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Nobody's Son: Prostitution And The Disintegration Of The Family Romance

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Chapter Summary

It would prove hard to fully understand the significance and the novelty of late Qing representations of courtesans, prostitutes and sex workers without bringing affect and sentiment into the picture. This chapter explains the reasons for this 'savior syndrome' and what happened at the turn of the last century to disrupt these paradigms. It then sees how in the dreamscapes of Shanghai, the 'family romance' that had propelled fictional trajectories in late imperial times crumble and a crowd of orphans appears to illustrate the predicaments of fictional masculinity. By fleshing out the changes that bring about this reconfiguration of fantasies about love and family, it will become clear how this transition mimics and reflects the progressive disempowerment of the man of letters in fields other than his erotic and romantic life.

Keywords: family romance; prostitution; Qing

10.1163/ej.9789004179783.i-238.17
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