A talk in Mandarin by Professor Zhao Shanlin, East China Normal University, on the reception of Ming and Qing drama.
Poetry in praise of drama dates to as early as the Song and Yuan. By the Ming and Qing dynasties, these poems numbered in the tens of thousands. These poems have special value for researching the dissemination and reception of drama. First, they express the typical attitude men of letters held regarding drama. That is, “life is like a stage; the stage is like life.” An unbroken line of this attitude can be traced from Wang Anshi and Su Shi in the Song to Wang Yangming and Qian Qianyi in the Ming. Furthermore, these poems reflect the aesthetic connoisseurship values of men of letters, which include skill, music, and charisma. More specifically, these poems highlight an appreciation of acting skills, the quality of singing and the intoxicatingly charismatic portrayals of the actors on stage. Third, such poetry reveals the theoretical interests of men of letters with regards to drama. For example, Ling Tingkan’s (1755-1809) discussion of the relationship between historical reality and artistic license is not unlike that of the German drama theorist, G. E. Lessing (1729-1781).
Zhao Shanlin is a professor in the Department of Chinese at East China Normal University and the former Associate Dean of the Division of Literature and Art at the university. He is an expert on late imperial Chinese drama and is the author of numerous monographs including: “Zhongguo xiqu guanzhong xue” (“A Study of Audiences for Traditional Chinese Drama”), 1990, “Zhongguo xiju xue tonglun” (“A General Theory of Chinese Theater”), 1995, and “Zhongguo xiqu chuanbo jieshou shi” (“A History of the Dissemination and Reception of Traditional Chinese Drama”), 2008.
Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies
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