The Inner Quarters and Beyond: Women Writers from Ming through Qing (review)

The Inner Quarters and Beyond: Women Writers from Ming through Qing (review) Reviews 53 GraceS.FongandEllenWidmer,editors.The Inner Quarters and Beyond: Women Writers from Ming through Qing.Leiden:BrillAcademic Publishers,2010.xiv,431pp.Hardcover,$185.00,isbn978-9-004-18521-0. ThisconferencevolumecentersonMingand(mostly)Qingwomen'swritings (fifty-threetitles)intheHartCollectionoftheHarvard-YenchingLibraryand (overfortytitles)inthegeneralcollectionoftheHarvard-Yenching.Fundedbythe AmericanCouncilofLearnedSocieties,theconferenceparticipantsdrewonthese richcollections,whichhavebeendigitizedthroughajointprojectofHarvardand McGillUniversityundertheleadershipofGraceFong.(Seethewebsite:http:// digital.library.mcgill.ca/mingqing.)BuildingonthepreviousworkofDorothyKo, SusanMann,Kang-iSunChang,CharlotteFurth,BeataGrant,WiltIdema,and manyothersincludingothercontributorstothisvolume,theseessaysfurther enrichourunderstandingofwritingwomenintheMingandQingperiods. GraceFongbeginsthevolumewithanintroductoryessaytracingbrieflythe earlierworkonMingandQingwomenwritersanddescribingtheworkofthe ACLSconferenceparticipants.Acknowledgingtheindispensablesupportof men--usuallyfathers,uncles,brothers,andhusbands--inpublishingwritingsby women,Fongsuggeststhatdespitethespatiallimitationsplacedonwomen, confiningthemtothe"innerquarters,"wenowunderstandthroughtheirvoluminouswritingsthattheyindisputablyparticipatedin"thesocial,cultural,and politicallandscapeoftheMingthroughQing"(p.9). Part1,"IntheDomesticRealm,"beginswithFong'sownessay,"Writingand Illness:AFeminineConditioninWomen'sPoetryoftheMingandQing."1With thedigitizeddatabaseshehasassembled,Fongwasabletousethecomputer's searchfunctiontolocateover450women'spoemsonthethemeofillness.Fong arguesconvincinglythatwomenwroteonillnessmorefrequentlythandidmen, thoughnotnearlyasexplicitlyinpoetryasmaleauthorsdidinfictionandprose. Shesuggeststhatwomenoftensawillnessas"ameansofsignifyingotherpossibilitiesanddimensionsofexperience:bodilysensations,mentalperceptions,emotionalconditions,andspiritualreflectioninwomen'sprivatelives"(p.25).Men alsowroteoftheirillnessesinpoetry,butwhereasmensawillnessasafrustrating obstacletoworkandtravel,womentendedtoseeillnessasofferingaperiodof freedomfromhouseholdworkandanalternatespaceforstudyandthewritingof poetry.Intheprocess,femaleillnesswasaestheticizedinartandliterature,and womentook"thefrailtyassociatedwithillnessasafittingsignifieroffemininity" (p.30).Fongincludesbeautifultranslations,alongwiththeChinesetexts,ofsome fifteenwomen'spoems. AnneMcLarenexploreswomen'spoeticlamentsinheressay,"Lamentingthe Dead:Women'sPerformanceofGriefinLateImperialChina."Aswithpoemson illness,menandwomenbothwrotelamentsforthedead,butMcLarennotesthat laments(funeralaswellasbridal)wereparticularlyassociatedwithwomen's © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 54 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.1,2011 emotionalwork.Inthisrichoralandritualtradition,womenwerejudgedonthe qualityoftheiroralperformanceofgrief.WhileeliteMingwomendidnotperformorallaments,theydrewontheoraltraditionsintheirpoeticcompositions. Thefunerallamentofferedawomanachancetodemonstrateinwritingherstrong senseoffiliation,wifelylove,motherlydevotion,andsoforth.Afterabriefoverviewofthelongevolutionofthepoeticfunerallament,McLarennotesthatthe intensepublicexpressionofemotion(whichpeasantwomenengagedinatfunerals)wasnotanoptionforelitewomen,butelitewomendrewonthisrichoral