female suicide in late imperial china — introduction 3 © Brill, Leiden, 2001 NAN NÜ 3.1 PASSIONATE WOMEN: FEMALE SUICIDE IN LATE IMPERIAL CHINA—INTRODUCTION * BY PAUL S. ROPP (Clark University) “To starve to death is a minor thing; to lose one’s chastity is a great thing.” Cheng Yi (1033-1107) “She died well! She died well!” Licentiate Wang Yuhui on his daughter’s suicide in Rulin waishi by Wu Jingzi (1701-1754) “If men want to make loyalty and righteousness their own responsibility, that is fine, but how does the virtue and chastity of women reflect any glory on men?” Yu Zhengxie (1775-1840) “These women [chaste widows] are to be pitied. Trapped for no good rea- son by tradition and numbers, they are sacrificed to no purpose.” Lu Xun (1881-1936) Despite mountains of historical records, and hundreds of twentieth- century commentaries and studies, we are still in the formative stages of trying to forge a scholarly consensus about the causes, the meanings, and the significance of female suicides in Ming and Qing China. In some ways, the lack of consensus has been a constant ever since Ming-Qing times which witnessed intense scholarly and official debates on female suicide, the rights
NAN NÜ – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2001
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