Reading Sui Jingchen's song suite “Gaozu Returns to His Home Village” against early sources, this article explores how Sui's work selects and inverts the elements that ground definitive historical accounts of rulership to refashion a familiar narrative in a theatrical mode. The sanqu's use of performance tropes expands the scope of criticism in this humorous piece past concerns about Yuan rulership, or even the imperial institution, to broader questions of representational instability and uncertainty. These shifts implicate readers in a social and political critique and engage issues often associated with early modern fiction and drama, including authenticity, imposture, and interpolations of author, character, player, reader, and audience.

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