traditionintheirpublishedpoems. WhileMcLarensurveyedtheMing Qing Women's Writingsdatabase--finding 259titleswithku(wailedlament)inthetitle,167withdao(mourning),110with wan(elegy),93withwang(deceased),and50withyi(remembering)--shedevotes overhalfofheressaytotranslationsofthefunerallamentsoftwoprominentMing womenpoets,ShenYixiu(1590­1635)andBoShaojun(d.1625).ShenYixiuwrote heartfeltlamentsforherfamoustalenteddaughters,YeXiaoluan(1616­1632)and YeWanwan(1610­1632),whodiedwithinafewmonthsofeachotherin1632.Bo Shaojun'shusbanddiedattheageofthirtyin1625,andshefollowedhimindeath, perhapsbysuicide,afterayearofintensemourningforhisloss.Bo'slamentsfor herhusband(onehundredheptasyllabicquatrainsofwhicheighty-onesurvive) werepublicdemonstrationsofhergrief,herhardships,herpoetictalent,andher deepwifelyloyaltytoherhusband.McLarensuggests,inconclusion,thatwomen intheMingappropriatedwhathadbeenprimarilyamalegenreofeulogies,for theirparentsandwives,andadaptedtheformtomourntheiruterinefamilies, theirnatalfamilies,andtheirhusbands. Part2,"LargerHorizons:EditingandItsImplications,"beginswithEllen Widmer'sessay,"RetrievingthePast:WomenEditorsandWomen'sPoetry,1636­ 1941."WidmerbuildsonKang-iSunChang'searlieressayonMingandQing anthologiesofwomen'spoetry,butincontrasttoChang,Widmerfocusesonlyon anthologiescompiledbywomen.Widmerexaminessixanthologies:ShenYixiu's collectionofpoemsbyhercontemporariesinJiangnan(1736),WangDuanshu's (1621­1685)anthologyofmostlyMingpoetsofJiangnan(1667),YunZhu's(1771­ 1833)anthologyofQingwomenpoets(1831,1836),ShenShanbao's(1808­1862) "RemarksonPoetry"offamouswomen(1845),ShanShili's(1858­1945)updated supplementtoYunZhu'santhology(1911­1918),andXianYuqing's(1895­1965) collectedbiographiesoffemalepoetsofGuangdong(1941).WhereasShenYixiu wasmainlyconcernedtoretrieveandmakeknownthewritingsofsomeforty-six accomplishedwomenpoets,WangDuanshusetouttodocumentthecultural richnessoftheMingera,includingtwothousandpoemsofoveronethousand poets.YunZhu,bycontrast,emphasizedtheQingdynasticsuccessandthecompatibilityoftalentand virtueinthehighQing,includingfourthousandpoemsby some1,500authors.ShenShanbaodemonstratedherowncriticalexpertiseby assessingthepoetryofmanyofthewomenincludedinYunZhu'santhology.She Reviews 55 waslessformalandlessdidacticthanYunZhuandmorewillingtoincludewomen poetsassociatedwithYuanMeiandChenWenshu,thesomewhatcontroversial malepoetswhotookwomenstudents.Inthetwentiethcentury,ShanShilicompiledhersequeltoYunZhu'santhology,withtwohundredpoets,inthesame pro-ManchuspiritofconservativeorthodoxyasYunZhu,despitethefallofthe QingjustbeforeShanbeganhercompilation.Finally,XianYuqingcompiled biographiesof106femalepoetsfromGuangdong,rangingintimefromtheTang dynastyupthroughtheQing.Thisisaratherdisparategroupofworks,which Widmerseemstohavechosenprimarilyonthebasisofthehighscholarlyreputationandhighsocialstatusofthecompilers. Inchapter4,"TheUnseenHand:ContextualizingLuoQilanandHerAnthologies,"RobynHamiltonsuggeststhatanthologiesoftenobscuredasmuchasthey revealedabouttheircompilersandtheircollectedauthors.Hertaskinthisessayis toexplorethebiographicalandsocialcontextofLuoQilan'sworkinordertoshed lightonhersocialcircleandherpurposesincompilinganthologiesofwomen's poetry.HamiltonnotesthatLuoQilan(1755­after1813)wasmoreoutspokenthan mostwomeninherlamentationsofthedisadvantageswomenfacedwithinthe constrictionsoftheinnerquartersandthelackofprofessionalopportunitiesto