Yiduo quanji (Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian, 1982), 1:98 – 99. 31. Wai-yee Li, Enchantment and Disenchantment, Love and Illusion in Chinese Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 54. 32. Because of its associations with both the active and the passive, in Kari Weil’s dis-


Notes to Pages 73 – 77

cussion of Gautier’s works, such a desire is associated with one’s androgyny; see Androgyny and the Denial of DiVerence, pp. 122 – 123 33. Liu Mengmei, the infernal judge, and the jailer all mistake Liniang for Guanyin upon seeing her or her portrait; see Birch, The Peony Pavilion, pp. 120, 134, 260. 34. After the Tang dynasty, Avalokitesvara, a male bodhisattva from India, began to assume female identity and became Guanyin, the beautiful white-robed goddess in Chinese Buddhism; see Foxue da cidian (Taipei: Huayanlian she, 1967), pp. 2984 – 2985. Barbara E. Reed suggests three causes for such a sexual/gender transformation: the growing popularity of Tara, the female consort of Avalokitesvara; the amalgamation of Guanyin with Daoist goddesses, such as the Queen Mother of the West; and the Chinese tendency to associate compassion with women. See Reed, “The Gender Symbolism of Kuan-yin Bodhisattva,” Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, ed. Jose Ignacio Cabezon (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), p. 160. Yet even after this metamorphosis of Guanyin’s sexual/gender identity in Chinese culture, she/he continues to take on various manifestations at will, both male and female, in order to help sentient beings in need. 35. In the huaben story the images of willow and plum are few and far between; they make brief appearances in Liniang’s dream, in the poem she composes beside her selfportrayal, and in her search for her lost dream in the garden (Xu Fuming, Kaoshi, pp. 13 – 15). All these episodes are related to the abstract concept of love. 36. Catherine Swatek, “Plum and Portrait: Feng Meng-lung’s Revision of The Peony Pavilion,” Asia Major 6 (1993): 157. 37. Bai Juyi, “Jianjian yin,” Bai Xiangshan ji, ed. Wang Yunwu (Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1965), 3:50. The line also appears in his “Changhen ge,” p. 47. 38. Shifu Wang, The Story of the Western Wing, p. 334. 39. The kinship between Liu Mengmei and Liu Zongyuan is another dramatic adaptation that Tang Xianzu makes from the huaben story. By the time he composed the Pavilion, Tang Xianzu had given up his oYcial post in a provincial area and retired to his hometown. With his political frustration and marginal status, he must have felt a spiritual bond to Liu Zongyuan. Hou Wailu indicates that Tang and Liu shared the same humanitarian ideal and Confucian values; he goes so far as to take the play as an attempt to “summon the souls” of Liu Zongyuan and Du Fu (712 – 770) (“Tang Xianzu Mudan ting huanhunji waizhuan,” in TXZZL 2:1072 – 1076). Although his view was later challenged by Wang Jisi, to a certain degree Liu Mengmei does seem to share hidden strength with his theatrical ancestor Liu Zongyuan, as my discussion in this chapter demonstrates. For Wang’s criticism of Hou, see “Zenyang tansuo Tang Xianzu de quyi—he Hou Wailu tongzhi lun Mudan ting,” in Yulunxuan qulun (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1980), p. 227. 40. Shi Zhenlin, “Xiqing sanji,” in TXZZL, 2:914. 41. Bickford, Ink Plum, p. 19; see also her Bones of Jade, Soul of Ice: The Flowering Plum in Chinese Art (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1985), pp. 18 – 26. Ginger Chengchi Hsu discusses the commingling of masculine and feminine modes of presentation in a single painting of blossoming plum; see “Incarnations of the Blossoming Plum,” Ars Orientalis 26 (1996): 30. 42. “Meihua yixiang jiqi xiangzheng yiyi de fasheng,” Nanjing shida xuebao 4 (1998): 114. 43. Bickford, Ink Plum, p. 212.

Notes to Pages 77 – 79


44. Masculinization of the flower is most graphically projected in the following verses, which Wang Mian inscribed in a painting of plum blossom after, according to a legend, he declined oVers to serve in the government: “Icy blossoms, one by one, clustering like jade; / The barbarian flute blows, but cannot blow them down” (cited from Bickford, Ink Plum, 170). 45. For a comparative study of Wang Mian biographies, particularly in scholars’ eVorts to idealize the master painter of plum blossoms, see Chu-tsing Li, “Problems Concerning the Life of Wang Mien, Painter of Plum Blossoms,” Renditions 6 (1976): 243 – 259. For more recent comments on Wang Mian, see Bickford, Ink Plum, pp. 50, 53, 170, 178, 203 – 213. 46. For discussion of these painters and their plum blossom paintings, see Sirén, A History of Later Chinese Painting, pp. 152 – 154, 176. 47. Gao Qi, Gao Qi shixuan (Taipei: Yuanliu chuban shiye gongsi, 1988), p. 182. 48. Later when Yuan An became a ranking oYcial, he valiantly impeached relatives of the royal family for their abuse of power. For his life and political career, see “Yuan An zhuan,” in Fan Ye, Hou Han shu, 6:1517 – 1521. 49. Hans H. Frankel traces this legend to “Longcheng lu,” attributed to Liu Zongyuan, and a slightly variant version can be found in Su Dongpo, “Shiyi yue ershi lu ri songfeng ting xia meihua shengkai,” from Jizhu fenlei Dongpo xiansheng shi, in Sibu congkan, vol. 157, juan 14, p. 19b. See Hans H. Frankel, The Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady: Interpretation of Chinese Poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), p. 227 n. 4. 50. For an introduction of Gao Qi’s political career, see Goodrich and Fang, Dictionary of Ming Biography, pp. 969 – 999. For an insightful discussion on his political attitude reflected in his poetry, see Frederick W. Mote, “A Fourteenth-Century Poet: Kao Ch’i,” Confucian Personalities, ed. Wright and Twitchett, pp. 235 – 259. 51. Zhou Lüjing includes a verse autobiography “Meidian daoren zhuan” (The life of the Daoist Plum Crazy) in his book Yimen guangdu, which is collected in Baibu congshu jicheng, comp. Yan Yiping (Yiwen yinshuguan), 24:70b. For Zhou Lüjing’s biography, see Xu Shuofang, “Zhou Lüjing nianpu,” in Xu Shuofang ji (Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1993), 3:291 – 308. 52. Zhou Lüjing, “Qianpian xue,” Yimen guangdu, vol. 24, in Baibu congshu jicheng. 53. See “Zhongfeng chanshi meihua baiyun,” in Zhou Lüjing, Yimen guangdu, vol. 30, in Baibu congshu jicheng. 54. For discussion of Zhang Zi as an aesthete, see Shuen-fu Lin, The Transformation of the Chinese Lyrical Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), pp. 26 – 33; for comments on his obsession with plum blossoms, see Bickford, Ink Plum, pp. 31 – 33, 74 – 75. 55. See Zhang Gongfu, “Yuzhaotang meipin,” in Zhou Lüjing, Yimen guangdu, vol. 23, pp. 6a–b, in Baibu congshu jicheng. The translation is modified from Chi Xiao’s in “The Garden as Lyric Enclave: A Generic Study of The Dream of the Red Chamber,” Ph.D dissertation, Washington University in St. Louis, 1993, pp. 73 – 74. 56. Tang Xianzu’s antipathy to the popular convention da qiufeng (seeking patronage in wealthy men) is manifested most distinctly in his repeated rejection of the patronage oVered by the grand secretary Zhang Juzheng. 57. C. T. Hsia remarked: “Until he finds her [Liniang’s] portrait, he is a brash gogetter intent on oYcial success by whatever means”; see “Time and the Human Condi-


Notes to Pages 79 – 81

tion in the Plays of T’ang Hsien-tsu,” in Self and Society in Ming Thought, p. 275. Pei-kai Cheng observed that Mengmei’s initial search in life was vulgar and that only when his life became tied to Liniang’s search for love did his search become meaningful and indispensable for the realization of Liniang’s world of authentic love; see “Reality and Imagination: Li Chih and Tang Hsien-tsu in Search of Authenticity” (Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1980), pp. 280, 285. Wang Jisi denies the spiritual bond between Liu Zongyuan and Liu Mengmei because of the latter’s careerism; see “Zenyang tansuo,” p. 227. 58. See Legge, The Works of Mencius, chap. 2, p. 189. 59. I have changed the word “apricot” in Birch’s translation to “plum” for consistency. 60. Swatek, “Plum and Portrait,” p. 158. 61. The image of a man climbing over a wall to drag away a neighbor’s daughter originates from Mencius as a typical case of the violation of propriety (li); see Legge, The Works of Mencius, chap. 6, p. 424. 62. This line comes from a quatrain composed by the Song poet Lu Meipo, who concludes that though the snowflake excels in whiteness, it must yield to the plum on the point of fragrance. By quoting only the first two lines of the poem in his play, Tang Xianzu slightly twists their original meanings to emphasize the contention between the two parties. As a result the balance between the plum blossom and the snow in the Song poem is tipped in favor of the flower, to serve his theme. Catherine Swatek oVers a sensible analysis of the subtext, the next two lines of the poem unquoted in the play, in her dissertation, “Feng Menglong’s ‘Romantic Dream’: Strategies of Containment in His Revision of ‘The Peony Pavilion,’ ” Columbia University, 1990, p. 225. 63. See Allen, The Book of Songs, p. 18. 64. The first of Li Bai’s poems “Two Letters from Chang-kan (A river-merchant’s wife writes)” opens with the following lines: I would play, plucking flowers by the gate; My hair scarcely covered by forehead then. You would come, riding on your bamboo horse, And loiter about the branch with green plums for toys.

The Works of Li Po, the Chinese Poet, trans. Shigeyoshi Obata (New York: Paragon, 1965), p. 105. 65. This is modified from Swatek’s translation in “Plum and Portrait,” p. 133, which, in turn, is based on Birch’s version (B 12.61). 66. Swatek, “Plum and Portrait,” p. 133. 67. In the original context of “The Song of Mulan,” these lines just present the happy mood of the heroine when she returns to her boudoir after she has served ten years in the military. Tang Xianzu slightly alters the wording of the verse when he uses it in his play. The new significance and gender import of these lines explored here may reveal another case of ironical revision of the antecedent materials that Plaks observes in late Ming literati writings. 68. Although in the Six Dynasties period, when “The Song of Mulan” was composed, there was no romantic association with the image of “west chamber,” such an association was solidly established after the Story of the Western Wing (often translated as The Romance of the Western Chamber) gained its popularity in the Yuan dynasty. 69. In the drama Liu Mengmei is a duoqing zhong (a seed of passion, M 53.271); Du

Notes to Pages 81 – 86


Liniang claims that “passion was all to me” (B 27.151; M 27.147); their union epitomizes passionate love. 70. For an in-depth discussion on the concept of qingdan in the late Ming context, see Chen Wanyi, Mingji wenren, pp. 180 – 181. This concept is elaborated by Feng Menglong, Tang’s spiritual adherent, in his following comments on a folk song “flirtation”: “People used to say that a man’s boldness in pursuing his lust is as irresistible as the will of heaven. This is not true, what is so powerful is actually his qingdan, his courage in pursuing his passion. Everything in the world demands courage, which ultimately comes from qing . . .” Ming Qing minge shidiao ji, pp. 44 – 45, cited in Mingji wenren, p. 181. 71. For discussion of Tang Xianzu’s indebtedness to the pioneers of the School of the Mind, see Xu Shuofang, Tang Xianzu pingzhuan (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe, 1993), pp. 11 – 12; Xu Fuming, Tang Xianzu yu Mudan ting (Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, 1993), pp. 28 – 29. 72. Ellen Widmer, “Xiaoqing’s Literary Legacy and the Place of the Women Writers in Late Imperial China,” Late Imperial China 13, 1 (June 1992), p. 127. 73. For discussion on the legitimation of desire in the course of Chinese history, see Yu, Rereading the Stone, pp. 82 – 103. 74. Epstein, Competing Discourses, p. 86. 75. Lü Kun, Gui fan tu shuo, cited by Katherine Carlitz in her book review of The LateMing Poet Ch’en Tzu-lung: Crises of Love and Loyalism, HJAS 55, 1 (1995): 227. 76. Tang Xianzu, “Da Luo Kuanghu,” Tang Xianzu quanji, 2:1401. 77. Chen Jiru, “Mudan Ting tici,” in TXZZL, 2:855. 78. Although in pre-Han writings qing and xing are sometimes synonymous with each other, from the Western Han dynasty (206 b.c.–a.d. 24) xing and qing began to be treated antithetically, particularly in Dong Zhongshu’s writings (see Huang, Desire and Fictional Narrative, p. 25). Dong Zhongshu’s association of feeling with yin—greed and evil—as Anthony Yu indicates, set “the stage for legitimating the control of desire” (Rereading the Stone, p. 69). 79. Zou’s remarks are cited in Huang, Desire and Fictional Narrative, p. 52. 80. Tang Xianzu’s heresy so infuriated the orthodox Confucians that they repeatedly concocted malignant tales, condemning the dramatist to hell (Xu Fuming, Kaoshi, pp. 222 – 223). 81. The Chan Buddhist emphasis on the innate Buddhahood in human nature was used as philosophical backing for the cult of qing, or an excuse to practice hedonism. In his study of seventeenth-century Chinese intellectual history, Araki Kengo indicates the aYnity between qing and Chan Buddhism; see “Confucianism and Buddhism in the Late Ming,” in The Unfolding of Neo-Confucianism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1975), p. 41. In a dialogue in 1693, the Kangxi emperor and his minister concurred that the Pavilion accorded with Chan principles although the world might not be aware of it (“Zouduo beiwanglu tiba,” TXZZL, 2:882). 82. Anthony Yu, Rereading the Stone, p. 105. 83. It is generally believed that Tang Xianzu’s tutor Xu Liangfu (ca. 1506 – 1665) was deposed because he oVended a ranking oYcial, Xia Yan (1482 – 1548), and refused to give verbal support to the imperial endeavor to build an “Immortal-Welcoming Palace”; his other mentor, Luo Rufang (1515 – 1588) was ousted from oYce because his preaching of the philosophy of Taizhou School oVended the grand secretary Zhang Juzhen. See Huang


Notes to Pages 86 – 88

Wenxi and Wu Fengchu, Tang Xianzu zhuan (Beijing: Zhongyang xiqu chubanshe, 1986), pp. 5 – 7; Zou Yuanjiang, Tang Xianzu de qing yu meng (Nanjing: Nanjing chubanshe, 1998), pp. 120, 128. 84. Tang Xianzu, “Da Lu Jingye,” Tang Xianzu ji, 2:1360. 85. Tang Xianzu, “Ji Lin Danshan,” TXZZL, 1:454. 86. In 1585 Tang’s former friend Si Rulin, then the director of Bureau of Honors in the Ministry of Personnel in Beijing, urged Tang to make an eVort for a promotion to a position in his bureau. Tang presented many excuses to reject such a suggestion in order to stay away from the power center. See Tang Xianzu, “Yu Si libu,” Tang Xianzu ji, 2:1224. Xu Shuofang believes that Si may have been commissioned by his superiors to make such a move in order to rope Tang Xianzu in (Pingzhuan, p. 49). 87. Tang Xianzu, “Daguan Dongmin,” Tang Xianzu ji, 2:1229. 88. See Tang Xianzu, “Da Qian Shouzhi taishi,” Tang Xianzu quanji, 2:1535. I am indebted to Zhou Yude for his discussion on Tang’s political philosophy, in Lungao, p. 21. In Tang’s political thinking, “benevolence” comes from Confucianism whereas “force” is derived from legalism. 89. Zheng Peikai made a detailed study on Zhao Pangqing in Tang Xianzu yu wanming wenhua, pp. 33 – 184. 90. Cited in ibid., p. 46. 91. Tang’s worship for Daguan and Li Zhi is shown in his letter “Daguan Dongmin,” Tang Xianzu quanji, 2:1295 – 1296. 92. For discussion of Tang Xianzu’s chivalrous spirit, see Zou Yuanjiang, Tang Xianzu de qing yu meng, pp. 207 – 213. 93. Shen Jifei, in Tang Xianzu, Tang Xianzu ji, 1:480. 94. Cha Jizuo, “Tang Xianzu zhuan,” in TXZZL, 1:88. 95. For plum imagery in Tang Xianzu’s poetry, see Tang Xianzu ji, 1 – 2:215, 217, 278, 328, 330, 333, 354, 377, 393, 396, 511, 513, 738. 96. Hou Wailu, “Tang Xianzu Mudan ting huanhunji waizhuan,” in TXZZL, 2:1077. 97. For an introduction of Chen Liang’s stand in Song politics, see Tuo Tuo et al., Song shi, 37:12929 – 12943. Tang Xianzu shares Chen Liang’s concerns for the purification of court politics and the masculinization of foreign policy. Their fascination with the plum image stems from a common masculine stand in politics as men of integrity living amidst self-serving functionaries in a crumbling empire faced with alien invasion. Tang candidly expresses his admiration for Chen Liang in a letter to his friend, “Ji Jiaozhou Zhao Xuancong,” cited in TXZZL, p. 1063. 98. Chen Liang, “Meihua,” in Chen Liang ji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 1:204. My quote here is indebted to Hou Wailu’s study, in TXZZL, 2:1077. 99. Yuhua Mountain in Nanking is a site of graves of many martyrs in China. 100. Tang Xianzu, “Gaozuoshi wei Fang shijiang zhu yingtai sijue,” in Tang Xianzu ji, 1:377. 101. Tang Xianzu, “Meihualin li seng,” in Tang Xianzu ji, 1:393. 102. Tang Xianzu, “Shi yu zhouzhong,” in Tang Xianzu ji, 1:396. 103. Bickford, Ink Plum, p. 24. For discussion of the use of the plum blossom as a selfimage in Su Shi’s poetry of exile, see also Ronald C. Egan, Word, Images, and Deed in the Life of Su Shi (Cambridge: The Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1994), pp. 252 – 257.

Notes to Pages 88 – 90


104. In “A Verse on the White Camellia Blooming by the Integrity Pavilion,” Huang Tingjian (1045 – 1105) remarks that this flower was originally planted by saints and immortals; it blossoms beside the Integrity Pavilion as a spiritual companion and floral emblem for the eminent scholars within; see Huang Shangu shiji zhu (Taipei: Shijie shuju, 1961), p. 205. 105. See “Xu Yuchuzhi pingyu,” in TXZZL, 1:30 – 31. 106. Tang Xianzu, “Chang bieli,” in Tang Xianzu ji, 1:93. 107. Zou Dieguang, “Jizheng linchuan Tang Yinan ershou,” in TXZZL, 1:177. 108. TXZZL, 1:391. In the tradition of Chinese poetry, the use of meiren in addressing a man can be traced to The Book of Songs, where it often refers to a virtuous man. This metaphor is made into a rhetorical device in Qu Yuan’s “The Songs of the Chu,” where this term is associated both with the disfranchised poet and the sovereign. Since then in Chinese poetry, the expression “meiren,” or its equivalent “jiaren,” often evokes historical associations with Qu Yuan, the exemplar of marginal men of integrity. See You Guoen, Chuci lunwen ji (Hong Kong: Wenchang shuju, 1955), pp. 192 – 203. 109. See Li Shizhen, Bencao gangmu, cited in Cheng Zhaoxiong, Lun zhongguo zhi huahui, p. 91. 110. The song she chanted later became well-known in the history of Chinese music. For the song and its legendary composer, see Cai Yi, “Zhennü yin,” in Qincao, in Congshu jicheng xinbian, cited in Cheng Zhaoxiong, Lun zhongguo zhi huahui, p. 90. 111. Tang Xianzu, “Yuchuzhi pingyu,” in TXZZL, 1:39. 112. Tang Xianzu, “Qiting ji tici,” in TXZZL, 1:437. 113. Tang Xianzu, Tang Xianzu ji, 4:2511. 114. Jiao Xun, “Jushuo,” in TXZZL, 2:942. 115. See Gu Si, in TXZZL, 2:906. 116. See Li Xinzhuang, comp., Chongbian Mingru xuean (Taipei: Guoli bianyiguan, 1980), 2:291. 117. See Yuan Hongdao, “Deshan chen tan,” in Yuan Hongdao ji qianjiao, ed. Qian Bocheng (Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, 1981), vol. 2, juan 44, p. 1290. 118. Feng Menglong, comp., Ming Qing minge shidiao ji, p. 24. 119. Li Zhi, “Kong Rong you zhiran zhixing,” Xu Fenshu, cited in Xu Sumin, Li Zhi de zhen yu qi, p. 120.

Chapter Five: Scholar-Beauty Romance: Idealistic Expression of the Androgynous Vision 1. Scholars have defined the scope of the genre in diVerent ways. In this text I incorporate all the love stories of the late Ming and early Qing written after Tang Xianzu’s Pavilion, which follow the generic pattern sketched herein. They include the late Ming collection Gu Zhang Jue Chen, which is usually regarded as a forerunner of this genre; see Lin Chen, Mingmo Qingchu xiaoshuo shulu (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1988), p. 425. 2. See Li Qian, “Zailun Mingmo Qingchu caizi jiaren xiaoshuo,” and Sima Shi, “Xinlingyu zai kaituo zhong,” in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo shulin (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), pp. 4, 63.


Notes to Pages 91 – 96

3. Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), p. 187. 4. Yanshui sanren, Nücaizi shu (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 168. 5. See Zhou Ji, Xihu erji (Hangzhou: Zhejiang renmin chubanshe, 1981), pp. 71, 181, 362, 522, 645 – 646. References to Tang’s master drama amount to about twenty times in the collection. 6. Xiaoqing’s tale appears in the first chapter of Yanshui sanren’s collection Nücaizi shu. For a study of Xiaoqing cult in the seventeenth century, see Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, pp. 91 – 112; Ellen Widmer, “Xiaoqing’s Literary Legacy.” 7. The unabashed imitation of Tang’s master drama in this Qing narrative leads Zhang Qinghe to initiate an investigation of its “plagiarism,” taking it as a typical sample of the stereotyped scholar-beauty romance scorned by Cao Xueqin. See Zhang Qinghe, “Yili Cao Xueqin suo yanqi de caizi jiaren xiaoshuo de biaoben,” Guiyang shizhuan xuebao 2 (1994), 34 – 39. For further associations between the scholar-beauty romance and the Pavilion, see Jinmu sanren, the third tale of Gu Zhang Jue Chen (Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 1989), p. 284; the first tale of Zhenzhu bo, in Yanshui sanren, Zhenzhu bo deng sizhong (Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 1993), pp. 92 – 96; “Zhang Xiaolian,” the third tale in Yanshui sanren, Nücaizi shu; and Meng Chenshun, Jiaohong ji (Shanghai: Shanghai guju chubanshe, 1988). 8. Wang Qiangte et al., Gushan zaimeng, Yanshan waishi (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1987), p. 1. 9. Wuseshi zhuren, “Preface” to Badong tian, in Ming Qing xiaoshuo xuba xuan, comp. Dalian tushuguan cankaobu (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1983), p. 35. 10. Yi Ming, Feihua yong (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 141. For further discussion of gender inversion between the couple, see Keith McMahon, Misers, Shrews, and Polygamists, Sexuality and Male-Female Relations in Eighteenth-Century Chinese Fiction (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), p. 112. 11. Wan Ru Yue (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1987), p. 2. 12. Given Ruzi’s striking poetic genius, her adoption of “Bai” as her alias may also be viewed as a psychological identification with Li Bai, who becomes a cultural hero in the genre under discussion. 13. Tianhuazang zhuren, Renjian le (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 19. 14. I borrow the term “symmetrical” from McMahon, Misers, pp. 107, 113. 15. This use of ru can also be traced to “The House of Gathered Refinement” (“Cuiya lou”), the sixth tale of Li Yu’s celebrated collection Shier lou [Twelve structures], where the hero, Ruxiu, serves as a sexual partner to his two male business companions, functioning as a substitute for the female organ. 16. While “jade gate” is a common image for the female sexual organ, “jade stalk” often refers to the male organ. For discussion of the sex/gender connotations of the jade imagery, see Parrinder, Sex in the World’s Religions, pp. 87 – 88. In the discussion of The Dream of the Red Chamber in chapter 7 we become acquainted with more masculine implications of the jade image. But the word “yu” (jade) in a Chinese name, or any word carrying the yu radical, nearly always connotes the physical beauty of the named, hence is related to a female identity. 17. Heshi daoren, Xing fengliu (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 2.

Notes to Pages 96 – 99


18. Richard Hessney, “Beautiful, Talented and Brave: Seventeenth-century Chinese Scholar-Beauty Romance” (Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1979), p. 235. 19. Tang Xianzu, “Xiangru ershou,” in Tang Xianzu ji, 2:808. 20. Li Zhi, “Hongfu,” in Lishi Fenshu Xufenshu, p. 239. 21. Li Zhi, “Sima Xiangru,” in Cang shu, 2:626. Li Zhi’s praise of Zhuo Wenjun was later cited as a crime in a memorial sent in by his opponent Zhang Wenda. 22. Zhou Ji, Xihu erji, chap. 16, p. 309. 23. Meng Chenshun, Jiaohong ji, p. 18. 24. Zhuoyuanting zhuren, Zhaoshi bei (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1985), ch. 1, p. 6. 25. Hongfu and Zhuo Wenjun are mentioned in the texts or prefaces of the following works: Huazheng qiyan, in Ming Qing xiaoshuo xuba xuan, p. 21; Yanshui sanren, Nücaizi shu, pp. 27, 31, 70, 95, 154, 157; Chichi daoren, Wufeng yin, in Guben xiaoshuo congkan (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1990), p. 23; Nanyue daoren, Hudie mei in Yin Guoguang and Ye Junyuan, comps., Ming Qing yanqing xiaoshuo daguan (Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe, 1993), pp. 691, 728; Yiqiu sanren, Yu Jiao Li (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 153; Yanshui sanren, Fenghuang chi, in Guben xiaoshuo congkan (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1990), p. 325; Gushan zaimeng in Wang Qiangte et al., Gushan zaimeng, Yanshan waishi, p. 15; Yi Ming, Liner bao (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 73; Nanxuan heguanshizhe, Chun Liu Ying (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 95; Zhuoyuanting zhuren, Zhaoshi bei, p. 6; Zhou Ji, Xihu erji, p. 309; Fengyun shanren, Tiehuaxian shi (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), pp. 14, 201. In Jiaohong ji the heroine identifies herself with Wenjun a dozen times. Wenjun’s love story is dramatized in at least two plays in the Ming, Sima Xiangru ti qiao ji and Zhuo Wenjun siben Sima Xiangru. But the opposite trend also exists in the genre, which reflects competing ideologies of the transitional period. In Jin Yun Qiao [Two ideal unions] the heroine Cuiqiao seals a love compact with a scholar, but refuses to follow Wenjun’s footsteps to lose her virginity. See Qingxin cairen, Jin Yun Qiao (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 19. 26. The hero in Wan Ru Yue is named Sima Yue; the hero in Renzhong hua [Portraits of the human world] is named Sima Xue; the hero in “Yuanyang pu” [A pair of mandarin ducks], a tale collected in Huanzhong zhen, is named Sima Yuan; the hero in Qiaolian zhu is Xiangru. 27. Females in male dress to propose marriage can also be found in Wan Ru Yue, and Qingmeng tuo. 28. Emperor endorses caizi and jiaren’s union for their talents in Liang Jiaohun [Two ideal matches] and Fenghuang chi [Phoenix pond]. 29. Lin Chen, Shulu, p. 187. 30. Suan zhuren, Guilian meng (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1984), p. 24. 31. See Wei Cheng-T’ung, “Chu Hsi on the Standard and the Expedient,” in Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism, ed. Wing-tsit Chan (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1986), p. 269. For sources of expediency in Han texts, see the same page. 32. See Legge, The Works of Mencius, p. 307. 33. Zhu Xi, Zhu Zi yulei (Taipei: Zhengzhong Book Co., 1960), chap. 37, pp. 1634, 1638, cited in Wei Cheng-T’ung, “Chu Hsi,” p. 262. 34. Hanan’s observation in reference to Feng Menglong’s writings appears in Patrick


Notes to Pages 100 – 104

Hanan, The Chinese Vernacular Story (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), p. 79. In fact, Tang Xianzu set an antecedent for Feng Menglong in “Yihuang xian xisheng Qingyuanshi miaoji,” in Tang Xianzu ji, 2:1127 – 1128. For discussion on late Ming scholars’ endeavor to legitimize yu (desire) and moralize qing, see Epstein, Competing Discourses, pp. 69 – 119; Martin Huang, Desire and Fictional Narrative, pp. 35 – 45. 35. For a discussion of expediency over moral principle in Haoqiu zhuan, see Hessney, “Beyond Beauty and Talent: The Moral and Chivalric Self in The Fortunate Union,” in Expressions of Self in Chinese Literature, ed. Robert E. Hegel and Richard C. Hessney (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), pp. 229 – 232. See also McMahon, Misers, pp. 122 – 123. 36. For the original remark made by Ruan Ji, see Liu Yiqing, Shishuo xinyu, chap. 23, in Congshu jicheng xinbian (Taipei: Xinwenfeng chuban gongsi, 1985), 83:269. 37. See M. M. Bakhtin and P. N. Medvedev, The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship: A Critical Introduction to Sociological Poetics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), pp. 133 – 134. 38. In the xue collection of Gu Zhang Jue Chen, when a scholar and a beauty are caught having an aVair and are sent to court, they are pardoned by the magistrate after they demonstrate literary talents. In other words, as caizi and jiaren they are entitled to the privilege of romance. In the feng collection of the same book, a retired prime minister pardons a scholar for eloping with his beautiful concubine, because, as he says, “it is a scholar’s game to filch incense and pilfer jades” (touxiang qieyu). 39. For an exploration of the relation between courtesan culture and scholar-beauty romance, see Chang, The Late-Ming Poet Ch’en Tzu-lung, pp. 11 – 13. 40. Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, p. 142. 41. The invention of jiaren character in the genre is similar to Shi Zhenlin’s creation of He Shuangqing in “Random Records of West-Green,” who embodies the “feminine ideal” of beauty, talent, sensibility, and virtue fantasized by the males. For recent scholarship on Shi’s inscription of male values in the creation of an ideal “beauty,” see Paul Ropp, Banished Immortal: Searching for Shuangqing, China’s Peasant Woman Poet (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001); Grace S. Fong, “De/Constructing a Feminine Ideal in the Eighteenth Century: Random Records of West-Green and the Story of Shuangqing,” in Widmer and Chang, Writing Women in Late Imperial China, pp. 264 – 284. 42. Li Bai is lionized in this genre. Not only are Shan Dai, Ruzi, and Su Youbai related to him, Guan Tongxiu, heroine in Yu zhiji [A jade paper cover] is called nü zhong taibai (female Li Bai); the hero in the fifth tale of Zhenzhu bo is named Dongfang Bai, a combination of Dongfang Shuo and Li Bai; the hero of Nü kaike zhuan, a literary genius, is named Mengbai (dreaming of Bai). In Jinxiang ting [The Jinxiang pavilion] the fictional Li Bai claims himself an immortal descending from heaven, and in drunkenness he recklessly renounces An Lushan, the powerful general who attempts to usurp the throne. Li Bai’s popularity in the genre can be attributed to his spiritual transcendence, traceable to a well-known legend where he orders the favorite imperial consort Yang Yuhuan to hold ink stone and commands the mighty eunuch Gao Lishi to take oV Li’s shoes while the literatus composes a poem for the emperor. This episode is mentioned in both Ping Shan Leng Yan and Jinxiang ting. The genre worships Li Bai, partly because his poetic genius symbolizes the unrecognized talents of the literati authors, and partly because his leg-

Notes to Pages 104 – 105


endary defiance of power, or his assertion of masculinity at the court, represents the ideal gender stand for the authors of this genre. The late Ming worship for Li Bai can also be traced through Tu Long’s (1543 – 1605) drama Caihao ji (The tale of a colorful brush), in which the dramatist incorporates his own life experience into Li Bai’s characterization, to idealize the hero. For discussion of the autobiographical dimension of Tu Long’s drama, see Zheng Run, Jin Ping Mei he Tu Long (Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe, 1994), pp. 30 – 31, 52 – 53. 43. Wuseshi zhuren, Kuaishi zhuan (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1990), p. 203. 44. Yan Song, a grand secretary in the late Ming, and Jia Sidao, a prime minister of the Southern Song, both dominated the politics of their times. While Yan embezzled an army provision, thus weakening national defense, Jia concealed military information from the emperor while appeasing the invading armies. Responsible for the escalation of alien invasion and the eVeminacy of the Chinese empire during their respective times, they can be regarded as yin agents in Chinese politics. For their respective political careers, see Zhang Tingyu, Ming shi, 26:7914 – 7919 and Tuo Tuo et al., Song shi, 39:13779 – 13787. 45. Similar cases can be traced in Feihua yong, Wufeng yin, Xing Fengliu, and many other works, though the power figure may take another name. 46. In his much-acclaimed “Letter in Reply to Ren An,” Sima Qian puts foreword his theory of fafen zhushu in the following lines, in which he tries to justify his choice of the punishment of castration over death penalty by paralleling his Records of the Historian with all the great writings in Chinese history: Confucius was in distress and he made the Spring and Autumn; Ch’u Yuan was banished and he composed his poem “Encountering Sorrow”; after Tso Ch’iu lost his sight, he composed the Narrative from the State . . . ; most of the three hundred poems of the Book of Odes were written when the sages poured forth their anger and dissatisfaction. All these men had a rankling in their hearts, for they wrote about past aVairs in order to pass on their thoughts to future generations.

