Analyses of the Ming Critic Mao Ying’s Comments on The Peony Pavilion
Keywords:茅暎, 《牡丹亭》評點, 茅暎評《繪圖牡丹亭》, 臧懋循評點《牡丹亭》, Mao Ying, comments on The Peony Pavilion, Mao Ying’s comments on The Illustrated Peony Pavilion, Zang Maoxun’s comments on The Peony Pavilion
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
This study of Ming-dynasty critic Mao Ying’s comments on The Peony Pavilion consists of eight aspects, namely: (1) impression critique; (2) comments on Tang Xianzu’s (1550-1616) emphasis on love; (3) criticism of Tang’s writing skills; (4) critique of Zang Maoxun’s (1550-1620) revision of the play; (5) comments on the relationship between Tang’s play and Yuan drama; (6) views of the Ming-dynasty popular terms danghang (“professional”) and bense (“original colors”); (7) comments on the relationship between Tang’s play and Tang shi-poetry and Song ci-poetry; and (8) miscellaneous comments. This study compares Mao Ying’s comments with those of his contemporaneous playwrights, arguing that playwrights of his time mostly focused on stage performance while Mao treated the plays (i.e., the scripts) as “readers for enjoyment” and, thus, they came to different conclusions. The approach of Mao Ying was not common in the Ming Dynasty. However, Mao’s sharing in Tang Xianzu’s advocacy that “the cores of literature include spirit, guise, idea, and aesthetic appeal” shows that he was certainly a true fan of Tang. Although Mao’s comments on the play as a reader were not mainstream at the time, from the perspective of literary history they certainly can be regarded as a continuation of the poetic history formed by Tang shi-poetry and Song ci-poetry and a crucial link that connects Tang-Song poetry with Ming poetry. Hence, the contribution of Mao’s comments on The Peony Pavilion is exceptional and significant.
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