Playwrights and Literary Games in Seventeenth-Century China approaches the works of five late Ming and early Qing dramatists through the lens of intertextuality. The book contends that the composition and consumption of chuanqi plays should be partly understood as a literary game insofar as the playwrights were part of a cultural elite who, more often than not, self-consciously refashioned earlier literature for the benefit of other cultural cognoscenti. At the same time, Playwrights suggests that that the aesthetic and ideological effects of such acts of appropriation varied, ranging from a reinforcement of Confucian codes in some plays to ironic parodies of conventional values in others. In total, Playwrights offers close readings of the appropriative strategies and readerly effects of six important chuanqi plays, thus providing the most extensive English-language discussion to date of representative works of the genre.

In three introductory chapters, Playwrights summarizes previous scholarship in order to...

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