Contentious Fiction: Reinventing Conventions in "The Bean Arbor"

Talk by Prof. Hegel, Professor Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis

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Apparently written by an educated man who survived the cataclysm of dynastic change in mid-seventeenth century, Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor reflects the widespread disillusionment of the age. This disaffection is literalized in these stories by rewriting legends that embody the virtues of Confucianism, making them starkly uglier and more brutal than the received versions. By using a number of raconteurs, the collection ostensibly disperses this critique across many segments of society, as if to make it a collective repudiation of past ideals and a shared confrontation with an unwelcome new reality. By doing so, this collection opened new possibilities for fiction in late imperial China.

Robert E. Hegel is Liselotte Dieckmann Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Professor Emeritus of Chinese at Washington University in St. Louis, where he taught for over forty years. Professor Hegel authored The Novel in Seventeenth-Century China and Reading Illustrated Fiction in Late Imperial China and has collaborated with past graduate students in translating novels, a play, and a collection of short stories from the Ming-Qing transition period. The latter appeared with the title Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor.

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Duration: 1:31:04


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Published: Thursday, March 4, 2021