Women entered the book trade in significant numbers in China during the late 16th Century, when it became acceptable for women from 'good families' to write poetry and seek to publish their collected poems. At about the same time, a boom in the publication of fiction began, and semi-professional novelists emerged. This study begins with three case studies, each of which probes one facet of the relationship between women and fiction in the early 19th Century. It examines in turn the prefaces written by four women for a novel about women; the activities of a woman editor and writer of fiction; and writings on fiction by three leading literary women. Building on these case studies, the second half of the book focuses on the many sequels to the "Dream of the Red Chamber" - one of which was demonstrably written by a woman - and the significance of this novel for women. As Ellen Widmer shows, by the end of the century, women were becoming increasingly involved in the novel as critical readers, writers and editors.
And if women and their relationship to fiction changed over the 19th Century, the novel changed as well, not the least in its growing recognition of the importance of female readers.
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(233mm x 180mm x 35mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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Author Biography - Ellen Widmer
Ellen Widmer is Professor of Chinese Literature at Wesleyan University.