Zhao Luanluan and Her Tale

In: Ming Qing Yanjiu
Olivia Milburn Seoul National University

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Zhao Luanluan 趙鸞鸞 is the main protagonist of an early Ming dynasty work of fiction, the “Luanluan zhuan” 鸞鸞傳 or “The Tale of Luanluan” by Li Changqi 李昌祺 (1376–1452), which is found in his collection of twenty-two short stories: Jiandeng yuhua 剪燈餘話 (More Stories Written While Trimming the Lamp). Zhao Luanluan is here described as a woman poet who is caught up in the fall of the Yuan dynasty, but subsequently she was further fictionalized as a Tang dynasty courtesan, and her poetic works reattributed to this imaginary person. Furthermore other related fictional female poets of the Ming dynasty have also been treated as genuine historical individuals, and their writings are included in many major anthologies of women’s poetry. This paper argues that the boundaries between genuine female poets and fictional female poets created by male writers have been consistently ignored.

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