Senses of the City, a multidisciplinary collection of essays about Hangzhou, the “temporary” capital during the Southern Song dynasty, might better be called Discontents of the Sensuous City: Ambivalent Engagements with Hangzhou. Although the contributors to this volume come from many disciplines—art history, music history, social history, and literary history—seven of the nine essays explore different aspects of a deep ambivalence about the life of the senses in Hangzhou. In chapter 1, for example, Beverly Bossler examines how the entertainment quarters of the city were written out of later accounts of the lives of literati and officials in the Southern Song. In chapter 4, Zhang Hongsheng describes how Jiang Kui 姜夔 (1155–1221) wrote a series of song lyrics about past travels to make a “sharp contrast with the pleasure-driven and luxurious lifestyle of Hangzhou people at the time” (73). Stephen...

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