See Burton Watson, Ssu-ma Ch’ien: Grand Historian of China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), pp. 65 – 66. 47. For a discussion of Sima Qian’s feminization in politics, see Martin Huang, Literati, pp. 78, 80; for expression of Sima Qian’s latent ambition in writing his history, see his “Letter” in Burton Watson, Ssu-ma Ch’ien, p. 66. 48. The most marginal figures, those who have politically “lost their male forms,” often exemplify the “will of a man” in this genre. In Kuaishi zhuan, a prostitute, Ma Youyi, converts to religion to resist the sexual invasion of a powerful man; in Jinxiang ting, a concubine and a servant both commit suicide to feed the starving army in resistance against An Lushan’s rebellion, and a musician refuses to serve the usurper, making a martyr of himself; in the fifth tale of Huanying a captured general denounces the usurper, Emperor Yongle, even after his nose has been cut oV, while the confined daughters of loyal oYcials either disfigure themselves or employ a weapon to defend their virginity. The celebration of masculinity in subjects most severely marginalized/feminized in the political structure contributes to the theme of androgyny in this genre. 49. Nanyue daoren, Hudie mei, in Ming Qing yanqing xiaoshuo daguan, comp. Yin Guoguang and Ye Junyuan, p. 720.


Notes to Pages 105 – 108

50. Whether related to the scholars or to the parents of the destined couple, political seclusion appears in the following works: Xing fengliu, Yu Jiao Li, Yin Feng Xiao, Yu zhiji, Yun xian xiao, He puzhu, Saihua ling, Xingming hua, Tiehuaxian shi, Zhenzhu bo, Wan Ru Yue, Ying Yun meng, Hudie mei, Zhong xu meng, Chun Liu Ying, Renjian le, Liner bao, Dingqing ren, and Shenghua meng. 51. Matthew H. Sommer, Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), p. 162. 52. In Zhu’s observation, the pattern of scholar-beauty romance is deep-rooted in Chinese aesthetics. In contemporary Chinese literature it often finds expression in the heroine’s (a modern jiaren) unwavering devotion to the hero, often an intellectual in political trouble (a modern caizi in distress). He traces such a pattern in Mimosa (Lühua shu), The Romance at Mount Tianyun (Tianyunshan chuanqi), and other works. See “Xixiang ji yu caizi jiaren muoshi,” Tongsu wenxue pinglun 4 (1994), pp. 75 – 79. 53. Mijiantang zhuren, Zhong xu meng, in Ming Qing yanqing xiaoshuo daguan, comp. Yin Guoguang and Ye Junyuan, p. 821. 54. Christina Shu-hwa Yao indicates that scholars’ success in the examinations is a necessary step by which the public and the private could be reconciled; see “Cai-zi Jia-ren: Love Drama during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Periods” (Ph.D dissertation, Stanford University, 1983), p. 57. 55. A prominent case can be found in Tiehuaxian shi, in which the clownish figure Xia Yuanxu assembles ten thousand pieces of gold to buy the title of jinshi (advanced scholar), only to be robbed before he reaches the capital. 56. For a detailed discussion on the caizi image in Chinese cultural context, see Zhang Wenhong and Ji Dejun, “Caizi xingxiang moshi de wenhua xinli chanshi,” Zhongshan daxue xuebao 5 (1996), 110 – 118. My discussion here is, to a certain extent, indebted to this study. In emphasizing the symbolic nature of this character, Guo Yingde takes caizi as a “semeiotic product”; see “Lun Yuan Ming Qing xiaoshuo xiqu zhong de leitong renwu xingxiang,” Ming Qing xiaoshuo yanjiu 4 (1997): 47. 57. See Lin Chen, Shulu, pp. 198, 328. 58. Songyun shi, Ying Yun meng (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 149. 59. See Li Xiuxing, Mengzhong yuan, in Ming Qing yanqing xiaoshuo daguan, comp. Yin Guoguang and Ye Junyuan, pp. 391 – 392. 60. The use of red plum-blossom imagery in the fiction is reminiscent of a late Ming play Hongmei ji [The tale of red plum blossom], in which the title image serves as a matchmaker for a destined couple, who both demonstrate plumlike heroism in their joint confrontation of the notorious prime minister Jia Sidao. For the use of the red plumblossom image in the play, see Zhou Chaojun, Hongmei ji (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1985), pp. 19 – 22. 61. In his memorial to the emperor to impeach the treacherous commander-in-chief Wang Mang, Mei Fu wrote: I was told that if one was not in an oYcial position, one should not interfere into its business. Business is none other than one’s duty. It is a crime to comment on the high and the mighty as a commoner. Yet I am ready to oVend the law for trespassing my position and I will be glad to die for arousing the world and keeping it from its peril.

Notes to Pages 108 – 113


From Ban Gu, Han Shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962), 67:2924. For an English introduction of Mei Fu’s life, see Aat Vervoarn, The Development of the Chinese Eremitic Tradition to the End of the Han Dynasty (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1990), pp. 103 – 104. 62. In Yu Jiao Li, it is the attraction of the heroine’s father to an ode to plum blossoms that triggers a romantic search for the poet, the plum spirit personified (pp. 42 – 53). In Ping Shan Leng Yan, the unrestrained love between the scholar Yan Bahan and the beauty Shan Dai is germinated in their first encounter in a Plum Garden, communicated through two plum-chanting verses that they inscribe on its walls; see Yi Ming, Ping Shan Leng Yan (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1981), chap. 14, pp. 146 – 156. In “Feng luan fei” [A couple of flying phoenixes], the eighth story of Wuse shi, the beauty ventures out of her boudoir to meet the scholar under a plum tree in front of a Plum Study, and they then express mutual love through self-referential odes to plum blossoms; see Biliange zhuren, Wuse shi (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), pp. 192 – 197. 63. See Qishan zuochen, Nü kaike zhuan (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 109; Suan zhuren, Jinxiang ting (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 157; Jingtian jushi, ed., Shengxiao jian (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1987), p. 249. 64. Louie, “Sexuality, Masculinity and Politics,” p. 834. Louie indicates that in popular versions of the Three Kingdoms story, the idealized hero Guan Yu kills the beautiful Diao Chan in resistance to female temptation with the sword that bears his surname (guan dao). He thus takes the sword as an “ultra-masculine symbol,” and points out its association with the motif of abuse and hatred of women in popular literature, such as Yuan drama (p. 834). 65. Tang Xianzu, “Daguan Dongming,” Tang Xianzu quanji, 2:1295. 66. See the entry Shiyi ji in Li Fang, comp., Taiping yulan, juan 344, 3a, collected in Sibu congkan (sanbian), vol. 43 (1935; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985). 67. See the entry of Shishuo xinyu in Li Fang, Taiping yulan, juan 343, 6a, collected in Sibu congkan (sanbian), vol. 43. 68. The buried sword is reminiscent of the image of “hidden dragon” elaborated in Yi Jing (Book of changes), where it refers to a male in retreat who covers up his masculinity. “Hidden dragon, do not act—the power of yang is still covered up and concealed”; translation from R. Wilhelm and C. F. Baynes, The I Ching or Book of Changes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), p. 379. 69. This legend appears in several ancient sources with slight variations. The version presented here comes from Kenneth J. Dewoskin and J. I. Crump Jr., trans., In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record (Soushen ji) by Gan Bao (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), pp. 124 – 126. It also appears in Lieyi ji [A collection of strange tales], in Li Fang, Taiping yulan, vol. 343, collected in Sibu congkan, vol. 43. In Wu Yue chunqiu [The annuls of Wu and Yue] it is said that in the beginning Gan Jiang and his wife Mo Ya failed to melt the iron in making the sword. Only after Mo Ya cut oV her hair and fingernails and entered the furnace did the iron melt and the swords were made. See Zhao Ye, Wu Yue chunqiu, in Sibu congkan (1985), vol. 51, juan 4, 3a– 4b. Based on this legend, Lu Xun wrote a tale “Zhujian” (forging swords) and included it in his Gushi xinbian [A new collection of stories]. In all these versions the buried sword is a yang sword.


Notes to Pages 113 – 116

70. Unlike most heroines of this genre, Sword Flower is punished for forging the identity of a respectable lady in her dogged pursuit of the romantic ideal. The figure of Flower Goddess has also degenerated from the promoter of romantic impulses in the Pavilion to a prig guardian of orthodoxy. The work, therefore, reveals a deviation from the mainstream of the genre descended directly from Tang’s master drama. Yet, while Sword Flower is seen as a demon (yao) in the narrative, she is eventually granted an immortal status, revealing the author’s ambivalence toward the cult of qing that she incarnates. Although Lu Xun classified Tiehuaxian shi as a Ming work (A Brief History of Chinese Fiction [Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 1964], pp. 245, 253), its conservative bent traced here suggests Qing, or even mid-Qing, production. With textual evidence Lin Chen tentatively classifies it as a late work of this genre (Shulu, pp. 143 – 144); his assumption is supported by the gender analysis here. 71. For a detailed study of stone cult in the late Ming, see Zeitlin, Historian of the Strange, pp. 69 – 88. 72. Zeitlin, Historian of the Strange, p. 79. For discussion of diVerent Ming editions of Mi Fu anecdotes, see R. H. Van Gulik, Mi Fu on Inkstones (Beijing: Henry Vetch, 1938), pp. 3 – 4. 73. Song shi, 37:13124, cited in Zeitlin, Historian of the Strange, p. 79. For a detailed English translation of this anecdote, see Perter Charles Sturman, Mi Fu: Style and the Art of Calligraphy in Northern Song China (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 224. 74. See Zeitlin’s note in Historian of the Strange, p. 82. Yet her observation that “flowers were gendered female” needs modification. 75. Tuo Tuo et al., Song shi, 37:13124. 76. See Goodrich and Fang, Dictionary of Ming Biography, p. 1635. 77. Ibid., p. 1173. 78. Li Baile, Bei Qi shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1972), p. 544. 79. Frye, Anatomy of Criticism, p. 187. 80. See Hessney, “Beautiful,” p. 39; McMahon, Misers, p. 103; Yao, “Cai-zi,” p. 3. 81. Dong Guoyan, “Lun caizi jiaren xiaoshuo de chuangzhuo tedian,” Ming Qing xiaoshuo luncong, 5:173 – 174. 82. Zhao Yuan, Ming Qing zhiji, p. 173. 83. Chen Xiahua believes that the real author of Kuaishi zhuan is Xu Shukui (?– 1763), a Ming loyalist with a strong anti-Qing propensity. It is said that his corpse was posthumously dug up to be stabbed because of the allusive attack on the alien regime in his poetry. See Wuseshi zhuren, Badong tian (Beijing: Shumu wenxian chubanshe, 1985), pp. 1 – 7; Wuseshi zhuren, Kuaishi zhuan, pp. 1 – 2. But Lin Chen rejects such an assumption (Shulu, pp. 147 – 154) and Ouyang Jian expresses similar doubt; see Ming Qing xiaoshuo xinkao (Beijing: Zhongguo wenlian chuban gongsi, 1992), p. 357. 84. For a discussion of this case, see Lawrence D. Kessler, “Chinese Scholars and the Early Manchu State,” HJAS 31 (1971): 179 – 220. 85. Dong Guoyan even parallels the Chinese lyrical tradition with this genre to emphasize its function in projecting authorial ideal; see his “Caizi jiaren,” p. 175. The psychological gratification that literati reap through fictional identification with their protagonists in the scholar-beauty romance is very similar to what Li Yu derives from his dramatic composition. In Casual Expression of Idle Feeling (Xianqing ouji) Li Yu writes:

Notes to Pages 116 – 123


I was born amid disaster, and have lived a life of poverty. . . . When writing plays, however, I not only gain relief from my depression and resentment, I lay claim to the title of happiest man between Heaven and Earth. . . . If I want to be an oYcial, then in a flash I attain honor and rank. If I want to retire from oYce, then in the twinkling of an eye I am among the mountains and forests.

Translated in Patrick Hanan, The Invention of Li Yu (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), p. 36. 86. It is generally believed that caizi’s propensity to withdraw is spiritually akin to the eremitism of late Ming scholars and Ming royalists in the early Qing when many took to the mountains and rivers to avoid serving the alien ruler. One prominent case can be found in Mengzhong yuan, whose author, Li Xiuxing, a jinshi (an advanced scholar) living at the end of Kangxi regime (1662 – 1722), refrained all his life from serving the court. “In his old age he took up a pen to compose the book out of the indignation that has been accumulated in his soul” (Yin Guoguang and Ye Junyan, Ming Qing yanqing xiaoshuo daguan, p. 333). A typical scholar-beauty romance, the book portrays plumlike jiaren who resist imposed marriage at the risk of their lives and a plumlike caizi who impeaches a villainous political titan. Significantly, the hero retires after his career success and union with the beauties, following the seclusive impulses of the author. 87. Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconsciousness: Narrative as a Social Symbolic Act (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), pp. 138 – 139. 88. Simon Gaunt, Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 8. 89. Both Huanying and Huanxi yuanjia were composed during this period. Patrick Hanan studies the orthodox stand in a group of fictions produced during the 1640s in “The Fiction of Moral Duty: The Vernacular Story in the 1640s,” Expressions of Self in Chinese Literature, ed. Robert E. Hegel and Richard C. Hessney, pp. 189 – 213. Keith McMahon investigates the reaction against late Ming decadence in Causality and Containment, chap. 5; see also his Misers, p. 306 n. 13. 90. According to Lin Chen’s study, Haoqiu zhuan, Xing fengliu, and Tiehuaxian shi were all produced in the Qing. See Shulu, pp. 143 – 147. 91. Li Liufang, “Shen Juzhong shicao xu,” in Tanyuan ji, pp. 227 – 228. A facsimile version of this book is available at the Gest Oriental Library, Princeton University. His case is briefly cited in Ouyang Daifa, “Xingshiyan yu Mingmo nihuaben de zouxiang,” Shehui kexue yanjiu (Chengdu) 4 (1994): 120. 92. Yuan Zhongdao, “Xin lü,” cited in Ouyang Daifa, “xingshiyan,” p. 120. 93. Su Xing indicates that the time when Tianhuazang zhuren and Yanshui sanren composed Ping Shan Leng Yan and Nücaizi shu, Zheng Chenggong, a well-known patriot, was rallying armies, attacking southern cities, and even besieging Nanjing (around 1659 – 1660). See Su Xing, “Tianhuazang zhuren ji qi caizi jiaren xiaoshuo,” Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo shulin (Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985), p. 24. 94. In his preface to He puzhu, Yanshui sanren admits that his inspirations for romance have been exhausted; it is simply to oblige his importunate friend that he rushed out the fiction (Ming Qing xiaoshuo xuba xuan, p. 81). 95. Lin Chen traces plagiarism in Feihua yanxiang from Yu Jiao Li (Shulu, p. 201). He


Notes to Pages 123 – 126

also mentions one study that reveals that the author of Feihua yanxiang, Liu Zhang, after his deposition as a magistrate, relied on mass production of inferior fiction to support himself (p. 202). Guo Haofan believes that Yanshui sanren turned to writing fiction partly to support himself; see “Yanshui sanren xiyi,” Ming Qing xiaoshuo yanjiu 2 (1997): 142. 96. Huang Qingquan, Jiang Songyuan, and Tan Banghe, Ming Qing xiaoshuo de yishu shijie (Taipei: Hongye wenhua shiye youxian gongsi, 1995), p. 177. 97. John Y. Hu, “Through Hades to Humanity: A Structural Interpretation of The Peony Pavilion,” 10, 3 Tamkang Review (spring 1980): 606.

Chapter Six: The Peach Blossom Fan: An Ambivalent Hymn to Political Androgyny 1. According to Hong Bozhao’s biographical study, Kong Shangren’s father, Kong Zhenfan, refused to serve the court after the fall of Ming; see Kong Shangren yu Taohua shan (Guangzhou: Guangdong renmin chubanshe, 1988), p. 4. See also Yuan Shishuo, Kong Shangren nianpu (Jinan: Qilu shushe, 1987), p. 4. 2. In 1684 after he delivered a lecture on Daxue (great learning) for the visiting emperor at the Confucian Temple of his hometown, Qufu, Kong Shangren was promoted to be an Erudite in the imperial academy out of a special imperial favor. See Kong Shangren, “Chushan yishu ji,” Kong Shangren shiwen ji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962), pp. 437 – 438. 3. While Lynn A. Struve indicates a “subtle contrast” between Chongzhen and Hongguang, regarding the former as “the best of the late Ming emperors” and the latter as “exhibiting the worst qualities of Ming emperors since the turn of the seventeenth century” (“History and The Peach Blossom Fan,” CLEAR 2 [1980]: 62), shared eVeminacy can be traced in their behavior when they faced the crumbling of the empire over which they once wielded authority. Before he committed suicide, Chongzhen also endeavored to escape from the besieged capital, thus in taking to his heels, Hongguang was following the footsteps of his immediate royal predecessor. In their escapades Chongzhen masqueraded as a eunuch, whereas Hongguang in the Fan is followed by a eunuch; their aYnity to emasculated men signifies an inverted gender in themselves. In fact, the mode of sudden flight from perceived danger later became a pattern of behavior for several other refugee sovereigns of the Southern Ming. For discussion of Chongzhen’s and other refugee sovereigns’ undignified behavior, see Mote and Twitchett, The Cambridge History of China, 7:638, 660, 676, 679; Wakeman, “The Shun Interregnum of 1644,” pp. 47 – 50. 4. When the quotations of Taohua shan are taken from Chen Shih-hsiang and Harold Acton’s translation The Peach Blossom Fan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), it is indicated by an F in parentheses; if the translation is mine, it is indicated by a T in parentheses, and the page numbers refer to those in Taohua shan (Hong Kong: Hongzhi shudian). References are to scene and page numbers. 5. UnoYcial historical records indicate that the historical Hongguang emperor completely forsook the yang principle ethically associated with his royal status and degenerated into an evil man, the yin incarnate. It is said that he so indulged in sensual pleasure that he tormented young girls to death while raping them, and refused to appear at the

Notes to Pages 126 – 128


court because of his addiction to theatrical entertainment. See Ji Luqi, Mingji nanlue, in Ming Qing shiliao huibian, comp. Shen Yunlong (Taipei: Wenhai chubanshe), 30:399, and Sanyu shi, Nanming yeshi (Taipei: Taiwan yinhang, 1960), 1:33. 6. Wei was Wei Zhongxian (1568 – 1627), one of the most powerful and vicious eunuchs in Chinese history; Ke was the emperor Xizhong’s (r. 1621 – 1627) wet nurse and Wei’s accomplice. 7. Ruan Dacheng practiced these strategies personally in his life; he not only constantly took to his heels, but ultimately surrendered to the Qing armies shortly before his death; see Zhang Tingyu, Ming shi, 26:7945. For a detailed study of Ruan’s political career, see Wang Yongjian, “Ruan Dacheng pingzhuan,” in Tang Xianzu ji Ming Qing chuanqi yanjiu (Xindian: Zhiyi chubanshe, 1984), pp. 199 – 207. 8. For discussion of Guo’s adaptation of the play, see Xu Zhengui, Kong Shangren pingzhuan (Xuzhou: Shandong daxue chubanshe, 1991), pp. 251 – 260. Beard is such an emblematic part to a masculine identity that when Liu Maer, a eunuch of the Ming dynasty, was appointed as a military commander, he always wore artificial whiskers in front of his army to assume an air of masculine dignity. See Shen Defu, Wanli yehuo bian, 3:922. 9. “The golden powder of the Six Dynasties” refers to a social fashion in China about 1500 years ago, when literati scholars imitated women applying rouge and powder to their faces. Concomitant to this custom, men also took a fancy to scent and perfume, often spreading perfume in their dwellings and carrying along a scent bag to keep themselves fragrant; some scholars went so far as to become fond of wearing the colorful clothes of women. Such pure aestheticism in literati’s life mirrors and parallels the decadent and luxurious lifestyle in the imperial palace. During this period, Emperor Wu of Jin (236 – 290) established the largest harem in Chinese history, which housed nearly ten thousand concubines and maids in his service. Such an eVete age is a metonymical image of “the golden powder,” which not only pictures its superficial glamour but also captures its gender perversion. For discussion of social conventions of this age, see Zhang Renqing, Wei Jin Nanbei chao wenxue sixiang shi (Taipei: Wenshizhe chubanshe, 1979), pp. 238 – 283. 10. Hou Fangyu’s match with Li Xiangjun typifies the romance between Fu She scholars and celebrated courtesans during the Ming-Qing transition. Although Kong Shangren politically aligns himself with Fu She, writing from the vantage point of the early Qing, he remains somewhat ambivalent to Fu She scholars’ penchant for sensual indulgence. In the Fan, this is symbolically presented in Hou’s repeated associations with the “golden powder.” In his study of the play, Richard E. Strassberg regards the insouciant pursuit for eternal pleasures in the Qin-Huai area as the “end-product of late Ming romanticism.” See Strassberg, The World of Kong Shangren (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), p. 264. 11. This is a historical fact recorded by Yu Huai (1616 –?) in “Banqiao zaji,” Xiangyan congshu, vol. 7, collection 13, juan 3, p. 182. 12. Judith Still and Michael Worton, eds., “Introduction,” in Intertextuality, Theories and Practices (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), p. 10. 13. Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1975), p. 36. 14. The first phrase is taken verbatim from Wang Shifu’s play; the second is adapted


Notes to Pages 128 – 131

from the phrase “fallen red fills the ground.” See Shifu Wang, Story of the Western Wing, p. 250. 15. Crimson, the manipulative go-between, sets up a rendezvous for her mistress Ying Ying and Scholar Zhang, presses her mistress to go to the tryst, and even knocks at the door of Zhang’s study on behalf of her mistress at their nocturnal meeting, thus she functions as the soul of subversiveness in the play. 16. “Taohua shan xu,” cited in Xu Zhengui, Kong Shangren pingzhuan, p. 332. 17. Xiangjun’s gender aYnity to the three generals is well observed and stated in the following end-of-chapter commentary of Taohua shan, which is generally attributed to Kong’s contemporaries or himself: “The peach blossom fan is stained with the blood from Xiangjun’s face, which comes from her heart. It is through the blood from Xiangjun’s heart are presented the tales about the blood from Commander-in-Chief Zuo’s chest, from Lord Shi’s eyes and from General Huang’s neck. All these are masculine men who shed blood and sweat for the Ming dynasty. How far are they from those inadequate in vigor and deficient in blood!” Kong Shangren, Taohua shan (Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1972), p. 178. 18. Hou Fangyu’s charisma comes partly from his personality, partly from his family background. His grandfather, father, and uncle were all staunch members of the Donglin Party and were successively deposed for their antagonism against eunuch politics. In the Ming political arena, they represent the unyielding yang forces heroically resisting the eVeminized power center. Hou himself is noted for his integrity and courage in his explicit criticism of the court and his valiant opposition to Ruan Dacheng. For Hou Fangyu’s family background, see Hu Jiezhe, “Hou Chaozong xiansheng zhuan,” in Hou Fangyu, Zhuanghuaitang ji, vol. 277 of Sibu beiyao (Reprint, Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju, 1936), pp. 1 – 3. For an insightful analysis of Hou Fangyu’s career and political stand, see Liao Yuhui, Xishuo Taohua shan—sixiang yu qingai (Taipei: Sanmin shuju, 1997), pp. 170 – 207. 19. The name of the studio probably comes from a famous painting that Kong Shangren got from Gao Jian (1634 – 1707), a painter noted for his stylistic simplicity and ideological depth. Kong once wrote a poem to celebrate this painting, “Gao Danyou ji meihua shuwu huaju,” in Huhai ji (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1957), p. 176. The name of the Plum Studio may echo the Plum Cottage that Wang Mian built in the mountains. 20. My observation on Xiangjun’s plum identity accords with and partly develops from the following end-of-chapter commentary on scene 24: “The scene of enjoying the plum leads to Xiangjun’s resistance against the forced second marriage; the scene of enjoying the snow relates to the girl’s performance in the palace. These scenes are composed primarily to demonstrate the heroine’s unbending will” (p. 116 in Shangwu yingshuguan version). The use of plum symbolism in the Fan is related to Kong Shangren’s fascination with the flower not only in literature but also in life. Among his extant corpus there are two xunmei (seeking plum blossoms) poems and a prose piece, which record his visit to a village to enjoy its blooming plums (Huhai ji, pp. 69, 70, 197). Plum imagery appears frequently in his poetry; and it often projects the transcendent mood akin to the masculine mode revealed in the Fan (Shiwen ji, pp. 119, 170). 21. Rubie S. Watson, “The Named and the Nameless: Gender and Person in Chinese Society,” American Ethnologist 13, 4 (Nov. 1986): 619.

