ISBN: 9788776940553

Interplay of the Oral and the Written in Chinese Popular Literature, The


Edited by Vibeke Børdahl and Margaret B. Wan

2010, 269 pp. 15x23 cm.

  • Examines the interrelationship between oral (or performing) and written traditions in Chinese popular literature
  • Offers enquiries into new material and gives astonishing responses to old controversies
  • Provides interdisciplinary perspectives on Chinese popular entertainment literature from the Ming dynasty to the present
  • Makes an excellent contribution to the literature in its field.

Although the interrelationship between oral (or performing) and written traditions in Chinese popular literature is an issue that concerns practically everybody who reads or teaches Chinese literature, surprisingly it has never been properly treated in a scholarly forum before. For that reason alone, this volume is especially important and deserves serious consideration from scholars and students in the field.   Through subjects ranging from Ming vernacular fiction to popular prints and contemporary storytelling and folk ballads, this volume examines the interplay of oral and written traditions in China from interdisciplinary perspectives. Literary criticism, linguistic analysis, fieldwork, folklore studies, and the exploration of visual sources all bring out vital perspectives on central questions.  Exploring the traditions of professional storytelling and popular entertainment literature in China, they offer enquiries into new material and give astonishing responses to old controversies. In going beyond the simple binary oral versus written, the essays in this volume ask not whether a text bears a relationship to the oral tradition but how and to what extent.  

Written by contributors well versed in their subject, these essays are highly scholarly and analytical treatments of the issues. Through their more detailed knowledge about Chinese verbal art in performance, or first-hand understanding of living traditions, the authors provide fresh insights to the understanding of how the oral and the written interact. Overall, this well-edited and well-written volume makes an excellent contribution to the literature in its field.

About the Editors

Vibeke Børdahl, Ph. D., Dr. Phil., senior researcher at NIAS, specialises in Chinese oral literature and dialectology.  Her recent research is concerned with the interplay of oral and written traditions in Chinese popular literature and performance culture. Her book-length studies and edited volumes include Along the Broad Road of Realism: Qin Zhaoyang's World of Fiction, The Oral Tradition of Yangzhou Storytelling, The Eternal Storyteller: Oral Literature in Modern China, Chinese Storytellers—Life and Art in the Yangzhou Tradition, and Four Masters of Chinese Storytelling—Full Length Repertoires of Yangzhou Storytelling on Video.

Margaret B. Wan is Assistant Professor of Chinese Literature in the Department of Languages and Literature, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA. She has published on Chinese fiction, the interaction of Chinese ballad texts and the novel, and local literature, including ‘The Chantefable and the Novel: The Cases of Lü Mudan and Tianbao tu’ in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (2004). Her book ‘Green Peony’ and the Rise of the Chinese Martial Arts Novel (State University of New York Press, 2009) illuminates the world of popular fiction, examining a wide range of novels and ballad texts. She earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

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