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Groves of Ambition, Gardens of Desire: Rulin waishi and the Fate of The Portrait of Jiuqing


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This article examines the confluence of homoerotic desire with career ambition in Wu Jingzi’s (ca. 1701–1754) novel Rulin waishi (ca. 1750), specifically through its allusions to the author’s cousin Wu Qing (1696–1750), owner of the famed portrait by Chen Hu of the actor Xu Ziyun (1644–1675). The study argues that Wu Qing’s inscription on this portrait is subtly reflected in Wu Jingzi’s representation of male-male eroticism as complementary and even instrumental to the literati’s pursuit of social mobility through the examination system. It also compares this juxtaposition of libidinous and career desires to antecedents in earlier fiction, and concludes with a discussion of a second portrait of Xu Ziyun and his lover Chen Weisong (1625–1682) as well as the impact of this artistic and literary legacy on Chen Sen’s Pinhua baojian (1849).


Affiliations: 1: (University of San Francisco)
roddys@usfca.edu


10.1163/15685268-00162p02
/content/journals/10.1163/15685268-00162p02
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/content/journals/10.1163/15685268-00162p02
2014-12-16
2018-10-18

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