developtheirliteraryandartisticabilities.Luowasachildlessyoungwidowwho, incontrasttomostotherpublishedwomenauthors,receivednonoticeablesupportfromhermalerelatives,butshehadtheadvantageofcloserelationswith manyprominentmenandwomenintheQingelite.Shestudiedwiththefamous malepoetsYuanMei(1716­1798),WangWenzhi(1730­1802),andZengYu(1759­ 1830)andsharedwiththemaverywidecircleofprominentassociates.Shealso knewmanyofthefemalestudentsofRenZhaolin(fl.1776­1823),anothermale poetfamousforteachingwomenstudents.Inadditiontoherowncollectedpoetry, Luopublishedtwoanthologiesofpoetry,onewithselectionsbyseventeenofher femaleacquaintances,andonebyoverninetymen,allwithpoemspraisingLuo Qilan. HamiltonfeaturesthreewomeninparticularwhomLuoincludedinher anthologyofseventeenwomenpoets.WithJiangZhu(1764­1804),astudentof RenZhaolin,shesharedadeepinterestintheBuddhistandDaoistfaithand practiceandacommondesiretoraisethestatusofwomeninQingsociety.She wasalsoclosetoYuYuansu(ca.1727­?),astudentofYuanMei'swhobecamemore famousforherembroiderythanforherwriting.Yuwouldfrequentlymake embroideredcopiesofLuo'spaintings,includingcalligraphy.Anotherofherclose femalefriendswastheChangzhoupoetandpainterZhouLilan(fl.eighteenth century),whoalsosharedcommoninterestsinspirituality,apassionforpoetry, and,especially,painting.HamiltonconvincinglyarguesthatLuoQilanwasunique inarticulatingherowndesireforfameandrecognitionandinanthologizing womenofhighmoralandartisticreputationwhoseinclusionservedtoenhance herownartisticreputation. 56 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.1,2011 OneofmyfavoriteessaysinthiscollectionisWeiHua's"FromPrivateLifeto PublicPerformances:TheConstitutedMemoryand(Re)WritingsoftheEarly QingWoman,WuZongai."AyoungwidowfromZhejiangprovince'sYongkang, WuZongai(1650­1674)committedsuicidein1674ratherthansubmittomarriage toarebelgeneralintheFujianfeudatory.Shehadwrittensomepoemsbutwas nevermentionedinanygazetteerorpublishedhistoryuntil1843whenalocal official,WuTingkang,discoveredherpoetryandheardthestoryfromlocalelders thatshehadcommittedsuicideratherthanmarryarebelgeneral.Wucollected herpoemsandothermaterialsaboutherandaskedhisfriendstowritebiographiesand,inonecase,aplayaboutherheroicself-sacrifice.Inthemythologized versionofWuZongai'slife,shesavedherdistrictfromtherampagesofrebel armiesbypretendingtoleaveherhometomarrytherebelgeneralandthen preservedherownhonorbyjumpingoffaclifftoherdeathbeforethemarriage couldbeconsummated. Huademonstratesthatagreatdealofspeculation,rewriting,andimagining wentintothelaterconstructionofWuZongai'sstory.ThedetailsofWuZongai's marriageandofhersuicidewereallcreated140yearsaftershedied,asherheroic storyfittheconcernsandpreoccupationsoftheliterati,whofoundherstorytobe acompellingsagaofself-sacrificetosaveherregionfromdisaster.Theliterati's interestinWuZongaihadlittletodowithherpoetryaspoetrybuteverything to dowiththeappealofaheroinewhosecouragecouldhelpsaveadistrictfrom catastrophe.OneofWuTingkan'sfriends,HuangXieqing,wroteaplaydramatizingtheheroismofWuZongai2andaddingmanydetailsthatlackanyhistorical basis,includingamythicalframeworkforherstoryinwhichsheispunishedto sufferonearthbytheQueenMotheroftheWestforinsubordinationintherealm ofimmortals,andthenrewardedinheavenforherheroicsuicideandself-sacrifice forthenation. Chapter6isWai-yeeLi'sexcellentessay,"WomenWritersandGenderBoundariesduringtheMing-QingTransition."Libeginswithsomeofthemostfamous Mingloyalistwomenwriters,suchasLiuRushi(1617­1664),WangDuanshu (1621­ca.1685),andLiYin(1610?