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Introduction: Theater, Illustration, And Time

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Chapter Summary

There was a widespread anxiety, expressed by almost every drama critic in the late Ming, that the popularity of published drama was severing the traditional relation between the play and the stage. The new market for published drama was creating a temptation to write for the reader rather than for the actor and the theatergoer. Scholar Stephen Owen’sRemembrances, a study of the experience of the past in classical Chinese literature, makes all the salient points. From the era of Confucius to the late nineteenth century, the impulse to recover and reclaim the past manifested itself equally in all expressions of Chinese culture: literature, art, politics, philosophy. In the literary and artistic fields, especially during the Ming period, the most ambitious and imaginative thinkers pursued a seemingly impossible aim: the full recovery of the past, the full conflation of past and present.

Keywords: Chinese culture; Confucius; late Ming; Stephen Owen

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