Notes to Pages 131 – 134


22. Duke of Mu (606 b.c.–?) was named Lan (orchid), because his mother saw a divinity giving her an orchid in a dream before she conceived him. After he grew up he fled his country, owing to a family feud, but was summoned to succeed to the throne during a time of war. Through him peace was obtained following a conflict with a neighboring state. It is said that he died when an orchid was cut. See The Chinese Classics, Tso Chuan, trans. James Legge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895), 5:294. 23. Watson, “The Named and the Nameless,” p. 628. 24. Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, p. 278. Historical records show that Liu Rushi changed her name, or took new names, at least six times; each was related to certain critical events or transitions in her life. For interesting discussions of her name-changing anecdotes, see Teachers of the Inner Chambers, pp. 274 – 278; Wai-yee Li, “The Late Ming Courtesan,” pp. 55 – 56. 25. Watson, “The Named and the Nameless,” p. 627. Although Watson makes the observation in reference to the male identity, it applies to Xiangjun as well. 26. Kong Zi jiayu, in Sibu congkan (xubian) (1934; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985), vol. 55, juan 5, p. 12b. 27. Qu Yuan, “Encountering Sorrow,” in David Hawkes, Ch’u Tz’u, The Songs of the South (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959), p. 22. 28. Laurence A. Schneider, A Madman of Ch’u: The Chinese Myth of Loyalty and Dissent (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), p. 32. 29. The Chinese word “sao,” originally meaning “anxiety,” derives its connotation of political marginality from its presence in the title of Qu Yuan’s well-known poem “Lisao” [Encountering sorrow] which conveys the poet’s deep grief over his alienation from his lord. Kong Shangren’s consciousness of the political import of the term saoren can be perceived from a line that he wrote in his preface to Kong Chuanyi’s Mengou cao: “Those who were frustrated in career wrote sao; those who fulfilled their aspirations wrote fu [another kind of poetic prose].” See Yuan Shishuo, Kong Shangren nianpu, p. 208. 30. The persona’s sexual identity in Qu Yuan’s poem “Xiangjun,” ostensibly a love song, is a controversial issue about which scholars have debated for many centuries. Some take the poem to be Qu Yuan’s wooing the king in his political exile; some see in it dialogues between two lovers; some regard the persona as a male god waiting in vain for the arrival of his divine consort whose love he has lost; yet most agree on the import of loyalty and devotion in the image of the “robe ornaments” that the persona takes oV as a gift to his/ her lover. For discussion of this episode in Qu Yuan’s poem, see He Jingqun, Chuci jingzhu (Taipei: Zhengzhong shuju, 1988), p. 59; Zhu Jihai, Chuci jiegu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1963), p. 91; You Guoen, Chuci lunwen ji, pp. 125 – 130. 31. Although in the modern age the tomb-sweeping Qingming festival normally falls on April 5 in the solar calendar, it was fixed on the third day of the third lunar month by the Yuan dynasty, traceable in the drama Li Kuei Carrying Thorns. See Anthology of Chinese Literature from Early Times to the Fourteenth Century, comp. Cyril Birch (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1965), p. 393. In the Fan it is also in the third month, as Kong Shangren meticulously indicates below the title of the fifth scene (T 5.36). The yang import of this date is implied in its double three (3/3), which, as an odd number, carries yang denotation. It is a time when yin energy starts to wane and yang energy begins to wax. According to Derk Bodde’s study, Qingming became a festival after the Han dynasty, probably to replace another one, the Lustration Festival, or Festival of Purgation, which had been


Notes to Pages 134 – 136

celebrated on the third day of the third month and was associated with spring fertility, sexual rites, and purification, with caring for the dead as its minor theme. See Derk Bodde, Festivals in Classical China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975), pp. 273 – 288. The sexual import of the former festival seems to remain in Qingming, as in the Fan Hou Fangyu and Li Xiangjun perform a sexual rite by exchanging gifts in the pleasure house (T 5.38 – 40) at that date. Qingming’s association with death somewhat points to the ultimate dissolution of the wedlock between the “beauty” and the “genius” forged on that day. In Chinese mythology the double three (3/3) is also the birthday of the Queen Mother of the West, a powerful female figure in the Daoist paradise. Maram Epstein indicates that in some novels of the Qing dynasty, the date is used to mark female usurpation of the power that traditionally belonged to men. Nüxian waishi and Jinghua yuan both open with the celebration of the birthday of the Queen Mother of the West and both present an inverted world, where women dominate men (Epstein, Competing Discourses, pp. 131 – 132). In the Fan, such dislocation of gender is related to Xiangjun’s dominant role in the political struggle against Ruan Dacheng, which happens around Qingming. 32. The yang nature of the Duanyang is evident in the double fives in its identity, since five is the central figure of the five primary odd numbers (one, three, five, seven, nine). As Derk Bodde indicates, in ancient China it was believed that a son born at this date was dangerous because he would embody too much yang. Tian Wen, an aristocrat of the Warring States Period, better known as the Lord of Mengshang, was ordered at his birth to die for being born at such a “wrong” date; he won his birthright only when he had demonstrated phenomenal wisdom in an interview with his father after he was secretly brought up by his mother (Bodde, Festivals in Classical China, pp. 309 – 310). 33. Xu Zhenggui points out its symbolic associations with two diVerent shiwai taoyuans: the false sanctuary of the pleasure house and the genuine haven of the monastery (Xu Zhengui, Kong Shangren pingzhuan, pp. 138 – 143). Wai-yee Li sees the peach blossom fan as “a malleable symbol” that embodies both “strength and weakness”; see “The Representation of History in The Peach Blossom Fan,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 3, 115 (July–September 1995): 430. Richard E. Strassberg observes several changes in the significance of the peach imagery when it appears in diVerent contexts in the play; see “The Peach Blossom Fan: Personal Cultivation in a Chinese Drama” (Ph.D dissertation, Princeton University, 1975), p. 161. 34. Cao Zhi, “Za shi,” in Cao Cao, Cao Pei, Cao Zhi shixuan, comp. Yu Guanyin (Hong Kong: Daguang chubanshe, 1966), p. 40. 35. Yu Wen, “Zhuangtai ji,” in Xiangyan congshu, vol. 1, collection 3, juan 1, p. 82. 36. For discussion of the peach imagery in ancient Chinese culture, see Huang Yongwu, “Gudianshi zhong de tao yu liu,” Zhongwai wenxue 6, 3 (1977): 26 – 30. See also Liao Yuhui’s detailed discussion related to the Fan in Xishuo Taohua shan, pp. 91 – 125. 37. For the similarity between Tao Yuanming’s description of “The Peach Blossom Spring” and his domestic garden, see Yin-tze Kwang, “Naturalness and Authenticity: The Poetry of Tao Qian,” CLEAR 11 (Dec. 1989): 50. 38. The sense of illusion inherent in the peach blossom image is pointed out by Feng Wenlou when he associates a verse in The Book of Songs “taozhi yaoyao” (the beauty of the peach blossom) with a homophonous Chinese idiom “taozhi yaoyao” (to make one’s getaway, to disappear without a trace); see “Yige fuhe de wenben jiangou,” Gansu shehui kexue 1 (1993): 107.

Notes to Pages 136 – 138


39. Tang Yin, Tang Bohu shici gefu quanji (Hong Kong: Chen Yongtai), p. 19. 40. In her recent study Anne de Coursey Clapp indicates that Tang Yin was charged with receiving some examination questions from Xu Jing (d. 1507), a scholar in the Jiangyin prefecture, who bought them from the Chief Examiner Cheng Minzheng (1445 –ca. 1499) before the metropolitan examination. Contemporary sources suggest, however, that the charge of fraud was very likely engineered by a rival politician Fu Han (1435 – 1502), who coveted Cheng’s success at court, and Tang Yin was probably innocent. See Clapp, The Painting of T’ang Yin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 4 – 5. For an account less sympathetic for Tang Yin, see Yuan Zhi’s preface to Tang Yin’s collected works, Tang Bohu quanji (Beijing: Zhongguo shudian, 1985), p. 2. For an oYcial biography of Tang Yin, see Zhang Tingyu, Ming shi, 286:7352 – 7353. 41. Tang Yin’s eulogy to Buddhist saints in his poetry reveals his Buddhist inclination; see Tang Bohu quanji, pp. 213 – 215. Clapp indicates that his pen name Liuru jushi (Master of six smiles) originates in the Buddhist scripture “Diamond Sutra,” and another sobriquet Chanxian (Chan immortal) suggests a Daoist inclination (pp. 19 – 20). 42. Tao Yuanming’s lines in his celebrated poem “Drinking Wine, No. 5” go: “I built my hut in a place where people live, / and yet there’s no clatter of carriage or horse.” See The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry, trans. Burton Watson, p. 135. 43. In a popular legend, “Romance of the Three Smiles,” Tang Yin was said to have married eight wives within one month and secured the hand of the most beautiful ninth wife, Autumn Fragrance, through wile and strategy. For discussion of various versions of this legend, see T. C. Lai, Tang Yin, Poet/Painter, 1470–1524 (Hong Kong: Kelly and Walsh, 1971), pp. 7 – 21. 44. For Kong Shangren’s art collection, see Chen Wannai, Kong Shangren (Taipei: Guojia, 1971), pp. 136 – 157; Kong Shangren, Shiwen ji, pp. 572 – 625. 45. See Kong Shangren, “Maide Tanghua,” in Shiwen ji, p. 191. 46. Kong Shangren, Shiwen ji, pp. 125 – 126. For an English translation of the whole poem, see Strassberg, The World, pp. 166 – 167. 47. Strassberg, The World, p. 166. 48. In Nanming yeshi, the unoYcial history of the Southern Ming by Sanyu shi, it is recorded that in the last day of his residence in his Nanjing palace before he fled from the capital, the emperor was still wallowing in sensual pleasure, watching theatrical performance while drinking wine with his lackeys (vol. 1, p. 55). 49. Wai-yee Li aptly observes that “For the performers and entertainers in The Peach Blossom Fan, performance is primarily a mode of self-definition” (“Representation of History,” p. 424). 50. The translation is adapted from Cyril Birch’s The Peony Pavilion, p. 57. 51. Heinrich F. Plett, Intertextuality (New York and Berlin: Walter de Gruyter and Co., 1991), p. 10. 52. See Xu Shuofang’s and Yang Xiaomei’s notes to Tang Xianzu, Mudan ting (Shanghai: Zhonghua, 1965), p. 58. 53. Even in The Peony Pavilion Tao Yuanming is taken to be an ideal lover, confused with the Immortal Emerald Jade in the Yuan zaju (p. 161). Another case can be found in chapter 108 of The Dream of the Red Chamber, where in a drinking game Li Wan interprets Liu Chen’s and Ruan Zhao’s entry into High Heaven Terrace as an escape into a Peach Blos-


Notes to Pages 138 – 141

som Spring to dodge the chaos of Qin. See Cao Xueqin and Gao E, Honglou meng (sanjia pingben) (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1988), 2:1769. 54. Here Wai-yee Li’s observation is relevant: “Her [Xiangjun’s] competence in the music of romantic passion embroils her more deeply in the decadence of the Southern Ming court” (“Representation of History,” p. 427). 55. Ann JeVerson, “Intertextuality and the Poetics of Fiction,” in Comparative Criticism, A Yearbook, ed. Elinor ShaVer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), p. 239. 56. Bakhtin proposes that novels could be read as a dialogue of quoted discourses by means of which the novel is transformed into a self-critical discursive system. For detailed elaboration of this point, see his “The Word in the Novel,” trans. Ann Shukman, in Comparative Criticism, A Yearbook, pp. 213 – 220. 57. For a recent echo of such a view, see Huang Huatong, “Zhongguo gudai jinü tichai chutan,” Zhejiang shifan daxue xuebao 3 (1988): 77. 58. See Yu Huai, “Banqiao zaji,” Xiangyan congshu, vol. 7, collection 13, juan 3, p. 179. 59. In The Late-Ming Poet Ch’en Tzu-lung, Kang-i Sun Chang stresses the shared patriotism in the romantic relationship between Chen Zilong and Liu Rushi; similarly Waiyee Li observes that in the Fan the preoccupation with romantic love has to be by definition also a political statement (“The Late Ming Courtesan,” p. 69). While celebrating the patriotism in love, particularly in Li Xiangjun’s characterization, Kong Shangren seems to be also concerned about the opiatic eVect of late Ming romanticism on literati during the national crisis. In his study of late Ming culture, “Romantics, Stoics, and Martyrs in Seventeenth-Century China,” ( JAS 43, 4 [Aug. 1984]: 631 – 665), Frederic Wakeman divides late Ming literati into three categories: romantics, stoics, and martyrs. Taking Qian Qianyi and Wu Weiye as the representatives of the first category, he observes that “most romantics chose to collaborate with the Manchus” (p. 632) [hence deficient in yang]. In pursuing their romantic impulses, he writes, they “were lambencies in a brilliant, shimmering age that was slowly losing its glow” (p. 636). Although Hou Fangyu took a superior political stand to that of Qian Qianyi and Wu Weiye, for he never served the alien regime, he was nevertheless compelled to sit for the civil service examination under political pressure. The romantic dream he passionately pursues in the Fan constitutes part of the “lambencies” of the glamorous age; the fated loss of its “glow” is dramatically presented in the shattering of the dream. Written from the perspective of the early Qing, the Fan divulges apparent ambivalence toward late Ming romanticism. 60. Kong Shangren, Taohua shan (Taipei: Shangwu), pp. 9, 203. 61. The demand of absolute loyalty to a fallen dynasty was a by-product of neoConfucianism, which, in comparison to earlier ethics, as Frederick Mote observes, “laid greater stress on formalized patterns of behavior; moral principles came to require rigid observance of strict rules. The virtues of chastity and filial piety and the observance of mourning all became increasingly rigid and severe; the same also applied to the concept of ‘loyalty’ ”; see “Confucian Eremitism in the Yüan Period,” in Confucianism and Chinese Civilization, ed. Arthur F. Wright (New York: Athenaeum, 1965), p. 281; see also Li Chi, “The Changing Concept of the Recluse in Chinese Literature,” HJAS 4 (1962 – 1963): 234 – 247. 62. High Heaven’s Terrace is the location where Emerald Jade met the bewitching fairies.

Notes to Pages 141 – 145


63. In Candrottar¯ad¯a V¯ıkky¯akarana Sutra, when the heroine Yueshang finished chanting a sermon after she had gained enlightenment, flowers rained from the heavens. The Buddhist classic Nirvana Sutra tells that when Buddha’s body was consumed in samadhi fire to enter nirvana, flowers also rained down from the heavens; see Takakusu and Watanabe, Dazang Jing, 1:206 – 207; 14:623. 64. Li Shifeng, “Tianshouge shichao,” quoted in Li Chi, “The Changing Concept,” p. 246. 65. Historically, this is exactly what happened to Hou Fangyu in his life: After he returned home he was compelled to sit for the civil service examination under the Qing. See Hou Xun, “nianpu,” in Hou Fangyu, Zhuanghuitang ji, p. 4a. 66. Liao Yuhui, Xishuo Taohua shan, p. 207. Historically, Hou never sought seclusion. By inserting this quoted line in the “Epilogue,” Liao argues, Kong Shangren makes the political stand of his character closer to Hou Fangyu’s in history. 67. Mote, “Confucian Eremitism in the Yüan Period,” p. 279. 68. Wai-yee Li, Enchantment and Disenchantment, p. 83. 69. Not only does Kong Shangren claim the reliability of the “history” he presents in his drama (T 11), critics agree in unison that the Fan adheres most closely to historical facts among all the chuanqi plays. See Lynn A. Struve, “The Peach Blossom Fan as Historical Drama,” Renditions 8 (autumn 1977): 100. 70. The episode of Xiangjun shedding her blood in creating the peach blossom fan is presumably based on a legend that Yang Longyou transmitted to Qin Guangyi, the dramatist’s uncle; it might also be derived from the life of Ge Nen, a courtesan who bit her tongue, spat her blood at an assaulting Qing captain, and died a martyr’s death together with Yang Longyou; see Yu Huai, “Banqiao zaji,” Xiangyan congshu, vol. 7, collection 13, yuan 3, p. 188. The impassioned censure of Hongguang voiced through Fangyu in the drama was historically vocalized by two other Fu She leaders, Zhou Zhongyu and Lei Yanzuo; see Zhang Tingyu, Ming shi, pp. 7032 – 7033. Su Kunsheng and Liu Jingting were a well-known minstrel and a storyteller of their times, but no record shows their rejection of Ruan Dacheng’s patronage. Zhang Wei is based on a historical figure, Zhang Yi, who retreated to a monastery after the fall of the Ming but had not resigned from his oYcial post. In history Shi Kefa did not drown himself in the Yangtze River; his real death was less majestic than the dramatic version. Moreover, both Shi Kefa and Liu Jingting were criticized by their contemporaries for certain aspects of their political attitudes. For a detailed discussion of historical appraisals of these two figures, see Chun-shu Chang and Hsueh-lun Chang, “K’ung Shang-Jen and His T’ao-Hua Shan, A Dramatist’s Reflection on the Ming-Ch’ing Dynastic Transition,” Kong Shangren yanjiu ziliao (Tanyi chubanshe, 1982), 4:35b; 39a. Tina Lu also indicates the lack of integrity in Shi Kefa’s personality as revealed in an unoYcial history in Persons, Roles, and Minds: Identity in Peony Pavilion and Peach Blossom Fan (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), pp. 252 – 253. My understanding of Kong’s dramatic deviation from history is somewhat indebted to the Changs’ essay as well as to the following studies: Liao Yuhui, Xishuo Taohua shan, pp. 167 – 337; Hong Bozhao, Kong Shangren yu Taohua shan, pp. 170 – 175; and Zhang Yanjin, “Lishi de chensi—Taohua shan jiedu,” Shoudu shifan daxue xuebao 2 (1994): 22. 71. Hayden White, “Historical Text as Literary Artifact,” in Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), p. 84. The subjec-


Notes to Pages 145 – 146

tivity in historical writings is probably most succinctly expressed in White’s equation of historical narrative to “verbal fictions” and in E. H. Carr’s well-known statement: “History means interpretation,” in What Is History (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964), p. 23. In his incisive analysis of the Qing scholar Zhang Xuecheng’s (1738 – 1801) discourse on history, Anthony Yu perceives “an awareness of inevitable subjectivity” in Chinese historiography; see “History, Fiction and the Reading of Chinese Narrative,” CLEAR 10, 1 – 2 (1989): 8. 72. Hayden White, “Historical Text,” p. 84. 73. Strassberg, The World, p. xi. 74. Struve, “Ambivalence and Action,” p. 355. 75. Ibid., p. 355. 76. For the loyalism of Kong Shangren’s father, see “Kong Zhenfan muzhi” in Jueli xinzhi, vol. 23, cited in Wu Xinlei, “Lun Kong Shangren Taohua shan de chuangzuo sixiang,” Nanjing daxue xuebao 3 (1997): 114. Lynn A. Struve indicates that the degree of involvement in the Qing order desired by various men after the dynastic change was influenced by the directness and intensity of their fathers’ identification with the older order; see Struve, “Ambivalence and Action,” p. 328. 77. See Kong Shangren, “Gao Wang Xingqi xiansheng wen,” in Shiwen ji, pp. 439 – 440. 78. Kong Shangren, “Mupi sanke zhuan,” in Shiwen ji, p. 496. 79. The most shocking persecution of Ming history compilers happened in 1661 in the case of Zhuang Tinglong, who revised and then circulated an unpublished draft of Ming history written by another man. The book continued to give Ming reign titles for the years after 1644 and used personal names of Manchu rulers; both were regarded as seditious. Over seventy men were executed, including the printer and some purchasers of the book. 80. Paul S. Ropp, “Ambiguous Images of Courtesan Culture in Late Imperial China,” in Writing Women in Late Imperial China, p. 19. 81. Ropp, “Ambiguous Images of Courtesan Culture,” p. 19. 82. Chang, The Late Ming Poet Ch’en Tzu-lung, p. 17. 83. His letter to a noted loyalist Mao Bijiang thus opens: “You are a dragon-horse in the clouds; you are a phoenix-crane on the sea. Merely to look at your vigorous appearance is enough to increase one’s wisdom and prolong one’s life” (Shiwen ji, p. 506). In his study Huang Chi traces Kong Shangren’s close relation with Li Ruojin, a descendant from a Ming martyr, who defied Qing oYcials; see “Kong Shangren yu Zhaoyang Lishi shiqi kao,” Yishu baijia (Nanjing) 3 (1987): 105 – 106. In Strassberg’s opinion, the old generation of the “heroic loyalists” formed a composite image of his father, who passed away when he was young and remained only a hazy image in his memory (The World, p. 29). 84. Wai-yee Li, “The Late Ming Courtesan,” p. 72. 85. The cause of Kong Shangren’s deposition remains a controversial issue. Most critics tend to believe that the Fan itself, particularly its praise of eremitism and loyalists, contributed directly or indirectly to his removal; see Xu Zhengui, Kong Shangren pingzhuan, pp. 93 – 97; Hong Bozhao, Kong Shangren yu Taohua shan, p. 217. For diVerent views, see Liu Hui, Xiaoshuo xiqu lunji (Taipei: Guanya wenhua shiye, 1993), pp. 269 – 286, and Chen Wannai, Kong Shangren yanjiu (Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1972), pp. 104 – 110. 86. Kong Shangren, “Jia shu zhengyue da Xianshang jihuai yuanyun,” Shiwen ji, p. 205.

Notes to Pages 146 – 149


87. Kong Shangren, “Chushan yishu ji,” Shiwen ji, p. 438. 88. See Hong Bozhao, Kong Shangren, p. 39; Yuan Shishuo, Kong Shangren nianpu, p. 4. Yuan believes that Kangxi may be dissatisfied with Kong Shangren for his deep interest in drinking and chanting verses with Ming loyalists during his stay at Yangzhou, while the flood control mission made little headway. 89. Kong Shangren, “Ping hua,” Shiwen ji, p. 3. 90. Kong Shangren, “Xu gu gong ci,” Shiwen ji, p. 7. 91. Kong Shangren, “Zhongqiu daiyue,” Shiwen ji, p. 6. 92. Kong Shangren, “Hua qian,” Shiwen ji, p. 78. 93. Kong Shangren, “Yu Xueguo xiong,” Shiwen ji, p. 500. 94. Kong Shangren, “De jin ge,” Shiwen ji, p. 55. 95. Kong Shangren, “Genwu eryue zi huainan huichao,” Shiwen ji, p. 285. 96. Kong Shangren’s fidelity to Kangxi can also be partly attributed to the emperor’s tremendous achievements and popularity. For discussion of Kangxi’s success as a ruler, see Kessler, “Chinese Scholars and the Early Manchu State,” pp. 179 – 220. 97. Kong Shangren aired mild criticism of oYcial corruption in the river control project; see “Huaishang yougan,” Shiwen ji, p. 9. 98. Hu Xuegang traces in Kong Shangren’s early poetry several cases of self-comparison to hermits; see Kong Shangren he Taohua shan (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1985), pp. 11 – 12. 99. Kong Shangren, “Yu Yan Xiulai,” Shiwen ji, p. 499. 100. Kong Shangren, “You Shimenshan ji,” Shiwen ji, p. 422. 101. Li Chi, “The Changing Concept,” p. 240. The notorious use of eremitic posture as a vehicle to gain public (or imperial) recognition finds expression in a Chinese idiom “the shortcut of Zhongnan.” During the Tang and Song dynasties, scholars with hidden ambition often retreated to the Zhongnan Mountain close to the capital, Changan. The “hermits” thus easily caught the emperor’s attention, which facilitated their entry into the palace. The Zhongnan Mountain thus became a symbolic “shortcut” to oYcialdom. See “Zhongfang zhuan,” in Tuo Tuo et al., Song Shi, 38:13422 – 13427. 102. Kong Shangren, “Jiashu,” Shiwen ji, p. 204. 103. Kong Shangren, “Zhao tongshe Jiang Yuyuan ji antang shang pengtao,” Shiwen ji, p. 376. 104. See Kong Shangren, “Guijia yezuo,” Shiwen ji, p. 334. 105. In a verse written at the age of sixty, “Pingyang zhuzi ci” (Shiwen ji, p. 402), he presents the image of a historical figure Chen Tuan (?– 989) who refused to be awakened from his “deep slumber” by the wood-knocking of a storyteller. A Song Daoist who repeatedly declined imperial appointments to ranking positions, Chen was an archetype of Chinese hermits; his sleep-addiction, a symbolic withdrawal from political turmoil, is sentimentally associated with the poet’s eremitic mood. In another poem composed at the age of sixty-six, Kong wrote the following lines: I am but a recluse, not a modern-day worthy. Let the magistrate be praised as an ancient sage. I have already surrendered to the decline of my flesh But how can I cease longing to dwell on the mountain.

See Shiwen ji, pp. 224 – 225, as translated in Strassberg, The World, p. 289.


Notes to Pages 149 – 152

106. Since the mid-Tang dynasty, literati’s assertion of authenticity gradually gave way to their psychological adjustment to the court. This trend can be seen in literati’s contentedness with and support for zhongyin (middle eremitism), a way to maintain spiritual transcendence while staying in a nominal, insignificant government position; such an outlook is reflected in the poetry of Bai Juyi, Su Dongpo, and others. For discussion of this trend, see Li Chi, “The Changing Concept,” pp. 241 – 244; Wang Yi, “Zhongguo shidafu yinyi wenhua de xingshuai,” in Wenyi yanjiu (jing) 3 (1989): 63 – 64. 107. See “Dicao” in Siku quanshu zongmu, cited in Wang Yi, “Zhongguo shidafu,” p. 64. For comments on the “mountain men,” see also Shen Defu, Wanli yehuo bian, 2:584 – 587. 108. Li Zhi, “Yu Jiao Ruhou,” in Fenshu (Beijing, 1961), 2:46. For a detailed study of this degenerating trend of eremitism, see Wang Yi, Yuanlin yu Zhongguo wenhua (Shanghai: Shanghai wenyi chubanshe, 1990). One sign of the eroding eremitism is literati’s constant shuZings between service and seclusion, just like changing foods for diVerent flavors when one gets fed up with a single taste. Even Yuan Hongdao, who repeatedly complained about his “concubine” identity as a magistrate, moved back and forth three times between the two realms in his life. 109. See Wang Jizhong, “Chuoren chundengmi jixu,” from Wang Jizhong shizhong, quoted in Wang Yi, “Zhongguo shidafu,” p. 27. 110. For citation of Ruan Dacheng’s bucolic verses, see Wang Yongjian, “Ruan Dacheng pingzhuan,” pp. 205 – 206. 111. “Xu xingcunlu,” cited in Wang Yongjian, “Ruan Dacheng pingzhuan,” p. 207. 112. “The Late Ming Courtesan: Invention of a Cultural Ideal,” p. 70. 113. The phrase “ambivalent generation” is adopted by Lynn A. Struve to refer to the postconquest generation whose admiration, sympathy, and sorrow for the older generation and their reluctant commitment to the new, thriving regime caught them in a moral dilemma; see “Ambivalence and Action,” pp. 324 – 325, 329, 355. 114. Kong Shangren once wrote a moving poem “Visiting the Daoist Zhang Yi at his White Cloud Cottage” (Shiwen ji, p. 162) about the loyalist. 115. Strassberg, “The Peach Blossom Fan,” p. 170.

