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Daoist Philosophy and Literati Writings in Late Imperial China

A Case Study of The Story of the Stone

By Zuyan Zhou

Publication Year: 2013

This volume first explores the transformation of Chinese Daoism in late imperial period through the writings of prominent intellectuals of the times. In such a cultural context, it then launches an in-depth investigation into the Daoist dimensions of the Chinese narrative masterpiece, The Story of the Stone—the inscriptions of Quanzhen Daoism in the infrastructure of its religious framework, the ideological ramifications of the Daoist concepts of chaos, purity, and the natural, as well as the Daoist images of the gourd, fish, and bird. Zhou presents the central position of Daoist philosophy both in the ideological structure of the Stone, and the literati culture that engenders it.

Published by: Chinese University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

The production of a book often incurs for its author debts of various kinds—academic, spiritual, and psychological. Its publication provides him a convenient channel to release his pent-up gratitude. It is, therefore, with great pleasure and deep emotion that I am composing this short note of acknowledgement to convey my sincere thanks to those who rendered me assistance on its journey to publication. ...

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pp. 1-16

When dissecting his philosophical orientation, Yuan Mei (1716–1798), a literary celebrity of the mid-Qing, made the following remarks: “If one asks me about the sources of my thinking, three parts [of it] come from Confucius and the Duke of Zhou, the other two parts originate in Zhuangzi.”1 ...

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1. Quanzhen Daoism and The Story of the Stone

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pp. 17-66

Historians of Chinese religion have indicated that although the Daoist religion began to decline from the late Ming, the individual schools enjoyed respective upsurges from time to time. A most prominent phenomenon during the Kangxi (r. 1662–1722), Yongzheng (r. 1723– 1735), and Qianlong (r. 1736–1795) reigns ...

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2. Daoist Philosophy in Late Imperial China: Adaptation, Appropriation, Transformation

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pp. 67-136

In reconstructing the intellectual milieu of the Stone, of which Daoist philosophy constitutes a major component, some scholars emphasize the author’s own time of the mid-Qing.1 This study, however, will incorporate the late Ming with the conviction that the liberal sentiments which had flourished in the immediate past remained an influential cultural legacy when the novel was composed. ...

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3. Chaos and the Gourd

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pp. 137-172

The concept of chaos (hundun) and the image of the gourd (hulu) in the fables quoted above occupy pivotal positions in Daoist discourse; they constantly serve as symbols of the Dao or metaphorical conveyances of the divine power. This symbolic rhetoric continued to function prominently in the writings of the Ming-Qing period. ...

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4. Bird and Fish

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pp. 173-214

The Zhuangzi opens with the above fabulous tale. The fish and bird, Kun and Peng, in fact, ushers in a whole team of animals that the philosopher creates to project his profound outlook of the world; they make the book a series of intriguing fables. ...

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5. The Pure and the Natural

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pp. 215-276

At the center of the value structure of the Stone lies the concept of purity, which stands as a prominent spiritual goal for the main protagonists. Understanding this nuanced concept is essential to grasp Cao Xueqin’s artistic vision. The narrative strikes us with its ambivalence, most evident in the attitude to purity seen in the nun Miaoyu’s characterization. ...

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6. A Brief Reflection in Lieu of Conclusion: Daoist Philosophy, Literati Writings, and Cao Xueqin

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pp. 277-290

In the preceding chapters, we have traversed a fairly extensive body of late imperial literati writings and scrutinized its most esteemed text, the Stone. From the examination of the religious structure of the novel in Chapter One, to the investigation of literati writings in Chapter Two, ...


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pp. 291-292


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pp. 293-306


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pp. 307-316

E-ISBN-13: 9789629969165
Print-ISBN-13: 9789629964979

Page Count: 300
Illustrations: N
Publication Year: 2013