­1685),forwhomthefalloftheMingpresented anexistentialcrisisaswellastheopportunityforexplicitpoliticalandhistorical commentary.However,shedevotesmostofheressaytothepoetryofsomewhat lesserknownMingloyalistsLiuShu(bornca.1620),WuQi(fl.mid-seventeenth century),ZhouQiong(ca.mid-seventeenthcentury),andGuZhenli(1624­after 1685).Liprovideswonderfullyannotatedtranslationsofthesewomen'spoems, pointingouteveryallusion,nomatterhowobscure.Thewomensometimesecho themasculinepoetryof"heroicaspirationsandtheultimatefailuretofulfillheroic ideals"(p.188),andtheyportraytheeremiticsurvivorsofdynasticchangeas resignedtofailure. Liinsightfullysuggeststhatthistimeofdynasticcrisispresentedthesewomen authorsnotonlywithgravedangersbutalsowithanewopportunitytowrite Reviews 57 openlyaboutpolitical/militaryeventsoftheirtime.Thus,theyexpressedempathy withtheirmalefriendsandrelativescaughtinthedilemmasofdynasticcrisis,but thiscrisisandthisempathyalsoservedtomagnifytheirownfrustrationsoverthe genderrestrictionsoftheirsociety,restrictionsonpoliticalinvolvement,onculturalconventions,andonliteraryexpectations.Inthelightofthegreattraumatic eventsofdynasticchange,somewomenwriterscametofeelquitecontemptuous ofthefeminineexpectationsplaceduponthem.Thus,GuZhenliendedasong lyric: Intheboudoir,fornaughtthetearsIshedforthecountry; Consider:theoneinwhiteclothesandgreyscarf-- Whymustshebelesserthanmen? IthastobethejealousyofHeaven.(p.204) LiconcludesthattheresponseofwomenwriterstotheMing-Qingdynastic change"wasdecisiveinshapingnewdirectionsinwomen'swritings,"astheirvery self-definitionwas"realizedinwitnessing,remembering,andunderstandingthe http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

The Inner Quarters and Beyond: Women Writers from Ming through Qing (review)

China Review International, Volume 18 (1) – Aug 9, 2011

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Reviews 53 GraceS.FongandEllenWidmer,editors.The Inner Quarters and Beyond: Women Writers from Ming through Qing.Leiden:BrillAcademic Publishers,2010.xiv,431pp.Hardcover,$185.00,isbn978-9-004-18521-0. ThisconferencevolumecentersonMingand(mostly)Qingwomen'swritings (fifty-threetitles)intheHartCollectionoftheHarvard-YenchingLibraryand (overfortytitles)inthegeneralcollectionoftheHarvard-Yenching.Fundedbythe AmericanCouncilofLearnedSocieties,theconferenceparticipantsdrewonthese richcollections,whichhavebeendigitizedthroughajointprojectofHarvardand McGillUniversityundertheleadershipofGraceFong.(Seethewebsite:http:// digital.library.mcgill.ca/mingqing.)BuildingonthepreviousworkofDorothyKo, SusanMann,Kang-iSunChang,CharlotteFurth,BeataGrant,WiltIdema,and manyothersincludingothercontributorstothisvolume,theseessaysfurther enrichourunderstandingofwritingwomenintheMingandQingperiods. GraceFongbeginsthevolumewithanintroductoryessaytracingbrieflythe earlierworkonMingandQingwomenwritersanddescribingtheworkofthe ACLSconferenceparticipants.Acknowledgingtheindispensablesupportof men--usuallyfathers,uncles,brothers,andhusbands--inpublishingwritingsby women,Fongsuggeststhatdespitethespatiallimitationsplacedonwomen, confiningthemtothe"innerquarters,"wenowunderstandthroughtheirvoluminouswritingsthattheyindisputablyparticipatedin"thesocial,cultural,and politicallandscapeoftheMingthroughQing"(p.9). Part1,"IntheDomesticRealm,"beginswithFong'sownessay,"Writingand Illness:AFeminineConditioninWomen'sPoetryoftheMingandQing."1With