Chapter Seven: The Dream of the Red Chamber: A Shattered Dream of Androgyny 1. See Angelina C. Yee, “Counterpoise in Honglou meng,” HJAS 50, 2 (1990): 613 – 650, and “Self, Sexuality and Writing in Honglou meng,” HJAS 55, 2 (1995): 373 – 407; Louise Edwards, “Gender Imperative in Honglou meng: Baoyu’s Bisexuality,” CLEAR 12 (1990): 69 – 81; Martin Huang, Literati, pp. 75 – 108. 2. Jing Meijiu et al., Honglou meng buyi, reprint (Beijing: Beijing tushuguan chubanshe, 1996), p. 4a. 3. Yee, “Counterpoise,” p. 633. 4. Ibid., p. 639. 5. Chen Qinghao, comp., Xinbian Shitouji Zhiyan Zhai pingyu jijiao (Beijing: Zhongguo youyi chuban gongsi, 1987), p. 291. 6. The syncreticism of the three philosophical discourses in Baoyu’s characterization are touched upon in this chapter. For full-fledged studies on the philosophical dimen-

Notes to Pages 152 – 156


sions of the work, see Mei Xinlin, Honglou meng zhexue jingshen (Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe, 1995). 7. See Liao Xianhao, “Shuangxing tongti zhi meng: Honglou meng yu Huangye zhi lang zhong shuangxing tongti xiangzheng de yunyong,” Zhongwai wenxue 15, 4 (Sept. 1987): 137 – 141; Louise Edwards, “Baoyu’s Bisexuality,” pp. 79 – 80. 8. Liao Xianhao presents this view twice in his study; see “Shuangxing tongti,” p. 139, and “Shuoyin: Honglou meng beiju de houxiandai chensi,” Zhongwai wenxue 22, 2 (June 1993): 95. 9. Most of these traits are, in fact, used by Edwards to define the two heroines’ genders. See “Baoyu’s Bisexuality,” p. 80. In the revision of this CLEAR article republished in Men and Women, Edwards incorporates a passage from Zhang Xinzhi’s commentary to indicate that “both women embody aspects of both yin and yang” in an eVort to modify her former position (p. 47). Yet Zhang’s quotation remains metaphysical, and her basic argument remains unchanged. 10. Tu Yin, “Honglou meng lunzan,” in Honglou meng juan, comp. Yi Su (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1965), 1:143. This view seems to be quite popular among Qing scholars, for Wang Xilian made a very similar comment in “Honglou meng pingzan,” Honglou meng kaoping liuzhong, reprint (Beijing: Renmin zhongguo chubanshe, 1992), p. 202. 11. Yu, Rereading the Stone, p. 246. 12. Ibid., p. 246. 13. Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 421. 14. Yu Pingbo, Yu Pingbo lun Honglou meng (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1988), p. 466. 15. The theory is developed in Andrew H. Plaks, Archetype and Allegory in the Dream of the Red Chamber (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), pp. 67 – 69, 79, 221, 224; in Dore J. Levy, Ideal and Actual in the Story of the Stone (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), pp. 25 – 26, 131; and Wu Xiaonan, Chai-Dai heyi xinlun (Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian, 1985). Although it was criticized in the early decades after the communist takeover, the theory returns with a vengeance in recent decades in the mainland. For the most representative work, see Bai Dun, Honglou meng xinping (Shanghai: Shanghai wenyi chubanshe, 1986), pp. 89 – 103. 16. To prove the general applicability of the complementarity theory, critics often turn to chapter 42, where a compromise is reached between the two competing lovers when Baochai generously refrains from exposing Daiyu for citing lines in public from two seditious plays. The rapprochement between the two rivals is then interpreted as a kind of mutual appreciation or spiritual union, hence heyi (two-in-one). But in a recent publication, Zheng Peikai argues that this new friendship by no means narrows their ideological distance. In fact, Daiyu’s empathy for the two forbidden dramas resurfaces in chapter 51 when she courageously defends two riddles with allusions to these works, which Baochai with pretentious ignorance tries to purge from their game. Zheng convincingly concludes: “After chapter 42 Daiyu and Baochai have not merged-into-one (heyi) in their attitudes to the two plays” (Tang Xianzu, p. 300). The diYculty in rationalizing the two heroines’ ideological diVerences with the two-in-one theory leads many scholars to seek unique interpretive approaches, which can both eschew the tough issue of ideological difference and yet come to terms with Zhiyan Zhai’s “authority,” without violating their personal convictions. Thus Mei Xinlin resorts to the concepts of “divine union” (shen-


Notes to Pages 156 – 157

yuan) and “secular union” (suyuan) to justify the two heroines’ complementary roles in Baoyu’s life (Zhexue jingshen, 32 – 33). Zheng Peikai seeks the two-in-one pattern in Baochai’s (possible) replacement of Daiyu (hence heyi) as Baoyu’s bride after the latter’s death in critics’ reconstructed last third of the book (Tang Xianzu, p. 300). Liang Guizhi classifies the Baochai-Daiyu relation under the rubric of “Confucian-Daoist complimentarity” rudao hubu, although impulses of both philosophies are apparently palpable in the characterization of both heroines; see Shitouji tanyi (Taiyuan: Shanxi jiaoyu chubanshe, 1992), p. 507. The most significant application of the theory, in my opinion, lies in its adumbration of a central motif of the narrative: the successive destruction of the two heroines by the system reinforces/complements in intensifying the author’s lament over women’s fate (beijin daoyu). Despite their diVerences, or because of their diVerences, Daiyu and Baochai may symbolize the whole womanhood (or the “master” woman, if we choose thus to interpret Zhiyan Zhai’s words), whose ill fortunes court the author’s sympathy (wanyan tongbei). The gist of this view originates in Yu Pingbo’s early writings (Yu Pingbo lun Honglou meng, p. 466), and it gains growing acceptance in recent scholarship. 17. For further elaboration on the symbolic relationship between “penis” and “phallus,” see Kaja Silverman, Male Subjectivity at the Margin (New York: Routledge, 1992), pp. 42 – 45. 18. This view of Lacan’s is explicated by Kaja Silverman in The Subject of Semeiotics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 186. My observation on Lacan’s theory here is indebted to this study. 19. Ibid., p. 186. Michele Montrelay presents this view in “Inquiry into Femininity,” trans. Parveen Adams, in M/F 1 (1978): 83 – 101. 20. Chen Jiru, “Ande zhangzhe yan,” Baoyantang miji, case 13, vol. 3, p. 4b, collected in Baibu congshu jicheng, comp. Yan Yiping, series 18. 21. After he achieved a reputation as a distinguished scholar, Chen Jiru repeatedly declined oVers from the court, revealing a disinclination to get involved in political strife. For discussion of his political stand, see Chen Wanyi, Mingji wenren, pp. 100 – 115. 22. Zhong Xing’s remarks are too verbose to be quoted here in their totality. For the English version of his preface (translated by Zhang Longxi), see Chang and Saussy, Women Writers of Traditional China, pp. 739 – 741; for a brief comment on Zhong Xing’s preface, see Kang-i Sun Chang, “Ming and Qing Anthologies of Women’s Poetry and Their Selection Strategy,” in Widmer and Chang, Writing Women in Late Imperial China, p. 152. 23. “Preface to Mingyuan shigui,” in Chang and Saussy, Women Writers of Traditional China, p. 741. Zhong Xing is by no means the only literatus scholar who valorized female spiritual purity in the late Ming; Zhao Shijie (seventeenth century) echoed this view in his preface to another anthology of female poetry Gu jin nü shi [Female scribes, ancient and modern, 1628]: “It may be that spiritual beauty on this earth dominates in females and not in males” (trans. Haun Saussy, in Chang and Saussy, Women Writers of Traditional China, p. 749). 24. The complex history of this phrase has been traced to an essay composed by Liao Zhongan, which is used by Louise Edwards in her study; see Men and Women, pp. 52 – 54. 25. The Japanese scholar Goyama Kiwamu traces the phrase’s presence to the prefaces of several books published in the late Ming and early Qing; see “Honglou meng zhong de nüren chongbai sixiang he tade yuanliu,” trans. Xia Guangxing, Honglou meng xuekan 1 (2000): 323 – 324.

Notes to Pages 157 – 159


26. The phrase and its variants appear in Songyun shi, Yin Yun meng, p. 1; Yi Ming, Ping Shan Leng Yan, p. 6; Yiqiu sanren, Yu Jiao Li, p. 155. 27. The Chinese edition of the novel that I use here is Cao Xueqin and Gao E, Honglou meng (sanjia pingben), abbreviated as H. In this text H also stands for my translated parts of Cao’s novel if it appears in parentheses that follow a quoted line from the novel. 28. Jia Yun’s endeavor at once reminds one of Ximen Qing’s conduct. In chapter 55 of Jin Ping Mei, Ximen sends a handsome gift to the powerful minister Cai Jing to secure a foster father; in chapter 72, interestingly enough, Ximen accepts a foster son, Wang Sanguan, to facilitate his liaison with the “son’s” mother, Madame Lin. In the fictional worlds of both works, gendered genealogical relation is sought for self-interest in the games of power and sex. 29. Baoyu’s final participation in the civil service examination has often been lamented by critics as a stigma of his “conformism” misconceived by Gao E, whose oYcial career is believed to be responsible for his “garbling” Cao Xueqin’s tale. In seeing Baoyu’s “conformism” in this episode, however, one is blind to the fact that he takes the examination only after he has resolved to retreat from the world. Hence his “entry” serves as a springboard for “exit”; his “conformism” only leads to “non-conformism.” In taking the examination but declining the oYce, Baoyu inadvertently conveys a final note of mockery of the power structure. 30. If an S appears in parentheses following quoted lines from Cao’s novel, it refers to David Hawkes’ and John Minford’s translations in The Story of the Stone (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1973). 31. Lin Fangzhi observes that the names of Baoyu’s male servants, which literally mean “Tealeave,” “The Weeder for Medical Plants,” “The Sweeper of Flowers,” “The Carrier of Clouds,” “The Guide of Streams,” and “Crane Companion,” are in one way or another related to hermetic modes of life. He labels them “signifiers” of the author’s values. See Lin Fangzhi, Honglou meng fuhao jiedu (Huhehaote: Neimenggu daxue chubanshe, 1996), p. 87. 32. Dore Levy, Ideal and Actual, pp. 2, 96 – 97; Anthony Yu, “The Quest of Brother Amour: Buddhist Intimations in The Story of the Stone,” HJAS 49, 1 (June 1989): 55 – 92. For an exclusive Buddhist study of the novel, see Yuan Xiang, Honglou meng yu Chan (Gaoxiong: Fuguang chubanshe, 1992). 33. Zhou Ruchang goes so far as to assert that Cao Xueqin had no belief in Buddhism and Daoism, and alleges that “his faith should be appropriately termed ‘the religion of love’ (qingjiao)”; see “Honglou meng yu qingwenhua,” Honglou meng xuekan 1 (1993): 75. After a strenuous search for textual contradictions, Wai-yee Li sees only “qualified” enlightenment in the hero. Li’s strongest proofs are Baoyu’s final return to the foot of Greensickness Peak—“the root of desire,” according to a Zhiyan Zhai comment—and the monk’s concluding remark that “the [love] karma is not yet complete” (Enchantment and Disenchantment, pp. 174, 246, 256). The apparent inner contradiction of the narrative may suggest Baoyu’s intellectual cognition of the vacuity of love after his mundane experience as well as his sentimental inability to thoroughly purge his emotion. 34. See Burton Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, chap. 14, p. 160. 35. I derive the expression from the title of Ann Waltner’s essay “On Not Becoming a Heroine: Lin Daiyu and Cui Ying-ying,” Signs 15, 1 (autumn 1989): 63 – 89. 36. Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 626. The two lovers’ spiritual aYnity even leads a modern critic to propose another two-in-one theory Bao-Dai heyi lun (the identity of Baoyu


Notes to Pages 159 – 162

and Daiyu), much acclaimed in the field of Redology; see Bai Dun, Honglou meng yanjiushi lun (Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1997), pp. 521 – 522. 37. In the world of the Dream, drinking is often presented in a favorable light as a catalyst for subversive actions rather than an unwholesome addiction. In chapter 104 the besotted Ni Er, nicknamed “Drunken Diamond,” bars the way of Jia Yuchun, the newly promoted mayor, in a symbolic challenge to the corrupted authority. In chapter 7 inebriated Big Jiao utters his well-known censure of household dissipation, which leads Zhang Xinzhi to see in him “the only sober man [among the multitude]” (H 1:7.119). In chapter 62 Shi Xiangyun falls asleep in the garden, intoxicated in flagrant violation of Confucian decorum, yet the highly lyrical touch of the scene makes it a delightful diversion rather than a heretical transgression. For a study on drinking in the Dream, see Xu Zhenhui, “Lun Honglou meng xiezui de yishu yu xinlixue jiazhi,” Honglou meng xuekan 1 (1986): 17 – 30. 38. Epstein, Competing Discourses, p. 88. 39. Yu, Rereading the Stone, p. 241. 40. Dore Levy, Ideal and Actual, p. 132. 41. The play did not survive and its plot is unknown. The details used here all come from chapter 85 of the Dream. For discussion of the possible source of the play, see Dore Levy, Ideal and Actual, p. 178 n. 34; Cao Xueqin, Honglou meng, ed. Zhongguo yishu yanjiuyuan Honglou meng yanjiusuo (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1994), p. 719 n. 3. 42. Kaplan and Sedney, Psychology and Sex Roles, p. 71. 43. Martin Weizong Huang, “Review on Rereading the Stone: Desire and the Making of Fiction in Dream of the Red Chamber,” HJAS 59, 1 (June 1999): 275. 44. Burton Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, chap. 23, p. 254. 45. For discussion of the connotations of heat and cold in Daoism, see Li Binghai, Daojia yu daojiawenxue (Tainan: Liwen wenhua gongsi, 1994), pp. 264 – 279. 46. Liao Xianhao, “Shuangxing tongti,” p. 139. 47. Silverman, The Subject of Semeiotics, p. 185. The cited line is taken from Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punishment (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), p. 202. 48. Liu An, Huainan Zi (Beijing: Yanshan chubanshe, 1996), chap. 6, p. 154; trans. Derk Bodde, “Myth of Ancient China,” in Mythologies of the Ancient World, cited in Andrew Plaks, Archetype, p. 28. Although the context of Nüwa’s feat in maintaining the cosmic order, cited here for its relevance to my discussion, is not mentioned in the text of the Dream, it must have been known to literati, such as Cao Xueqin, for it remains quite consistent from the legend’s first appearance in the Han text, Huainan Zi, to its many variants in later dynasties. For a complete citation of all the versions of the Nüwa legend in Chinese history, see Wang Peiqin, Honglou meng menghuan shijie jiexi (Taipei: Wenjin, 1997), pp. 28 – 29. 49. See Wang Chong, “Tantian pian,” in Lunheng, Sibu congkan (1934; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985), vol. 75, juan 11, 1a. Both Yuan ke and Zhu Danwen believe that Nüwa’s celestial feat had nothing to do with Gong Gong’s cosmic usurpation endeavor, because their episodes appear in diVerent parts of Huainan Zi. In his recent study, however, Anthony Yu expresses conviction in the causal relation between them. See Yuan Ke, Zhongguo shenhua chuanshuo (Beijing: Zhongguo minjian wenyi chubanshe, 1984), pp. 137 – 141; Zhu Danwen, Honglou meng yanjiu (Taipei: Guanya wenhua shiye chuban gongsi, 1991), pp. 2 – 5; Yu, Rereading the Stone, p. 120. In the course of his-

Notes to Pages 162 – 166


tory, the link between the two legendary figures is definitely established in later versions of the Nüwa myth, such as Wang Chong’s “On Balance” and Sima Zheng’s “Three Rulers,” sanhuang benji, where Nüwa is presented restoring the cosmic order that Gong Gong has demolished. For a study on the evolution of Nüwa legend, see Yang Guanghan, Honglou meng: yici lishi de lunhui (Kunming: Yunnan daxue chubanshe, 1990), pp. 243 – 259. 50. Song Zhong, Shiben, cited in Wen Yiduo, Quanji, p. 3. 51. I borrow the term from Edwards, Men and Women, p. 59. 52. Kam-ming Wong is probably the first Western scholar to perceive with insight the gender implication of Nüwa’s mending and its relation to Baochai’s needlework. But in his anxious assertion of “a feminine point of view” in the narrative, he traps himself in contradiction: At one point he claims that “the image of Nüwa’s mending heaven does nothing less than stand the whole neo-Confucian patriarchal orthodoxy on its head”; at another point, he contradicts himself by saying that “the repair of Heaven can be interpreted as an attempt to preserve orthodoxy or the status quo.” See “Point of View and Feminism: Images of Women in Hongloumeng,” in Woman and Literature in China, ed. Ann Gerstlacher et al. (Bochum: Studienverlag Brockmeyer, 1985), pp. 31, 55. 53. See Xu Ke, Qingbei leichao (Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan), vol. 4, 40:17, cited in Song Deyin, “Honglou meng zhong de mansu chutan,” in Honglou meng daguan (Huhehaote: Neimenggu renmin chubanshe, 1991), p. 197. 54. Louise Edwards points out that other maternal figures, such as Lady Wang, Lady Xing, and Aunt Xue, are also “indistinguishable from the men in the symbolic structure set up by Cao”; see Men and Women, p. 59. 55. Zhiyan Zhai observes with insight a matriarch’s obligation to serve patriarchal interest. Commenting on Disenchantment’s endorsement of orthodoxy, he remarks: “Disenchantment is vulgar here, but she has no alternative to be otherwise”; see Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 130. 56. Wai-yee Li, Enchantment and Disenchantment, p. 193. 57. Li Huiyi, “Jinhuan yu yi qing wudao,” Zhongwai wenxue 22, 2 (1993): 33. 58. Yan Anzheng, “Jianmei shenmei lixiang de shibai—lun Cao Xueqin dui Qin Keqing de suzao ji qita,” Honglou meng xuekan 4 (1995): 190; Wai-yee Li, Enchantment and Disenchantment, p. 3; Li Huiyi, “Jinhuan,” p. 96. 59. Although in Chinese mythology Nüwa is not generally regarded as a creator of the universe, her repair of heaven mentioned in Huainan Zi and her creation of human beings referred to in Fengsu tongyi comprise part of the creation process, which Plaks calls “the continuous creation of the transient forms”; see Archetype, p. 30. 60. In recent decades the concept of hundun, the original state of chaos, has gained in its appeal to scholars of all disciplines—scientists, mathematicians, and literary critics. The Taiwan journal Zhongwai wenxue devoted a whole issue in 1993 to introducing and discussing the hundun theory in literary study. Eugene Eoyang made a comparative study of this concept in Eastern and Western literature, “Chaos Misread: Or, There’s Wonton in My Soup!” Comparative Literature Studies 26, 3 (1989): 271 – 282. An application of this theory to the study of Chinese classics is called for; the analysis of the Dream in this and the next sections is a tentative endeavor to fulfil this demand. 61. Liu An in Huainan Zi (p. 161) indicates: “Prior to the formation of Heaven and Earth, there was a state of the shapeless.” The translation is by David C. Yu in “The Cre-


Notes to Pages 166 – 171

ation Myth and Its Symbolism in Classical Taoism,” Philosophy East and West 31, 4 (Oct. 1981): 484. 62. David Yu, “The Creation Myth of Chaos in the Daoist Canon,” Journal of Oriental Studies (Hong Kong) 24, 1 (1986): 2. 63. Eoyang, “Chaos Misread,” p. 275. 64. Norman Girardot, Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism: The Theme of Chaos (huntun) (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), p. 22. 65. Kaplan and Sedney, Psychology and Sex Roles, p. 57. Mircea Eliade indicates that “androgyny is an archaic and universal formula for the expression of wholeness, the coexistence of the contraries, or coincidentia oppositorum,” in Myth, Dream, and Mysteries, trans. Philip Mairet (New York: Harper and Row, 1960), p. 174. 66. Gen. 1:2, New English Bible. 67. See Singer, Androgyny: The Opposites Within, pp. 61 – 68. 68. For English translation of the tale, see Burton Watson, Chuang Tzu, chap. 7, p. 92. 69. Girardot, Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism, p. 133. 70. Burton Watson, Chuang Tzu, chap. 16, p. 172. 71. J. Needham believes that “the boring of the holes symbolizes the diVerentiation of classes, the institution of private property, and the setting up of feudalism”; see Science and Civilization in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956), 2:115. Although such an interpretation is too narrowly predisposed toward making Daoist thought into a socio-political ideology, it is largely valid and sheds light on Baoyu’s nonchalance toward hierarchy, which can be viewed as a hundun entity’s incompatibility to the “diVerentiation of classes.” 72. Girardot, Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism, p. 117; Burton Watson, Chuang Tzu, chap. 16, p. 172. For a more dialectical view on Fu Xi, see Plaks, Archetype, pp. 39 – 40. 73. For an excellent comparison of the concept of “face” between Daoism and Confucianism, see Girardot, Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism, p. 85. 74. For the story of Hongmeng, see Burton Watson, Chuang Tzu, chap. 11, pp. 120 – 123. His name is translated as Big Concealment in Watson’s version. 75. “Shiren ming,” cited in Fu Daobin, “Shitou de yanshuo: Honglou meng xiangzheng shijie de yuanxing piping,” Honglou meng xuekan 1 (1996): 159. 76. Girardot, Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism, p. 95. 77. Eoyang indicates in “Chaos Misread” that “the Chinese word hun-dun belongs to a group of rhyming compounds, alliterative or ‘reduplicated words’—like menglong, mangmang, miaomiao, miaomang. . . . These compounds have a rich oral as well as oracular opacity: they do not designate so much as suggest” (p. 274). David Yu remarks that in Huainan Zi a series of duplicative compounds, such as fengfeng, yiyi, dongdong, zhuzhu, with their onomatopoeia, imitate the original state of Chaos; see “The Creation Myth and Its Symbolism,” p. 484. Miaomiao and mangmang can be put into this group with the water radical they carry like most of its members. While the group of onomatopoeic words in Huainan Zi evoke the aural eVect of an anarchic state, miaomiao and mangmang provoke the visual impression of the obscure, boundless chaos. 78. Daoist literature abounds in works that illustrate this pattern of enlightenment, of which the most well-known are the two chuanqi tales of the Tang dynasty, “The World inside a Pillow” (“Zhen zhong ji”) and “The Tale of the Magistrate of Nanhe” (“Nanhe taishou zhuan”). The Qing commentator Erzhi daoren thus aptly compares the Garden

Notes to Pages 171 – 174


of Total Vision, which indulges Baoyu’s romantic impulses, to immortal Lü’s magic pillow in the chuanqi tale, which ushers a Confucian aspirant into a dream to experience glorious successes in career and marriage before he encounters setbacks and death; see “Honglou meng shuomeng,” in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, p. 92. In each case, frustration after the experience of gratification catalyzes the hero’s vision in the vacuity of human pursuit. 79. Na Zhiliang, “Gudai de zhangyu,” Dalu chazhi 5, 10 (1952): 332, as cited in Jing Wang, The Story of Stone (Durham: Duke University Press, 1992), p. 111. 80. For discussion of the yang attributes of the jade, see Jing Wang, Story of Stone, pp. 70, 111, 122. My understanding of the symbolic implication of jade is much indebted to her study. 81. See Jing Wang, Story of Stone, pp. 119 – 120. 82. Sun Xun, Honglou meng tanjiu (Taipei: Daan chubanshe, 1991), p. 41. 83. For discussion of the confrontation between orthodox Buddhism personified in Tripitaka and Chan Buddhism represented by Monkey in The Journey to the West, see my paper “Carnivalization in The Journey to the West: Cultural Dialogism in Fictional Festivity,” CLEAR 16 (1994): 69 – 92. 84. Fu Daobin, “Shitou de yanshuo,” pp. 157, 161; Anthony Yu, Rereading the Stone, pp. 158, 160; Mei Xinlin, Honglou meng zhexue jingshen, p. 30; Zhou Zhongming, “Lun Honglou meng zhong xie shitou de zheli yiyun he yishu gongneng,” Honglou meng xuekan 3 (1995): 263. 85. Li Yuanzhen, “Honglou meng zhong de meng,” in Honglou meng yanjiu ji (Taipei: Youshi yuekan she, 1973), p. 250. 86. See Jing Wang, Story of Stone, pp. 133 – 138; Kang Laixin, Shitou duhai: Honglou meng sanlun (Taipei: Hanguang wenhua shiye gongsi, 1986), pp. 232 – 233. 87. The concept of dushan is illustrated both in the teachings of Confucius and Mencius. Confucius remarks that “the Way makes no progress. I shall get upon a raft and float out to sea” (Waley, The Analects of Confucius, p. 108). Mencius indicates that “if poor, they attended to their own virtue in solitude” (Legge, The Works of Mencius, p. 453). 88. In his study of Chinese eremitism, Wolfgang Bauer remarks: “The conception of the [Confucian] hermit . . . is practically identical to that of the Taoist, who took a stand against life in society on principle”; see “The Hidden Hero,” p. 163. 89. Jing Wang, Story of Stone, p. 132. 90. My quote here is taken from the explanatory part to the sixteenth hexagram yu in Richard Wilhelm’s translation, The I Ching (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), p. 67. For the Chinese version of the hexagram and its explanation, see Shisanjing zhushu, 1:49. 91. Zhu Tong, Honglou meng sanlun (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe, 1992), p. 31. 92. See Honglou meng da cidian, ed. Li Xifan and Feng Qiyong (Beijing: Wenhua yishu chubanshe, 1990), p. 171. 93. In Ink Plum (p. 53), Maggie Bickford traces the image of the moral triad in a poem, “Zao mei” [An early plum tree], by the Tang poet Zhu Qingyu. She believes that Zhu perhaps initiated the convention of combining the three plants into a symbol of virtue. 94. Zheng Banqiao, one of the Eight Eccentric Painters of Yangzhou, was deposed from his county magistracy for releasing a government subsidy to flooded areas without getting permission from his superior. Like Cao Xueqin, he experienced poverty and often


Notes to Pages 174 – 178

inscribed his political/ideological marginality in the unbridled and eccentric style of his artworks. He is most celebrated for painting bamboo and stone, which all figure prominently in Cao Xueqin’s novel and painting. For a study of the spiritual kinship between Cao Xueqin and Zheng Banqiao, see Zeng Yanghua, “Cao Xueqin yu Zheng Banqiao,” Honglou meng xuekan 3 (1984): 185 – 205. 95. For a detailed analysis of the jade image along this line, see Yee, “Self, Sexuality,” pp. 393 – 394. 96. For discussion of the religious symbolism in the concept of “home,” see Anthony Yu, “Religion and Literature in China: The ‘Obscure Way’ of The Journey to the West,” in Tradition and Creativity: Essays on East Asian Civilization, ed. Ching-I Tu (New Brunswick and Oxford: Transaction Books, 1987), pp. 130 – 133. 97. For Buddhist reading of Baoyu’s second visit to the Land of Illusion, see Anthony Yu, Rereading the Stone, p. 153; Dore Levy, Ideal and Actual, p. 97. 98. Haun Saussy, “Reading and Folly in Dream of the Red Chamber, CLEAR 9 (1987): 40. 99. Plaks made an exhaustive inquiry into the sources of the term daguan, which he renders “total vision,” a term that I adopt here; see Archetype, pp. 178 – 182. After examining its potential implications in Yi Jing, Zhuang Zi, and many other literary texts, he concludes convincingly that in the Dream it refers to “the ideal of vast vision within enclosed space” (p. 181). 100. In Huainan Zi, the primordial chaos is described in ten words, most of which carry a water radical. 101. Here the division of two worlds in Yu Yingshi’s well-known essay is certainly relevant; see Honglou meng de liangge shijie (Taipei: Lianjing chubanshe, 1979). 102. Keith McMahon aptly observes that men and women in the Dream are suspended “in an adolescent state suggestive of androgyny”; see Misers, p. 289. 103. Hsien-hao Liao, “Tai-yu or Pao-chai: The Paradox of Existence as Manifested in Pao-yu’s Existential Struggle,” Tamkang Review 15, 1 – 4 (1989): 491. Chi Xiao similarly observes that in the Garden of Total Vision “concupiscence seems suspended”; see “The Garden as Lyric Enclave,” p. 99. C. T. Hsia indicates that the hero is not a “lover” in the normal sense; see The Classic Chinese Novel, p. 266. 104. Wai-yee Li, Enchantment and Disenchantment, p. 213; Li Huiyi, “Jinghuan,” p. 60; Epstein, Competing Discourses, pp. 173 – 184; Martin Huang, Desire and Fictional Narrative, pp. 282 – 294. 105. Hsia, The Classic Chinese Novel, p. 267; Angela Jung Palandri, “Women in Dream of the Red Chamber,” in Literature East and West 12, 2 – 3 (1968): 230 – 231. 106. See Edwards, “Baoyu’s Bisexuality,” p. 76; Martin Huang, Literati, p. 92. 107. Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 130. 108. McMahon, Misers, p. 201. 109. See Ping-leung Chan, “Myth and Psyche in Hong-lou meng,” in Critical Essays on Chinese Fiction, ed. Winston L. Y. Yang and Curtis P. Adkins (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1980), p. 169; Edwards, “Baoyu’s Bisexuality,” p. 75. 110. Zi Xu, Cao Xueqin hua Honglou: ernü qingchang (Taipei: Yada tushu chubanshe, 1995), p. 214. 111. For Kang Zhengguo’s illuminating discussion of homosexuality in the Dream, to which my observation here is indebted, see Chongshen fengyuejian, pp. 152 – 158. For another discussion on the subject, see Chen Yiyuan, “Honglou meng li de tongxinglian,”

Notes to Pages 178 – 187


in Cong Jiaohong ji dao Honglou meng (Shenyang: Liaoning guji chubanshe, 1996), pp. 320 – 345. 112. In recent scholarship on the Dream, scholars tend to emphasize the sexual dimension of Baoyu’s relationships with the girls around him, to associate the qing he embodies with yu (desire) and to question the distinction between his spiritual love and the lust of flesh; see Martin Huang, Desire and Fictional Narrative, pp. 284 – 293. As an emotional attachment between two sexes, qing, of course, often connotes yu. But in Baoyu’s characterization the spiritual dimension of qing is emphasized to such an extent that he almost personifies the antithesis to yin (lust, the possessive aspect of desire). Although the narrative presents his sex with Aroma, its description is kept to a minimum, revealing a deliberate endeavor to downplay the sexual dimension of his relationship with the fair sex. Conditioned by the patriarchal culture wherein he grows up, Baoyu occasionally adopts vulgar language in reference to women, yet his attitude to women is anything but lusty, as shown in his deep sympathy and profound admiration for Caltrop (Xiangling) and Faithful (Yuanyang), the very victims of possessive love and physical lust. In conceiving Baoyu and his negative counterparts such as Xue Pan, Jia She, and Jia Lian, the author, one is tempted to believe, intends to throw into relief the contrasting values of qing and yin. It is such a conviction, I believe, that leads to Zhiyan Zhai’s observation quoted here. 113. Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 543. 114. For pioneering works that propose this line of thinking, see Liu Xiaofeng, Xiaoyao yu zhengjiu (Taipei: Fengyun shidai chubanshe, 1990), pp. 62 – 71; Dai Wujun, “Lun Cao Xueqin dui rensheng fangshi de xin tansuo,” Honglou meng xuekan 3 (1994): 167 – 175. 115. Commenting on these names, Zhiyan Zhai observes that “they are vulgar and yet they transcend vulgarity”; see Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 158. 116. Cai Yijiang, Honglou meng shici qufu pingzhu (Beijing: Beijing chubanshe, 1980), pp. 6 – 7. 117. See Cao Xueqin, Honglou meng, ed. Zhongguo yishu yanjiuyuan Honglou meng yanjiusuo, p. 298. The word ti appears only in gengchen editions; in Cheng-Gao editions it is mei (younger sister). Cai Yijiang believes that the appearance of mei reveals later editors’ failure to catch the gender ambiguity in the original text; see Shici qufu pingzhu, p. 184. 118. For discussion of the symbolic relationship between flowers and maidens as a rhetorical pattern in the narrative, see Xiao, “Garden as Lyric Enclave,” pp. 95 – 97. 119. Song Qi, “Lun Daguan Yuan,” Daguan yuan yanjiu ziliao huibian, comp. Wenhua bu wenxue yishu yanjiuyuan (1979), p. 56; Zhang Jingchi, Honglou shierlun (Tianjin: Baihua wenyi chubanshe, 1982), p. 303. 120. Tu Yin, “Honglou meng lunzan,” in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, p. 130. 121. In his analysis of the three poems on plum blossoms composed respectively by Xing Xiuyan, Li Wen, and Xue Baoqin in chapter 50, Hu Wenbin convincingly argues that the plum spirit in these verses is associated with Miaoyu’s will to pursue love as a normal human being. See “Honglou meng li de zhu yu mei,” Honglou meng xuekan 1 (1983): 216 – 217. 122. In the Dream, plum blossom is also emblematic of Baoqin’s beauty (H 1:50.808 – 9), Daiyu’s purity (H 1:37.586, 1:50.802), and Li Wan’s and Baochai’s virtues (H 2:63.1037,


