Commentated Into His Own Image: Jin Shengtan and His Commentary Edition of the Shuihu Zhuan




Morrison, Mark Benjamin

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This thesis examines three aspects of the commentary edition of the Chinese vernacular novel Shuihu Zhuan written by Ming Dynasty literatus Jin Shengtan (ca. 1610-1661), analyzing three of the most innovative features that the commentary brings to our understanding of the novel, and what Jin Shengtan desired for the reader of his commentary to understand. The first chapter looks at a series of techniques that Jin outlines in the preliminary "How to Read" section of the commentary (dufa), where the techniques are shown to be very similar in focus and style to the literary theory of narratology as written about by Gerard Genette through a sample comparison of five of the techniques with varying characteristics of narratology. The second chapter looks at how Jin Shengtan constructs the image of the author, Shi Nai'an, through both his interlineal commentary (jiapi) and his preliminary chapter commentary (zongpi). We see through this analysis that Jin Shengtan has gone against the tradition of shu er bu zuo -- a Confucian tradition that relegates the position of the author to the background of his work -- and has brought the author into a position of prominence through his construction of the image of an unparalleled genius. The third and final chapter looks at the idea of "heroism" (xia) and how Jin's commentary reworks the way many of the primary characters of the novel and their heroic actions are seen and interpreted, focusing especially on the characters of Wu Song, Lu Zhishen, Song Jiang and Li Kui, where we see that Jin's commentary focuses on parallels between the heroes such as Wu Song and Lu Zhishen in the first portion of the novel, while switching to a more juxtapositional perspective in the latter half of the novel through Song Jiang and Li Kui.



China, Jin Shengtan, Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty, Chinese Vernacular Literature, Commentary, Chinese History, Knight-Errant, Narratology, Wuxia, Heroism, Shuihu Zhuan, Water Margin, Pingdian Commentary