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Yangzhou, A Place in Literature

Yangzhou, A Place in Literature: The Local in Chinese Cultural History

Roland Altenburger
Margaret B. Wan
Vibeke Børdahl
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 568
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    Yangzhou, A Place in Literature
    Book Description:

    One of the famous canal cities of the world and a former center of culture, trade, transportation, and fashion, the old town of Yangzhou evokes romantic bridges, beautiful courtesans, fine gardens, and eccentric painters. It is also remembered as a war-torn ruin after the Qing conquest and the Taiping Rebellion, and as a city in decline as trade shifted to seaports and railways.Yangzhou, A Place in Literatureoffers a wealth of literary, semi-literary, and oral texts representing social life over three hundred years of dramatic change between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries.

    The translations in this volume represent a wide range of literary forms and styles, both elite and popular, with subjects ranging from literature, history, theater, and art to the history of architecture and gardening, and of material culture at large. Readers will come across rarely found details of everyday life, the sights, smells, and sounds of the lanes and teahouses, a world of taverns, pilgrimages, communal baths, fish markets, salt merchants, acting troupes, and food in one of the wealthiest cities of imperial China. Each text has an introductory essay and rich textual notes by an expert in the relevant field. The selected texts are historically and intellectually important in their own right, but the volume greatly enhances their collective value by combining them, arranging them in historical sequence, and providing a dense network of cross-references that invite comparisons and reveal contrasts in style, form, focus, and topic.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-5446-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Roland Altenburger, Margaret B. Wan and Vibeke Børdahl
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Yangzhou and the Local in Chinese Literature An Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Margaret B. Wan, Roland Altenburger and Vibeke Børdahl

    Yangzhou—the name evokes associations of a Venice in China, with romantic bridges and waterways, beautiful courtesans, fine gardens, and eccentric painters, but also memories of a war-torn ruin after the Qing conquest and the Taiping Rebellion. It has been the subject of poetry and memoirs, guidebooks and novels, storytelling and essays. Indeed, the richness of sources, as reflected in this anthology, allows us to see not only an abundance of literary genres dealing with this local place, but also a variety of author types connected to the town and region. In these writings many facets of Yangzhou reality are...

  6. 1 Revisiting a Dream in a Classic Late- Ming Garden Zheng Yuanxun’s “Personal Record of the Garden of Shadows” (Yingyuan zi ji, 1637)
    (pp. 19-35)
    Alison Hardie

    Zheng Yuanxun (zi Chaozong, 1603/1604–1644) became an accidental martyr who died through a misunderstanding while protecting his native city against attack. He succeeded only in warding off disaster for a few months, when the threat he had feared—an out-of-control warlord army—was replaced by a greater one, and the Qing army ransacked Yangzhou for ten terrible days in 1645.

    Like many of the wealthy families of Yangzhou in the late imperial period, Zheng Yuanxun’s family did not originate from the city he died trying to save. They were incomers from Huizhou, in the south of what is now Anhui Province, who...

  7. 2 Storyteller and Adviser Wu Weiye’s “Biography of Liu Jingting” (Liu Jingting zhuan, 1647)
    (pp. 36-50)
    Rüdiger Breuer

    The life of the professional oral storyteller Liu Jingting (1592–1674/75), also known by the sobriquet Liu Mazi (Pockmarked Liu), paralleled the period of transition from the Ming (1368–1644) to the Qing (1644–1911) dynasties.¹ Specializing in non-versified, spoken narratives, he was not only famous for the superb quality of his performances but was also well connected with several leading literati and other influential figures of his time.

    Liu Jingting was probably born in a village near the city of Tongzhou in Nantong Prefecture, Jiangsu Province, about one hundred miles to the east of Yangzhou. When he was still...

  8. 3 Society and Performance in Late-Ming Yangzhou Four Essays from Zhang Dai’s Dream Reminiscences of Tao‘an (Tao‘an mengyi, 1670s)
    (pp. 51-63)
    Philip A. Kafalas

    Tao‘an mengyi(Dream Reminiscences of Tao‘an)¹ consists of 123 brief essays, largely about its author Zhang Dai’s life, acquaintances, pastimes, and somewhat limited travels during the final years of the Ming. There are sketches of quirky relatives and friends, vignettes of talented craftsmen, loving recollections of local food cultures, and soaring depictions of all manner of extravagant spectacles, both man-made and natural. Zhang Dai (ziZongzi,haoTao‘an) was a native of Shaoxing, which would remain his home for his whole life.² Beginning in his youth he traveled frequently to Hangzhou, Nanjing, and other nearby places in the Lower Yangzi...

