Ameliorative Satire and the Seventeenth-Century Chinese Novel Xingshi Yinyuan Zhuan - Marriage as Retribution, Awakening the World

Author: Wu, Yenna
This book is the first study of ameliorative satire as a mode, and the first full-length critical study in English on Xi Zhou Sheng's 100-chapter Xingshi Yinyuan Zhuan, (Marriage as Retribution, Awakening the World, 1661), perhaps the most important novel from seventeenth-century China.


“This is certainly the most comprehensive study of the ameliorative satire as a genre in classical Chinese fiction. With Marriage as Retribution and other works as her cases-in-point, Yenna Wu traces the genealogy of the genre from the late Ming to the mid-Qing and delineates a fascinating aspect of Chinese fiction, one which scholarship has hitherto ignored…. sheds an important light on the changing moral discourse at a time when Chinese society was undergoing substantial transformation… the analysis challenges the established paradigms and prods one to rethink the dynamics of Chinese fiction from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century…. provides a delightful reading of the seventeenth-century masterpiece Marriage as Retribution…. Wu ushers us into a world in which the fantastic and the domestic, the romantic and the farcical are interwoven: a marvelous vignette of life in the early Qing era. Ameliorative Satire is provocative in theory and scrupulous in execution. It will enrich our understanding of Chinese fictional history. It can also serve as an important sourcebook for readers interested in gender, religion, marital ethics and the practice of everyday life in late imperial China.” – David Der-wei Wang

“This book is the first full-length study in English on the Xingshi yinyuan zhuan, an important work of the seventeenth-century fiction that has only recently begun to receive the critical attention it deserves…. Wu’s thoughtful examination of the satirical mode in many kinds of writing from Han fu to late Ming essays is particularly commendable, as vernacular fiction’s connections to classical-language genres are often underacknowledged…. Wu’s discussion of the overall problem of defining satire in the Chinese literary context is thought provoking. She has certainly made the case for Xingshi yinyuan zhuan as a major step in the development of Chinese fiction…. Convincingly dates the novel to the period of Ming-Qing transition, lays to rest a persistent attribution to Pu Songling, and casts significant doubt on another conventional attribution to Ding Yaokang…. A useful contribution to Western-language scholarship on Ming-Qing fiction.” – The Journal of Asian Studies

“As the Xingshi yinyuan zhuan is one of the masterworks of traditional Chinese fiction and provides of wealth of materials on almost any aspect of traditional life, this publication is to be welcomed very much. As a service to prospective readers, Prof. Wu has included a detailed, chapter-by-chapter summary of the contents of this novel…. Prof. Wu is a well-established scholar who has read widely in seventeenth-century vernacular and drama. Her study of the Xingshi yinyuan zhuan is workmanlike and competent. She presents her findings in an orderly and lucid fashion; theoretical discussions are kept to a minimum.” – Journal of the American Oriental Society

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
1. The Mode of Satire in Chinese Literature – A Selective Overview
2. The Ming-Qing Satiric Novel as a Genre: Problems with Lu Xun’s Definition; Considering The Scholars in the Context of Satiric Fiction; Alternatives to Lu Xun’s Definition and Grouping; Toward a Broader Definition of the Satiric Novel
3. The Ameliorative Satiric Novel: Jin Ping Mei; Yin-Tang Dreams to Caution the World; The Jealous Wife (Cu hulu); Xingshi yinyuan and A Sequel to Jin Ping Mei; Amelioration in Killing the Demons and The Scholars
4. Xingshi yinyuan zhuan: An Introduction; Authorship and Dating; Receptions, Status, and Scholarship
5. Utopian and Dystopian Allegories: Comparison with Confucian Utopias; Brief Comparison with Buddhist and Taoist Paradises; Xi Zhou Sheng’s Utopia – Framing the Natural with the Supernatural; Dystopia – Devolution and Human Will
6. Balancing Mimesis with Satire: Chao Yuan; Madame Ji; Zhen’ge; Di Xichen; Xue Sujie; Tong Jijie; The Girardian Concept of Mimetic Desire
7. From Individual Depravity to Official Corruption: Human Vices and Foibles; Deviant Relationships; Immoral People of Various Classes and Professions; Officials, Eunuchs, and the Gentry; Educated Males of the Commoner Stratum; Commoners of Various Professions; Flawed but Functional Social Institutions
8. Contrast, Distortion, and the Grotesque
Conclusion; Appendix – Xingshi yinyuan zhuan Plot Synopsis; Notes; Bibliography; Chinese Character Glossary