By investigating two literary allusions, chuzhi 蜍志 and lüdai 呂袋, found in poems from the Ming-Qing period, this article seeks to discover new ways to combine traditional philological techniques and digital research methodologies in the study of Chinese literature. The article illustrates several procedures through which scholars today can use digitized versions of large compendia such as the Peiwen yunfu 佩文韻府 (Thesaurus Arranged by Rhymes) to efficiently and rapidly find solutions to their questions regarding obscure historical or literary references. In addition, through a thorough study of one of the poems composed by Yiquan 宜泉, a close friend of Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹, and an individual called “Fourth Brother Li” that the poem was dedicated to, this article also shows the special power of electronic textual research to analyze the different ways social networks were formed and how they functioned during this era.

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