  9. 4 The Moral Panorama of One Place Shi Chengjin’s Series of Vignettes Recent Stories of Yangzhou (Yangzhou jinshi, prefaces 1726/1729)
    (pp. 64-86)
    Roland Altenburger

    Recent Stories of Yangzhou(Yangzhou jinshi) is the serial title of two collections of vernacular short stories, or—as we prefer to term them here—vignettes, by the early Qing author Shi Chengjin (ziTianji,haoXingzhai, 1660–after 1739).¹ The main part of this series, comprising forty texts, was published by the titleThe Scent of Raining Flowers(Yuhua xiang) and has two prefaces (one by the author himself), both of which are dated 1726. It was followed by a supplement volume titledHeaven-Reaching Joy(Tongtian le), comprising twelve additional stories, which has a 1729 preface by the author...

  10. 5 The Universe in a Nutshell Wang Zhong’s Essay “Dialogue about Guangling” (Guangling dui, 1787)
    (pp. 87-100)
    Marc Winter

    Wang Zhong (1745–1794) was a Qing-dynasty scholar known primarily as an exponent of the methodological approach to classical scholarship termed “evidential research” (kaozheng).¹ A native of Yangzhou’s Jiangdu District and a renowned scholar, he became acquainted with several high officials of his time, including Ruan Yuan (1764–1849) and Zhu Yun (1729–1781), and belonged to a circle of scholars that in research nowadays is often referred to as the “Yangzhou school of learning” (Yangzhou xuepai).

    Wang Zhong’s childhood was marred by the death of his father when Wang was only seven, and by the consequent economic hardship that...

  11. 6 The Golden Age Depictions of Life in Yangzhou in Li Dou’s The Pleasure Boats of Yangzhou (Yangzhou huafang lu, 1795)
    (pp. 101-151)
    Lucie Olivová

    Record about the Pleasure Boats of Yangzhou(Yangzhou huafang lu,henceforthThe Pleasure Boats of Yangzhou), published in 1795,¹ with woodblock illustrations, is the principal source on urbanism and society of Yangzhou in the late imperial period. Written by a local scholar and playwright, it was meant to join a series of then new historical and topographical books about Yangzhou, with an emphasis on recent and contemporary events.² Furthermore, the author not only described the place, but also its people, and intentionally included many strange, humorous, or trifling anecdotes about them. Together with countless descriptions of gardens and scenery, as...

  12. 7 Building and Gardening Practices in Eighteenth-Century Yangzhou The View from Li Dou’s The Pleasure Boats of Yangzhou (Yangzhou huafang lu, 1795)
    (pp. 152-172)
    Winnie Yuen Lai Chan

    The artistic traditions of eighteenth-century China were divided between the Qing court in the capital Beijing, on the one hand, and other centers, here represented by Yangzhou, on the other. These two traditions have often been distinguished as amateur versus professional, and academic versus professional. There has been a tendency to view the exchange between South and North as one-directional, involving the appropriation of “Southern” cultural practices and manners of self-fashioning by the Qing court, the imperial inspection tours to the South, and the “institutionalization” of Southern fashions and styles in the imperial palace. However, new documentation and therefore a...

  13. 8 Observations of a Changing World Lin Sumen’s Bamboo-Branch-Style Songs Three Hundred Poems of Hanjiang (Hanjiang sanbai yin, 1808)
    (pp. 173-188)
    Roland Altenburger

    Lin Sumen (ziSuyun, Budeng,haoLanchi, ca. 1748–1809) was a native of Yangzhou’s Ganquan District and grew up in this city.¹ It is unclear whether he ever took any steps up the examination ladder, but evidently as a young man he already must have gained some renown for his vast erudition, for in 1780 he was invited to join the editorial team of the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries (Siku quanshu,1773–1782) project as an assistant editor, a position he held for ten years, until about 1790. Subsequently he was given an honorary position in the...