Notes to Pages 187 – 189

2:110.1809). For discussion of Li Wan’s and Baochai’s plum-identity, see Plaks, Archetype, pp. 64, 70. Notwithstanding his sympathy for them, Cao Xueqin remains somewhat ambivalent toward the conservative female types that Li Wan and Baochai represent. While he praises Li Wan’s willpower for remaining chaste, by comparing her to an old plum tree in defiance of chill and frost, he seems to mock her suppression of humanity in her obedient compliance to orthodoxy by arranging her residence at Fragrant Rice Village, the most “unnatural” scene in the garden landscape. Mild mockery is also perceptible in the well-known image associated with her chastity, gaomu sihui “[with a body] like the limb of a withered tree and [a mind] like dead ashes” (H 1:4.57), which originates in the Daoist classic Zhuang Zi (Burton Watson, Chuang Tzu, chap. 23, p. 254). Since the lady purges her desire to conform to neo-Confucian imperatives and is apparently free from any Daoist sentiment, the Daoist epithet used in describing her chastity cannot but carry satirical implication. 123. Mei Yaochen, Mei Yaochen ji biannian jiaozhu, ed. Zhu Dongren (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1980), 2:575, cited in Chen Zhaoxiong, Lun zhongguo zhi huahui, p. 54. 124. See Mei Yaochen’s poem “Jushuang,” in Biannian jiaozhu, p. 488. 125. See Mei Yaochen’s poem “Xiehou mufurong,” in Biannian jiaozhu, p. 575. 126. Jiean jushi, “Wu shixuan Shitouji jiping,” in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, 1:188. 127. At Baoyu’s birthday party, in chapter 63, the lot that Daiyu draws bears the name of the hibiscus flower. Although Skybright is believed to have become the Hibiscus Goddess after her death, in Baoyu’s final visit to the Precinct of Celestial Visitants, the Hibiscus Goddess there turns out to be Daiyu. See also Zhiyan Zhai’s commentary in Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 692. 128. In Chai-Dai heyi xinlun, Wu Xiaonan indicates the flower’s association with Daiyu and Baochai in every poem composed at the initial gathering of the poetry club to support his two-in-one theory (pp. 18 – 20). For a more detailed study of the flower’s association with the female garden residents, see Tao Xianhuai and Tao Jian, “Linqi jidian xiangsilei, dixiang jieqian fahaitang: shilun Honglou meng de yanmu he baihaitangshi” Zhongguo wenxue yanjiu (Changsha) 2 (1995): 80 – 88. 129. Wu Xiaonan, Chai-Dai heyi xinlun, pp. 22 – 23. 130. Dore Levy, Ideal and Actual, p. 64. Levy also indicates its relation to the loss of jade, a point that I develop in this chapter. 131. Zhang Ailing, Honglou meng yan (Dalian: Dalian chubanshe, 1996), p. 245. 132. The spiritual aYnity between the two flowers is caught in the last line in a poem that Daiyu composes at the first gathering of the Crab-flower Club: “The crab-flower borrows a soul from the plum blossom” (H 1:137.586). That among all the poets Daiyu composes such a line reveals her kinship to the spirit of plum blossom and crab flower. 133. Erzhi daoren, “Honglou meng shuomeng,” in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, 1:86. 134. Chi Xiao, “The Garden as Lyrical Enclave,” p. 233; Hsia, The Classic Chinese Novel, p. 280. 135. Zhu Danwen, Honglou meng yanjiu, p. 162. Zhu believes that the purse as Pan’s love token, which appears in Cheng-Gao editions, is a later change, from the gengchen edition (p. 163). 136. In her appeal to her mother in chapter 92, Si Qi seems to imply that she has lost

Notes to Pages 189 – 192


virginity to her lover (H 2:92.1516). But that episode may be taken either as one of the many cases of minor deviations from the earlier eighty chapters or as Si Qi’s deliberate exaggeration of her relationship with her cousin to press for maternal consent. 137. In describing Si Qi’s alarm upon the discovery of her tryst, Cao Xueqin uses the term zeiren danxu “the trepidation of a thief ” (H 2:71.1177). The pejorative connotation of the term seems to conflict with the defiant and dignified air in which the girl accepts the disastrous consequences of her chosen love, in chapter 74. Bai Dun attributes the use of such a term to Cao’s preference for “the passion not yet aroused,” weifa zhiqing, to the “aroused passion,” yifa zhiqing; see “Shilun Gao E xushu zhi chenggong,” cited in Honglou meng yanjiushi lun, p. 543. 138. The place where Faithful discovers Chess’ rendezvous with her cousin is significantly presented as “a good spot under a large osmanthus tree behind a Tai-hu rock” (S 3:71.414). Zhang Xinzhi observes a correlation between Bao-Dai love and Chess–Pan Youan romance in his perceptive remark: “Here wood and stone are deliberately alluded to, a crucial point in this chapter” (H 2:71.1177). 139. For further discussion on the motif of hundun, see my “Chaos and the Gourd in The Dream of the Red Chamber,” T’oung Pao 87, 4 – 5 (2001): 1 – 37. 140. Owing to the uncertain authorship of the final forty chapters of the Dream, this study of Cao Xueqin’s gender status in relation to the theme of androgyny in the Dream will be limited to the first eighty chapters, although generally accepted plots, such as Baoyu’s final exit, will not be strictly excluded. 141. Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 12. 142. Ibid., p. 6. 143. For discussion on Cao Xueqin’s identity crisis, see Martin Huang, Literati, p. 85. Jonathan D. Spence delineates the crisis that the Cao family experienced under the Yongzheng regime (1723 – 1735), in Ts’ao Yin and the K’ang-hsi Emperor: Bondservant and Master (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), pp. 282 – 292. In his study of Cao Yin’s (1658 – 1712) poetry, Wu Meilu even perceives frustration and alienation by Cao Xueqin’s grandfather in the pinnacle of his career, when he was serving as a textile commissioner for Kangxi Emperor; see “Cao Xueqin he Cao Yin de sixiang jicheng guanxi,” in Honglou meng lunji, ed. Zhongguo zuojia xuehui Guizhou fenghui Honglou meng yanjiuzu (Guiyang: Guizhou renmin chubanshe, 1983), pp. 41 – 91. 144. It is generally believed that after his usurpation of the throne, Yongzheng Emperor started purging some members of the Cao family owing to their connections to his rivals, their incompetence, and the huge deficits they created. See Zhou Ruchang, Honglou meng xinzheng (Beijing: Huayi chubanshe, 1998), 2:472 – 524. Although Zhang Shucai, relying on his analysis of a recently discovered document, asserts that Cao Fu, commonly taken to be Cao Xueqin’s uncle/foster father, was incriminated, deposed, shackled, and deprived of his property for pinching wealth from local government in carrying out an oYcial mission, most critics tend to see politics as a hidden factor for the precipitating decline of Cao’s family fortune. For Zhang’s argument, see “Xinfaxian de Cao Fu huozui dangan shiliao qianxi,” Honglou meng yanjiu jikan 10 (1983): 313 – 320. 145. Martin Huang, Literati, pp. 86, 93 – 94. In his comment about the verse prediction of Tanchun’s fate in chapter 5, Zhiyan Zhai also notes it is “a line of lamentation and it refers to the author himself ”; see Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 121. 146. Anthony Yu, Rereading the Stone, p. 232.


Notes to Pages 192 – 194

147. This episode is hinted at in a poem “Ti Qinqi jushi” [To the hermit Qinqi] composed by Xueqin’s friend Zhang Yiquan; see Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, 1:8. Both Zhou Ruchang and Wu Enyu in their biographical studies of Cao Xueqin tend to accept its validity; see Cao Xueqin xiaozhuan (Beijing: Huayi chubanshe, 1998), p. 168; Cao Xueqin congkao (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1980), p. 72. 148. For Cao Xueqin’s transcendent mood in the last years of his life, see Dun Cheng, “Ku fu zaiwen” [An elegy], in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, 1:4. 149. For discussion of this pattern in the Dream, see Edwards, Men and Women, pp. 50 – 67. 150. Ibid., p. 58. 151. Jing Meijiu sees in the episode Lin Daiyu’s antipathy to Baoyu’s homoerotic attachment to Prince of Northern Tranquility; see Honglou meng buyi, p. 16b. Zhou Ruchang indicates hidden meaning in the episode, but refrains from further exploration; see Zhou Ruchang and Zhou Lunling, Honglou meng yu zhongguo wenhua (Beijing: Gongren chubanshe, 1989), p. 162. Zhu Danwen reminds us of its possible allusion to the internal conflicts in the Cao family, which, she believes, contribute to the decline of Cao Xueqin’s fortune; see Honglou meng lunyuan (Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 1992), pp. 106 – 114. Chen Zhao relates the “coarse man” to Yongzhen Emperor and perceives in the episode Cao’s defiance of the royal power; see Honglou meng xiaokao (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1985), p. 364. My argument presented in this chapter may be viewed as developed from Chen’s observation. 152. This modifier appears in jiaxu, yimao, gengchen, Qixuben, liecangben, Menggu wangfu ben, and youzheng editions. 153. See Cao Xueqin, Honglou meng bashi hui jiaoben, ed. Yu Pingbo (Hong Kong: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 1:143. The editor indicates in his preface that he has compared many editions and selected the most suitable wordings in his version, which he claims to be closest to Cao Xueqin’s original (pp. 20 – 21). I have also seen the second modifier, jiling, with grass radicals in some versions of Qixuben and liecangben. 154. This modifier appears in Chengjia, Chengyi, Chengbin, Chengding, and jiachen editions. 155. Although ji with a grass radical on top is defined as a kind of grass, its combination with ling cannot be found in any major Chinese dictionaries, including the Kangxi dictionary compiled in the Qing dynasty. The third term, lingling, does not appear in any Chinese dictionary except for Hanyu da cidian, ed. Luo Zhufeng et al. (Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian, 1993), 9:562, but the source it gives is none other than the sentence in the Dream under our discussion. Since its presence in the Dream itself is controversial, its entry in Hanyu da cidian without any other antecedent source does not prove its valid existence in Chinese. 156. Pan Baoming, “Honglou meng huaniao yuanyi,” in Honglou meng daguan (Huhehaote: Neimenggu renmin chubanshe, 1991), p. 521; Martin Huang, Literati, p. 185 n. 44; Chen Zhao, Xiaokao, p. 363. 157. For a study of Cao Xueqin’s punning propensity in naming characters and places for symbolic eVect, see Vincent Yang, “The Symbolism of Naming in Dream of the Red Chamber,” Tamkang Review 22, 1 – 4 (autumn 1991 –summer 1992): 305 – 313; Michael Yang, “Naming in Honglou meng,” CLEAR 18 (1996): 69 – 100. 158. See The Book of Songs, trans. Arthur Waley, pp. 135 – 136.

Notes to Pages 194 – 195


159. Chen Qinghao, Xinbian, p. 50. 160. For critics’ diVerent interpretations of these lines in Zhiyan Zhai commentary, see Shih-chang Wu, On the Red Chamber Dream: A Critical Study of Two Annotated Manuscripts of the XVIIIth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), p. 119; Zhu Danwen, Honglou meng lunyuan, p. 112; Martin Huang, Literati, pp. 87, 185. 161. Cao Xueqin’s closest friends, Dun Cheng (1734 – 1791) and Dun Min (1729 – 1796), descended from a royal line that was defeated in the power struggle with the Yongzheng emperor. Cao’s political, social, and spiritual aYnity for such marginalized members of the royal family may partly account for his adoption of the bird image in naming the royal gift. 162. Relevant to my argument here is Yu Pingbo’s article “Cao Xueqin zibi Lin Daiyu,” in Yu Pingbo lun Honglou meng, pp. 717 – 721. Also see Qu Mu, “Honglou shaoying,” Guizhou daxue xuebao (March 1993): 63 – 69; Li Xiaojie, “Gubiao aoshi xiesheiyin: lun Cao Xueqin de wenren qingjie yu Lin Daiyu de xingge mingyun,” Honglou meng xuekan 2 (1999): 337 – 345. 163. Zhou Ruchang, Xiaozhuan, pp. 82 – 87. 164. Dun Min, “Ti Qinpu huashi” [Inscription on the painting of a Stone by Qinpu], in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, 1:6. 165. Dun Cheng’s verse goes, “He squints at the world in the manner of Ruan Ji (Bubing baiyan).” See “Zeng Cao Xueqin” [To Cao Xueqin], in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, 1:1. 166. Dun Min, “Ti Qinpu huashi,” in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, 1:6. 167. The fact that Cao adopted this title in rejection of another one granted by his parents reveals a conscious inscription of his personal identity in the name; see Zhou Ruchang, Xiaozhuan, pp. 212 – 213. 168. See Zhou Ruchang, Xiaozhuan, pp. 3 – 6, 213. 169. See Zhou Cecong’s preface in Zhou Ruchang, Xiaozhuan, p. 7. 170. Though Cao Xueqin may not consistently identify himself with the floral spirits Daiyu, Skybright, and Miaoyu, his “cold-defying” spirit is certainly discernible in their characterizations through what we might call sporadic allegorical touches. 171. Zhang Yiquan, “Ti Qinqi jushi” [To Qinqi, the hermit], “Shang Qinqi jushi” [An elegy to Qinqi, the hermit], in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, 1:8. 172. See Dun Cheng, “Zeng Cao Xueqin” [To Cao Xueqin]; “Lianju” [Linked lines]; Dun Min, “Zeng Qin Pu” [To Qin Pu], in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, pp. 1, 3, 7. For an exploration of Cao Xueqin’s hermetic modes of life in the existent poetry of his friends, see Hu Wenbin, Honglou meng tanwei (Beijing: Huayi chubanshe, 1997), pp. 137 – 155. 173. See Dun Cheng, “Ku fu zaiwen,” in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, p. 4. 174. Ibid., p. 4. 175. “Shitou yishuo,” in Yi Su, Honglou meng juan, 1:184. While it is an exaggeration to claim Cao Xueqin’s thorough detachment, it is also myopic to deny any Buddhist/Daoist sentiment in the author because of his aYnity to the cult of qing. Like many frustrated literati of his time, such as his ardent admirer Yong Zhong (1735 – 1793), another descendant from a royal line in disfavor, he most likely may have turned to religion for spiritual consolation.


Notes to Pages 195 – 198

Chapter Eight: Conclusion: Androgyny as Literary Trend and Strategy in Fashioning Chinese Literati Identity 1. For discussion of such “spaces” and how women manipulated them for extending their zone in society, see Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, pp. 8, 9, 12, 14, 115, 119, 122, 132, 136, 145, 247, 250, 273, 274, 292, 293. 2. Zhang Xuan, Xiyuan wenjian lu, 1:255. 3. Ibid., p. 260. 4. Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, p. 140. 5. One of the Verses of Five Beauties that Daiyu composes is dedicated to Hongfu, whom she entitles nü zhangfu (H 2:64.1059). Despite her worship of the androgyne, she lacks the pluck to follow suit. The psychological conflict of the heroine is well observed by Paul Ropp when he remarks that female characters in the Dream and Six Chapters of a Floating Life are caught between two worlds in several senses: “orthodoxy and heterodoxy, duty and freedom, family aspirations and individual inspirations, and finally, the past and the future.” See “Between Two Worlds: Women in Shen Fu’s Six Chapters of a Floating Life,” in Woman and Literature in China, ed. Anna Gerstlacher et al., p. 134. 6. From mid-seventeenth century, with the spread of literacy among females, educated women began to create androgynous characters in their writings, prominently in the genre of tan ci narrative. Three works of gigantic volume stand out in this group, Tianhua yu [Heaven raining flowers], Zaisheng yuan [Destiny of the next life], and Bi shenghua [Flowers of literature], all penned by women with frustrating life experience. In Zaisheng yuan, the heroine, Meng Lijun, masquerades as a man, passes the imperial examination with flying colors, and finally serves as a prime minister for her country. Bi Shenghua presents another male impersonator, who not only saves her country at a critical moment as a military leader but even sneaks into the imperial palace at midnight to save the life of the emperor. The fantastic feats that the female heroes perform in these works are even beyond male capacity. For discussion of these three works, see Zhang Yanping, “Ming Qing nüxing tanci wenxue guanjian,” Xinyang shifan xueyuan xuebao 4 (1998): 69 – 73; Marina H. Sung, The Narrative Art of Tsai-Sheng Yüan: A Feminist Vision in Traditional Confucian Society (Chinese Materials Center Publications, 1994). In her indepth analysis of Zaisheng yuan, Ping Wang views Meng Lijun as “a great heroine in man’s robe, a prime minister with lotus feet” (p. 177), indicating that “she is neutral— both male and female and neither male nor female—a genuine androgyne” (Aching for Beauty, p. 221). The motif of androgyny also appears in the two plays depicting Huang Chonggu’s life, Heyuan ji [The tale of primordial harmony] by Liang Xiaoyu and Qiankun quan [The circle of yin and yang] by Zhang Lingyi, in Wang Jun’s Quanfu ji [A tale of complete happiness], He Peizhu’s Lihua meng [The dream of a beauty] and Ye Xiaowan’s Yuanyang meng [Mandarin ducks’ dream]. For a brief discussion of some of these works, see Xu Fuming, “Ming Qing nüzhuojia he zhuoping chutan,” in Yuan Ming Qing xiqu tansuo (Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1986), pp. 265 – 280. 7. For a discussion of these poems, see Xu Fuming, “Liang Chenyu de shengping he ta chuangzhuo Huansha ji de yitu,” in Song Yuan Ming Qing xiqu yanjiu luncong (Hong Kong: Dadong tushu gongsi, 1979), pp. 65 – 73. 8. See Kong Shangren, “Liubie Wang Yuanting xiansheng,” in Shiwen ji, p. 363.

Notes to Pages 201 – 205


9. Not only literati scholars but also female loyalists identified themselves spiritually with Qu Yuan during the Ming-Qing transition. It was recorded in an unoYcial history of the Southern Ming that when a girl was arrested by an invading army, she plunged into a river to avoid being humiliated, in a similar manner to Qu Yuan’s martyrdom. Moreover, in a suicide note discovered in her clothes, she wrote that in her youth she often read the poems of Qu Yuan, who apparently inspired her martyred death. See Ji Liuqi, Mingji nanlüe, 2:1190. 10. For a discussion of the lyric vision in the Dream, see Yu-Kung Kao, “Lyric Vision in Chinese Narrative: A Reading of Hung-lou Meng and Ju-lin Wai-shih,” Chinese Narrative, Critical and Theoretical Essays, ed. Andrew H. Plaks (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), pp. 227 – 243; Xiao, “The Garden as Lyric Enclave,” pp. 56 – 84, 87 – 163. 11. Kong Shangren, “Liubie Wang Yuanting xiansheng,” in Shiwen ji, p. 363. 12. Hsien-yi Yang and Gladys Yang, trans., The Dream of Red Mansions (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1978), p. 1. 13. Yanshui sanren, Nücaizi shu, p. 2. 14. Kong Shangren, Taohua shan, p. 6. 15. “Self and Family in the Hung-lou meng: A New Look at Lin Tai-yü as Tragic Heroine,” CLEAR 2, 2 (July 1980): 199. 16. But when she found the dramatist to be already an old man with snow-white hair and a stooped body, it is said, she was so disappointed that she committed suicide. See You Tong, “Genzhai zashuo,” in TXZZL, 2:881. 17. For a detailed description of Wang Duanshu’s use of Huang Chonggu in selfdefense and her cross-gender professional activities, see Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, pp. 126 – 137. 18. Louis A. Montrose, “Professing the Renaissance: The Poetics and Politics of Culture,” in The New Historicism, ed. H. Aram Vesser (New York: Routledge, 1989), p. 23. 19. Ibid., p. 23. 20. Stephen Greenblatt, “The Circulation of Social Energy,” in Shakespearean Negotiations (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), pp. 6 – 7. 21. See de Bary, “Individualism,” p. 197; Hegel, The Novel in Seventeenth-Century China, p. 43. 22. Ray Huang, 1587, A Year of No Significance, p. 189. For discussion of the limitation of Li Zhi’s liberalism, see Gong Pengcheng, Wanming sichao (Taipei: Liren shuju, 1994), p. 6. 23. Feng Menglong, Xin zeng zhi nang bu, cited in Handlin, “Lü Kun’s New Audience,” p. 29. 24. Ibid., cited in Handlin, “Lü Kun’s New Audience,” p. 19. The wide currency of this saying in the late Ming reveals male ambivalence to female literacy at the time. For discussion of the talent/virtue debate during the Ming-Qing period, see Kang-i Sun Chang, “Ming-Qing Women Poets and the Notions of ‘Talent’ and ‘Morality,’ ” pp. 236 – 258. 25. The reason for Xu Wei’s murder of his wife is only vaguely hinted at in historical records. In their study of Xu Wei’s life and philosophy, Luo Yuming and He Shengsui also indicate the ambivalence in his attitude toward women; see Xu Wenchang pingzhuan (Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1987), p. 125.


Notes to Pages 205 – 208

26. Christopher Lupke, “Review on China in a Polycentric World: Essays in Chinese Comparative Literature,” JAS 59, 1 (Feb. 2000): 166. 27. Kong Shangren, “Zhu Zuo ruren liushi shou xu,” in Huhai ji, p. 212. 28. Jia Baoyu’s gender migration from the masculine to the feminine emerges as a prominent exception to this trend, which reveals, to a ceratin extent, Cao Xueqin’s ideological superiority. But Cao, of course, was indebted to advanced thinkers before him.

Notes to Page 208



ai wangba  an  aogu  Baigui zhi  baihu dangtou lanlu  !"# Baishi gong  Baizi shanjiao  ! Bao-Dai heyi lun  !" baonu  baozai huaizhong  ! bei  beijin daoyu  ! Bencao gangmu  ! Bi shenghua  bianli yinyang  ! bingliang yamen  ! bubing baiyan  ! caizhi  caizi  Chai-Dai heyi  ! chidi dangquan yao taixu 


chou  chuanqi  Chunmei shi kuangren  !" chushi zhangfu  !

ci  cili ciqi  da zhangfu  daiyu  dan  dashi  di  Dingqing ren  dongdong  dongshou dongjiao  douhan tu  du  duanyang  duoqing zhong  dushan  erda jiaozhu  ! fafen  fafen zhushu  ! fafen zigong  ! fanjing congquan  ! fei bi jinguo er shirenzhe suo ganwang ye 


feiren  Feiyu  fengfeng  fenghan 

fengliu  Feng qiu huang  fu  fumuguan  gaihui qiangqing  ! gangqiang  gongqie  Gu yi  guafu zhi yeku  !" guandao  guige tingwei zizhuan  !"# guige zhaozhuan  ! Guyin nü shi  ! haochunye, er yipai yinshu 


haohan  haojie  haoqiu  Haoqiu zhuan  haoran zhiqi  ! heyi  Heyuan ji  hongmeng  Hongniang  hongyuan  houfei zhide  ! hu  ! hua  huaben  Huanghu ge  Huanhun  Huanxi yuanjia  ! Huanzhong zhen  huijia  hundun  hunjia zhuanyao touhan  !"# hunjun  hunshi mowang  ! hunyou  huzhong meinü  ! jiachong yangzi  ! jiaren   jiling  jiling zhibei, tangdi zhiwei 



jiliu yongtui  !


jin  jinchihu  jinfeng  jinghuan  jinlian  jinliandeng  jinlian wanzhan  ! jinshi  jinyu liangyuan  ! jiuse zhiyin  ! junzi  jushuang  kuangchan  kunqu  kuzidang li ruan  !" lao zuzong  lenggong  leng meiren  lengshu  lian  liang  Liangjiao hun  liangzhi  lie zhangfu  Lin Lan Xiang  lingling  lingshuang ye huamao  !" lishen yangming  ! liuchao jinfen  ! longyangjun  luanlun  luanshi weiwang  ! Lunheng  luonan gongzi  ! mangmang  Mangmang dashi  mayan  Meinü pian  menglong  mi le lu  miaomiao  miaomang  Miaomiao zhenren  minggen zi  mingxing  moshi mowang 


Mudan rongru zhi  !" Naileng daoren  ! Nanke taishou zhuan  !" nanzihan  ni  niben xiashan  ! ningwei yusui buwei waquan 


%$nü zhangfu  nüzhong zhangfu  ! nü zhuangyuan  pin  Pinnü xing  qi nüzi  qianqing  Qiankun quan  qie  qiefu zhidao  ! qijie  Qinfang quanqi  ! qingdan  qingjiao  Qingmeng tuo  Qingming  qingtong  Qiting ji  quan  Quanfu ji  re  redu  renjie wei xiari  !" renwu gangqiang, anshen bulao 


rouruan  ru  Ruqi  Ruan/ruan  Ruan huzi  ruanru biti  ! rudao heyi  ! rudao hubu  ! rushi jieer  ! Sanhuang benji  ! saoren  saoren yunshi  ! seng 

shamen bujing wanzhe lun 


shanghan  shanzhong gaoshi wo  !" Shenghua meng  shenwei xiajian, xinbi tiangao 


shenyuan  shesao  shi  Shichaoyuan  Shigong  shiju  Shitou jushi  ! Shitian  shinian hanchuang  ! shiwai taoyuan  ! shou tiandi jinghua  !" Shutong  si  suihan sanyou  ! Sunü jing  suyuan  taiji tu  tanduo jiao bu lan  !" Tangdi  tanmin  Taohua renmian  ! !" taozhi yaoyao  tianbu jianfu, dibu zhouzai 


%$tiandi jian lingshu zhiqi zhi zhongyu nüzi 


Tianhau yu  tijian jinqiang  ! titie  tongxin  touliang huanzhu  ! touxiang qieyu  ! toumu sensen  tuogen di suibei  !" wangba bingju  ! wangzhe qi  wanyan tongbei  ! wanyue  weiyou 



wenren hua  wenxi  wo bugan cong chunü shishenye 

yinhan  yingxiong shilu tuozu wumen zhibei 


wosuo youxi, hongmeng taikong... miaomiao mangmang xi, guibi dahuang  !"#$% =K=K=K 


wuseshi  Wu song  wuxi  xiangcao meiren  ! xiangu  Xiangjun  xiaoren  xiaru  xieyi  xing  xinkou  xingling  xinru sihui  ! xuanang chuzhong  ! xue  xueshizi  xuedonger  xuezhong songtan  ! xuezu  xunmei  yan  Yangjiajiang yanyi  !" yanmen zizhen  ! yao  yaozhong wuli  ! yiyi  yinbi shangqing, qingbi jieyin 



yinnü  yinyang hejing, guishen burao 


Yiren lu  yiyin  Yonghuai shi  yu  Yu zhiji  yuanjia  Yuanyang meng  Yuanyang zhen  yuanzhao  yuexia meiren lai  !" yuming  Yun xian xiao  Yuzhaotang meipin  !" Zaisheng yuan  zaju  Zhen zhong ji  Zhenhai lou  zhennühua  zhennümu  zhi yu dao  zhong  ziran  Zhuangtai ji  zhuangyuan  zhuiren  zhuyan zhi guan  ! zhuzhu  zixu  Zixiao ji 






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Selected Bibliography


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Legge, James, trans. The Chinese Classics: The Works of Mencius. Vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895. ———, trans. The Chinese Classics: Tso Chuan. Vol. 5. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895. ———, trans. Confucian Analects: The Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean. 1893. Reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1971. Levering, Miriam L. “Lin-chi (Rinzai) Ch’an and Gender: The Rhetoric of Equality and the Rhetoric of Heroism.” In Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, ed. Jose Ignacio Cabezon, pp. 137–156. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985. Levy, Andre. “Review on Chin Ping Mei de yi-shu.” CLEAR 1 (Jan. 1981): 179–183. ———. “Introduction to the French Translation of Jin Ping Mei cihua.” Renditions 24 (autumn 1985): 111–129. Levy, Dore J. Ideal and Actual in the Story of the Stone. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Levy, Howard S. The Lotus Lovers: The Complete History of the Curious Erotic Custom of Footbinding in China. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1992. Li Chi. “The Changing Concept of the Recluse in Chinese Literature.” HJAS 4 (1962– 1963): 234–247. Li, Chu-tsing. “Problems Concerning the Life of Wang Mien, Painter of Plum Blossoms.” Renditions 6 (1976): 243–259. Li, Hualin, and Qing Ling. “Pan Jinlian: An Opera of the Absurd.” Beijing Review 29, 52 (27 Dec. 1986): 28. Li, Wai-yee. Enchantment and Disenchantment, Love and Illusion in Chinese Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. ———. “The Representation of History in The Peach Blossom Fan,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 3, 115 (July–September 1995): 421–433. ———. “The Late Ming Courtesan: Invention of a Cultural Ideal.” In Writing Women in Late Imperial China, ed. Ellen Widmer and Kang-i Sun Chang, pp. 46–73. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. Liao, Hsien-hao. “Tai-yu or Pao-chai: The Paradox of Existence as Manifested in Pao-yu’s Existential Struggle.” Tamkang Review 15, 1–4 (1989): 485–494. Lin, Shuen-fu. The Transformation of the Chinese Lyrical Tradition: Chiang K’uei and Southern Sung Tz’u Poetry. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978. Louie, Kam. “Sexuality, Masculinity and Politics in Chinese Culture: The Case of ‘Sanguo’ Hero Guan Yu.” Modern Asian Studies 33, 4 (1999): 835– 859. Lu, Tina. Persons, Roles, and Minds: Identity in Peony Pavilion and Peach Blossom Fan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. Lu Xun. A Brief History of Chinese Fiction. Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 1964. Lupke, Christopher. “Review on China in a Polycentric World: Essays in Chinese Comparative Literature.” JAS 59, 1 (Feb. 2000): 165–167. MacLeod, Cationa. Embodying Ambiguity: Androgyny and Aesthetics from Winckelmann to Keller. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998. Mann, Susan. “Grooming a Daughter for Marriage: Brides and Wives in the MidCh’ing Period.” In Marriage and Inequality in Chinese Society. ed. Rubie Watson and Patricia Chambers, pp. 204–230. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.


selected bibliography

———. Precious Records: Women in China’s Long Eighteenth Century. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. McMahon, Keith. Causality and Containment in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Fiction. New York: E. J. Brill, 1988. ———. Misers, Shrews, and Polygamists, Sexuality and Male-Female Relations in Eighteenth-Century Chinese Fiction. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995. Meskill, John. Gentlemanly Interests and Wealth on the Yangtze Delta. Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, 1994. Moi, Toril. Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory. London and New York: Methuen, 1985. Montrelay, Michele. “Inquiry into Femininity,” trans. Parveen Adams. M/F 1 (1987): 83–101. Mote, Frederick W. “A Fourteenth-Century Poet: K’ao Ch’i.” In Confucian Personalities, ed. Arthur F. Wright and Denis Twitchett, pp. 235–259. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962. ———. “Confucian Eremitism in the Yüan Period.” In Confucianism and Chinese Civilization, ed. Arthur F. Wright, pp. 252–290. New York: Athenaeum, 1965. Mote, Frederick W., and Denis Twitchett, eds. The Cambridge History of China. Vol. 7. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Munro, Donald, ed. Individualism and Holism: Studies in Confucian and Taoist Values. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1985. Naquin, Susan, and Evelyn S. Rawski. Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. Needham, J. Science and Civilization in China. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956. Neumann, Erich. The Origins and History of Consciousness. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954. Obata, Shigeyoshi, trans. The Works of Li Po, the Chinese Poet. New York: Paragon, 1965. Oillon, George L. “Styles of Reading.” Poetics Today 3, 2 (spring 1982): 77–88. Oki, Yasushi. “Women in Feng Menglong’s ‘Mountain Songs.’ ” In Writing Women in Late Imperial China, ed. Ellen Widmer and Kang-i Sun Chang, pp. 131–143. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. Palandri, Angela Jung. “Women in Dream of the Red Chamber.” Literature East and West 12, 2–3 (1968): 226–238. Parrinder, Geoffrey. Sex in the World’s Religions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980. Pas, Julian F. “Yin-Yang Polarity: A Binocular Vision of the World.” Asian Thought and Society 8, 24 (Nov. 1983): 188–200. Paul, Diana Y. Women in Buddhism, Images of the Feminine in Mahayana Tradition. Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1979. Peterson, Willard J. Bitter Gourd: Fang I-Chih and the Impetus for Intellectual Change. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Plaks, Andrew H. Archetype and Allegory in the Dream of the Red Chamber. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.

