Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Revision as redemption: A study in Feng Menglong's editing of vernacular stories
by Hsu, Hui-Lin, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2010, 201; 3400633
Abstract (Summary)

The present study answers the question about how to reposition Sanyan in the history of Chinese vernacular fiction through both Feng's view and his practice of editing. Feng related the practice of selecting, cutting, reorganizing, and anthologizing to the transformation of both texts and readers. By producing the Sanyan collections, Feng justified the vernacular short story as a genre that required transformation and regulation. And that, I argue, marks a crucial moment in the history of vernacular fiction becoming a literati genre. Echoing his transformative view, Feng's practice of editing the vernacular stories focused on the theme of literati and their redemption. Feng's revision attempted not merely to redeem the vernacular story texts, which would otherwise have disappeared or circulated in inferior editions, but also to justify vernacular short stories as the proper form of expressing the literati's central concern, zhiyin, which he thought had eroded with the decline of the poetic tradition. By editing the vernacular stories, Feng made such stories a genre to be read with the same sensibilities with which literati approached the more elevated genres of literature. In this sense, Feng's editing bridged the gap in the history of vernacular fiction between the simple adaptations of raw historical material into historical novels in most of the sixteenth century and the making of vernacular fiction into a literati genre in the mid-seventeenth century. This dissertation also clarifies the issues of the formation of story typology and Feng's treatment of the storyteller's rhetoric, which have long been simplified or even ignored in the study of how his editing established the vernacular story as a genre. More than enough general statements about Feng's status as the founder of the genre of the vernacular short story have been made in past scholarship; the present study contributes to the field of Chinese literary history by providing a brand-new way of understanding why and how it was possible.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shang, Wei
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian literature
Keywords: China, Editing, Feng, Menglong, Huaben, Qing ping shan tang, Redemption, Sanyan, Vernacular stories
Publication Number: 3400633
ISBN: 9781109673197
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