Is Authentic Love or Chastity? The Nature of Feng Menglong’s Discourse on "Teaching of Qing (Love)” in His Sanyan Collections
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
This paper analyzes the motif of chaste romance in Feng Menglong’s Sanyan collections — Yushi mingyan, Jinshi tungyan, and Xinshi henyan — to demonstrate the intersection of Confucian ethics and the Teaching of Qing (feelings).
Many scholars argue that romance in vernacular literature like Sanyan collections reflects the call of human feelings away from Confucian morality. Feng, for them, stands opposite to the inflexible ideology of the Learning of the Way, devoting to the liberation of love from gender segregation and detailing the concept of the Teaching of Qing.
However, Feng intended to bridge the gap between the Learning of the Way and the Teaching of Qing by addressing that, “The Six Classics all attempt to teach through qing." He conformed to Confucian ethics that “husband-wife” the most important relationship and family were the cornerstone of a society, while making a revision that ‘qing’ be the drive for five relationships. Feng upheld family, whereas he popularized the intellectual renovation about individualism — the Learning of the Mind and the Teaching of Qing, Feng highlighted traditional women’s virtues and mocked their loss of chastity in trysts, whereas he appreciated women’s authentic feelings toward love. Feng never gave up the didactic tone and emphasized more women’s loyalty to their husband.
This paper includes two main sections to argue that Feng, a frustrated Confucian moralist, revealed the traditional tone on women while building the ideal of companion marriage. First, a textual analysis explores the motif of chaste romance by discussing its four types of Sanyan stories. Second, it discusses neo-Confucianism as well as the Teaching of Qing, and their intersection in the late Ming vernacular literature. To conclude, women are not subjects independent from families and husbands to practice alone the individualistic Teaching of Qing.
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