Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Sixteenth-Century Novel Water Margin and the Tradition of Fiction Commentary and Sequels in Late Imperial China
by Lem, Henry, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 2019, 143; 13857610
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation considers the Shuihu zhuan (Water margin) interpretation complex to be a problematic site of interaction between parent work, commentaries, and sequels, where a commentator and a sequel writer both attempt to control “reader response” to the novel. I argue that sequels—having appeared during the rise of commentaries in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries and later developed into a literary enterprise—are highly sophisticated constructs of textual design and rhetoric, often informed and shaped by the interpretive agendas of fiction commentaries. With this novel’s mass appeal as a book of heroism and transgression, commentators and sequel writers aimed to defend Shuihu zhuan against misinterpretations of the “reader,” by shaping it into a cautionary tale against rebellion. In my analysis, I find that the acts of commenting and sequeling are complicated by the overlap of “author” and “reader” in the works of Jin Shengtan, Chen Chen, and Yu Wanchun. A commentator often acts as an “author” and even invents a theory of two texts (original and sequel), while a sequel writer is always positioned as a “reader” of the original and the “author” of his sequel: a dual role that gave rise to correction and rewriting of the parent work. To reach a more nuanced understanding of the rise of fiction commentaries and sequels, I also explore how hermeneutic issues were shaped by historical and cultural factors, including book marketing strategies and publishing culture. My study will further our understanding of the relationship between fiction commentaries and sequels in the late imperial period. At the same time, it will also deepen our appreciation of some of the theories, rhetoric, and interpretations of fiction that are offered in commentaries and sequels.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Huang, Martin W.
Commitee: Fuller, Michael A., Hu, Ying
School: University of California, Irvine
Department: East Asian Languages and Literatures - Ph.D.
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian literature, Asian Studies, History
Keywords: Commentary, Fiction , Shengtan, Jin , Sequels , Shuihu zhuan, Wanchun, Yu , Pingdian, Xiaoshuo, Xushu
Publication Number: 13857610
ISBN: 9781085560771
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