thedigitizeddatabaseshehasassembled,Fongwasabletousethecomputer's searchfunctiontolocateover450women'spoemsonthethemeofillness.Fong arguesconvincinglythatwomenwroteonillnessmorefrequentlythandidmen, thoughnotnearlyasexplicitlyinpoetryasmaleauthorsdidinfictionandprose. Shesuggeststhatwomenoftensawillnessas"ameansofsignifyingotherpossibilitiesanddimensionsofexperience:bodilysensations,mentalperceptions,emotionalconditions,andspiritualreflectioninwomen'sprivatelives"(p.25).Men alsowroteoftheirillnessesinpoetry,butwhereasmensawillnessasafrustrating obstacletoworkandtravel,womentendedtoseeillnessasofferingaperiodof freedomfromhouseholdworkandanalternatespaceforstudyandthewritingof poetry.Intheprocess,femaleillnesswasaestheticizedinartandliterature,and womentook"thefrailtyassociatedwithillnessasafittingsignifieroffemininity" (p.30).Fongincludesbeautifultranslations,alongwiththeChinesetexts,ofsome fifteenwomen'spoems. AnneMcLarenexploreswomen'spoeticlamentsinheressay,"Lamentingthe Dead:Women'sPerformanceofGriefinLateImperialChina."Aswithpoemson illness,menandwomenbothwrotelamentsforthedead,butMcLarennotesthat laments(funeralaswellasbridal)wereparticularlyassociatedwithwomen's © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 54 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.1,2011 emotionalwork.Inthisrichoralandritualtradition,womenwerejudgedonthe qualityoftheiroralperformanceofgrief.WhileeliteMingwomendidnotperformorallaments,theydrewontheoraltraditionsintheirpoeticcompositions. Thefunerallamentofferedawomanachancetodemonstrateinwritingherstrong senseoffiliation,wifelylove,motherlydevotion,andsoforth.Afterabriefoverviewofthelongevolutionofthepoeticfunerallament,McLarennotesthatthe intensepublicexpressionofemotion(whichpeasantwomenengagedinatfunerals)wasnotanoptionforelitewomen,butelitewomendrewonthisrichoral traditionintheirpublishedpoems. WhileMcLarensurveyedtheMing Qing Women's Writingsdatabase--finding 259titleswithku(wailedlament)inthetitle,167withdao(mourning),110with wan(elegy),93withwang(deceased),and50withyi(remembering)--shedevotes overhalfofheressaytotranslationsofthefunerallamentsoftwoprominentMing womenpoets,ShenYixiu(1590­1635)andBoShaojun(d.1625).ShenYixiuwrote heartfeltlamentsforherfamoustalenteddaughters,YeXiaoluan(1616­1632)and YeWanwan(1610­1632),whodiedwithinafewmonthsofeachotherin1632.Bo Shaojun'shusbanddiedattheageofthirtyin1625,andshefollowedhimindeath, perhapsbysuicide,afterayearofintensemourningforhisloss.Bo'slamentsfor herhusband(onehundredheptasyllabicquatrainsofwhicheighty-onesurvive) werepublicdemonstrationsofhergrief,herhardships,herpoetictalent,andher deepwifelyloyaltytoherhusband.McLarensuggests,inconclusion,thatwomen intheMingappropriatedwhathadbeenprimarilyamalegenreofeulogies,for theirparentsandwives,andadaptedtheformtomourntheiruterinefamilies, theirnatalfamilies,andtheirhusbands. Part2,"LargerHorizons:EditingandItsImplications,"beginswithEllen Widmer'sessay,"RetrievingthePast:WomenEditorsandWomen'sPoetry,1636­ 1941."WidmerbuildsonKang-iSunChang'searlieressayonMingandQing anthologiesofwomen'spoetry,butincontrasttoChang,Widmerfocusesonlyon anthologiescompiledbywomen.Widmerexaminessixanthologies:ShenYixiu's collectionofpoemsbyhercontemporariesinJiangnan(1736),WangDuanshu's (1621­1685)anthologyofmostlyMingpoetsofJiangnan(1667),YunZhu's(1771­ 1833)anthologyofQingwomenpoets(1831,1836),ShenShanbao's(1808­1862) "RemarksonPoetry"offamouswomen(1845),ShanShili's(1858­1945)updated