Self-representation in the Dramas of Ruan Dacheng (1587–1646)

  • Alison Hardie


Ruan Dacheng (1587–1646), known to his friends as Stone Nest (Shichao) or the Woodcutter of Baizi Hill (Baizi shan qiao), and to his enemies as Beardy Ruan (Ruan huzi), Hirsute of Anqing (Wan ran) and ultimately as Hairy Heirless (Ran jue), is most notorious as the associate of Wei Zhongxian (1568–1627), chief eunuch of the Tianqi court and as the vengeful sidekick of Ma Shiying (1591- 1646/7) in the faction-ridden Southern Ming regime, sharing with Ma a joint biography in the ‘Treacherous Officials’ section of the official Ming History.1 But he was also a distinguished poet, regarded by Yuan Zhongdao (1570–1623) as a worthy follower of his brother Yuan Hongdao (1568–1610), the leader of the Gong’an School in literature, 2 and a phenomenally successful dramatist, described by the historian and drama aficionado Zhang Dai (1597–1680) as ‘extremely talented’ as both playwright and director,3 whose dramas were greatly admired even by his bitterest enemies


Qing Dynasty Ming Dynasty Tang Dynasty Imperial Examination Mistaken Identity 
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© Alison Hardie 2013

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  • Alison Hardie

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