The Death of Women Wang by Jonathen Spence Essay

The Death of Women Wang by Jonathen Spence Essay

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It is a common myth to people of Western world that women in imperial China were closeted, constantly subjugated and not allowed to make anything of themselves beyond a good daughter, wife, and mother. To the contrary, women, as mentioned in The Death of Women Wang by Jonathen Spence, had come options open to them, and while certainly they were not as numerous or desirable as those open to men, they did exist [Spence 124]. Six Records of a Floating Life bu Shen Fu portrays women in quite a different light that women of imperial China are generally perceived with; the author's wife is creative, intelligent, spirited and active. She was educated to some degree and would make up spontaneous poems with her husband [Fu 31, 34]. In Chinese literary tradition, women authors are often only briefly touched upon or ignored completely, while in fact there were many of them, some of whom made a living for themselves by writing or painting.
There are, in fact, over a dozen examples of women who were published for their writing skills, from the Tang to the Qing, but here the focus in on the Qing, which began officially in 1644 and ended in the 1900's. These short examples are all of 17th-century China, drawn from Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism, edited by Kang-i Sun Chang and Haun Saussy and published by Stanford University Press in 1999.
The earliest example comes from before the Qing: Xu Cun, a poet born in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, 1610. She married Chen Zhilin, who became a jinshi in 1637, and later held the titles of Grand Secretary, Junior Guardian, and Grand Guardian of the Hair Apparent. He died in 1666 and five years later Xu Cu petitioned the emperor to have his remains reburied in his h...


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... for themselves despite the repressive society they lived in. Women of the Qing and beyond were not all idle or disengaged from the world around them; as has been seen, a respectable number of them were active, engaged individuals with minds of their own and a firm place in the annals literary history.











Works Cited
“Qing Dynasty: Seventeenth Century.” Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism. Chang, Kang-I and Haun Saussy. Stanford, CL: Stanford University Press, 1999. 337-429. Print.
Fu, Shen. Six Records of a Floating Life. Trans. Leonard Pratt and Chiang Su-hui. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1983. Print.
Mann, Susan. The Talented Women of The Zhang Family. Los Angeles, CL: University of California Press, 2007. Print.
Spence, Jonathan. The Death of Woman Wang. 1978. New York: Penguin Books, 1979. Print.

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