This article focuses on Zaisheng yuan as an intertextual work of creative fiction that draws from male-authored xiaoshuo fiction as well as earlier literary tanci novels. This case study discusses Zaisheng yuan as a key text in an affective archive of narrative works written by women that provides insights into how elite women mentally negotiated the social and ideological expectations that informed their lives. In addition to looking at how women authors rewrote the conventions associated with scholar-beauty romances, the chastity cult, and the gendered symbols associated with proper order, this article discusses tanci novels as a unique outlet for women's explorations of autonomous will (zhi 志) and imaginings of emotional justice.

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