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Text And Context

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Chapter Summary

This chapter provides the literary critical background to six selected red-light novels, teasing out recent readings of Qing literature, and looking at the place of fiction within the Chinese literary tradition, before evaluating the forms of traditional narrative that have influenced red-light authors. In considering the patterns of classification in which later critics have fixed the courtesan novels, the chapter points to discrepancies in these boundaries, concluding “how little that system illuminates the literature itself. The chapter then provides the textual background to complement the literary, considering the cultural value assigned to written texts in the Qing, their material form, and how commercial changes in text production affect storylines.

Keywords: late Qing dynasty; nineteenth century; red-light novels



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