supplementtoYunZhu'santhology(1911­1918),andXianYuqing's(1895­1965) collectedbiographiesoffemalepoetsofGuangdong(1941).WhereasShenYixiu wasmainlyconcernedtoretrieveandmakeknownthewritingsofsomeforty-six accomplishedwomenpoets,WangDuanshusetouttodocumentthecultural richnessoftheMingera,includingtwothousandpoemsofoveronethousand poets.YunZhu,bycontrast,emphasizedtheQingdynasticsuccessandthecompatibilityoftalentand virtueinthehighQing,includingfourthousandpoemsby some1,500authors.ShenShanbaodemonstratedherowncriticalexpertiseby assessingthepoetryofmanyofthewomenincludedinYunZhu'santhology.She Reviews 55 waslessformalandlessdidacticthanYunZhuandmorewillingtoincludewomen poetsassociatedwithYuanMeiandChenWenshu,thesomewhatcontroversial malepoetswhotookwomenstudents.Inthetwentiethcentury,ShanShilicompiledhersequeltoYunZhu'santhology,withtwohundredpoets,inthesame pro-ManchuspiritofconservativeorthodoxyasYunZhu,despitethefallofthe QingjustbeforeShanbeganhercompilation.Finally,XianYuqingcompiled biographiesof106femalepoetsfromGuangdong,rangingintimefromtheTang dynastyupthroughtheQing.Thisisaratherdisparategroupofworks,which Widmerseemstohavechosenprimarilyonthebasisofthehighscholarlyreputationandhighsocialstatusofthecompilers. Inchapter4,"TheUnseenHand:ContextualizingLuoQilanandHerAnthologies,"RobynHamiltonsuggeststhatanthologiesoftenobscuredasmuchasthey revealedabouttheircompilersandtheircollectedauthors.Hertaskinthisessayis toexplorethebiographicalandsocialcontextofLuoQilan'sworkinordertoshed lightonhersocialcircleandherpurposesincompilinganthologiesofwomen's poetry.HamiltonnotesthatLuoQilan(1755­after1813)wasmoreoutspokenthan mostwomeninherlamentationsofthedisadvantageswomenfacedwithinthe constrictionsoftheinnerquartersandthelackofprofessionalopportunitiesto developtheirliteraryandartisticabilities.Luowasachildlessyoungwidowwho, incontrasttomostotherpublishedwomenauthors,receivednonoticeablesupportfromhermalerelatives,butshehadtheadvantageofcloserelationswith manyprominentmenandwomenintheQingelite.Shestudiedwiththefamous malepoetsYuanMei(1716­1798),WangWenzhi(1730­1802),andZengYu(1759­ 1830)andsharedwiththemaverywidecircleofprominentassociates.Shealso knewmanyofthefemalestudentsofRenZhaolin(fl.1776­1823),anothermale poetfamousforteachingwomenstudents.Inadditiontoherowncollectedpoetry, Luopublishedtwoanthologiesofpoetry,onewithselectionsbyseventeenofher femaleacquaintances,andonebyoverninetymen,allwithpoemspraisingLuo Qilan. HamiltonfeaturesthreewomeninparticularwhomLuoincludedinher anthologyofseventeenwomenpoets.WithJiangZhu(1764­1804),astudentof RenZhaolin,shesharedadeepinterestintheBuddhistandDaoistfaithand practiceandacommondesiretoraisethestatusofwomeninQingsociety.She wasalsoclosetoYuYuansu(ca.1727­?),astudentofYuanMei'swhobecamemore famousforherembroiderythanforherwriting.Yuwouldfrequentlymake embroideredcopiesofLuo'spaintings,includingcalligraphy.Anotherofherclose femalefriendswastheChangzhoupoetandpainterZhouLilan(fl.eighteenth century),whoalsosharedcommoninterestsinspirituality,apassionforpoetry, and,especially,painting.HamiltonconvincinglyarguesthatLuoQilanwasunique inarticulatingherowndesireforfameandrecognitionandinanthologizing womenofhighmoralandartisticreputationwhoseinclusionservedtoenhance herownartisticreputation. 