Intended Gaps: The Motif of Mundane Man Meets Immortals and the Depiction of Dreams in the Tale of Cui Yingying and Zhang Sheng

Li Lin

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

This paper aims to examine the newly added episode on dreams in the tale of Cui Yingying and Zhang Sheng after the Tang Dynasty, with special attention on the Story of the Western Wing in All Keys and Modes 西廂記諸宮調, a prosimetric text composed by Dong Jieyuan in the Jin Dynasty. Believed to be the direct source of Wang Shifu’s 西廂記, Dong’s work holds two aberrant and arcane dreams, which do not exist in Yuan Zhen's Yingying Zhuan. While the first dream dramatically “counterfeits” the actual consummation between Cui and Zhang and thus produces an anti-climactic narrative effect by “fooling” the readers with this illusion, the second dream, in which Cui abnormally appeared and joined Zhang at the inn, mirrors the siege in the temple yet distorts it with Zhang’s contradictory reaction. This paper demonstrates that the two dreams, with the ironic discrepancies of Zhang’s character and blurred boundaries between illusion and reality, constitute the intended narrative “gaps” in the tale of Cui and Zhang, which deliberately undermine the plausibility of the entire story and “re-enchant”, as well as complicate, this typical secular story of 才子佳人. By exploring the traditional motif of Mundane Man Meets Immortals 凡男遇仙, Dong’s innovative way to depict the interaction of illusion and reality can be revealed, by which we can re-examine Jin Shengtan’s comment, which interprets this tale incompletely, and illuminate the potential influence of Dong’s version on later works such as 紅樓夢.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
EventAmerican Oriental Society Western Branch Annual Meeting 2021 - Online, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
Duration: 21 Oct 202123 Oct 2021

Conference

ConferenceAmerican Oriental Society Western Branch Annual Meeting 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySanta Barbara, CA
Period21/10/2123/10/21

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