Research on Reader’s Guides to Ming and Qing Popular Novels

In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

Reader’s guides (fanli 凡例), which form a distinct genre attached to popular novels, have a great deal of research value. This article collects and counts reader’s guides to Ming and Qing popular novels, analyzes the overall characteristics of the genre, and discusses four aspects of them: (1) the historical value of reader’s guides to Mingand Qing popular novels; (2) reader’s guides and the creative method in popular novels; (3) reader’s guides and chapter headings in popular novels; and (4) reader’s guides and readers of popular novels. This study approaches this distinct genre of novels from the perspective of both examination of documents and of theoretical research; it uses theory and method to explore the creative methods and systematic structure of Ming and Qing popular novels as well as to trace the true course of popular novels’ appearance, development, and evolution.

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  • 2

    See Liu Zhiji, “Xuli 序例,” in Shitongtongshi 史通通释 (Shanghai: Shanghai Classics Publishing House, 1978), 4: 88.

  • 6

    Yu Huayu, “Reader’s Guide,” in Yue Wumu jinzhong baoguo zhuan 岳武穆盡忠報國傳 (Youyi Zhai 友益齋, the last years of Emperor Chongzhen).

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  • 10

    Yang Jing 楊景, “Reader’s Guide,” in Guigu siyou zhi 鬼谷四友志 (Boya Tang, 1803).

  • 11

    Xia Jingqu 夏敬渠, “Reader’s Guide,” in Humble Words of a Rustic Elder (Changzhou: Piling huizhen lou 毗陵汇珍楼, 1881).

  • 14

    Cao Xueqin, “Reader’s Guide,” in Zhiyan Zhai chongping Shitou ji.

  • 16

    Chen Shaohai 陳少海, “Reader’s Guide,” in Hongloufumeng (Rongzhu Shanfang 蓉竹山房), (1799).

  • 18

    Ding Yaokang 丁耀亢, “Reader’s Guide,” in Xu jin ping mei 續金瓶梅, (1660).

  • 19

    Xiong Damu, “Reader’s Guide,” in Dasongzhongxingtongsuyanyi 大宋中興通俗演義 (Jianyang: Qingjiang Tang, 1552).

  • 24

    Fang Ruhao 方汝浩, “Reader’s Guide,” in Chanzhen yishi 禪真逸史 (Hangzhou: Xia Lüxian, the end of the Ming era).

  • 25

    Cui Xiangchuan 崔象川, “Reader’s Guide,” in Baigui zhi (Yong’an tang, 1807).

  • 26

    Xia, “Reader’s Guide,” in Humble Words of a Rustic Elder.

  • 28

    Du Gang 杜綱, “Reader’s Guide,” in Bei shi yanyi (1793).

  • 29

    Xiong Damu, “Reader’s Guide,” in Dasong zhongxing tongsu yanyi.

  • 31

    See Yu Huayu, “Reader’s Guide,” in Yue wumujinzhongbaoguozhuan, notes 4 and 5.

  • 33

    Xizhou Sheng 西周生, “Reader’s Guide,” in Xingshi yinyuan zhuan (Tongde Tang, the Qing Dynasty).

  • 35

    Ling Mengchu 淩濛初, “Reader’s Guide,” in Pai’anjingqi 拍案驚奇 (Jinchang: Shangyou Tang, 1628).

  • 38

    Ling, “Reader’s Guide,” in Pai’an jingqi.

  • 41

    Shen Weixian 沈惟賢, “Reader’s Guide,” in Wanguo yanyi (Zuoxin She, 1903).

  • 50

    Feng Menglong 馮夢龍, “Reader’s Guide,” in Xin lieguozhi (published in the Chongzhen reign).

  • 54

    Pan Jingruo 潘鏡若, “Reader’s Guide,” in Sanjiao kaimi guizheng yanyi (Jinling: Wanjuan Lou, in the Wanli reign).

  • 57

    Chen Bangjun 陳邦俊, “Reader’s Guide,” in Guangxie shi 廣諧史 (Sheng Yingkui, 1615).

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