Novels of the Ming and Early Ch'ing Dynasties Criticism: Major Works—Overview - Essay

Liu Wu-chi (essay date 1966)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Liu Wu-chi. “Great Novels by Obscure Writers.” In An Introduction to Chinese Literature, pp. 228-46. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1966.

[In this essay, Liu provides an overview of the major novels of the late Ming and early Ch'ing dynasties: Journey to the West, The Golden Lotus, Dream of the Red Chamber, and The Scholars. With the exception of Journey to the West, Liu finds that an unflinching, even graphic realism characterizes the masterworks of the early Chinese novel.]

Contemporaneous with the short story, the Chinese novel flourished from the middle of the Ming dynasty to the end of the Ch'ing (sixteenth to early...

(The entire section is 10353 words.)

C. T. Hsia (essay date 1968)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hsia, C. T. “Chin P'ing Mei.” In The Classic Chinese Novel, pp. 165-202. New York: Columbia University Press, 1968.

[In this excerpt, Hsia uses the story of Lotus, a novel within the novel Chin P'ing Mei (The Golden Lotus), to illuminate the strengths and the moral attitude of the text. The extreme obscenity of some portions of the novel are, for Hsia, a key aspect of its forceful “moral realism,” and they represent some of the best writing in the work.]

One cannot expect a work to possess ideological or philosophical coherence when it manifests such obvious structural anarchy. Yet, before one can properly appreciate the finer aspects of...

(The entire section is 9965 words.)

David T. Roy (essay date 1977)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Roy, David T. “Chang Chu-p'o's Commentary on the Chin p'ing mei.” In Chinese Narrative: Critical and Theoretical Essays, edited by Andrew H. Plaks, pp. 115-23. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977.

[In this essay, Roy suggests that Chang Chu-p'o's commentary on Chin p'ing mei (The Golden Lotus) represents an early Chinese poetics of the novel. Chang Chu-p'o's assessment of the novel focuses on the style, structure, and technique of the work and de-emphasizes the issues of allegory and morality for which The Golden Lotus was notorious.]

In 1644 Chin Sheng-t'an (d. 1661) published an edition of the Shui-hu chuan, the...

(The entire section is 3772 words.)

Winston L. Y. Yang, Peter Li and Nathan K. Mao (essay date 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Yang, Winston L. Y., Peter Li, and Nathan K. Mao. “Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin,” and “Journey to the West and Flowers in the Mirror.” In Classical Chinese Fiction: A Guide to Its Study and Appreciation, pp. 39-51, 71-78. London: George Prior Publishers, 1978.

[In these excerpts, Yang, Li and Mao first outline the importance of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin as foundational texts in the history of the Chinese novel. They address the evolution of the texts through the seventeenth century and the differing approaches to history taken by each author. They also note the varying interpretations...

(The entire section is 11418 words.)

C. T. Hsia (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hsia, C. T. “A Dream of Red Mansions.” In Approaches to the Asian Classics, edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, pp. 262-73. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

[In this essay, Hsia introduces Hung-lou men, translated often as The Dream of the Red Chamber or as A Dream of Red Mansions, to a Western reading audience. Hsia argues that the novel is the culmination of the development of the Chinese novel through the Ming and early Ch'ing period, drawing from earlier landmark works including Chin p'ing mei.]

The Chinese novel Hung-lou meng is customarily known in English as The Dream of the Red Chamber...

(The entire section is 4029 words.)