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Love, Lust, and Loss in the Daoist Nunnery as Presented in Yuan Drama

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Most studies of either Daoist influences and features or love and romance in Yuan drama concentrate on the male-dominated theme of deliverance (dutuo) or center on the “scholar-beauty” or “scholar-courtesan” romantic relationship, with little attention given to Daoist women involved in love affairs or marriage arrangements. This article aims to bring to light life and love in the Daoist nunnery as featured in Yuan drama, by focusing on transgressive Daoist nuns longing for secular life and sensual love and on lay women whose marriages are arranged by Daoist nuns. Four zaju plays have been selected for textual and thematic analysis, namely, Yuanyang bei (The Mandarin-Duck Quilt), Wangjiang ting (The River-viewing Pavilion), Nüzhen guan (The Cloister of Female Daoists), and Zhuwu ting qin (Listening to the Zither from a Bamboo-Thicketed Cottage).
La majorité des études consacrées, suivant les cas, aux influences et aux éléments taoïstes ou aux intrigues romantiques dans le théâtre Yuan, se concentrent soit sur le thème masculin de la délivrance (dutuo), soit sur les idylles entre “lettrés et beautés” ou “lettrés et courtisanes”. En revanche on s’est peu intéressé aux exemples de femmes taoïstes impliquées dans des relations amoureuses ou dans des négociations matrimoniales. Cet article cherche à mettre en évidence la vie et l’amour dans les couvents taoïstes tels que les donne à voir le théâtre Yuan en évoquant des nonnes poussées à transgresser les règles par leur désir de vie laïque et d’amour sensuel et des femmes laïques dont le mariage est arrangé par des nonnes. Quatre pièces de zaju ont été choisies pour une analyse textuelle et thématique : Yuanyuan bei (La couverture aux canards mandarins), Wangjiang ting (Le pavillon donnant sur le fleuve), Nüzhen guan (Le couvent taoïste) et Zhuwu ting qin (Écouter la cithare dans la chaumière).

Affiliations: 1: University of Sidney


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