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“Green Peony” and the Rise of the Chinese Martial Arts Novel

By Margaret B. Wan

“Green Peony” is the “Don Quixote” of Chinese literature, however, it did not contrast stories with reality. Rather, it took the three main streams of popular Chinese literature during the Qing Dynasty (court room mysteries, romantic military fiction, and scholar/beauty romances) and switched around various characters to make them ridiculous. And what would be more ridiculous than taking a scholar and sticking him in a bar room fight, or that bar room fighter and having him argue in front of a judge like a lawyer? It would be like taking Hamlet and Macbeth and switching plays on them.

Professor Wan goes into the historical background, back into the Ming Dynasty when these genres formed, so the reader will understand what “Green Peony” is making fun of, and wrote clearly enough that non-literature majors won’t need a dictionary to figure out any jargon (she explains the Chinese, of course).
Tags: author: w, non-english literature
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