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eBook formatNOOKstudy eTextbook, (torrent)En
PublisherProQuest LLC
File size3.5 Mb
Pages count250
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The development of the genre chuanqi (transmissions of the extraordinary) was an exceptional literary phenomenon in the eighth-ninth centuries. Among the themes of the Tang tale, love stories between literati and courtesans were important. Another side of courtesan life, however, can be seen in Sun Qi's Beili zhi (Records of the Northern Quarter; preface 884), the only extant collection of anecdotes from the Tang about courtesans of the Northern Quarter of the capital. This dissertation juxtaposes courtesan culture as portrayed by Sun Qi with that of the Tang-tale depictions in an attempt to unveil literary and historical conventions in these texts.;The Beili zhi was composed in the chaotic era of the Huang Chao (d. 884) rebellion. The author recollected encounters with the courtesans before the capital was captured, framing them through his memory of a golden era a generation before.;Tang poetry also depicts the courtesan by idealizing these women as immortals. The Beili zhi moves away from the ideal, cardboard goddesses of Tang verse and shows the real side of courtesan life, their suffering and struggle in the demimonde. The focus is no longer on their appearance and grace, but on intelligence, personality and social skills.;Sun Qi always pairs the demimondaines with their scholar official patrons whose voice and perspective dominate. Outstanding courtesans are glorified with conventional images and phrases that allude to passages about lofty scholars. The literati patrons look for gentleman-like qualities or mirror images of themselves in their female companions.;The Beili zhi, as a representative late-Tang collection, demonstrates the shared features of the anecdote, such as use of allusions, incorporation of poetry, and the residues of oral circulation. It also reflects the decline of the genre, in that most of the Beili zhi entries are simple in plot and language. The value of the book lies in its unique preservation of a more historical view of the courtesan life from the late ninth century, thereby also serving as a key to understanding parallels in Tang tales and verse.

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