  14. 9 Regional Fiction Clear Wind Sluice (Qingfengzha, 1819)
    (pp. 189-202)
    Margaret B. Wan

    In the famous guidebook The Pleasure Boats of Yangzhou (Yangzhou huafang lu, 1795) Li Dou lists ten local storytellers as the masters of their art and names the most famous tale told by each. Three of the titles listed correspond to extant novels published within a couple of decades in Yangzhou:Clear Wind Sluice(Qingfengzha,1819),Chart of Good and Evil(Shan‘e tu,n.d.), andThe Braggart’s Tale(Fei Tuo quanzhuan,1817).¹ Up through the twentieth century, Clear Wind Sluice was still being performed in Yangzhou storytelling under the title Pi Fifth the Hot Pepper (Pi Wu Lazi). Besides this...

  15. 10 Theater for the People in the Yangzhou Region Jiao Xun’s Peasant Chats on Popular Local Theater (Huabu nongtan, 1819)
    (pp. 203-216)
    Colin Mackerras

    In the late eighteenth century, Yangzhou was among China’s foremost centers of popular local theater (huabu). Although apparently in decline in the early nineteenth century, Yangzhou’s popular local theater still ranked high in the big picture of Chinese theater. Its distinction in local drama is an important and interesting aspect of its cultural history during that period.¹

    Jiao Xun (1763–1820) and hisPeasant Chats on Popular Local Theater(Huabu nongtan) is one of the main sources for this topic.² As its name implies, this book is actually notes on the author’s chats with peasants. While he may have been...

  16. 11 Writing about Things in the Nineteenth Century Scholar Zhou’s Dream of Yangzhou (Yangzhou meng, 1850s)
    (pp. 217-257)
    Antonia Finnane and Fan Xiong

    Of the many “dreams of Yangzhou” in Chinese literary history, the memoir written by Jiaodong Zhou Sheng (Scholar Zhou of Jiaodong) sometime after 1857 is the longest, and also the richest in historical content.¹ Part Three, a section of which is translated here, is unique as a record of commodities and material culture in Yangzhou in the years 1841–1852. The material remains of this period of Chinese history are on the whole poorly represented in contemporary museums, including the Yangzhou Museum. It is fortunate, then, that a corpus of writings remains to us from this period, helping fill the...

  17. 12 A Yangzhou Novel Hanshang Mengren’s Dream of Romance (Fengyue meng, preface 1848)
    (pp. 258-272)
    Patrick Hanan

    Fengyue meng(Dream of Romance) is a novel in thirty-two chapters by an author known only by his pseudonym, Hanshang Mengren (The Fool of Yangzhou). His preface is dated the equivalent of 1848, although the first known edition, by the Shenbaoguan in Shanghai, appeared only in 1883. The novel is written in a form of Mandarin enlivened by an occasional use of Yangzhou dialectal expressions.

    In his preface the author describes his work as based on his own personal observation during a thirty-year infatuation with the courtesans of Yangzhou. Now utterly disillusioned with the brothel scene, he offers the novel...

  18. 13 Place and Personality Ling Xia’s “Song of the Eight Eccentrics” (Yangzhou ba guaige, ca. 1897)
    (pp. 273-281)
    Michele Matteini

    “Yangzhou painting” has generally come to define the art produced during the middle three or four decades of the eighteenth century, when local literary societies and an enterprising elite turned the city into a haven for artists, a transformation that redefined the very notion of urban culture. The earliest accounts on painting in Yangzhou, however, postdate that period by almost thirty years. Chapter 2 of Li Dou’s (fl. 1764–1795) famous guidebookThe Pleasure Boats of Yangzhou(Yangzhou huafang lu,1795) provides the most comprehensive list of artists active in the city throughout the eighteenth century and praises the variety...

  19. 14 A Tale of Five Families between Empire and Republic Li Hanqiu’s Novel The Tides of Guangling (Guangling chao, 1909–1919)
    (pp. 282-307)
    Stefan Kuzay

    Among the many poets and writers of Yangzhou, Li Hanqiu (ziYingzhang, 1874–1923) is perhaps the most famous. He was born in the city and became one of the most faithful portrayers of its people. Li Hanqiu had a wide following of readers, and his work was published in magazines, newspapers, and later as entire novels under his two pen names Master of the Pavilion of Permeating Fragrance (Qinxiangge zhu) and Master of the Library of Rhyme Flowers (Yunhuaguan zhu).¹ Early in his youth he already enjoyed reading classical novels, such asThe Dream of Red Mansions(Honglou meng)...

