From Local Ritual to Literature of Canonization
This book has historicized the continuum that exists between vernacular rituals for the deployment of martial spirits and the late Ming vernacular novel Canonization of the Gods. In this continuum, the novel clearly represents a Daoist project for subsuming the gods of local rituals under the unifying authority of a national liturgy. This concluding chapter argues that narratives like Canonization contribute to the relevance of ritual in the social reality of late imperial China. It suggests that Canonization is particularly explicit in its reference to the Daoist standardization of ritual, but that several other novels from the same time period circulate in the same cultural sphere of vernacular ritual and martial gods. Each of them focuses on a different aspect of that sphere, but each of them similarly elaborates on the theme of canonization. It is this theme of canonization and Daoist martial ritual that distinguishes these religious narratives from other works.
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