Scholars of late imperial Chinese fiction have demonstrated that Ming ‘literati novels’ possessed both intellectual sophistication and aesthetic seriousness. Nonetheless, the large corpus of mid-length fictional narratives of the Qing remains mired in problematic assumptions about its ostensibly popular nature. The self-commentaried edition of Embroidered screen (Xiuping yuan) presents a salient example for reassessing the nature of Qing novels and the reading of fiction in the seventeenth century. First circulated in manuscript copies, extensive auto-commentary was added when the novel was committed to print. The commented edition incorporates different genres—poetry, examination essay, and anecdotal accounts—as well as visual elements, all intended to appeal to elite literati tastes among Qing readers. Its literary, visual, and formal heteroglossia also contributed to its popularity in eighteenth-century Japan, which in turn secured its preservation and eventual modern rediscovery, even while it fell into obscurity in Qing China, most likely due to political censorship.
ShangWeiZeitlinJudith T.LiuLydia H.WidmerEllen‘“Jin ping mei” and late Ming print culture’Writing and materiality in China: essays in honor of Patrick Hanan2003Cambridge, MAHarvard University Asia Center
ShangWeiDer-wei WangDavidShangWei‘The making of the everyday world: Jin Ping Mei cihua and encyclopedias for daily use’Dynastic crisis and cultural innovation: from the late Ming to the late Qing and beyond2005Cambridge, MAHarvard University Press6392
SieberPatriciaWang-chi WongLawrence‘Translation as self-invention: Jin Shengtan (1608-1661), Arcade Houange (1679-1716) and the fashioning of a transcultural discourse of scholar-beauty ideals’Toward a history of translating: essays in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Research Centre for Translation2013vol. 3Hong KongChinese University of Hong Kong Press229276
SieberPatriciaFührerBernhardWongLawrence‘Location, location, location: Peter Perring Thoms (fl. 1814-1856), Cantonese localism, and the genesis of literary translation from the Chinese’Sinologists as translators in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries2016Hong KongThe Chinese University Press127167
SunZhongguo tongsu xiaoshuo shumu144. The National Library of China in Beijing holds a Qing printed edition (keben 刻本) of Embroidered screen. The printed edition features the same chapter-end commentary as the manuscript copy at Leiden but nothing else. It has not been chosen for reprint by modern publishers nor has it been given much bibliographical and scholarly attention. This is likely the same edition recorded in Sun Kaidi’s catalogue of Chinese vernacular fiction.
KornickiThe book in Japan299-300. Jonathan Zwicker has also suggested that it was Chinese fiction including both established and contemporary novels rather than European fiction that dominated Japan’s literary imports from the eighteenth until the end of the nineteenth century: Practices of the sentimental imagination 125-55.
In1758poetry writing was re-institutionalized in the curriculum of the civil service examination. Yet in the seventeenth century poetry readings and gatherings had already become an important part of intellectuals’ social life in the Jiangnan area. It also influenced the trend of appreciating elite women writers. For pioneering studies on this subject see Meyer-Fong Building culture in early Qing Yangzhou and Ko Teachers of the inner chambers.
Ibid. 34. The Chinese title of ‘The old woman’ is Piaomu (漂母 lit. the old woman doing laundry). It evokes the allusion of the old woman who fed Han Xin when she noticed him starving by the river. Her criticism of Han motivated him to aspire for success. Later Han became a military general and was granted the title of the King of Chu.