  20. 15 Food and Local Place Zhu Ziqing’s Essay “Speaking of Yangzhou” (Shuo Yangzhou, 1934)
    (pp. 308-320)
    Antonia Finnane

    In 1934 the publication ofChatting at Leisure about Yangzhou(Xianhua Yangzhou), a new guidebook for this old and now dilapidated city, precipitated a war of words in the literary world of Republican China.¹ The author of the book was Yi Junzuo (1898–1972), a minor literary figure and Guomin-dang party member who in his official capacity (he worked for the Jiangsu Department of Education) had been forced to reside in Yangzhou for a few months in 1932. He was not impressed by the city, and in a lengthy introduction to the guidebook he described it in derogatory terms.² Local...

  21. 16 Transformations of Local Theater The Yangzhou Opera Taking Command at Age One Hundred (Bai sui gua shuai, 1952–1958)
    (pp. 321-342)
    Liu Zhen

    Yangzhou Opera (Yangju) is one of the famous local arts of Yangzhou. In the twentieth century this art had two golden ages of revival. The first was from the 1930s to the 1940s, whenYangjuwas performed in dozens of theaters in Shanghai and had a wide audience, mainly among the lower classes. Yangzhou operas comprised not only traditional titles that were derived from flower-drum opera (huaguxi), incense-fire plays (xianghuoxi), and Yangzhou confused-strumming drama (Yangzhou luantan), but also an abundance of adapted plays with long and complex stories such asMeng Lijun,Zheng Xiaojiao,The Monk Ji Gong(Ji gong),...

  22. 17 A Critical View of the Yangzhou Dream Feng Zikai’s Essay “The Yangzhou Dream” (Yangzhou meng, 1958)
    (pp. 343-356)
    Sue Zhuang

    Feng Zikai (1898–1975), a native of Chongde County, in Zhejiang Province, is a well-known Chinese painter, writer, translator, and educator of the twentieth century. He is also regarded as the founder of Chinese cartoon art. When studying in Zhejiang First Normal School, he was taught by Li Shutong (1880–1942) and Xia Mianzun (1886–1946). The former introduced him to music and art, while the latter instructed him in writing and Chinese literature. Highly influenced by these two teachers, Feng was interested in writing, painting, and music throughout his life. In 1921, he traveled to Japan to further his...

  23. 18 Layers of the Local in Yangzhou Storytelling Wang Shaotang Performs “Wu Song Fights the Tiger” (Wu Song da hu, 1961)
    (pp. 357-380)
    Vibeke Børdahl

    Yangzhou storytelling (Yangzhou pinghua) has a history of more than four hundred years in the Lower Yangzi area. The tradition of telling from the Water Margin (Shuihu) oral story cycles¹ has roots going back to the Ming period when Liu Jingting (1592–1674) was famous for his performance of the episode “Wu Song Fights the Tiger” (Wu Song da hu), as well as other stories.² All through the history of Yangzhou storytelling there have been master tellers who specialized in the oral repertoires of the Water Margin. In the late Qing, the so-called “schools” (menorpai) of Water Margin...

  24. 19 A Chapter in Chinese Women’s History Wei Minghua’s Essay “The Thin Horses of Yangzhou” (Yangzhou shouma, 1983)
    (pp. 381-405)
    Antonia Finnane

    Wei Minghua, a prominent figure in Yangzhou arts and culture organizations and for many years a teacher at the Yangzhou College of Culture and the Arts, has devoted his scholarly life largely to the study of the culture of his hometown. His many essays about Yangzhou, which over time have been collected and published in a series of volumes, combine scholarly exegesis with general interest. As the citations of them in this volume attest, they form an invaluable resource for anyone working on the cultural history of Yangzhou.

    This corpus of work was not an obvious product of the author’s...

  25. 20 Yangzhou Village Theater The Play Pi Fifth Celebrates New Year (Pi Wu guo nian, 1999) in Wei Ren’s Redaction
    (pp. 406-424)
    Lindy Li Mark

    The lunar New Year celebration and other calendar festivals, sponsored by merchant and craft guilds, took place in villages and towns across China until the end of World War II, but were banned in the early years of the People’s Republic. New Year celebrations are held today again, but promoted by the government through the media, with broadcasts throughout the country and overseas. These modern media programs still feature comedy skits, short plays, opera excerpts, and such, but without the outdoor setting and the earthy humor of earlier times.

    In hisStudy of Yangzhou Theater(Yangzhou xi kao,1999), the...

    (pp. 425-452)
    (pp. 453-480)
    (pp. 481-486)
  29. INDEX
    (pp. 487-511)
  30. Back Matter
    (pp. 512-513)