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


Reading of “Gifted Scholar and Talented Beauty” Novels from the Viewpoint of Gender

Vol. 30 No. 3   9/2000  


Reading of “Gifted Scholar and Talented Beauty” Novels from the Viewpoint of Gender


Chui-ying Chen









Key words

gifted scholar, talented beauty, differences, marginalized literati, viewpoint of gender


       The “Gifted scholar and talented beauty” (Tsai-zi Jiaren) novels popular during the Ming and Ching Dynasties, with their attention to issues of love and marriage and their wealth of female characters, opened up a new chapter in the history of the novel in China. In the past, a great deal of research has been directed at the style, meaning, and plot of stories of this genre. In this paper we shall place out emphasis on gender issues in an attempt to reveal a different level of meaning of the terms “gifted scholar” and “talented beauty”. First, we shall review critiques of this type of fiction since its inception and the state of current research in this area. Next, we will look at the historical circumstances surrounding the creation of this genre in order to obtain an overall understanding of the meaning works of this type had for their era. In the third section of this paper, we will analyze the image of females using texts from this genre: specifically we will examine differences in aspects of the life of women, including their choice of husbands, cross-dressing, wanderings, and encountering hardships. The fourth section of this paper will attempt to show the romantic nature of this genre by discussing how works of this type were vehicles for both articulating the collective voice of the marginalized literati who wrote them and projecting their feelings towards these “talented beauties”. Finally, we will discuss the disadvantaged position to which women have historically been relegated in the hopes that gender issues will receive the attention they deserve in the future.



Author: Chui-ying Chen
Genre: Article
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