This paper examines how the suicides of singing-girls and young gentry women were commemorated by the poets Kang Hai (1475-1541) and Wang Jiusi (1468- 1551) whose devotion to wine, women, and song were, and still are, legendary. Witnessing the suicides of mutually-related female family members as well as a concubine of a mutual friend, these two poets valorized these deaths in terms of qing (passion). The girls of good family defy their elders in order to consummate their suicides, and Wang's songs for the concubine singing-girl are filled with evocations of sensual satisfaction. Thus, in the writings of Kang and Wang we see how the norms of the chastity cult were made not restrictive but alluring; the author suggests that this helped the poets to conquer the imagination of the governing class, with the ultimate results that they were able to diffuse these images throughout the whole of society.
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