Selected Bibliography


———. The Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. ———. “The Problem of Incest in Jin Ping Mei and Honglou meng.” In Paradoxes of Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. Eva Hung, pp. 123–145. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1994. Plato. “Symposium,” trans. Benjamin Jowett. In Great Books of the Western World. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1990. Plett, Heinrich F. Intertextuality. New York and Berlin: Walter de Gruyter and Co., 1991. Raphals, Lisa. Sharing the Light: Representations of Women and Virtue in Early China. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. Reed, Barbara E. “The Gender Symbolism of Kuan-yin Bodhisattva.” In Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, ed. Jose Ignacio Cabezon, pp. 159–180. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992. Robinet, Isabelle. Taoism: Growth of a Religion. Trans. Phyllis Brooks. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. Rolston, David L. ed. How to Read the Chinese Novel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Ropp, Paul S. “Between Two Worlds: Women in Shen Fu’s Six Chapters of a Floating Life.” In Women and Literature in China, ed. Anna Gerstlacher et al., pp. 98–140. Bochum: Studienverlag Brockmeyer, 1985. ———. “Love, Literacy, and Laments: Themes of Women Writers in Late Imperial China.” Women’s History Review 2, 1 (1993): 107–141. ———. “Women in Late Imperial China: A Review of Recent English-language Scholarship.” Women’s History Review 3, 3 (1994): 10–45. ———. “Ambiguous Images of Courtesan Culture in Late Imperial China.” In Writing Women in Late Imperial China, ed. Ellen Widmer and Kang-i Sun Chang, pp. 17–45. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. ———. Banished Immortal: Searching for Shuangqing, China’s Peasant Woman Poet. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001. Roy, David. “A Confucian Interpretation of the Chin P’ing Mei.” In Guoji hanxue huiyi lunwenji. Taipei, 1982. ———, trans. The Plum in the Golden Vase or Chin P’ing Mei. Vol. 1. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Rushton, Peter Halliday. “The Daoist Mirror: Reflections on the Neo-Confucian Reader and the Rhetoric of Jin Ping Mei.” CLEAR 8 (1986): 61–83. Satyendra, Indira. “Metaphors of the Body: The Sexual Economy of the Chin P’ing Mei tz’u-hua.” CLEAR 15 (Dec. 1993): 85–97. Saussy, Haun, “Reading and Folly in Dream of the Red Chamber,” CLEAR 9 (1987): 25– 48. ———. The Problem of a Chinese Aesthetic. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993. Schirokauer, Conrad M. “Chu Hsi’s Political Career: A Study in Ambivalence.” In Confucian Personalities, ed. Arthur F. Wright and Denis Twitchett, pp. 162–188. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962. Schneider, Laurence A. A Madman of Ch’u: The Chinese Myth of Loyalty and Dissent. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.


selected bibliography

Scott, Mary. “The Image of the Garden in Jin Ping Mei and Hongloumeng.” CLEAR 8 (1986): 83–94. Secor, Cynthia. “The Androgyny Papers.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2, 2 (1974): 139–141. ———. “Androgyny: An Early Reappraisal.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2, 2 (1974): 161–170. Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994. Shih, Shou-chien. “The Landscape Painting of Frustrated Literati: The Wen Chengming Style in the Sixteenth Century.” In The Power of Culture: Studies in Chinese Cultural History, ed. Willard J. Peterson et al., pp. 218–246. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1994. Shun, Kwong-loi. Mencius and Early Chinese Thought. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. Silverman, Kaja. The Subject of Semeiotics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. ———. Male Subjectivity at the Margin. New York: Routledge, 1992. Singer, June. Androgyny: The Opposites Within. York Beach, Maine: Nicolas-Hays, 2000. Sirén, Osvald. A History of Later Chinese Painting. New York: Hacker Art Book, 1978. Sommer, Matthew H. “The Penetrated Male in Late Imperial China: Judicial Constructions and Social Stigma.” Modern China 23, 2 (April 1997): 140–180. ———. Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000. Spence, Jonathan D. Ts’ao Yin and the K’ang-hsi Emperor: Bondservant and Master. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. Spence, Jonathan D., and John E. Wills Jr., eds. From Ming to Ch’ing: Conquest, Region, and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century China. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Sponberg, Alan. “Attitudes toward Women and the Feminine in Early Buddhism.” In Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, ed. Jose Ignacio Cabezon, pp. 6–37. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985. Still, Judith, and Michael Worton, eds. Intertextuality, Theories and Practice. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990. Strassberg, Richard E. “The Peach Blossom Fan: Personal Cultivation in a Chinese Drama.” Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1975. ———. The World of Kong Shangren. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983. Struve, Lynn A. “Ambivalence and Action: Some Frustrated Scholars of the K’ang-hsi Period.” In From Ming to Ch’ing: Conquest, Region, and Continuity in SeventeenthCentury China, ed. Jonathan D. Spence and Jones E. Wills, pp. 321–367. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974. ———. “The Peach Blossom Fan as Historical Drama.” Renditions 8 (autumn 1977): 99–114. ———. “History and The Peach Blossom Fan.” CLEAR 2 (1980): 55–72. Sturman, Perter Charles. Mi Fu: Style and the Art of Calligraphy in Northern Song China. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. Sung, Marina H. The Narrative Art of Tsai-Sheng Yüan: A Feminist Vision in Traditional Confucian Society. Chinese Materials Center Publications, 1994.

Selected Bibliography


Swatek, Catherine. “Feng Menglong’s ‘Romantic Dream’: Strategies of Containment in His Revision of ‘The Peony Pavilion.’ ” Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1990. ———. “Plum and Portrait: Feng Meng-lung’s Revision of The Peony Pavilion.” Asia Major 6 (1993): 127–160. Szonyi, Michael. “The Cult of Hu Tianbao and the Eighteenth-Century Discourse of Homosexuality.” Late Imperial China 19, 1 (June 1998): 1–25. T’ien, Ju-K’ang. Male Anxiety and Female Chastity, A Comparative Study of Chinese Ethical Values in Ming-Ch’ing Times. New York and Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1988. Tsai, Shih-shan Henry. The Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996. Tschang, Dietrich. “History and Meaning in the Late Ming Drama Ming Feng Ji.” Ming Studies 35 (Aug. 1985): 1–31. Veeser, H. Aram, ed. The New Historicism. New York: Routledge, 1989. Vervoarn, Aat. The Development of the Chinese Eremitic Tradition to the End of the Han Dynasty. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1990. Vitiello, Giovanni. “The Dragon’s Whim: Ming and Qing Homoerotic Tales from The Cut Sleeve.” T’oung Pao 78 (1992): 341–372. ———. “The Fantastic Journey of an Ugly Boy: Homosexuality and Salvation in Late Ming Pornography.” Positions 4, 2 (1996): 291–320. Volpp, Sophie. “The Discourse on Male Marriage: Li Yu’s ‘A Male Mencius’s Mother.’ ” Positions 2, 1 (1994): 113–132. ———. “The Male Queen: Boy Actors and Literati Libertines.” Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1995. ———. “Gender, Power and Spectacle in Late-Imperial Chinese Theater.” In Gender Reversals and Gender Cultures, ed. Sabrina Petra Ramet, pp. 138–147. London and New York: Routledge, 1996. Wakeman, Frederic Jr. “The Shun Interregnum of 1644.” In From Ming to Ch’ing: Conquest, Region, and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century China, ed. Jonathan D. Spence and John E. Wills Jr., pp. 39–87. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. ———. “Romantics, Stoics, and Martyrs in Seventeenth-Century China.” JAS 43, 4 (Aug. 1984): 631–665. Waley, Arthur, trans. The Analects of Confucius. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1964. ———, trans. The Book of Songs: The Ancient Chinese Classics of Poetry. New York: Grove Press, 1996. Waltner, Ann. “On Not Becoming a Heroine: Lin Dai-yu and Cui Ying-ying.” Signs 15, 1 (autumn 1989): 63–79. Wang, David Der-wei. “Feminist Consciousness in Modern Chinese Male Fiction.” In Modern Chinese Women Writers: Critical Appraisals, ed. Michael S. Duke, pp. 236– 256. New York: M. E. Sharp, 1989. Wang, Jing. The Story of Stone. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992. Wang, Ping. Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. Wang, Shifu. The Moon and the Zither: The Story of the Western Wing. Trans. Stephen H. West and Wilt L. Idema. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.


selected bibliography

Watson, Burton. Ssu-ma Ch’ien: Grand Historian of China. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958. ———, trans. The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu. New York: Columbia University Press, 1968. ———, trans. The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. ———, trans. The Lotus Sutra. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993. Watson, Rubie S. “The Named and the Nameless: Gender and Person in Chinese Society.” American Ethnologist 13, 4 (Nov. 1986): 619–631. Wei, Cheng-T’ung. “Chu Hsi on the Standard and the Expedient.” In Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism, ed. Wing-tsit Chan, pp. 255–272. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1986. Weil, Kari. Androgyny and the Denial of Difference. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1992. White, Hayden. “Historical Text as Literary Artifact.” In Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978. Widmer, Ellen. “The Epistolary World of Female Talent in Seventeenth-Century China.” Late Imperial China 10, 2 (1989): 1–43. ———. “Xiaoqing’s Literary Legacy and the Place of the Woman Writers in Late Imperial China.” Late Imperial China 13, 1 (June 1992): 111–155. Widmer, Ellen, and Kang-i Sun Chang, eds. Writing Women in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. Wile, Douglas. Art of the Bedchamber: The Chinese Sexual Yoga Classics. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992. Wilhelm, Richard, trans. The I Ching. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977. Wilhelm, R., and C. F. Baynes, trans. The I Ching or Book of Changes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951. Willetts, William. Chinese Calligraphy: Its History and Aesthetic Motivation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987. Wong, Kam-ming. “Point of View and Feminism: Images of Women in Hongloumeng.” In Women and Literature in China, ed. Ann Gerstlacher et al., pp. 29–97. Bochum: Studienverlag Brockmeyer, 1985. Wright, Arthur F. “Values, Roles, and Personalities.” Confucian Personalities, ed. Arthur F. Wright and Denis Twitchett, pp. 3–23. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962. Wright, Arthur F., and Denis Twitchett, eds. Confucian Personalities. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962. Wu, Nelson J. “Tung Ch’i-Ch’ang (1555–1636): Apathy in Government and Fervor in Art.” In Confucian Personalities, ed. Arthur F. Wright and Denis Twitchett, pp. 260– 293. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962. Wu, Shih-chang. On the Red Chamber Dream: A Critical Study of Two Annotated Manuscripts of the XVIIIth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961. Wu, Yenna. “The Inversion of Marital Hierarchy: Shrewish Wives and Henpecked Husbands in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Literature.” HJAS 48, 2 (Dec. 1988): 363–382. ———. The Chinese Virago: A Literary Theme. Cambridge: Council of East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1995.

Selected Bibliography


———. “Reading Jin Ping Mei as a Satire.” Tamkang Review 28, 1 (autumn 1997): 1–48. ———. “Venturing Beyond the Domestic Sphere: Suggestions of Proto-Feminist Thought in Ming-Qing Fiction.” Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association 32 (Feb. 1997): 61–94. Xiao, Chi. “The Garden as Lyric Enclave: A Generic Study of The Dream of The Red Chamber.” Ph.D. dissertation, Washington University in St. Louis, 1993. Xiao, Tong, ed. Wen xuan or Selections of Refined Literature, trans. David R. Knechtges. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Yang, Hsien-yi, and Gladys Yang, trans. The Dream of Red Mansions. Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 1978. Yang, Michael. “Naming in Honglou meng.” CLEAR 18 (1996): 69–100. Yang, Shuhui. Appropriation and Representation: Feng Menglong and the Chinese Vernacular Story. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1998. Yang, Vincent. “The Symbolism of Naming in Dream of the Red Chamber.” Tamkang Review 22, 1–4 (autumn 1991–summer 1992): 305–313. Yao, Christina Shu-hwa. “Cai-zi Jia-ren: Love Drama during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Periods.” Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University, 1983. Yearley, Lee H. Mencius and Aquinas: Theories of Virtue and Conceptions of Courage. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990. Yee, Angelina C. “Counterpoise in Honglou meng.” HJAS 50, 2 (1990): 613–650. ———. “Self, Sexuality and Writing in Honglou meng.” HJAS 55, 2 (1995): 373–407. Young, Rhett Y. W., and Roger T. Ames. Lao Tzu Text, Notes, and Comments. San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, 1981. Yu, Anthony C. “Self and Family in the Hung-lou meng: A New Look at Lin Tai-yü as Tragic Heroine.” CLEAR 2, 2 (July 1980): 199–223. ———. “Religion and Literature in China: The ‘Obscure Way’ of The Journey to the West.” In Tradition and Creativity: Essays on East Asian Civilization, ed. Ching-I Tu. New Brunswick and Oxford: Transaction Books, 1987. ———. “The Quest of Brother Amour: Buddhist Intimations in The Story of the Stone.” HJAS 49, 1 (June 1989): 55–92. ———. Rereading the Stone: Desire and the Making of Fiction in Dream of the Red Chamber. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997. ———. “History, Fiction and the Reading of Chinese Narrative.” CLEAR 10, 1–2 (1989): 1–19. Yu, David C. “The Creation Myth and Its Symbolism in Classical Taoism.” Philosophy East and West 31, 4 (Oct. 1981): 479–500. ———. “The Creation Myth of Chaos in the Daoist Canon.” Journal of Oriental Studies (Hong Kong) 24, 1 (1986): 1–20. Yu, Ying-shih. “Toward an Interpretation of the Intellectual Tradition in SeventeenthCentury China.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 100, 2 (1980): 115–125. ———. “ ‘O Soul, Come Back!’ A Study in The Changing Conceptions of The Soul and Afterlife in Pre-Buddhist China.” HJAS 47, 2 (Dec. 1987): 363–395. Zeitlin, Judith T. Historian of the Strange, Pu Songling and the Chinese Classical Tale. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993.


selected bibliography

———. “Embodying the Disembodied: Representations of Ghosts and the Feminine.” In Writing Women in Late Imperial China, ed. Ellen Widmer and Kang-i Sun Chang, pp. 242–263. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. Zhao, Henry Y. H. The Uneasy Narrator: Chinese Fiction from the Traditional to the Modern. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. Zhou Zuyan. “Carnivalization in The Journey to the West: Cultural Dialogism in Fictional Festivity.” CLEAR 16 (1994): 69–92. ———. “Chaos and the Gourd in The Dream of the Red Chamber.” T’oung Pao 87, 4–5 (2001): 1–37.

Sources in Chinese A B B R E V I A T I O N S:


Tang Xianzu yanjiu ziliao huibian  !"#$%& (See Mao Xiaotong)

Bai Dun . Honglou meng xinping  !". Shanghai: Shanghai wenyi chubanshe, 1986. ———. Honglou meng yanjiushi lun  !"#$. Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1997. Bai Juyi  . Bai Xiangshan ji  !, ed. Wang Yunwu  . Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1965. Ban Gu . Han shu . Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962. Ban Zhao . “Nü jie” . In Hou Han shu  , Fan Ye , vol. 10, juan 84, pp. 2786–2791. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1965. Biliange zhuren  !". Wuse shi  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Cai Yi . “Qincao” . In Congshu jicheng xinbian  !"#. Vol. 53. Taipei: Xinwenfeng chuban gongsi, 1985. Cai Yijiang  . Honglou meng shici qufu pingzhu  !"#$%&. Beijing: Beijing chubanshe, 1980. Cao Xueqin  and Gao E . Qianlong chaoben bainianhui Honglou meng gao   !"#$%&'. Reprint. Beijing, 1962. ———. Honglou meng bashi hui jiaoben  !"#$%, ed. Yu Pingbo  . Hong Kong: Zhonghua shuju, 1974. ———. Shitou ji  , ed. Sulian kexueyuan dongfangxue yanjiusuo Lieninggele fenhui  !"#$!%&'()*+,-. Reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1987. ———. Honglou meng (sanjia pingben)  =E !F. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1988. ———. Qi Liaosheng xu ben Shitou ji  !"#$%. Beijing: Wenxue guji kanxing she, 1988. ———. Jiachen ben Honglou meng  !"#. Beijing: Shumu wenxian chubanshe, 1989. ———. Honglou meng  , ed. Zhongguo yishu yanjiuyuan Honglou meng yanjiusuo  !"#$%&'"#(. Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1994.

Selected Bibliography


Chen Dakang  . Tongsu xiaoshuo de lishi guiji  !"#$%&. Changsha: Hunan chubanshe, 1993. Chen Dongyou  . Jin Ping Mei wenhua yanjiu  !"#$. Taipei: Wenhua shiye, 1991. Chen Dongyuan  . Zhongguo funü shenghuo shi  !"#$. 1928. Reprint, Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1975. Chen Guibing  . “Li Zhi de funü guan”  !"#. In Li Zhi yanjiu  !, ed. Xu Zaiquan  et al., pp. 152–159. Beijing: Guangming ripao chubanshe, 1989. Chen Guying  , ed. Zhuang Zi jinzhu jinyi  ! ". Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983. Chen Jiru  . “Ande zhangzhe yan”  !". In Baoyantang miji  !". Case 13, vol. 3 of Baibu congshu jicheng  !"#, comp. Yan Yiping  . Yiwen yinshuguan. Series 18. Chen Liang . Chen Liang ji  . Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974. Chen Qinghao  , comp. Xinbian Shitouji Zhiyan Zhai pingyu jijiao  !"#  !"#. Beijing: Zhongguo youyi chuban gongsi, 1987. Chen Wannai  . Kong Shangren  . Taipei: Guojia, 1971. ———. Kong Shangren yanjiu  !". Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1972. Chen Wanyi  . Wanming xiaoping yu Mingji wenren shenghuo  !"#$% . Taipei: Daan chubanshe, 1988. Chen Yiyuan  . Cong Jiaohong ji dao Honglou meng  !" #$. Shenyang: Liaoning guji chubanshe, 1996. Chen Zhao . Honglou meng xiaokao  !". Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1985. Cheng Jie . “Meihua yixiang jiqi xiangzheng yiyi de fasheng”  !"#!$  !. Nanjing shida xuebao  !"# 4 (1998): 112–118. Cheng Zhaoxiong  . Lun Zhongguo zhi huahui, zhongguo huahui yu xingqing zhi jiao  !"#I= !"#$%&. Taipei, 1965. Chichi daoren  . Wufeng yin  . In Guben xiaoshuo congkan  !"#. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1990. “Dadai liji”  !. In Sibu congkan  !. 1934. Reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985. Dai Wujun  . “Lun Cao Xueqin dui rensheng fangshi de xin tansuo”  !"  !"#$%. Honglou meng xuekan  !" 3 (1994): 164–175. Dong Guoyan  . “Lun caizi jiaren xiaoshuo de chuangzhuo tedian”  !"#  !"#. Ming Qing xiaoshuo luncong  !"# 5 (1987): 172–181. Dong Zhongshu  . Chunqiu fanlu  !. In Sibu congkan  !. Vol. 10. Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1989. Du Guangting  . “Qiuran ke zhuan”  !. Tangren chuanqi xiaoshuo ji   !, pp. 178–184. Taipei: Shijie shuju, 1966. Fan Ye . Hou Han shu  . Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1965. Feng Menglong  . Xingshi hengyan  !. Xian: Sanqin chubanshe, 1993. ———, comp. Ming Qing minge shidiao ji  !"#$. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986.


selected bibliography

Feng Wenlou  . “Yige fuhe de wenben jiangou”  !"#$%&. Gansu shehui kexue  !"# 1 (1993): 106–110. Fengyun shanren  !. Tiehuaxian shi  !. Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Foxue da cidian  !". Taipei: Huayanlian she, 1967. Fu Daobin  . “Shitou de yanshuo: Honglou meng xiangzheng shijie de yuanxing piping”  !"W= !"#$%&'(). Honglou meng xuekan  !" 1 (1996): 152–176. Fu Xihua  . Mingdai chuanqi quanmu  !"#. Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1959. Fu Yiling  . Mingdai jiangnan shimin jingji shitan  !"#$%&'. Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1963. Gao Qi . Gao Qi shixuan  !. Taipei: Yuanliu chuban shiye gongsi, 1988. Gong Pengcheng  . Wanming sichao  !. Taipei: Liren shuju, 1994. Goyama Kiwamu  =EF. “Honglou meng zhong de nüren chongbai sixiang he tade yuanliu” : ; !"#$%&'(), trans. Xia Guangxing  . Honglou meng xuekan  !" 1 (2000): 319–330. Guo Haofan  . “Yanshui sanren xiyi”  !"#. Ming Qing xiaoshuo yanjiu  !"# 2 (1997): 136–144. Guo Yingde  . “Lun Yuan Ming Qing xiaoshuo xiqu zhong de leitong renwu xingxiang”  !"#$%&'()*+,-. Ming Qing xiaoshuo yanjiu  !  4 (1997): 41–59. He Jingqun  . Chuci jingzhu  !. Taipei: Zhengzhong shuju, 1988. He Xinyin  . He Xinyin ji  !. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981. Heshi daoren  !. Xing fengliu  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Hong Bozhao  . Kong Shangren yu Taohua shan  !"#$. Guangzhou: Guangdong renmin chubanshe, 1988. Hou Wailu  . “Tang Xianzu Mudan ting huanhunji waizhuan”  !"#$%  . In Tang Xianzu yanjiu ziliao huibian  !"#$%&, comp. Mao Xiaotong  , 2: 1060–1078. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe. Hou Xun . “Nianpu” . In Hou Fangyu, Zhuanghuitang ji  !. Vol. 277 of Sibu beiyao. Reprint, Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju, 1936. Hu Jiezhi  . “Hou Chaozong xiansheng zhuan”  !"#. In Hou Fangyu  ,=Zhuanghuitang ji  !, vol. 277 of Sibu beiyao. Reprint, Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju, 1936. Hu Wenbin  . Honglou meng tanwei  !". Beijing: Huayi chubanshe, 1997. ———. “Honglou meng li de zhu yu mei”  !"#$%. Honglou meng xuekan  !" 1 (1983): 207–219. Hu Xuegang  . Kong Shangren he Taohua shan  !"#$. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1985. Huang Chi . “Kong Shangren yu Zhaoyang Lishi shiqi kao”  !"#$% “   ” . Yishu baijia (Nanjing)  !EF 3 (1987): 99–106. Huang Huatong  . “Zhongguo gudai jinü tichai wenxue chutan”  !"#$  !". Zhejiang shifan daxue xuebao  !"##$ 3 (1988): 73–77.

Selected Bibliography


Huang Mingli  . “Xu Wenchang shu, shi, wen, hua, ziping zhi tanjiu”  !, , ,  !"#. Wanming sichao yu shehui biandong  !"#$%&, ed. Danjiang daxue zhongwenxi. Taipei: Honghua wenhua shiye, 1987. Huang Qingquan  , Jiang Songyuan  , and Tan Banghe  . Ming Qing xiaoshuo de yishu shijie  !"#$%&. Taipei: Hongye wenhua shiye youxian gongsi, 1995. Huang Tingjian  . Huang Shangu shiji zhu  !"#. Taipei: Shijie shuju, 1961. Huang Wenxi  and Wu Fengchu  . Tang Xianzu zhuan  !. Beijing: Zhongyang xiqu chubanshe, 1986. Huang Yongwu  . “Gudaishi zhong de tao yu liu”  !"#$%. Zhongwai wenxue  ! 6, 3 (1977): 26–30. Huang Zhigang  . Tang Xianzu biannian pingzhuan  !"#$. Beijing: Zhongguo xiqu chubanshe, 1992. Huang Zongxi  . Mingru xuean  !. Taipei: Shijie shuju, 1965. ———. “Huiweng xuean”  !. In Huang Zongxi quanji  !". Vol. 4. Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1985. ———. “Mengzishi shuo”  !. In Huang Zongxi quanji  !". Vol. 1. Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1985. Huishang yanjiu lunwen ji  !"#$. Hefei: Anhui renmin chubanshe, 1985. Huo Xianjun  . Jin Ping Mei xinjie  !". Shijiazhuang: Hebei jiaoyu chubanshe, 1999. Ji Liuqi  . Mingji nanlüe  !. In Ming Qing shiliao huibian  !"#, comp. Shen Yunlong  . Vol. 30. Taipei: Wenhai chubanshe. Jing Meijiu  et al. Honglou meng buyi  !". Reprint, Beijing: Beijing tushuguan chubanshe, 1996. Jingtian jushi  !, ed. Shengxiao jian  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1987. Jinmu sanren  !. Gu Zhang Jue Chen  !. Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 1989. Kang Laixin  . Shitou duhai: Honglou meng sanlun  !W  !". Taipei: Hanguang wenhua shiye gongsi, 1986. Kang Zhengguo  . Chongshen fengyuejian: xing yu zhongguo gudian wenxue :  ;W= !"#$%. Taipei: Maitian chuban youxian gongsi, 1996. Kong Shangren  . Taohua shan  . Hong Kong: Hongzhi shudian, n.d. ———. Huhai ji  . Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1957. ———. Kong Shangren shiwen ji  !"#. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962. ———. Taohua shan  . Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1972. Kong Zi jiayu  !. Sibu congkan (xubian). Vol. 55. 1934. Reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985. !. Jin Ping Mei cihua  !". Hong Kong: Lanling Xiaoxiaosheng  Taiping shudian, 1986. Li Baile  . Bei Qi shu  . Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1972. Li Binghai  . Daojia yu daojiawenxue  !". Tainan: Liwen wenhua gongsi, 1994.


selected bibliography

Li Fang , comp. Taiping yulan  !. In Sibu congkan (sanbian). 1935. Reprint, Vol. 35–55. Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985. !"# Li Fuqing  . “Lanling Xiaoxiaosheng jiqi xiaoshuo Jin Ping Mei”   !". In Guoji Jin Ping Mei yanjiu jikan  !"#$%&, ed. Wang Liqi  et al., pp. 1–22. Chengdu: Chengdu chubanshe, 1990. Li Huiyi  . “Jinhuan yu yiqing wudao”  !"#$. Zhongwai wenxue   22, 2 (1993): 46–66. Liji . Sibu congkan  !. Vol. 20. 1934. Reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985. Li Jianzhong  . Pingzhong shenchou  !. Taipei: Wenshizhe chubanshe, 1993. Li Liufang  . “Shen Juzong shicao xu”  !"#. In Tanyuan ji  . Facsimile version is available at the Gest Oriental Library, Princeton University. Li Qian . “Zailun Mingmo Qingchu caizi jiaren xiaoshuo”  !"#$%&' . In Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo shulin  !"#$%. Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Li Shiren  . Jin Ping Mei xinlun  !". Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe, 1991. Li Xiaojie  . “Gubiao aoshi xiesheiyin: lun Cao Xueqin de wenren qingjie yu Lin Daiyu de xingge mingyun”  !"#$W= !"#$%&'()*"+,. Honglou meng xuekan  !" 2 (1999): 337–345. Li Xifan  and Feng Qiyong  , eds. Honglou meng da cidian  !"#. Beijing: Wenhua yishu chubanshe, 1990. Li Xinzhuang  , comp. Chongbian Mingru xuean  !"#. Taipei: Guoli bianyiguan, 1980. Li Xiuxing  . Mengzhong yuan  . In Ming Qing yanqing xiaoshuo daguan  !"#$%, comp. Yin Guoguang  and Ye Junyuan  . Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe, 1993. Li Yuanzhen  . “Honglou meng zhong de meng”  !" . In Honglou meng yanjiu ji  !"#. Taipei: Youshi yuekan she, 1973. Li Zhi . Fenshu . Vol. 2. Beijing, 1961. ———. Cangshu . Vol. 3. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962. ———. Lishi Fenshu Xufenshu  !" !. Kyoto: Zhongwen, 1971. Liang Guizhi  . Shitouji tanyi  !". Taiyuan: Shanxi jiaoyu chubanshe, 1992. Liao Xianhao  . “Shuangxing tongti zhi meng: Honglou meng yu Huangye zhi lang zhong shuangxing tongti xiangzheng de yunyong”  !"#W= !"#  !"#$%&'(). Zhongwai wenxue  ! 15, 4 (Sept. 1987): 120–153. ———. “Shuoyin: Honglou meng beiju de houxiandai chensi” W=: ; !"  . Zhongwai wenxue  ! 22, 2 (June 1993): 85–99. Liao Yuhui  . Xishuo Taohua shan—sixiang yu qingai  !"#$%&'(. Taipei: Sanmin shuju, 1997. Liji Zhengzhu  !. Taipei: Zhonghua shuju. Lin Chen . Mingmo Qingchu xiaoshuo shulu  !"#$%. Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1988. Lin Fangzhi  . Honglou meng fuhao jiedu  !"#$. Huhehaote: Neimenggu daxue chubanshe, 1996.

