Marvelling at the Wonders of the Metropolis: Perceptions of Seventeenth-Century Chinese Cities in the novel Xingshi yinyuan zhuan

  • Daria Berg
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


The seventeenth-century novel, Xingshi yin yuan zhuan (The Tale of Marriage Destinies that will Bring Society to its Senses), provides rare and fascinating insights into the rhythm of urban and rural life in late imperial China. Like many other writings of the time it depicts China on the verge of modernity, as a world torn between the traditional agricultural society and the new challenges of urban life, commerce and a money economy.1 The shifts from conventional norms and values gave rise to concepts of utopia and anti-utopia; to nostalgia for a lost paradise of the past and to apocalyptic satire on present conditions. In the Tale of Marriage Destinies, the contrast between local society in both city and countryside is linked to the dream of an ideal, utopian world and its satirical inversion — the grotesque nightmare of anti-utopia.2


Seventeenth Century Ming Dynasty Provincial Capital Conspicuous Consumption Confucian Scholar 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2002

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  • Daria Berg

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