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Patriotism versus love: The central dilemma of Zhan Kai’s novel Bihai Zhu

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Chapter Summary

Zhan Kai?s 詹塏 Bihai zhu 碧海珠 is an intricately plotted short novel in classical Chinese. It provides a rich field of inquiry on at least three points. First, it can be related to Zhan?s two other known narrative styles. Second, Bihai zhu is of historical, one might even say sociological, interest. It provides insight into several types of relationships between Chinese guixiu 閨秀 and courtesans. In the novel three characters are central: two courtesans of contrasting styles and a young man who becomes involved with them. The novel starts off with the first-person narrator saying that he has never understood all the ramifications of qing 情. Huashi?s far-reaching inquiry into courtesans? lives makes it much more broadly informative than Bihai zhu, which concentrates on only two women, just as Zhongguo xin nühao and Nüzi quan make a much more comprehensible appeal to guixiu readers.

Keywords: Bihai zhu; guixiu; Zhan Kai

10.1163/ej.9789004167766.i-417.47
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