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A study of the sources of fiction manuscripts by the block-printing workshops in the Ming dynasty

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The Ming dynasty was the prime time for workshop-produced, block-printed novels. This paper discusses the sources of fictional manuscripts from block-printing workshops: purchased novels, solicited contributions, organized writings and compilations in the workshops, novels compiled by block-printing workshop owners, and expounds on the subtle relationship between hand-copied editions and block-printed ones from four perspectives. Through analysis of the integration of block-printing workshops and lower scholars, it states that the existence of lower scholars represented by Deng Zhimo 邓志谟 was significant in the history of Chinese fiction, and marked the formation of the earliest professional novelist community’s in the history of ancient, original fiction in China. This paper places the characters shown into three classifications: the block-printing workshop owners’ sharp consciousness of participation, the dependence on older fiction editions, and the use local authors as the sources of fiction manuscripts for different publishing centers.


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