In this book examining the transition from traditional to modern China and how literati of the period imagined the future, the central concept of family has three meanings: first, the Zhan family of the late Qing period Quzhou 衢州, consisting of the poets Zhan Sizeng 詹嗣曾(1832–94) and Wang Qingdi 王慶棣 (1828–1902) and their two sons, Zhan Xi 詹熙 (1850–1927) and Zhan Kai 詹塏 (1861?–1911?), both novelists who wrote about themes related to social reforms; second, the Wei family, the main characters in a novel of Zhan Xi's; and third, as referring to a “ ‘family’ of genres that helped to shape the reformist novels of Zhan Kai” (8).

Chapter 1 introduces the members of the Zhan family and the sociocultural background of the late Qing period, focusing on discourses on gender, the important role of fiction, and the significance of geographical locales. The second...

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