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Reflections of Desire: the Poetics of Gender in Dream of the Red Chamber *

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Woven into the structure of the Dream of the Red Chamber is an exploration of the self-expressive values associated with the late imperial cult of qing and an explicit warning about the self-destructive potential of desire. Rather than being rooted in biological sex, Cao Xueqin's polysemous use of gender reflects the competing visions of Confucian orthodoxy and the cult of qing. This paper analyzes the structural and ideological values associated with masculine and feminine in Dream to argue that manipulation of gendered identities was an explicit aspect of the poetics of eighteenth-century xiaoshuo fiction.

Affiliations: 1: (University of Oregon

10.1163/156852699X00063
/content/journals/10.1163/156852699x00063
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/content/journals/10.1163/156852699x00063
1999-01-01
2016-12-08

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