Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

It is a great relief after many years to bring this book into the light of day and exorcise its specter for good. As always with a research project of this magnitude and duration, there are almost too many institutions and people to thank. I want to express my deep gratitude to the National Endowment for the Humanities and to ...

Note on Citations and Abbreviations

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p. xi

Selected Dynasties and Periods

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p. xiii

Epigraphs

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p. xiv

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

This is a book about seventeenth-century Chinese literature, but the legacy of the stories, poems, and plays I explore in these pages still exerts a strong grip on the contemporary imagination. The 1987 hit Hong Kong film, A Chinese Ghost Story (Qiannü youhun), directed by Ching Siu Tung and produced by Tsui Hark, is a case in point. ...

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1 The Ghost’s Body

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pp. 13-52

Death is not personified in Chinese thought or rhetoric, and consequently death cannot be represented as a feminine figure as it is at many points in Indo-European traditions.1 Yet the prominence of the female revenant and the frequent fantasy of her resurrection or rebirth is one of the most striking features of seventeenth-century Chinese literature. ...

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2 The Ghost’s Voice

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pp. 53-86

"Perhaps the most obvious thing about death,” write Sarah Goodwin and Elisabeth Bronfen, “is that it is always only represented.” 1 We can never truly know first hand what it would be like to be dead; we can only imagine it. This chapter is about a fantasy inside view of death. It is not an exposé of the topography or organization or activities of the afterlife, (although ...

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3 Ghosts and Historical Time

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pp. 87-130

In the previous chapter I explored how the ghost was used in Chinese literature to stage a confrontation with mortality. Endowing the ghost with a voice capable of expressing subjective emotion, primarily through the vehicle of lyric poetry, opened a window onto the unknowable: what would it feel like to be dead, to be on the other side? Accordingly, these ghost stories represent death as an interior ...

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4 Ghosts and Theatricality

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pp. 131-180

The years from 1580 to 1700 witnessed an explosion of ghosts in writings for the stage. In part, this increase stemmed from a general proliferation of new plays, for this was the heyday of the southern drama (chuanqi). As the playwright Yuan Yuling (1592–1674) declared: “There’s never been such a superabundance of plays as nowadays.” 1 ...

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Coda: Palace of Lasting Life

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pp. 181-197

Hong sheng’s masterpiece, Palace of Lasting Life, has long been acknowledged as one of the two last great works of the southern drama, representing both the culmination and the virtual endpoint of the literary playwright’s creative engagement with this form of theater.1 Begun ...

Appendix: Selected List of Major Translated Book and Film Titles

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pp. 199-201

Notes

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pp. 203-250

Glossary

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pp. 251-258

Works Cited

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pp. 259-282

Index

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pp. 283-296