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Reading Illustrated Fiction in Late Imperial China by Robert E. Hegel

Reading Illustrated Fiction in Late Imperial China

Description : This work explores significant physical aspects of the printed book in late imperial China to reconstruct the changing assumptions with which Chinese popular novels were originally read from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. It focuses on the previously neglected areas of book format, varieties of illustrations and their significance, and the theory and practice of reading illustrated narratives. The author first considers the physical book itself, as a vehicle for reading and as an object for visual enjoyment, tracing the development of the format commonly used for popular reading materials, the blockprinted book in sewn volumes with illustrations. He describes the technological progress that made book production efficient and economical by the middle of the sixteenth century, and makes extensive comparisons between the physical characteristics of novels and books of more artistically refined content. The focus of the study then shifts to the illustrations that accompanied virtually all printed materials during the period when popular fiction became common. They are found to consist of a range of conventional elements that are related to images in more refined arts, such as the paintings of the literati and the decorations produced by commercial artists. Close parallels in both content and pictorial motifs between these various levels of painting and book illustrations suggest a continuum of the arts on which the pictures in mass-produced fiction initially held a respectable position. The final chapters assert, from a theoretical perspective, the function of illustrations in narratives as a guide or a hindrance to reading. The author demonstrates the correspondencebetween the later decline of fiction illustrations and the growth in reading audiences, explaining this connection as a function of flagging interest in pictures -- which often interfere with, rather than promote, the visualization so essential to reading for pleasure in other cultures as well. Throughout, the author incorporates findings from the history of technology, new explorations in the development of commerce in cultural objects, recent research on the commercial arts, and the latest theories of reading for pleasure to situate -- and explain -- the numerous changes in popular literary trends during the last several centuries of imperial Chinese rule.

Subtitle :

Authors : Robert E. Hegel

Published Date : 1998

Publisher : Stanford University Press

ISBN : 0804730024

Page : 489 Pages

Categories : Literary Collections

Total Download: 96

Filesize: 1 MB

Download PDF : reading-illustrated-fiction-in-late-imperial-china.pdf

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