56 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.1,2011 OneofmyfavoriteessaysinthiscollectionisWeiHua's"FromPrivateLifeto PublicPerformances:TheConstitutedMemoryand(Re)WritingsoftheEarly QingWoman,WuZongai."AyoungwidowfromZhejiangprovince'sYongkang, WuZongai(1650­1674)committedsuicidein1674ratherthansubmittomarriage toarebelgeneralintheFujianfeudatory.Shehadwrittensomepoemsbutwas nevermentionedinanygazetteerorpublishedhistoryuntil1843whenalocal official,WuTingkang,discoveredherpoetryandheardthestoryfromlocalelders thatshehadcommittedsuicideratherthanmarryarebelgeneral.Wucollected herpoemsandothermaterialsaboutherandaskedhisfriendstowritebiographiesand,inonecase,aplayaboutherheroicself-sacrifice.Inthemythologized versionofWuZongai'slife,shesavedherdistrictfromtherampagesofrebel armiesbypretendingtoleaveherhometomarrytherebelgeneralandthen preservedherownhonorbyjumpingoffaclifftoherdeathbeforethemarriage couldbeconsummated. Huademonstratesthatagreatdealofspeculation,rewriting,andimagining wentintothelaterconstructionofWuZongai'sstory.ThedetailsofWuZongai's marriageandofhersuicidewereallcreated140yearsaftershedied,asherheroic storyfittheconcernsandpreoccupationsoftheliterati,whofoundherstorytobe acompellingsagaofself-sacrificetosaveherregionfromdisaster.Theliterati's interestinWuZongaihadlittletodowithherpoetryaspoetrybuteverything to dowiththeappealofaheroinewhosecouragecouldhelpsaveadistrictfrom catastrophe.OneofWuTingkan'sfriends,HuangXieqing,wroteaplaydramatizingtheheroismofWuZongai2andaddingmanydetailsthatlackanyhistorical basis,includingamythicalframeworkforherstoryinwhichsheispunishedto sufferonearthbytheQueenMotheroftheWestforinsubordinationintherealm ofimmortals,andthenrewardedinheavenforherheroicsuicideandself-sacrifice forthenation. Chapter6isWai-yeeLi'sexcellentessay,"WomenWritersandGenderBoundariesduringtheMing-QingTransition."Libeginswithsomeofthemostfamous Mingloyalistwomenwriters,suchasLiuRushi(1617­1664),WangDuanshu (1621­ca.1685),andLiYin(1610?­1685),forwhomthefalloftheMingpresented anexistentialcrisisaswellastheopportunityforexplicitpoliticalandhistorical commentary.However,shedevotesmostofheressaytothepoetryofsomewhat lesserknownMingloyalistsLiuShu(bornca.1620),WuQi(fl.mid-seventeenth century),ZhouQiong(ca.mid-seventeenthcentury),andGuZhenli(1624­after 1685).Liprovideswonderfullyannotatedtranslationsofthesewomen'spoems, pointingouteveryallusion,nomatterhowobscure.Thewomensometimesecho themasculinepoetryof"heroicaspirationsandtheultimatefailuretofulfillheroic ideals"(p.188),andtheyportraytheeremiticsurvivorsofdynasticchangeas resignedtofailure. Liinsightfullysuggeststhatthistimeofdynasticcrisispresentedthesewomen authorsnotonlywithgravedangersbutalsowithanewopportunitytowrite Reviews 57 openlyaboutpolitical/militaryeventsoftheirtime.Thus,theyexpressedempathy withtheirmalefriendsandrelativescaughtinthedilemmasofdynasticcrisis,but thiscrisisandthisempathyalsoservedtomagnifytheirownfrustrationsoverthe genderrestrictionsoftheirsociety,restrictionsonpoliticalinvolvement,onculturalconventions,andonliteraryexpectations.Inthelightofthegreattraumatic eventsofdynasticchange,somewomenwriterscametofeelquitecontemptuous ofthefeminineexpectationsplaceduponthem.Thus,GuZhenliendedasong lyric: Intheboudoir,fornaughtthetearsIshedforthecountry; Consider:theoneinwhiteclothesandgreyscarf-- Whymustshebelesserthanmen? IthastobethejealousyofHeaven.(p.204) LiconcludesthattheresponseofwomenwriterstotheMing-Qingdynastic change"wasdecisiveinshapingnewdirectionsinwomen'swritings,"astheirvery self-definitionwas"realizedinwitnessing,remembering,andunderstandingthe

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