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A Study on the Thematic, Narrative, and Musical Structure of Guan Hanqing’s Yuan «Zaju, Injustice to Dou E»

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Yumin Ao

This book is a study of the thematic, narrative, and musical structure of Yuanqu xuan [A Selection of Yuan Plays] edition of the Yuan zaju (variety play) Dou E yuan [Injustice to Dou E] originally composed by the highly regarded playwright Guan Hanqing (fl. 1260). Although other authors have studied these three aspects of Dou E yuan separately, this is the first comprehensive treatment of the topic as a scholarly monograph in English. Yumin Ao’s analysis is based on the edition of the play in the Yuanqu xuan [A Selection of Yuan Plays] compiled by the Ming publisher Zang Maoxun (ca. 1550–1620). Ao proposes that Dou E yuan, as a dramatic narrative which develops through its enactment on the stage rather than by verbal presentation as a story, displays its integrative structure of narration through its thematic development and within its musical conventions.
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Chapter Two: Modern Criticism of Guan Hanqing and Yuan Zaju

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CHAPTER TWO

In 1904, Lin Chuanjia (1877–1921) published his landmark study Zhongguo wenxue shi [History of Chinese Literature]. In the decades before and after the May Fourth movement (1919), a number of publications of historical accounts of Chinese literature appeared, such as by Xie Wuliang (1918), Ge Zunli (1921), Gu Shi (1926), Tan Zhengbi (1929), Zheng Zhenduo (1931), HuYunyi (1932). Because of the indelible and undeniable distaste that orthodox scholars, critics and writers felt for “the dishonourable genre” of drama, books which claimed to be systematic histories of Chinese literature had, with rare exceptions, only brief introductions or general references to Chinese dramatic traditions. These works did not really represent serious studies on Yuan zaju, but functioned as transitional research which helped to introduce quxue (scholarship on qu)1 into academic institutes and research programs.

← 37 | 38 → In the previous chapter, I examined the medieval and early modern sources about Guan Hanqing, his zaju composition and Zang Maoxun and his edition of Dou E yuan. In this second chapter, I undertake a detailed review of the modern literature concerning zaju composition and structure from the early 20th century onwards, and how my own research fits into this body of work. In Section 1 below, I introduce and review modern Chinese scholarship on Yuan zaju, and Section 2 focuses on Japanese and Western approaches to zaju study.

Modern scholarship on Yuan zaju in China essentially began with Wang Guowei, Wu Mei (1884–1939) and...

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