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The Representation Of Sovereignty In Chinese Vernacular Fiction

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Chapter Summary

Like all literatures with long traditions, Chinese narrative literature has, in the course of millennia, developed a range of set characterizations. It is particularly easy to recognize such characterizations in the genre of drama, as traditional Chinese theater has a variety of fixed role types that are visually marked by different facial make-up and costumes, each in keeping with the characteristics of the role type being represented. The power of role types in Chinese theater gives it a particular character: a simplicity, a superficiality even, which can be delightful, but ultimately proves dissatisfying if one looks for complexity not in plot but in characterization. Feng Menglong's six stories with emperors and kings as their main protagonists-not those about Zhao Xu and Yu Zhongju, in which the emperor is not the leading actor-are neatly divided between dynasty-founders and bad last rulers.

Keywords: Chinese theater; Chinese vernacular fiction; Feng Menglong

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