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The allusive mode of production: Text, commentary, and illustration in the Tianzhang Ge edition of Xixiang Ji (The story of the western wing)

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Chapter Summary

Tianzhang ge edition of Xixiang Ji (The Story of the Western Wing) is thoroughly conventional in its inclusion of a second-rate and almost surely fraudulent commentary attributed to the influential late Ming thinker Li Zhi (1527-1602), but it includes a very innovative set of illustrations that signals a new development in woodblock illustration during the late Ming period. This chapter attempts to unveil the logic that underlies this seeming contradiction and to grasp the philosophy that governed the publication of this unique edition. The playwrights and drama critics of the late Ming period were very conscious of the dual roles of the drama publication and the issues surrounding its production. One of the most important features of drama publication during the late Ming period was the commentary provided (or allegedly provided) by famous scholars.

Keywords: drama publication; late Ming period; Tianzhang ge edition; Xixiang Ji



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