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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


From Tang Fiction to Ming Opera: An Observation on the Transformation of the Term Chuanqi in the History of Literature

Vol. 50 No. 4  12/2020



From Tang Fiction to Ming Opera: An Observation on the Transformation of the Term Chuanqi in the History of Literature


Kang Yun-mei











Key words

chuanqi傳奇, fiction, opera, the history of literature, Hu Yinglin胡應麟


This article analyzes the development of the word chuanqi 傳奇, describing its transformation from a term denoting fiction in the Tang to one denoting opera in the Ming. The article first conducts a review of existing literature and scholarship on this topic, describing in detail chuanqi’s shift in meaning from fiction to opera. It then recounts how chuanqi evolved in the Tang from a specialized term to a more general designation for the fiction genre. Turning to the Song dynasty, the article elucidates the process whereby the meaning of chuanqi began to change, shifting from fiction to opera. The article then investigates the phenomenon of using chuanqi as both a special appellation and a general name for operas during the Yuan and Ming dynasties. It further describes Hu Yinglin’s 胡應麟view on how the denotation of chuanqi changed from Tang fiction to opera, and highlights the importance of his theory in comparison to the discussions put forth by later generations. Through the examination presented in this article, it is possible to clearly discern the actual development of the term chuanqi in the history of Chinese literature, especially the process underlying the shift in its primary referent from fiction to opera.


Author: Kang Yun-mei
Genre: Article
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