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Study on the sexual aesthetics in “Twelve Towers” of Li Yu

  • The Journal of Study on Language and Culture of Korea and China
  • Abbr : JSLCKC
  • 2015, (38), pp.217-245
  • DOI : 10.16874/jslckc.2015..38.009
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Study on Chinese Languge and Culture
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature
  • Published : June 30, 2015

Zhang Qinfeng 1 徐晨 2

1中国山东师范大学
2中国浙江师范大学

Accredited

ABSTRACT

During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, literary thinkers, represented by Li Zhi, broke the traditional feudal ethics as well the Neo Confucianism, called for bold emancipation of nature, approved and respected the libido as a human nature, pointing out that the ‘heavenly principles’ is human nature. People began to face their own emotional desire, progressively realized the rationality of lust. Thus, Anti Neo Confucianism rose in Chinese society; it advocated for lust and a trend of sexual aesthetics, and soon became an important part of human nature’s emancipation in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty. As a famous literateur who was in favor of sexual freedom, Li Yu’s opera, novel creation was influenced by the so-called sexual aesthetics. “Twelve Towers” was the representative work of Li Yu’s short stories, embedding Li Yu’s unique sexual aesthetic view. The sexual aesthetics of the “Twelve Towers” was expressed through various forms like opposing abstinence and forced marriage, snooping, homosexual love, sheer admire of women’s charms and moderate lust. The emergence of such kind of aesthetics were partly due to the ideological trend of the Ming and Qing period, the writer’s own appreciation of beauty, the sexual liberation in the society, the development of commodity economy, and the hedonism against the impending doomsday. The unique value of Li Yu’s “Twelve Towers” in sexual aesthetics was mainly represented by its breaking and surpassing the traditional concept of love and lust at that time. The sexual aesthetics of Li Yu’s “Twelve Towers” was distinctive, not only from the oppression of people’s lust in traditional love stories, but also from the excessive indulgence in novels of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It affirmed the people’s natural desires, but opposed the abuse of it; that was to say, it achieved a breakthrough in both tradition and contemporary. This sexual aesthetics daringly responded the confliction and contradiction between the human affection and the Neo Confucianism during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and it questions the negation and repression of natural human desire in Neo Confucianism. It contained the thought of human liberation in Chinese modern literature, and its value was accepted in aspects of literature, aesthetics and society.

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