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The Supernatural as the Author's Sphere: Jinghua Yuan's Reprise of the Rhetorical Strategies of Honglou Meng

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This study investigates the similarities between Li Ruzhen's nineteenth-century novel Jinghua yuan and Cao Xueqin's eighteenth-century masterpiece Honglou meng in terms of their artistic experimentation, by its focus on Li's appropriation of Cao's rhetorical strategies. It places the two novels in the context of vernacular literature in the mid- and late Qing period and attributes the disappearance of the "pseudo-oral" narrator in both novels to the dramatization of the narration and the establishment of a supernatural realm as the sphere of the author. The rhetorical strategies employed in Honglou meng, and subsequently evoked in Jinghua yuan, are not, as this study intends to show, the sporadic engagements of the supernatural seen in earlier novels. Instead, they are sophisticated mechanisms at work in both the model and its imitation. In comparing the similarities of rhetoric in these two novels, this essay emphasizes Li Ruzhen's artistic creativity by highlighting his critical responses to Honglou meng and his ingenuity in re-using Cao Xueqin's techniques. Cette étude examine les similitudes entre deux romans, le Jinghua yuan composé au 19e siècle par Li Ruzhen et le chef-d'œuvre de Cao Xueqin, le Honglou meng, qui date du siècle précédent, concernant leurs aspects expérimentaux dans le domaine artistique; pour ce faire elle se concentre sur la façon dont Li Ruzhen s'est approprié les stratégies rhétoriques de Cao Xueqin. L'article replace les deux romans dans le contexte de la littérature vernaculaire d'au milieu et de la fin des Qing, et attribue la disparition du narrateur "pseudo-oral" dans les deux œuvres à la dramatisation de la narration et à l'instauration d'un domaine surnaturel constituant la sphère de l'auteur. Comme entend le montrer cet essai, les stratégies rhétoriques employées dans le Honglou meng et reprises plus tard dans le Jinghua yuan ne se limitent pas à des interventions sporadiques du surnaturel comme dans les romans plus anciens. On a au contraire affaire à des mécanismes sophistiqués mis en œuvre tant dans le modèle que dans son imitation. La comparaison des similitudes rhétoriques dans les deux romans permet de mettre l'accent sur la créativité artistique de Li Ruzhen en mettant en lumière sa réponse critique au Honglou meng et l'ingéniosité avec laquelle il reprend à son compte les techniques de Cao Xueqin.


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