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Demonic WarfareDaoism, Territorial Networks, and the History of a Ming Novel$
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Mark R. E. Meulenbeld

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838447

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838447.001.0001

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Invention of the Novel

Invention of the Novel

From Stage Act and Temple Ritual to Literary Text

(p.27) 1 Invention of the Novel
Demonic Warfare

Mark R. E. Meulenbeld

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the invention of the academic discipline of Chinese literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It challenges some of the predominant notions in the field of literary studies, arguing that it was during these decades that the traditional term xiaoshuo came to be equated with a modern, secular understanding of literary fiction in general and of the novel in particular. It considers how this usage of xiaoshuo has divorced vernacular narratives of the late Ming dynasty from the environment where they have always been most tangibly present: temples, rituals, theater acts, and the gods they embodied. It also explains how the academic shift away from the sphere of religion has resulted in a narrow understanding of these narratives exclusively as (literary) texts instead of as the cultural nexus of legend, divinity, ritual, and community. The chapter concludes by discussing the attempt by Chinese reformist intellectuals to make the novel the battleground for modernity.

Keywords:   xiaoshuo, Chinese literature, literary fiction, novel, vernacular narrative, Ming dynasty, theater, religion, ritual, modernity

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