Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.663617
Title: Childlikeness in the writings of Pu Songling (1640-1715)
Author: Weightman, Frances
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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Abstract:
Pu Songling is well known for his recurrent failure to progress up through the civil service examination system, despite repeatedly taking the provincial level exam over a time-span of forty years. Nevertheless, he was able to produce a highly acclaimed work of literature, his monumental anthology of short stories, the Strange Tales of Liaozhai (Liaozhai zhiyi), together with a large volume of poetry, plays and other writings. My thesis considers the dichotomy between his lack of worldly success in a scholastic career, and his evident literary genius, within the context of an idealisation of innocence and childlike purity. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw what has been described as a “cult of the child” develop in many spheres of Chinese writing. Idealisation of childlikeness and innocence is exemplified by the influential essay “On the childlike mind” (tongxin shuo) by Li Zhi (1527-1602). For those who subscribed to views such as Li’s, genuineness, spontaneity and idealism were venerated, and worldly wisdom, cunning and falseness were despised. This naturally appealed to the growing number of literati like Pu Songling who, trapped within the stultifying examination system, were unable to fulfil their Confucian vocation and thus were rendered socially redundant. The contradiction between Pu’s ideals and the reality in which he finds himself is reflected in his creative writing. By idealising naive innocence and purity, in keeping with contemporary trends of literati thought, Pu is able to vent his frustration. In this thesis I consider three aspects of childlikeness in Pu’s writings: fantasy, naiveté and folly.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.663617  DOI: Not available
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