Selected Bibliography


Lin Shuming  . “Shixi Jin Ping Mei cihua de nanxing jiazhi yizhong”  !"  !"#$%&. Guizhou daxue xuebao  !!" 4 (1993): 49–56. Ling Mengchu  . Erke paian jingqi  !"#. Xian: Sanqin chubanshe, 1993. Liu An . Hainan Zi  . Beijing: Yanshan chubanshe, 1996. Liu Dalin  . Zhongguo gudai xingwenhua  !"#$. Yinchuan: Ningxia renmin chubanshe, 1993. Liu Hui . “Ruyijun zhuan de kanke niandai jiqi yu Jin Ping Mei zhi guanxi” : ; !"#$%: ; . In Jin Ping Mei lunji  !". Taipei: Guanya wenhua shiye, 1992. ———. Xiaoshuo xiqu lunji  !"#. Taipei: Guanya wenhua shiye, 1993. Liu Yiqing  . Shishuo xinyu  !. In Congshu jicheng xinbian  !"#. Vol. 83. Taipei: Xinwenfang chuban gongsi, 1985. Liu Xiaofeng  . Xiaoyao yu zhengjiu  !". Taipei: Fengyun shidai chubanshe, 1990. Lu Ge  and Ma Zheng . “Mantan Ruyijun zhuan yu Jin Ping Mei” : ;: ;. In Jin Ping Mei zonghengtan : ; . Beijing: Yanshan chubanshe, 1992. Lu Hong . “Jin Ping Mei de tupuo yu shiluo—Jin Ping Mei xingmiaoxie de wenhua pipan”  !"#$%&' ()*!+,-.. In Jin Ping Mei yanjiu  !", comp. Zhongguo Jin Ping Mei xuehui. Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 1990. Lü Kun . Gui fan  (ca. 1613). ———. Shenyin yu  . Beijing: Xueyuan chubanshe, 1993. Luo Derong  . “Cong xunzhao dao mousha”  !"#. In Jin Ping Mei yanjiu  !", ed. Zhongguo Jin Ping Mei xuehui, pp. 189–204. Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 1991. Luo Yuming  and He Shengsui  . Xu Wenchang pingzhuan  !". Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1987. Luo Zhufeng et al.  . Hanyu da cidian  !". Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian, 1993. Mao Xiaotong  , comp. Tang Xianzu yanjiu ziliao huibian  !"#$%&. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986. Mei Xinlin  . Honglou meng zhexue jingshen  !"#$. Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe, 1995. Mei Yaochen  . Mei Yaochen ji biannian jiaozhu  !"#$%, ed. Zhu Dongren  . Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1980. Meng Chenshun  . Jiaohong ji  . Shanghai: Shanghai guju chubanshe, 1988. Mijiantang zhuren  !". Zhong xu meng  . In Ming Qing yanqing xiaoshuo daguan  !"#$%, comp. Yin Guoguang and Ye Junyan. Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe, 1993. Ming Qing xiaoshuo xuba xuan  !"#$. Comp. Dalian tushuguan cankaobu   !"#$. Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1983. Mo Fushan  , ed. Zhongguo minjian jieri wenhua cidian  !"#$%&'. Beijing: Zhigong jiaoyu chubanshe, 1990. Mu Hui . Jin Ping Mei fengyue hua  !"#. Hong Kong: Zhonghua shuju, 1989.


selected bibliography

Nanxuan heguanshizhe  !"#. Chun Liu Ying  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Nanyue daoren  !. Hudie mei  . In Ming Qing yanqing xiaoshuo daguan   !"#$, comp. Yin Guoguang and Ye Junyuan. Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe, 1993. Ouyang Daifa  !. “Xingshiyan yu Mingmo nihuaben de zouxiang” : ;  !"#$. Shehui kexue yanjiu (Chengdu)  !"#EF 4 (1994): 115–121. Ouyang Jian  . Ming Qing xiaoshuo xinkao  !"#. Beijing: Zhongguo wenlian chuban gongsi, 1992. Pan Baoming  . “Honglou meng huaniao yuanyi”  !"#$. In Honglou meng daguan  !". Huhehaote: Neimenggu renmin chubanshe, 1991. Qian Mu . “Zhuzi xinxuean”  !", part one. In Qian Binsi xiansheng quanji  !"#$. Vol. 11. Taipei: Lianjing chuban shiye kongsi, 1998. Qingxin cairen  !. Jin Yun Qiao  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Qishan zuochen  !. Nü kaike zhuan  !. Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Qu Mu  “Honglou shaoying”  !. Guizhou daxue xuebao  !!" (March 1993): 63–69. Rong Zhaozu  . Li Zhuowu pingzhuan  !". Taipei: Taiwan shangwu yinshuguan, 1970. Sanyu shi  . Nanming yeshi  !. Taipei: Taiwan yinhang, 1960. Shen Defu  . Wanli yehuo bian  !". Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1997. Shi Guoxiang  . Zibo dashi yanjiu  !"#. Taipei: Dongchu chubanshe, 1987. Shisanjing zhushu  !". Vols. 1–2. Taipei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1982. Sima Qian  . Shi ji . Vol. 9. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1972. Sima Shi  . “Xinlingyu zai kaituo zhong”  !"#$. In Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo shulin  !"#$%. Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Song Deyin  . “Honglou meng zhong de mansu chutan” : ; !"#. In Honglou meng daguan  !". Huhehaote: Neimenggu renmin chubanshe, 1991. Song Qi . “Lun Daguan Yuan”  !. In Daguan yuan yanjiu ziliao huibian   !"#$%, comp. Wenhua bu wenxue yishu yanjiuyuan  !"#$% , 1979. Songyun shi  . Ying Yun meng  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Su Dongpo  . Jizhu fenlei Dongbo xiansheng shi  !"#$%&. In Sibu congkan  !. 1934. Reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985. Su Xing . “Tianhuazang zhuren ji qi caizi jiaren xiaoshuo”  !"#$%&'  . Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo shulin  !"#$%. Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Suan zhuren  !. Guilian meng  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1984. ———. Jinxiang ting  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Sun Xun . Honglou meng tanjiu  !". Taipei: Daan chubanshe, 1991.

Selected Bibliography


Takakusu, J., and K. Watanabe, eds. “Foshuo Yueshangnü jing”  !"#. In Dazang jing  . Tokyo: Society for the publication of the Taisho Tripitaka, 1962. Tang Xianzu  . Tang Xianzu ji  !. Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1973. ———. Mudan ting  . Ed. Xu Shuofang  and Yang Xiaomei  . Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1994. ———. Tang Xianzu quanji  !". Beijing: Guji chubanshe, 1999. Tang Yin . Tang Bohu quanji  !". Beijing: Zhongguo shudian, 1985. ———. Tang Bohu shici gefu quanji  !"#$%&. Hong Kong: Chen Yongtai, n.d. Tao Xianhuai  and Tao Jian . “Linqi jidian xiangsilei dixiang jieqian fahaitang: shilun Honglou meng de yanmu he baihaitangshi”  !"#$I=  !"W : ; !"#$%. Zhongguo wenxue yanjiu (Changsha)   !"EF 2 (1995): 80–88. Tianhuazang zhuren  !". Renjian le  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1985. Tian Yiheng  . Liuqing rizha  !. Taipei: Guanwen, 1970. Tuo Tuo  et al. Song shi . Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1977. Wan Ru Yue  . Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1987. Wang Chong . Lunheng . Sibu congkan  !. 1934. Reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985. Wang Fuzhi  . Chuanshan quanshu  !. Changsha: Yuelu shushe, 1988. Wang Jisi  . “Zenyang tansuo Tang Xianzu de quyi—he Hou Wailu tongzhi lun Mudan ting”  !"#$%&'()*+,-./: ;. In Yulunxuan qulun  !". Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1980. Wang Peiqin  . Honglou meng menghuan shijie jiexi : ; !"#. Taipei: Wenjin, 1997. Wang Qiangte  et al. Gushan zaimeng, Yanshan waishi  !,  !. Shenyang: Chunfeng wenyi chubanshe, 1987. Wang Shizhen  . “Wenxiansheng zhuan”  !. In Wen Zhengming ji  , ed. Zhou Daozhen  , pp. 1624–1629. Vol. 2. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987. Wang Shunu  . Zhongguo changjishi  !". 1934. Reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1992. Wang Xilian  . “Honglou meng pingzan”  !". In Honglou meng kaoping liuzhong  !"#$. Reprint. Beijing: Renmin zhongguo chubanshe, 1992. Wang Yi . “Zhongguo shidafu yinyi wenhua de xingshuai”  !"#$%&' . Wenyi yanjiu (jing)  !EF 3 (1989): 55–64. ———. Yuanlin yu Zhongguo wenhua  !"#$. Shanghai: Shanghai renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1990. Wang Yongjian  . “Ruan Dacheng pingzhuan”  !". In Tang Xianzu ji Ming-Qing chuanqi yanjiu  !"#$%&'. Xindian: Zhiyi chubanshe, 1984. Wei Shou . Wei shu . Vol. 8. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974. Wei Zheng  et al. Sui shu . Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975.


selected bibliography

Wen Yiduo  . Wen Yiduo quanji  !". Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian, 1982. Wen Zi . “Shangdao pian”  . Wen Zi zhuzi suoyin  !"#, ed. Liu Dianjue  . Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1992. Wei Ziyun  . Jin Ping Mei de wenshi yu yanbian  !"#$%&. Taipei: Shibao wenhua chuban shiye, 1982. Wu Enyu  . Cao Xueqin congkao  !". Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1980. Wu Jingzi  . Wenmu shanfang ji  !". Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1957. Wu Meilu  . “Cao Xueqin he Cao Yin de sixiang jicheng guanxi”  !"#  !"#. In Honglou meng lunji  !", ed. Zhongguo zuojia xuehui Guizhou fenghui Honglou meng yanjiuzu. Guiyang: Guizhou renmin chubanshe, 1983. Wu Xiaonan  . Chai-Dai heyi xinlun  !"#. Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian, 1985. Wu Xinlei  . “Lun Kong Shangren Taohua shan de chuangzuo sixiang”  ! : ; !". Nanjing daxue xuebao  !!" 3 (1997): 107–114. Wuseshi zhuren  !". Badong tian  . Beijing: Shumu wenxian chubanshe, 1985. ———. Kuaishi zhuan  . Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1990. Xia Xianchun  . Wanming shifeng yu wenxue  !"#$. Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1994. Xiao Tong , comp. Wen xuan . Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986. Xie Zhaozhe  . Wu zazu  . Vol. 7. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959. Xu Fuming  . “Liang Chenyu de shengping he ta chuangzhuo Huansha ji de yitu”  !"#$%&'()*!+,. In Song Yuan Ming Qing xiqu yanjiu luncong  !"#$%&'. Vol. 4. Hong Kong: Dadong tushu gongshi, 1979. ———. Yuan Ming Qing xiqu tansuo  !"#$. Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1986. ———, ed. Tang Xianzu yanjiu ziliao kaoshi  !"#$%&. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987. ———. Tang Xianzu yu Mudan ting  !"#$. Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, 1993. Xu Ke . Qingbai leichao  !. Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan. Xu Shuofang  . “Tang Xianzu nianpu”  !". In Xu Shuofang ji  !. Vol. 4. Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1993. ———. “Zhou Lüjing nianpu”  !". In Xu Shuofang ji  !. Vol. 3. Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 1993. ———. Tang Xianzu pingzhuan  !". Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe, 1993. Xu Sumin  . Li Zhi de zhen yu qi  !"#. Nanjing: Nanjing chubanshe, 1998. Xu Wei . Xu Wei ji  . Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983. Xu Zhengui  . Kong Shangren pingzhuan  !". Xuzhou: Shandong daxue chubanshe, 1991. Xu Zhenhui  . “Lun Honglou meng xiezui de yishu yu xinlinxue jiazhi”  !  !"#$%&'(. Honglou meng xuekan  !" 1 (1986): 17–30.

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selected bibliography


Allen, Joseph, 220n38 Ames, Roger T., 9 – 10, 216n12 Analects: 8, 28, 272n87, 290n7, 315nn112, 115 androgyne: archetypes in Chinese history and literature, 12; archetype in Chinese legend, 12 – 13 androgyny: and chaos, 172; in Chinese medical theory, 70, 238n9; definition of, in this study, 3 – 4, 200; diVerent interpretations of and attitudes to, 3 – 4, 216n7; and the feminist cause, 3 – 4; inherent sexism, 208, 216n12; literati’s ambiguous attitude to, 207 – 208; literary, and the androgynous fashion in society, 207; in literature by female writers, 279n6; in literature viewed in late Ming cultural context, 200 – 202; male scholars’ spiritual aYnity to the stance of, 43 – 45; in political stand, 13, 127 – 154; Tang Xianzu’s political stance associated with the principle of, 31, 88 – 89; a trend of, in late Ming and early Qing literature, 1, 199 – 200, 202 – 204; in Western philosophy, religion, psychology, and literature, 7, 217n2; Zhu Xi’s political position as an embodiment of the principle of, 25. See also Buddhism; Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo; Confucianism; courtesan; Daoism; Du Liniang; eremitism; garden symbolism; Haoqiu zhuan; Hongfu; Honglou meng;

Hua Mulan; Jia Baoyu; Li Xiangjun; Lin Daiyu; Liu Mengmei; peach blossom; peony blossom; plum symbolism; Qu Yuan; Tao Qian; Taohua shan; Zhuo Wenjun Bai Dun, 266n15, 269n36, 276n137 Bai Juyi, 67, 78 Badong tian (Eight extraordinary tales), yinyang mutation, 97 Baigui zhi (A tale of white jade), crossdressing, 102 Bakhtin, Mikhail, 104, 236n68, 261n56 Ballad of the Sad Café, The, gender contrast between the lover and the beloved, 240n28 Ban Zhao, 14, 53, 55 – 56, 69, 70 Barthes, Roland, 131 Bauer, Wolfgang, 220n40, 272n88 beard, as a gendered trope, 129 – 130, 256n8 Bickford, Maggie, 79, 90, 236n76, 242nn44, 45, 54, 272n93 Birch, Cyril, 239n15, 240n25, 258n31 Black, C. Fred, 51 Bodde, Derk, 259nn31, 32 boudoir, breaking the confinement of, 70; in contrast to garden, 73; as a gendered symbol, 70, 203; and jiaren (beauty), 100 Buddhism: androgyny in, 10 – 11; asexuality,

11, 219n27; magical sex transformation in, 11, 20 – 21; the Tantric approach, 11, 219n30 Cai Yijiang, 188, 274n117 caizi (talented scholars): aspiration to identify with da zhangfu, 106 – 107; as a cultural product of late Ming and early Qing, 110, 200, 251n56; freedom in gender migration, 110; hermetic inclination of, 106 – 108, 254n86; and marginality, 105, 121; need of social status, 109 – 110; as privileged personalities, 110, 249n38; resistance to power, 109, 250n45; shared gender crisis with jiaren, 105, 108; unsuppressed masculinity, 106 – 108, 122, 250n48 Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo (scholar-beauty romance), 5; allegorical mode of presentation, 122 – 123, 253n85; celebration of masculinity in marginal figures, 106 – 108, 250n48; comparison with Mudan ting, 103; and contemporary Chinese literature, 251n52; a counter-current to, 123 – 125, 253n70, 254n89; emperor’s function in, 102 – 103, 248n28; as an “escape literature,” 126; generic pattern, 96; hermetic impulses, 107 – 108, 251n50, 254n86; lionization of Li Bai, 105, 247n12, 249n42; literary antecedent of, 95; marginal status of the authors, 122; a new definition of, 121; plum craze, 111 – 114, 251n60, 252n62; stone symbolism, 117 – 120; sword symbolism, 114 – 117, 252nn64, 68, 69; symmetric androgyny in, 97 – 100; Tang Xianzu’s impact on, 95 – 97, 247n7. See also caizi; cross-dressing; Du Liniang; garden symbolism; jiaren; Liu Mengmei camellia: as an emblem of Tang Xianzu, 91; as symbol of spiritual purity, 91, 246n104 Cammann, Schuyler, 218n21, 224n48 Cao Xueqin: aYnity to Lin Daiyu, 194 – 196; aYnity to Qu Yuan, 205; ambiguous gender identity, 193 – 194; family background, 193 – 194, 276nn143 – 144; fascination with stone, 196 – 197; gender import of his sobriquet, 197; hermetic inclination, 197 – 198, 278n175; inscription of self identity in the Dream, 196; and late Ming liberalism, 5 – 6, 216 – 217n17; self-comparison to women, 206


Cao Yin, 216n17 Cao Zhi, 137 Carlitz, Katherine, 50, 87 Cass, Victoria, 56, 59, 223n28 Chan, Wing-tsit, 25, 229n134, 239n12 Chang, Kang-I Sun, 17, 149, 221n17, 222nn18 – 19, 227n99, 249n39, 261n59, 267n22, 280n24 Chen Dakang, 216n17 Chen Jiru, 34, 39, 79, 158, 267n21 Chen Liang, 90, 245n97 Chen Wannai, 260n44, 263n85 Chen Wanyi, 39, 244n70, 267n21 Chen Xianzhang, 28 Chen Zhao, 277nn151, 156 Cheng, Pei-kai. See Zheng Peikai Chou, Chih-P’ing, 230n141 Chun Liu Ying (A happy triangle): caizi’s freedom in gender migration, 110; crossdressing, 102; hermetic impulse, 251n50; plum symbolism, 112; stone symbolism, 118 Chunmei, gender ambiguity of, 62; spiritual aYnity to Pan Jinlian, 62 Confucianism: androgyny in, 8 – 9, 25; contradictory gender paradigms, 14; gender in, 22, 24, 28; misogyny, 228n111 Confucius, 8, 27, 28, 134 – 135, 217n11 courtesan, as epitome of androgyny in the late Ming, 18, 222n19 cross-dressing: in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 102, 110, 248n27; in late Ming culture, 19, 223n30; in theater, 17, 221n15 da zhangfu (a mettlesome, awe-inspiring man): as an idol for Ming scholars, 27 – 29, 31, 36 – 38 passim, 114; in Liu Mengmei, 82; in Mencius’ thinking, 9, 27; as rhetoric of masculine heroism applied to female religious conversion, 22, 224n42; as role model in ideological confrontation in the late Ming, 88; the spirit of, in Wen Zhengming’s painting, 43; as a spiritual buttress in scholars’ defense of qing, 37 – 38; Tang Xianzu’s spirit of, 88. See also caizi; “Shi Qingxu;” Tiehuaxian shi Daguan (a monk), 29 – 30, 89, 114, 227n90 Danran (a female Buddhist in the late Ming), 20 – 22, 39


Daoism: androgyny in, 9 – 10; gender in, 28, 226n82 de Bary, W. T., 35, 207, 218n12, 219n31, 225n60 Dingqing ren (A tale of royal love): garden as a witness to conjugal pledge, 103; hermetic impulse, 251n50; shared gender stance between caizi and jiaren, 108 Dong Qichang, 39 Dong Zhongshu, 6 – 8, 22, 69, 166 Donglin Party, 28, 29, 226n89, 257n18 Dragon: yang identity of, 22; yin and yang associations with, 224n48 dragon’s daughter, the, 20 – 21 dream and reality, 73, 239n20 Dream of the Red Chamber, The. See Honglou meng Du Liniang: aYnity to Hua Mulan, 85 – 86, 243nn67 – 68; androgynous identification with both fairies and male immortals, 76; androgynous impulses in the selfportrayal of, 77; association with the fairy of Gaotang, 77; dual association with both willow and plum blossom, 84 – 85; feminization of, 69 – 71; gender balance through sexuality, 75; identification to Hongfu, 71; identification with peony blossom, 75; imbalance of yin and yang, 71; influence on Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 97; and qing, 86, 243n69; resemblance to Guanyin and its gender implication, 77, 241n34; Tang Xianzu’s gender identification with, 91, 93, 94; women’s psychological captivation to, 18. See also gender and sexuality Dun Cheng, 197, 277n148, 278n161 Dun Ming, 197, 278n161 Edwards, Louise, 2, 156, 195, 219n37, 266n9, 267n24, 270n54, 273n109, 277n149 Eoyang, Eugene, 172, 270n60, 271n77 Epstein, Maram, 2, 17, 87, 184, 249n34, 259n31 Eremitism, and androgyny, 10 – 13; the hidden strength of, 219n34; in the late Ming, 39 – 40; and Qu Yuan, 220n40. See also Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo Erzhi daoren, 192, 271n78 Eunuch, gender of: in late Ming politics, 23 – 24, 225nn58, 59, 226n87; in traditional thinking, 24

Fang Xiaoru: in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 106, 123; and literary androgyny, 200; as a personification of yang in Ming politics, 26, 28; Tang Xianzu’s worship of, 90 Feihua yanxiang (Romance of fluttering flowers): influence from Mudan ting, 97; plum symbolism, 111 Feihua yong (The song of fluttering flower): caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 250n45; yin-yang mutation, 97 female chastity tree, as emblem of Tang Xianzu’s identity, 91 – 92 female virginity, as a metaphor for male integrity, 30 – 31 feminine, the: aYnity to the marginal, 2; and the authentic subject position, 3; as embodiment of qing, 3; hidden strength in, 3; in Lacanian discourse, 157 – 158; late Ming idealization of the, 158 – 159, 267nn22 – 23; literati’s sentimental or symbolic identification with, 3; two kinds of, in Honglou meng, 157 – 162 feminization of the male culture, in late imperial China, 16 – 17 feminization of women’s identity, 70, 238nn4, 5, 7. See also Du Liniang Feng Menglong, 1, 18, 93, 208, 216n17, 235n55, 244n70 Fenghuang chi (Phoenix pond): caizi’s resistance to power, 109; emperor’s function, 248n28; plum symbolism, 113; stone symbolism, 118; sword symbolism, 114 – 115 flower symbolism, 203 – 204; in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 111 – 114; in Honglou meng, 189 – 192; in Jin Ping Mei, 62 – 63; in Mudan ting, 77 – 86 passim, 89 – 91; in Taohua shan, 132 – 136, 136 – 147 passim. See also the Appendix; camellia; female chastity tree; Honglou meng; orchid symbolism; peony blossom; plum symbolism; willow symbolism footbinding, in Chinese culture, 51 – 52, 233nn29 – 34; and Pan Jinlian, 51 – 52 Frye, Northrop, 96, 100, 121 Fu Xihua, 239n13 Furth, Charlotte, 6, 70, 216n15, 238n9 Gao Panlong, 36 Gao Qi, 80, 242n50



garden symbolism, 203; in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 103; garden and gender, 74 – 77; in Honglou meng, 182 – 193; in Jing Ping Mei, 64 – 65, 237n85; in Mudan ting, 73 – 77. See also boudoir gender: in Buddhism, 10 – 11; Chinese orthodox paradigm, 7 – 8; in Confucianism, 8 – 9, 22, 24; in Daoism, 9 – 10; in eremitism, 10 – 13; and numbers, 61; as political/ ideological position, 2; and seasons, 63 – 64; and sexuality, 54 – 58, 75, 169, 234n52, 235n57, 235n60, 240n25; in zodiac symbolism, 52 – 54. See also the Appendix; flower symbolism; lover and the beloved gender inversion: cultural factors for, 15; in late imperial China, 1, 22, 216n15; in late Ming female culture, 17 – 19, 221n17, 222nn18, 21, 227n98, 239n14; in late Ming historical plays, 32; in late Ming male culture, 16 – 17; in late Ming political arena, 22 – 32, 225nn55, 56; subversive undercurrent of, in literature, 209. See also crossdressing; Honglou meng; jiaren; Jin Ping Mei; Pan Jinlian gender perversion, 6; diVerence from androgyny, 5; in the case of Pan Jinlian, 65 – 66, 201 Girardot, Norman, 172, 174, 271n73 Graham, A. C., 234n36 Grant, Beata, 21, 222n20, 224nn39, 42 Gu Xiancheng, 28 Gu Zhang Jue Chen (A collection of stories: Gu, Zhang, Jue, and Chen): plum symbolism, 113; Tang Xianzu’s impact on, 247n7; caizi and jiaren as privileged personalities, 249n38 Guilian meng (Guilian’s dream), woman warrior, 103 – 104 Gulik, R. H. van, 16, 53, 234nn39, 51, 52, 253n72 Gushan zaimeng (Sequel to the dream in the Lonely Mountain): caizi’s freedom in gender migration, 110; influence from Mudan ting, 97; plum symbolism, 111 Hai Rui, 26, 226n68 Han shu (The history of the Han dynasty), 252n61 Hanan, Patrick, 56, 231n1, 249n34, 254nn85, 89


Handlin, Joanna F., 208, 223n30, 226n68 Haoqiu zhuan (A fortunate union): androgyny, 100; anti-romance in, 124; stone symbolism, 118; sword symbolism, 114 He puzhu (The union of two pearls): hermetic impulse, 251n50; plum symbolism, 111 He Xinyin, 38, 39, 87, 229n137 Hegel, Robert E., 207, 220n2, 230nn147, 148 Heilbrun, Carolyn, 3 – 4 heroes among women. See nüzhong zhangfu Hessney, Richard, 100, 249n35 homosexuality, in late Ming culture, 16. See also Honglou meng Hong Bozhao, 255n1, 262n70, 263n85, 264n88 Hong Sheng, 148, 216n17 Hongfu: as an archetype of a Chinese androgyne, 12; and Du Liniang, 71 – 72; as an evil instigator in anti-romance, 124; Li Zhi’s praise of, 101; in Ming drama, 71 – 72, 239n13; as a role model in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 95, 100 – 101, 248n25; in Tang chuanqi story, 12; Tang Xianzu’s attraction to, 71 – 72 Honglou meng (The dream of the red chamber), 5; androgyny in the garden life, 183 – 184; androgyny in love, 185 – 187; blurring of sexual distinction, 183 – 184; Combined Beauty, 156, 169 – 170; complementarity theory, Chai-Dai heyi, 157, 266n16; crabflower symbolism and Baoyu, 190 – 191; the deceptive “androgyny,” 156, 165, 170 – 171; Disenchantment and her gender stance, 168 – 170; the “feminine,” 158 – 162, 164, 176, 181 – 182, 185; the garden, 182 – 193; gender ambiguity, 155, 188 – 189; gender inversion, 155; gender of Li Wan and Aroma, 167, 275n122; Grandmother Jia and her gender stance, 167 – 168, 175; hibiscus symbolism in Daiyu/Skybright, 190; hierarchical anarchy, 183, 187 – 188; homosexuality, 187; hundun (chaos), 171 – 174, 180 – 184, 192 – 193, 270n60, 271n77, 273n100; ideal of androgyny, 171; idealization of the feminine, 159, 267nn22, 23, 25, 268n26; the jade and its gendered associations, 174 – 182; matriarchal patriarchy, 166 – 169, 270nn54, 55; needlework and gender, 166 – 168; Nüwa and her gender


stance, 166, 174, 269nn48, 49, 270n52; peach blossom symbolism, 191 – 192; plum symbolism in Moayu and others, 189, 274nn121, 122; qing, 187, 188, 192, 274nn112, 114; shared values of stone, jade and bamboo, 177 – 178; the stone and its gendered associations, 171 – 174, 177 – 180, 182; Stony Idiot, 177 – 178; Tanchun, 155, 188 – 189; two types of androgynous ideal, 157, 171. See also androgyny; Cao Xueqin; Edwards, Louise; feminine; Jia Baoyu; Lacan, Jacques; Liao Xianhao; Lin Daiyu; Xue Baochai; Zhiyan Zhai Hongmei ji (A tale of red plum blossom): caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 106; plum symbolism, 251n60 Hou Fangyu: aYnity to Kong Shangren, 153; in Chinese history, 257n18, 262nn65, 66; as a counterpart to the fisherman in Tao Qian’s fable, 143; courage in political confrontation, 146; discolored religious conversion, 144, 146; inclination for compromise, 131; sensual indulgence, 130, 143, 256n10, 261n59 Hou Han shu (The history of late Han), 242n48 Hsia, C. T., 50, 185, 235n60, 242n57, 273n103 Hsu, Ginger Cheng-chi, 241n41 Hua Mulan: masculinization of, in the course of her legend, 220n38; as a symbol of androgyny, 12 – 13; in Xu Wei’s writings, 35. See also Du Liniang Huainan Zi, 269nn48, 49, 270nn59, 61, 271n77, 273n100 Huang, Martin Huizong, 16, 165, 184, 186, 227nn100 – 101, 229n135, 244n78, 249n34, 250n47, 274n112, 276n143, 277n156, 278n160 Huang, Ray, 208 Huang Tingjian, 246n104 Huang Zhigang, 238n1 Huang Zongxi, 24 – 30 passim, 36, 39, 130, 225n66, 226nn87, 89 Huanxi yuanjia (Enamored enemies), 254n89; anti-romance in, 124 Huanying (Illusions), 254n89; aYrmation of masculinity of marginal figures, 250n48; anti-romance in, 124; plum symbolism, 111 Huanzhong zhen (Truth in marage), caizi’s resistance to power, 109

