Recent scholarship on women and gender has illustrated the prominent role played by women in the late-imperial Chinese literary establishment. Women wrote poetry, and often their ventures were dependent on the support of men who appreciated their poetic talents. This article discusses the ways in which the work of one woman poet (Ye Xiaoluan, 1616-1632) was transmitted. It argues that Xiaoluan's legacy was largely shaped by the ideals and desires of male literati. The process of recreating Xiaoluan's image to fit with constantly changing needs and desires, reminiscent of the continual recreation of the Greek poet Sappho, should form an important element of our understanding of Xiaoluan. The various guises of Xiaoluan suggest that her poetry was rarely central to her reception. Given the focus of much current scholarship on Chinese "woman writers," this article argues for broader awareness of the changing contexts in which their legacies came into being.


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pp. 38-61
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