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Abstract

Wu Bing’s 吳炳 play Liaodu geng 療妒羹 (The Remedy for Jealousy, ca. 1630) transforms the tragic legend of Xiaoqing into a comedy. This chapter investigates how the transformation is made possible in Wu Bing’s text and how this transformation comments on the ideal of qing and The Peony Pavilion. This chapter pays close attention to the ridiculed figure of the shrew and a crucial metatheatrical moment in the play—a comic adaptation of The Peony Pavilion directed by the female protagonist Madam Yan. My reading of the comic elements in The Remedy for Jealousy reveals that Wu’s adaptation of Xiaoqing’s legend is a literary experiment that explores the possibility of incorporating the self-oriented qing into the orthodox polygamous familial system. This chapter also explains how this literary experiment fails in the end.

In: Love for a Laugh: The Comic in Romantic Chuanqi Plays of the 17th and 18th Centuries
In: Love for a Laugh: The Comic in Romantic Chuanqi Plays of the 17th and 18th Centuries
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Abstract

Wang Yun’s 王荺 Fanhua meng 繁華夢 (A Dream of Glory, 1778), is one of the few extant chuanqi plays written by a female dramatist in late imperial China. Wang Yun’s play utilizes a dream theme to imagine a young woman’s (Miss Wang) adventure after her physical transformation into a man. The incongruity between Miss Wang’s reserved manner and the excessive romantic quests of her dream alter ego creates a comic undertone for the play. This chapter examines how Wang Yun conveys the difficulty and excitement of a woman’s adventure as a desiring subject through humor. This chapter argues that humorous moments in the play that have been overlooked by Wang Yun’s contemporary commentators actually play important roles in Wang’s reflection on gender identity.

In: Love for a Laugh: The Comic in Romantic Chuanqi Plays of the 17th and 18th Centuries
In: Love for a Laugh: The Comic in Romantic Chuanqi Plays of the 17th and 18th Centuries
Author:

Abstract

Li Yu’s 李渔 Ideal Love Matches 意中缘 (ca. 1655) rewrites the life stories of two 17th century female painters. Set in a thriving but corrupt art market that traffics in forgeries, Li Yu’s play pokes fun at the presumption of art as a medium of authentic feelings in the romantic chuanqi tradition. It also comments on one important cultural effect of the qing discourse: the celebration of female talent. Li Yu’s play is embellished with humorous misidentifications resulting from gender biases. Besides Li’s dramatic text, this chapter also examines the female commentator Huang Yuanjie’s responses to Li Yu’s adaptation of two women artists’ stories. This chapter argues that Li Yu’s play, along with its commentary, questions the meaning of the caizi-jiaren romantic model in a changing world where the rise of commerce and female talent challenged the traditional literati identity.

In: Love for a Laugh: The Comic in Romantic Chuanqi Plays of the 17th and 18th Centuries
Author:

Abstract

Ruan Dacheng’s Yanzi jian 燕子箋 (The Swallow’s Letter, 1642), a comedy of errors, occupies an awkward position in the history of chuanqi drama. Ruan’s notorious reputation as a traitor to the Ming regime has overshadowed the artistic merits of The Swallow’s Letter for centuries. This chapter calls attention to the intricacy of Ruan’s drama. Marking the origin of strong emotional attachment as a human error, Ruan’s play demonstrates ironic intertextuality with The Peony Pavilion. This chapter explains how Ruan’s aesthetic preference for mistakes as a comic device can be interpreted as his cynical response to the idealism of qing. The comic in The Swallow’s Letter allows us to understand and reevaluate Ruan Dacheng’s artistic legacy as a writer of romantic chuanqi under the pressure of his own political controversies.

In: Love for a Laugh: The Comic in Romantic Chuanqi Plays of the 17th and 18th Centuries
In: Courtly Visions
In: Courtly Visions
In: Courtly Visions
In: Courtly Visions