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11 Breaking through Heaven’s Glass Ceiling: The Significance of the Commoner Woman of Qi in the “Lan ming” Chapter of the Huainanzi

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents a set of narratives that correspond to what we know about the Commoner Woman of Qi in an effort to understand the complex process by which the authors of the Huainanzi appropriated earlier narratives and deployed them for the particular ends of the chapter and the more general goals of the text. The story offered in Gao You's and Xu Shen's commentaries comes late in the tradition and fails to mention specifically what role the duke played in these events, while the tale from the Yanzi chunqiu with its happy ending does not correspond well to the details of the "Surveying Obscurities" story. The story concerns a woman of Qi and a Duke of Qi, not Duke Jing, but his elder half brother, Duke Zhuang 莊公. The potent means by which the Commoner Woman of Qi incites Duke Jing's demise is her skill in inner cultivation.

Keywords: Commoner Woman of Qi; Duke Jing; Duke Zhuang; Gao You commentary; Huainanzi; Xu Shen commentary



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