Enchantment and Disenchantment

Enchantment and Disenchantment : Love and Illusion in Chinese Literature

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In a famous episode of the eighteenth-century masterpiece The Dream of the Red Chamber, the goddess Disenchantment introduces the hero, Pao-yu, to the splendors and dangers of the Illusory Realm of Great Void. The goddess, one of the divine women in Chinese literature who inspire contradictory impulses of attachment and detachment, tells Pao-yu that the purpose of his dream visit is "disenchantment through enchantment," or "enlightenment through love." Examining a range of genres from different periods, Wai-yee Li reveals the persistence of the dialectic embodied by the goddess: while illusion originates in love and desire, it is only through love and desire that illusion can be transcended. Li begins by defining the context of these issues through the study of an entire poetic tradition, placing special emphasis on the role of language and of the feminine element. Then, focusing on the "dream plays" by T'ang Hsien-tsu, she turns to the late Ming, an age which discovers radical subjectivity, and goes on to explore a seventeenth-century collection of classical tales, Records of the Strange from the Liao-chai Studio by P'u Sung-ling.
The latter half of the book is devoted to a thorough analysis of The Dream of the Red Chamber, the most profound treatment of the dialectic of enchantment and disenchantment, love and enlightenment, illusion and reality. Originally published in 1993. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 308 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 16.26mm | 425g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 069160360X
  • 9780691603605
  • 914,138

Table of contents

AcknowledgmentsAbbreviationsCh. 1The Genealogy of Disenchantment3Fu Rhetoric and the Fictional Imagination10Fu Rhetoric and the Feminine Principle17The Topos of the Ambiguous Divine Woman23The Inward Turn of the Topos of the Ambiguous Divine Woman33The Progeny of the Ambiguous Divine Woman41Ch. 2The Late-Ming Moment47Comic Reconciliation in The Peony Pavilion50Detachment through Attachment in The Story of Nan-ko64The Ironic Vision of The Story of Han-tan69The Lyrical Solution in The Palace of Everlasting Life77The Philosophical Solution in Peach Blossom Fan81Enchantment, Disenchantment, and Self-Representation83Ch. 3Desire and Order in Liao-chai chih-i89The Confucian Solution to the Problem of Sensual Love89Pu Sung-ling and the Taming of the Strange92Metamorphosis and Desire100Desire and the Order of Formal Symmetry105Desire and the Logic of Ironic Inversion114The Internal Balance of Desire: Mediation and Complementary Heroines122The Structures of Order136Ch. 4Beginnings: Enchantment and Irony in Hung-lou meng152The Rhetoric of Illusion and the Difficulty of Beginning159Flaw and Supplement163Problems in Literary Communication175The Fate of a Rhetorical Figure179From Myth to History185The Illusory Realm of Great Void190Ch. 5Self-Reflexivity and the Lyrical Ideal in Hung-lou meng202Lust of the Mind203Stone as Narrator210Enlightenment through Love216Ch. 6Disenchantment and Order in Hung-lou meng231The World of the Precious Mirror of Love232The Confusion of the Mythic and the Magical242The Problem of Endings: Order and Return246Ch. 7Epilogue: The Compass of Irony257Works Cited269Index281
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Review quote

"[Li] undertakes to examine the dialectical interplay of enchantment and disenchantment engendered by the ambiguous divine woman as ahe appears in a variety of genres in different periods of Chinese literature...sparkling with rich suggestions and provacative insights, Li's book will undoubtledly falicitate the study of the role and problematic reprisentation of women in literature"--Eighteenth-Century Film
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