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Singing In Place Of Screaming: Subversion As Satire In Late Imperial China

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Chapter Summary

The late Ming iconoclast Xu Wei (1521-1593) was well known in his day as a dramatist. In recent years a play attributed to Xu Wei, Ge dai xiao (Singing in Place of Screaming), has been published in Xu Wei's collected works and as an appendix to a modern annotated edition of Four Cries of a Gibbon. One of the most interesting aspects of Singing in Place of Screaming is the way in which the theme of carnivalesque topsy-turviness referred to in its title is played out in the "wedge" and each of its four acts, and is reinforced on all levels. In this play the hypocritical realities behind social ideals are made evident and also laughable by turning these ideals on their heads, thus literally substituting singing for the screaming to which one might be tempted when contemplating these realities.

Keywords: dramatist; late Imperial China; late Ming iconoclast Xu Wei; Singing in Place of Screaming



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