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


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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of this new and original study of Dou E yuan. The play was originally composed by the Yuan zaju playwright Guan Hanqing. But the Ming publisher Zang Maoxun, as the editor of the widely-accepted YQX version of Dou E yuan, standardized the dramatic structure of this Yuan zaju play. I have used this YQX edition of the play in my structural analysis above. On the basis of the dramatic structure of Dou E yuan—that is, four acts, with a wedge placed before the first act—this book has conducted a wide-ranging analysis of the dramatic text in terms of its thematic, narrative, and musical structures. I have carefully demonstrated how these three aspects are integrated into the dramatic narrative.

First, I will summarize the main points of each chapter below. Then I provide a synthesis of my findings with regard to the theme, narration and music of Dou E yuan.

In Chapter 1, I began with a survey of the Yuan, Ming and Qing sources relating to Guan Hanqing, his zaju composition, and Zang Maoxun and his edition of Yuan zaju plays. There are a number of sources we can use for textual scholarship and for comparing the different editions of Guan Hanqing’s zaju. However, a comparative study of various editions of Dou E yuan was not the focus of my book. By drawing on previous scholarship that compares different versions of the play in the GMJ and YQY respectively, I select the latter version...

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