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Title: An analysis of the seventeenth-century Chinese vernacular novel Sui Yangdi Yanshi (The Sensational History of Sui Emperor Yang)
Author: Ellis, David
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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Sui Yangdi Yanshi (The Sensational History of Sui Emperor Yang) is a historical novel published in China in 1631. It portrays, in sometimes graphic detail, the rise and decline of Emperor Yang (reigned 605 - 613) whose obsession with massive construction projects and pursuit of sensual pleasure resulted in the collapse of the dynasty. The novel sank into relative obscurity upon the accession of the more conservative Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911). The major reason for the decline of the novel may be attributed to its inclusion in a later novel, Sui Tang Yanyi (Romance of the Sui and Tang Dynasties) which diluted the more graphic elements of the earlier work and embraced a more conservative social vision. This thesis utilises a critical methodology based on aspects of the work of the Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin - specifically the concepts of genre, polyphony and intertextuality - to argue that the emerging vernacular novel form in seventeenth-century China is an open-ended and complex form which is capable of accommodating a variety of discourses, and which provides an environment in which a multiplicity of views are revalorised. It is argued that the novel form was regarded by intellectuals of the period as the best means of conveying human truth within the context of historicity and was a superior vehicle for the expression of the human condition than more institutionalised forms such as the Standard Imperial Histories. The thesis demonstrates that vernacular fiction displays an awareness of its fictionality and analyses the relationship between the narrative body and appended critical commentary. The final chapter utilises the concept of intertextuality to argue that creative understanding of vernacular fiction allows the reader to extend the range of meaning and exploit the latent potential of the vernacular novel form.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available