Fictions of Enlightenment: <i>Journey to the West, Tower of Myriad Mirrors,</i> and <i>Dream of the Red Chamber</i>
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264pp. January 2004
Fictions of Enlightenment: Journey to the West, Tower of Myriad Mirrors, and Dream of the Red Chamber
Author: Li, Qiancheng;
Fictions of Enlightenment is the first book to examine the fascinating and intricate relationship between Buddhism and the development of Chinese vernacular fiction. Qiancheng Li brings Buddhist models to bear on the vision, structure, and narrative form of three classics of late imperial literature—Journey to the West, Tower of Myriad Mirrors, and Dream of the Red Chamber—arguing that by fashioning their plots after the narratives of certain Mahāyāna sutras, the novelists transformed Buddhist concepts into narrative structures. Within the traditional Chinese novel Li even defines a new genre: the fiction of enlightenment.
“A groundbreaking study on an extremely important topic that has been curiously overlooked for so long” —Journal of Asian Studies, May 2005

“A thoroughly convincing and enjoyable read with a strong theme” —China Review International, Spring 2005

“A compelling and finely written monograph which supercedes all previous studies of these novels that try to elucidate Buddhist reference or meaning. Li’s exposition of how Buddhist soteriological patterns—Surfacing in discursive representations of enlightenment or pilgrimage—can modulate to become narrative structures is persuasive, brilliant, and original.” —Anthony C. Yu, University of Chicago

“Chinese fiction’s indebtedness to Buddhism has never before received careful scrutiny. This groundbreaking study of this very important but long-neglected topic is well researched, richly documented, and finely written.” —Martin Huang, University of California, Irvine

Author: Li, Qiancheng;
Qiancheng Li is assistant professor of Chinese language and literature at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.
Read the prologue (PDF).



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