Of Trivial Things

Stephen McDowall

in Qian Qianyi's Reflections on Yellow Mountain

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9789622090842
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207318 | DOI:
Of Trivial Things

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The Jiangnan man-of-letters found himself in a rather troubling and fast-paced place during the last century of the Ming dynasty. The size of public service composed of educated males remained relatively unchanged despite significant increases in the population and the number of those who held degrees. A candidate was not guaranteed a position in government even after passing imperial examinations, and the textile and salt industries challenged the élite society's boundaries through causing an emergence of a new generation of mercantile families. It is important to note that this chaos and status competition became a source of fascinating scholarship. This chapter looks into how writing offered ways for the élite to portray themselves during the late-Ming dynasty as concern over such matters manifested themselves in trivial literature.

Keywords: late-Ming dynasty; élite society; status competition; mercantile families; public service; writings

Chapter.  8768 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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