Hucker, Charles O., 227n89 Hudie mei (A butterfly matchmaker): caizi’s need of social status, 109; garden as a zone of free love, 103; hermetic impulse, 108, 251n50; influence of Hongfu, 101 hun (yang soul) and po (yin soul), 71, 239n12, Huo Xianjun, 236n73 Jameson, Fredric, 2, 124, 126 Ji Liuqi, 256n5, 280n9 Jia Baoyu, 155 – 156; aYnity to the principle of chaos (hundun), 171 – 175, 181 – 184; androgyny in spiritual relationship with women, 184 – 187; androgyny in the spiritual union with Lin Daiyu, 165 – 166; captivation to the “feminine,” 159 – 160, 168, 182, 185; final spiritual status, 258n33; gender viewed in the light of Lacan’s theory, 159 – 160; hermetic impulse, 268n31; hidden strength, 160; and the jade, 175 – 180; journeys to the nether and celestial realms, 180 – 181; as Lin Daiyu’s “male half,” 161 – 164; participation in the civil examination, 268n29; qing vs. yin, 274n112; and the stone, 171 – 174, 178 Jiaohong ji (Mistress and maid): open defiance of conventions, 104; praise of Zhuo Wenjun, 101, 248n25; Tang Xianzu’s impact on, 247n7 Jiaren (beauty), 121; aYnity to He Shuangqing, 249n41; gender fluidity, 102 – 104; Hongfu and Zhuo Wenjun as evil instigators in anti-romance, 124; Hongfu and Zhuo Wenjun as role models for, 100 – 101; as an idealistic fabrication of literati scholars, 105, 200 – 201; militancy, 103; as privileged personalities, 104, 249n38; and qing, 105, 121; resistance to palace service, 108; subversive use of quan (expediency), 104 Jin Ping Mei (The plum in the golden vase), 5; the author’s ambivalent gender preference, 67 – 68; the author’s preferred gender stance, 66 – 67; Autumn Chrysanthemum, 63; gender inversion in the battle of sexuality, 54 – 58, 60 – 62, 65; gender inversion through speech shift, 56; gendered number symbolism, 61; gendered season symbolism in characterization, 63 – 64; implication of the title, 60; Moon Lady,



63; shared gender subversion of the titular trio, 60 – 62; zodiac symbolism and gender, 52 – 54, 234n37. See also Chunmei; garden symbolism; Pan Jinlian; Ping’er; Ximen Qing Jing Meijiu, 155, 277n151 Jinxiang ting (Jinxiang pavilion): aYrmation of masculinity of marginal figures, 250n48; lionization of Li Bai, 249n42 Jung, Carl: 7, 48, 49, 70, 71, 73, 217n5, 232n14, 239nn19, 20 Kang Zhengguo, 187, 232n17, 273n111 King, Ambrose Y. C., 9, 218n16 Ko, Dorothy, 14, 19, 51, 105, 134, 201, 222nn18, 19, 233n28, 247n6, 258n24, 279n1, 280n17 Kong Shangren: 147 – 154, 207, 255n2, 257nn19, 20; aYnity to Li Xiangjun, 149, 153; aYnity to Qu Yuan, 205; alienation from the emperor, 150; ambiguous gender identity, 150; ambivalence to female gender deviation, 208; ambivalence to late Ming romanticism, 256n10, 261n59; attraction to conflicting values of both Ming and Qing, 147 – 150; deposition, 149; dual political allegiance, 147 – 149, 263n83, 264n97, 265n114; fascination with plum blossoms, 257nn19, 20; gender identification with palace lady, 149 – 150; interest in peach blossom, 139; moral strength, 149; self-comparison to women, 206; vacillation between service and withdrawal, 151 – 152, 264n105 Kuaishi zhuan (A tale of gratifying souls): aYrmation of masculinity of marginal figures, 250n48; allegorical mode of presentation, 122 – 123; caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 106 – 107; controversy about its author, 253n83 Lacan, Jacques, 157 – 158, 162, 235n59 Lao Zi, 9 – 10 Lee, Lily Xiao Hong, 220n44, 224n37 Levering, Miriam L., 22, 39, 224n42 Levy Dore, 163, 266n15, 268n32, 269n41, 273n97 Li Bai, 84, 105, 243n64. See also Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo Li Chi, 151, 261n61, 265n106


Li ji (The book of rites), 8 Li ji Zhengzhu, 239n14 Li Kaixian, 32 Li Liufang, 125 Li Shizhen, 57, 92 Li, Wai-yee, 77, 152, 169, 184, 222n19, 258n24, 259n33, 260n49, 261nn54, 59, 268n33 Li Xiangjun, 128; aYnity to Kong Shangren, 149, 150, 153; androgyny in, 132 – 133; and Confucius, 134 – 135; intertextual relation with Crimson (Hongniang), 131; intertextual relation with Du Liniang, 131, 133, 141 – 142; masculinization, 130 – 133; and orchid symbolism, 133 – 135; political compromise and gender ambiguity, 140 – 142; and Qu Yuan, 135 – 136; and season symbolism, 136, 258n31, 259n32; and willow and plum symbolism, 132 – 133, 257n20; and Zuo zhuan, 134 Li Yu, 16, 18, 216n17, 247n15, 253n85 Li Zhi, 1, 19 – 22, 29, 30, 38 – 40 passim, 87, 89, 93, 101, 114, 125, 148, 152, 207 – 208, 216n17, 248n21 Liang Chenyu, 32, 205 Liangjiao hun (Two ideal matches): caizi’s resistance to power, 109; emperor’s function, 248n28 Liao Xianhao, 156, 157, 184 Liao Yuhui, 146, 257n18, 259n36, 262nn66, 70 Liaozhai zhiyi (Records of the strange at the Studio of Leisure): nüzhong zhangfu in, 2; stone symbolism, 119 – 120 Lieyi ji (A collection of strange tales), 252n69 Lin Chen, 103, 246n1, 253nn70, 83, 254n90, 254n95 Lin Daiyu: aYnity to Cao Xueqin, 194 – 196; aYnity to the “feminine,” 161 – 162, 164, 176; aYnity to Stony, 178; androgyny in the spiritual union with Jia Baoyu, 164 – 165; and bamboo, 177 – 178; and Chang E, 163 – 164; and the feminine, 156; and hibiscus, 190; intertextual relation with Du Liniang, 163 – 164, 202; and jade, 176 – 178; and the masculine, 157; and needlework, 167; spiritual bond to Jia Baoyu, 161 – 162; strength of character, 157, 162 – 164; as a woman of transitional period, 202 – 203, 279n5 Liner bao (Granting a prominent son as a re-


ward): hermetic impulse, 251n50; Hongfu’s influence on, 101; use of Confucian terminology in defense of transgression, 104 Ling Mengchu, 2, 67, 215n2 literati painting, 40 – 44 literati scholars: ambivalence to androgyny, 207 – 208; and androgyny in literary presentation, 208; and caizi in literature, 200; challenge of Cheng-Zhu neo-Confucianism, 3; craze for the “natural,” 93 – 94; and the cult of qing, 3; destabilization of gender status in the late Ming, 1, 32; political dissidence, ideological ferment and spiritual alienation, 1, 35 – 36, 43; self-pity, 34; spiritual aYnity to and symbolic use of the female, 1, 3, 32 – 34, 36, 39, 43 – 45, 206, 227nn99, 100 – 101, 228n107; subversion to the imposed yin status, 3; sympathy for female suVering, 67 – 68 Liu Dalin, 221n3, 234n51, 235n57 Liu Mengmei, androgynization of, 81 – 84; association with both willow and plum blossom, 82 – 84; influence on Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 97; and qing, 82, 243n69; Tang Xianzu’s aYnity to, 91 Liu Rushi: 134, 222n19, 258n24, 261n59 Liu Shiru, 79 Liu Tingji, 216n17 Lotus Sutra, The, 20 Louie, Kam, 22, 114, 252n64 lover and the beloved, 76, 77, 240n28 Lü Kun, 1, 68, 87, 215n2 Lu, Tina, 262n70 Lu Xiangshan, 35, 36 Lu Xun, 252n69, 253n70 Luo Rufang, 86, 93 Luo Yifeng: and literary androgyny, 200; as personification of yang in late Ming politics, 27 – 28; worship of da zhangfu, 27

meiren (beauty): as emblem for virtuous men in Shi jing and Chu ci, 246n108; Tang Xiazu’s aYnity to, 91 Mencius, 418n87, 243n61, 272n87; influence on Ming literati scholars, 27 – 29, 36 – 37; qiefu zhidao and da zhangfu in the writings of, 30; the valiant spirit of, 9 – 10, 27, 218n14, 226n83, 218nn14 – 15 Mengzhong yuan (Union in a dream): caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 106; hermetic impulse, 254n86; plum symbolism, 111 Meskill, John, 37 Mi Fu, 117 Ming shi (The history of the Ming dynasty), 223nn27, 30, 227n98, 231n154, 238n5, 250n44, 256n7, 260n40, 262n70 Mingru xuean (Case studies of Ming Confucians), 27, 28, 39, 226nn72 – 73, 75, 77 – 81, 83, 86, 87, 89, 229nn126 – 128, 130, 132 – 133 misogyny. See Confucianism Moi, Toril, 4 Moon Lady, The, 20 – 21 Mote, Frederick W., 144, 146, 224nn50 – 52, 225n59, 226n74, 229n123, 242n50, 255n3, 261n61 Mudan ting (The peony pavilion), 5; deviation from the antecedent huaben story, 72, 78, 241n35, 241n39; Du Bao, 69, 70, 72, 83; garden symbolism, 73 – 77; the gendered connotations in the Gaotang myth, 76 – 77; the gendered connotations in the legend of Peach Blossom Spring, 75 – 76; irony, 72, 239n15; late Ming captivation by the active mode of love expressed in, 18; as a literary antecedent to Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 97; Tutor Chen, 69, 72, 74. See also dream and reality; Du Liniang; garden symbolism; hun and po; Liu Mengmei; plum blossom; Shi jing; Tang Xianzu; willow

Male use of female as a symbolic Other. See literati scholars Mann, Susan, 21, 51, 238n7 Marginality: aYnity to the female and the feminine, 2; definition of, 2 McMahon, Keith, 16, 234n47, 247n10, 249n35, 254n89, 273n102 Mei Xinlin, 265n6, 266n16 Mei Yaochen, 190

Naquin, Susan, 221n15 Needham, Joseph, 218n17, 271n71 neo-Confucianism, Cheng-Zhu school (the School of the Principle), 3, 14, 35, 38, 87, 93; Wang Yangming school (the School of the Mind), 24, 35, 36, 37, 39, 86 Nü jie (Women’s precepts). See Ban Zhao Nü kaike zhuan (Examination for female scholars ), lionization of Li Bai, 249n42



Nü xiao jing (The classic of filial piety for women), 14 Nücaizi shu (Talented female scholars): author’s identification with women, 206; plum symbolism, 111; Tang Xianzu’s impact on, 247n7; use of Confucian terminology in defense of transgression, 104; worship of late Ming celebrities, 96 nüzhong zhangfu (heroes among women): and contemporary feminist theory, 2; as an epithet for Hongfu, 12; Judith Zeitlin’s study of, in Liaozhai zhiyi 2; literati’s identification with, 31, 34; Louise Edwards’ study of, in Honglou meng, 2; militant heroine in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo as, 104; in Ming-Qing literature, 1 – 2, 14, 43; subversive implication of, 209; in Xu Wei’s writings, 34 – 35 orchid symbolism: and Confucius, 134; and Li Xiangjun, 133 – 136; and Qu Yuan, 135; and Zuo zhuan 134, 258n22 Pan Jinlian: association with yang, 51; association with yin, 50; captivation to Wu Song, the personification of masculinity, 49; gender inversion, 52 – 58; gender perversion, 66 – 67; and gendered zodiac symbolism, 52 – 54; and her bound feet, 51 – 52; parallel and contrast to Ping’er, 61; as personification of the carnival culture, 59, 236nn66, 68; sympathetic appraisal in the modern age, 47 – 48, 231n6, 232n7; traditional verdict on, 47; the want of yang energy in her first husband and her patron, 49 Parrinder, GeoVrey, 219n30, 236n71, 240n21, 247n16 Pas Julian F., 238n9, 239nn12, 17 Paul, Dian Y., 11, 219n26 peach blossom: aYnity to the “golden powder” as a trope of cultural eVeminacy, 140, 143; ambivalent implication, 128; androgyny in, 132; and eremitism, 137; feminine association, 137; gendered associations of the two peach blossom fans, 132, 140 – 143; hidden strength in, 137; ironic use in Kong Shangren’s poem “Qingjiang fu,” 139 – 140; ironic use in Tang Yin’s poem “Taohuaan ge,” 138 – 139; and spiritual


transcendence, 137; transience, illusion and irony inherent in, 137 – 138, 259n38 Peach Blossom Fan, The. See Taohua shan Peach Blossom Spring, The: gendered associations of two diVerent, 141 – 145 passim, 260n53; as a locus of love, 76, 141; as a symbol of eremitism, 141 peony blossom: gender connotations of, 74 – 75; as a symbol of gender deviation in Tiehuaxian shi, 116 – 117 Peony Pavilion, The. See Mudan ting Ping Shan Leng Yan (Two talented couples), 268n26; garden as a zone of free love, 103; lionization of Li Bai, 249n42; plum symbolism, 252n62 Ping’er: aYnity to yang, 60; association with yin, 60, 236n73; gender inversion, 61; parallel and contrast to Jinlian, 61; search for men with potent yang energy, 60 – 61 Plaks, Andrew H., 58, 59, 61, 62, 63, 220n2, 223n24, 233n35, 234n40, 235n63, 236n74, 237nn79, 81, 266n15, 269n48, 270n59, 271n72, 273n99, 275n122 Plum in the golden vase, The. See Jin Ping Mei Plum symbolism: in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 111 – 114, 251n60, 252n62; in the characterization of Chunmei, 62; dual gender connotation in Chinese culture, 79 – 81, 236n76, 242n44; in Honglou meng, 189; Kong Shangren’s fascination with, 257n20; and Li Xiangjun, 133; in the Ming play Hongmei ji, 251n60; in Mudan ting, 81 – 85 passim, 241n35, 243n62; Tang Xianzu’s craze for, 89 – 91 Qian Xushan, 39, 230n144 Qiao lianzhu (A union ingeniously arranged), shared gender stance between caizi and jiaren, 108 qiefu zhidao (the way of concubine): Ming scholars’ rejection of, 30, 36 – 39 passim; in Wang Gen’s writings, 36. See also Mencius qing: and caizi, 110; and Chan Buddhism, 244n81; as a contributing factor to the late Ming revival of ci, 17; the courage to aYrm, 86, 244n70; crusade against, in anti-romance, 123 – 125; the cult of, 3, 15, 17, 35, 38, 82, 87, 96, 100, 229n135; and Du Liniang, 86; and the feminine, 3; and the


feminine inclinations of late Ming male culture, 17; the fervor of, in promoting literary androgyny, 200 – 201; and jiaren, 105; late Ming scholars’ defense of, 38, 104, 248n34; opponents to, 87; subversion of the orthodox, 3; Tang Xianzu’s contribution to the cult of, 69, 87 – 88; and xing, 87, 244n78. See also Honglou meng, Jia Baoyu, literati scholars, Liu Mengmei Qingmeng tuo (Drumstick that awakens romantic dream): caizi’s freedom in gender migration, 110; cross-dressing, 248n27 Qu Yuan, 135 – 136, 258nn29, 30; and eremitism, 220n40; impact on Ming-Qing identity, 205, 280n9; symbolic relation to androgyny, 13; and xiangcao meiren tradition, 33, 246n108 Raphals, Lisa, 6, 14, 220n45 Rawski, Evelyn S., 221n15 Renjian le (Happiness in the human world): androgyny, 98; caizi’s resistance to power, 109; hermetic impulse, 251n50; worship of late Ming celebrities, 96 Robinet, Isabelle, 218n22 Rolston, David, 236n69 Ropp, Paul, 51, 148, 149, 228n107, 238n7, 249n41, 279n5 Roy, David, 67 Rulin waishi (The scholars), 17 Sanyu shi, 256n5, 260n48 Satyendra, Indira, 233n26 Saussy, Haun, 181, 221n17, 238n3 scholar-beauty romance. See Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo Shao Yong, 8, 50 Shen Defu, 30, 220n1, 229n123, 256n8, 265n107 Shen Zhou, 117 Shenghua meng (A masterpiece composed in a dream): garden as a poetic vehicle in pursuit of love, 103; hermetic impulse, 251n50 Shengxiao jian (Cutting the raw silk): caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 106; garden as a departure station for elopement, 103 Shi jing (The book of songs), 24, 84, 132, 177, 195, 196, 236n72, 246n108; Confucian

interpretation of, in Mudan ting, 70, 238n3, 239n16; deliberate misreading of, in Mudan ting, 72 – 73 “Shi Qingxu” (“The ethereal rock”): da zhangfu in, 120; stone symbolism, 119 – 120 Shi Zhenlin, 79 Shisanjing zhushu (Annotations of thirteen classics), 239nn16, 18, 272n90 Shishuo xinyu (A new account of tales of the world), sword symbolism, 115 Shiyi ji (A collection of strange tales), sword symbolism, 114 Shun, Kwong-loi, 218n15 Silverman, Kaja, 166 – 167, 267nn17, 18 Sima Qian, 12, 107, 250n46 Singer, June, 68, 172 Sirén, Osvald, 44, 79, 242n46 Sommer, Matthew H., 109, 221n5 Song shi (The history of the Song dynasty), 225n65, 245n97, 250n44, 264n101 Soushen ji (In search of the supernatural: the written record), 252n69 Stone symbolism: as a gendered trope in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 118 – 119; in late Ming culture, 117 – 118; in Xiang Shengmu’s painting, 117 – 118 Strassberg, Richard E., 139, 147, 154, 256n10, 259n33, 263n83 Struve, Lynn A., 147, 225n62, 255n3, 262n69, 263n76, 265n113 Su Shi, 39, 90, 105, 245n103 Sun Xun, 50, 175 Sutra of the Moon Lady, The, 20 Swatek, Catherine, 78, 82, 85, 243n62 sword symbolism, in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 114 – 117, 252nn64, 68, 69, 253n70 taiji tu (the symbol of the supreme ultimate), 9 – 10, 218n21 Tang Xianzu, 1, 18, 29 – 31, 38, 69, 86 – 94 passim, 101, 114, 239n20; aYnity to Qu Yuan, 205; captivation by meiren (beauty), 91 – 92; female worship, 92 – 93; gender identification with Du Liniang, 91, 93, 94; gender stance in political and ideological confrontation, 88 – 89, 245n86; impact on scholar-beauty romance, 95 – 97; and literary androgyny, 200; plum craze, 89 – 91, 245n95; self-comparison to women, 91 –



92; spiritual aYnity to white camellia, 91. See also androgyny; camellia; da zhangfu; Du Liniang; plum symbolism Tang Yin, 98, 138 – 139; and literary androgyny, 200; romantic life, 260n43; the scandal of, 260n40 Tao Qian, 260nn42, 53; in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 107 – 108; and the Peach Blossom Spring, 137 – 138; symbolic relation to androgyny, 13 Taohua shan (The peach blossom fan), 5; ambivalent hymn to androgyny in political action, 128; celebration of androgynous stance in politics, 146 – 147; deviation from history, 146, 262n70; eVeminacy of the ruling clique, 128 – 130, 255nn3, 5; gender inversion, 128 – 136 passim; “golden powder” as an emblem of the eVeminate culture, 130, 140, 256nn9, 10; historical background, 127 – 128; Hongguang Emperor, 128, 129, 140, 255nn3, 5, 262n70; Ruan Dacheng as personification of political eVeminacy, 129 – 130, 152, 256n7; symbolic meanings of the fan, 136 – 147 passim, 259n33; vulnerability of the hermetic ideal, 143 – 146; Zhang Wei the hermit, 144, 145, 153. See also Hou Fangyu; Kong Shangren; Li Xiangjun; orchid symbolism; peach blossom; Peach Blossom Spring; plum symbolism; willow symbolism Tiehuaxian shi (A romance of sword-flower immortal): ambivalence to the cult of qing, 253n70; anti-romance in, 124; caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 106; celebration of the spirit of da zhangfu, 112; hermetic impulse, 106 – 107, 251n50; plum symbolism, 111; shared gender stance between caizi and jiaren, 108; sword symbolism, 114 – 117 T’ien, Ju-K’ang, 225n56, 238n4 Tu Benjun, 34 Tu Long, 250n42 Tu Yin, 156 – 157, 189 Twitchett, Denis, 224nn50 – 52, 225n59, 226n74, 229n123, 255n3 Vitiello, Giovanni, 221n4 Volpp, Sophie, 16, 17, 221nn4, 15


Wakeman, Frederic Jr., 225nn54, 56, 255n3, 261nn59, 61 Wan Ru Yue (An ideal union of three kindred souls): androgyny, 98; cross-dressing, 248n27; hermetic impulse, 251n50; lionization of Li Bai, 249n42 Wang Chong, 166 Wang, David Der-wei, 48 Wang Fuzhi, 26, 227n100 Wang Gen, 36, 86, 99, 147; and literary androgyny, 200 Wang, Jing, 173, 272nn79, 80 Wang Jisi, 241n39, 243n57 Wang Longqi, 36, 39, 230n144 Wang Mian, 79, 80, 242nn44, 45 Wang, Ping, 51, 279n6 Wang Shishen, 216n17 Wang Shizhen, 32, 230n142 Wang Xilian, 266n10 Wang Yangming, 24, 28, 35 – 37 passim, 86 Wang Yi, 265nn106 – 109 Wei Zhuangju, 29 Weil, Kari, 216n11, 240n32 Wen xuan (Selections of refined literature), 240n29 Wen Yiduo, 77 Wen Zhengming, 16, 39, 226n82, 230n142, 231n156; and his painting “Old Trees by a Cold Waterfall,” 41 – 42 Wen Zi, 22 White, Hayden, 146, 263n71 Widmer, Ellen, 87, 221n17, 247n6 Wile, Douglas, 235nn57, 60 Willow symbolism: dual gender potential of, in Mudan ting, 78 – 79, 84, 241n35; feminine connotations, 78, 105; in Li Xiangjun’s characterization, 132 – 133 Wong Kam-ming, 270n52 Woolf, Virginia, 3 Wright, Authur F., 8 Wu Enyu, 277n147 Wu, Jingzi, 17, 228n107 Wu, Nelson, 230nn143, 149 Wu Shih-chang, 278n160 Wu Xiaonan, 266n15, 275n128 Wu Xinlei, 263n76 Wu, Yenna, 47, 222n21, 234n42, 236n69 Wu Yue chunqiu (The annuals of Wu and Yue), 252n69 Wu Zetian, 74


Wudeng huiyuan (A collection of five Buddhist scriptures), 21 Wufeng yin (A song of five phoenixes): caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 250n45; plum symbolism, 111; use of Confucian terminology in defense of transgression, 104; Zhuo Wenjun’s influence on, 101 Wuse shi (Five-colored stone), plum symbolism, 252n62 Xia Tingmei (a member of Taizhou School), 37, 88 Xia Xianchun, 227n100 Xiang Shengmu, 117 – 118 xiangcao meiren (flower and beauty) tradition, 33, 205 – 206, 246n108; and Kong Shangren, 206; and Tang Xianzu, 89 – 93. See also Qu Yuan Xiao, Chi, 242n55, 273n103, 274n118, 280n10 Xiaoqing (Feng Xiaoqing), 97, 247n6 Xie Zhaozhe, 16, 223n28 Xihu erji (The stories of the West Lake, second collection): deification of Zhuo Wenjun, 101; veneration of Tang Xianzu, 97 Ximen Qing: as an abuser of women, 50; egocentricity in sexuality, 54; as personification of masculinity, 49 – 50 Xing fengliu (Awakening from romance): anti-romance in, 99 – 100, 124; androgyny, 99; caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 250n45; hermetic impulse, 251n50; sword symbolism, 114 Xixiang ji (The story of the Western Wing), 74, 78, 131, 192, 243n68 Xu Fuming, 239nn11, 20, 241n35, 244nn71, 80, 279nn6, 7 Xu Shuofang, 242n51, 244n71, 245n86 Xu Wei, 1, 19, 33 – 35, 44, 96, 148, 208, 228n103, 231n153; and his painting “The Wailing Man on a Mountain Terrace,” 40 – 41 Xu Zhengui, 256n8, 259n33, 263n85 Xue Baochai, aYnity to the “masculine,” 165; and the feminine, 157, 163, 165, 202; gendered association with the jade, 175 – 176; and the masculine, 156; and needlework, 167 Xun Zi, 8

Yan Jun, 86, 93 Yang, Shuhui, 222n24, 228nn101, 106 Yanshui sanren, 254n94 Yao, Christina Shu-hwa, 251n54 Yearley, Lee H., 218n15 Yee, Angelina, 155, 273n95 Yi jing (Book of changes), 73, 233n25, 252n68, 272n90 Yin and yang: balance of, in Confucian thinking, 8 – 9; Ban Zhao’s polarization of, 14; in the Confucian gender paradigm advocated by Dong Zhongshu, 8; the disruption of, in Honglou meng, 182 – 193 passim; in the dynamic of subject-ruler relationship, 24; in eremitism, 12; harmony of, in chaos, 172; hierarchy and reciprocity of, in Confucian thinking, 14; human body as a meeting place of, 70, 238n9; as metaphor of gender, 6; mutation of, in Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 97 – 100; mutation of, in Jin Ping Mei, 50 – 51; in number symbolism of Jin Ping Mei, 61, 233n25; in Pan Jinlian’s name and birthday, 51; in ruler’s identity, 22; in season symbolism of Jin Ping Mei, 63 – 64, 234n36; in season symbolism of Taohua shan, 258n31, 259n32; in sex, 75; and sexuality in Honglou meng and Mudan ting, 169; and the topographical relation between boudoir and garden in Mudan ting, 73; union of, in Daoism, 9 – 11, 218n22. See also Du Liniang Ying Yun meng (The dream of Mengyun and Yingniang): caizi’s freedom in gender migration, 110; garden as a zone of free love, 103; hermetic impulse, 251n50, 268n26; plum symbolism, 111 Yiren lu (The records of strange people), 74 You Guoen, 246n108, 258n30 Yu, Anthony, 87, 88, 157, 158, 194, 207, 238n3, 244nn73, 78, 263n71, 268n32, 269n49, 273n96, 97 Yu, David, 172, 270n61, 271n77 Yu Huai, 1, 143, 215n2, 256n11, 262n70 Yu Jiao Li (The romance of three ideal lovers), 268n26; caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 105; cross-dressing, 102; hermetic impulse, 105, 251n50; lionization of Li Bai, 105; open defiance of conventions, 104; plum symbolism, 252n62



Yu Pingbo, 157, 267n16, 278n162 Yu, Ying-shih, 24, 239n12, 273n101 Yu zhiji (A jade paper cover): hermetic impulse, 251n50; lionization of Li Bai, 249n42; sword symbolism, 114; talent contest, 102 Yuan Hongdao, 33, 34, 36, 39, 42, 74, 93, 99, 117, 148, 216n17, 230n141 Yuan Shishuo, 255n1, 258n29, 264n88 Yuan Zhongdao, 125 Yuanyang pei (A union of mandarin ducks), caizi’s aYrmation of masculinity, 106 Zang Jinshu, 240n27 Zeitlin, Judith, 2, 117, 119, 239n14, 240n25, 253n71 Zhang Juzheng, 35, 229n123 Zhang Liwen, 226n66, 229n134 Zhang Xinzhi, 170, 182, 193, 276n138 Zhang Xuan, 225n57, 226nn82, 87 Zhang Yiquan, 197, 277n147 Zhang Zhupo, 47, 63, 65 Zhang Zi (Zhang Gongfu), 81, 242n54 Zhao, Henry Y. H., 66 Zhao Yuan, 26, 123, 255n55, 227n100 Zhaoshi bei (A cup that illuminates the world), worship of Hongfu and Zhuo Wenjun, 101 Zheng Banqiao, 178, 272n94 Zheng Peikai (Cheng, Pei-kai), 89, 227n90, 243n57, 245n89, 266n16


Zheng Run, 250n42 Zhenzhu bo (Pearl ship): hermetic impulse, 108, 251n50; lionization of Li Bai, 249n42; Tang Xianzu’s impact on, 247n7 Zhiyan Zhai (Red Inkstone), 157, 186, 187, 188, 193, 196, 268n33, 270n55, 274n115, 275n127, 276n145 Zhong Xing, 159 Zhong xu meng (A final dream): caizi’s need for social status, 109 – 110; hermetic impulse, 251n50; plum symbolism, 111 Zhou Cecong, 197 Zhou Lüjing, 80, 242n51 Zhou Ruchang, 197, 268n33, 276n144, 277nn147, 151, 278n167 Zhou, Zuyan, 272n83, 276n139 Zhu Danwen, 192, 269n49, 277n151, 278n160 Zhu Xi, 25, 31, 35, 36, 38, 104, 225n66, 229n134 Zhuang Zi, 10, 172, 173, 238n9, 275n122 Zhuo Wenjun: as an archetype of a Chinese androgyne, 12; as an evil instigator in antiromance, 124 – 125; in Han dynasty history, 12; impact on Caizi jiaren xiaoshuo, 95, 100 – 101, 248nn25, 26; Li Zhi’s praise of, 87, 101; Tang Xianzu’s praise of, 101 Zou Yuanbiao, 87 Zuo zhuan (Commentary on the Zuo annal), 134, 258n22


about the author Zuyan Zhou received a Ph.D. in Chinese and comparative literature from Washington University in St. Louis and is teaching Chinese language and literature at Hofstra University, Long Island, New York. He has published in a variety of American and international journals and has translated several English novels and literary criticism into Chinese.

Production Notes for Zhou / Androgyny in Late Ming and Early Qing Literature Cover and interior design by April Leidig-Higgins. Text in Carter & Cone Galliard. Composition by Copperline Book Services, Inc. Printing and binding by The Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group. Printed on 50 lb. New Age TCF.