Unlike Zhu Suchen's 朱素臣 (1621?–after 1701) other extant chuanqi plays that survive only in manuscripts, Qinlou yue 秦樓月 (The Moon Shining upon the Qin Tower) was printed in a deluxe woodblock edition during the Kangxi period. This carefully executed imprint features an array of paratextual elements: preface; illustrations with matching poems by prominent seventeenth-century literati figures; a poetry collection by Chen Susu 陳素素, a Yangzhou courtesan cast as the heroine of the play; and an appendix with women writers' poems commenting on Susu's poetry and portrait. Such a design points to an editorial choice to stage both a male-centered literati reading community and a cohort of women writers from the Jiangnan area who gather to celebrate women's literary talent on the book page. By examining how these two bodies of readers reach a sense of solidarity in distinctive ways, this article aims at a better understanding of the xinxi 新戲 (new plays) of Suzhou as an important regional phenomenon of cultural production. Qinlou yue in the book's physical form makes use of the realms of both commercial and private printing to appeal to Ming loyalist sentiments widespread among the southern elite, and to embrace a new sense of womanhood epitomized by women writers and readers who had achieved iconic status in the Jiangnan region.

You do not currently have access to this content.