Reviews the workforce, they are still objectified quite often in society, as can be seen in the designations of unmarried women in their late twenties as "leftovers," and prostitutes as a "cancer of society." It is fascinating to compare twenty-first-century China with the late Qing period Widmer depicts. In the first generation, Wang Qingdi was a free spirit with an enthusiastic ambition for the fulfillment of her talent, even though society did not value woman's talent in writing. And in the second generation, we have much to learn in contemplating Zhan Xi's acknowledgment of women's abilities and Zhan Kai's admiration of women's power, portaying courtesans as the leading heroines. Interestingly enough, all those courtesan characters could be traced easily to their prototypes in real life, making it uplifting and intoxicating for a female audience nowadays to read, "women can affect China's future in important ways" (p. 147). Widmer finds a perfect angle, a perfect family, and a perfect era to produce a genuinely feminist literary family history. Finally, to borrow Zhan Kai's line, "Women, take heed!" (p. 230). Guo Chen Guo Chen is a senior lecturer of cultural comparisons in the School of Foreign Languages and Cultures at
China Review International – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Apr 14, 2015
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