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Ritual and Gender in the "Tale of Li Wa"

S. -C. Kevin Tsai
Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR)
Vol. 26 (Dec., 2004), pp. 99-127
DOI: 10.2307/4140623
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4140623
Page Count: 29
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Ritual and Gender in the "Tale of Li Wa"
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Abstract

This study of Bo Xingjian's 白行簡 (776? - 826) "Tale of Li Wa" ("Li Wa zhuan" 李 娃 傳) investigates the construction of the male subject by means of the liminal courtesan. Reading literary intertexts through the canon (e.g., the Wenxuan 文選 and the Confucian scriptures) reveals not only how the story plays with the invoked social discourses, but also how the narrative structure encapsulates a hidden rite de passage (in Turner's formulation) and rite d'institution (according to Bourdieu). In combination, these two facets paradoxically transform transgressive discourses on gender and Tang elite identity into an aesthetic affirming social order.

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