AN ANNOTATED TRANSLATION OF CHAPTERS 21-30 OF THE LATE MING DYNASTY NOVEL, XINGSHI YINYUAN ZHUAN 醒世姻缘傳 (MARRIAGE DESTINIES TO AWAKEN THE WORLD)
thesisposted on 05.05.2021, 14:09 by Meng Wang
Xingshi Yinyuan Zhuan 醒世姻緣傳 is a vernacular Chinese novel which was composed in late Ming or early Qing dynasty by an anonymous author in what is now modern Shandong province. Like most of the counterparts to this novel during the same era, Xingshi was composed not as an “art for art’s sake”, but as a vehicle for moral edification and education; it discusses many pressing social issues existing at a time of social turmoil, such as government corruption, moral depravity, migration of peasants due to natural disaster and agricultural involution, roving bandits, the subversion of the gender roles, etc. The novel discussed the social issues through the lives and activities of the residents of an ordinary Shandong town named Mingshui, a microminiature of Qing dynasty China, and presents the golden era of Mingshui which is a microminiature of an idealized Chinese society. This dissertation is a study on the Utopian chapters of this novel with the texts translated into English language with annotations; these chapters are both a continuation of Chinese Utopian literature tradition, as well as the embodiment of the author’s unique understanding of various philosophical and religious schools.
Up until now, due to limited resources and texts, little is known about the life and thoughts of the author of Xinshi and the study on the Utopian chapters will shed light on further explorations of the identity and political philosophy of this author.