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Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature: Intertextuality in Th ...

Chapter 1:  Erotic Literature
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Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature:

Chapter 1

Erotic Literature

To be moved by woman’s beauty is itself a kind of lust. To experience loving feelings is, even more assuredly, a kind of lust. Every act of love, every carnal congress of the sexes is brought about precisely because sensual delight in beauty has kindled the feeling of love. 好色即淫,知情更淫。是以巫山之會、雲雨之歡,皆由既悅其色、復戀其情所致。(SS I: 145; HLM I: 87)

During the mid- to late Qing, The Story of the Stone (mainly circulated under the title Honglou meng) was viewed by many as an obscene book (yinshu) and repeatedly banned by government officials. Criticism of this nature can be found in numerous anecdotes and commentaries. Chen Qiyuan’s 陳其元 (1812–1882) Yongxian zhai biji 庸閑齋筆記 (Random Notes at the Mundane-and-Idle Studio) is often quoted: “Among obscene books, The Stone is the worst, for when it depicts the love (qing) and disposition of obsessive men and women, it never literally uses the word ‘lust’ (yin 淫), and by doing so it makes readers imagine and wander in spirit and makes their minds move. This is what’s called ‘A great robber does not use shield and spear.’”1 This comment represents the majority of complaints about The Stone as a yinshu, which, instead of following the long-established correspondence between yin and pornographic details,