Feng Menglong

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Feng Menglong
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Feng Menglong (1574–1646) was a Chinese vernacular writer and poet of the late Ming Dynasty. He was born in Changzhou, now Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province.[1]

Most of his literary work was in editing and compiling histories, almanacs and novels. Two of his noteworthy novels are Qing Shi and the shenmo work Pingyao Zhuan. In 1620 he published the Illustrious Words to Instruct the World (喻世明言 Yushi Mingyan), or Stories Old and New.[2]

Feng was a proponent of the school of Li Zhi, which supported the importance of human feelings and behavior in literature. He is frequently associated with Ling Mengchu, author of Slapping the Table in Amazement,[3] a two-part collection of entertaining vernacular tales.

Writing Style[edit]

Feng Menglong was in love with a famous prostitute when he was young. Unfortunately, Feng Menglong was not able to afford to redeem his lover out. At the end, his lover was redeemed by a merchant, and they had to leave each other. Feng Menglong suffered from pain and desperation due to the separation, and he expressed his sorrow through poems. This experience influenced the way he portrayed female characters in his stories. In fact, Feng Menglong was one of the few authors who portrayed female as being strong and intelligent; and this is different from other authors, where they tended to ignore the importance of female’s position. The female characters in Feng Menglong’s stories were portrayed as brave and bright when dealing with different situations. For instance, in his story Wan Xiuniang Takes Revenge Through Toy Pavilions from Jing Shi Tong Yan, Wan Xiuniang showed her braveness during her tough times, and she was able to escape using her intelligence. Other female characters, such as Miss Du Shi Niang and Qu Xiuxiu, are example to show Feng Menglong’s respect to female.

Feng Menglong expressed his attitudes towards the society through his works, and the reason was tightly related to his experience during his career. Feng Menglong became a local officer in Shouning in his sixties. He pursued justice and wished to build up his reputation by acting as an honest and upright official. Unfortunately, he was born in a time of widespread corruption (a theme also treated extensively in contemporaneous works, such as Zhang Yingyu's The Book of Swindles (ca. 1617)); bribery and extortion were common bureaucratic behaviors, and themes of official malfeasance figure in many of Feng's stories. Realizing that atmosphere of corruption could not be easily changed, Feng Menglong conveyed his discontent and patriotism through words. Each character of his stories has strong and direct characteristics: there is a clear morality line drawn between “good” and “bad”. Moreover, the meaning behind the stories explores the social issues during Ming Dynasty. For instance, the story The White Maiden Locked for Eternity in Leifeng Pagoda and The Young Lady Gives the Young Man a Gift of Money from Jing Shi Tong Yan express the idea of how women pursue their freedom and happiness under a feudal society.

Works[edit]

  • Stories to Awaken the World[4]
  • Stories to Caution the World[5]
  • Gujin Xiaoshuo ("Stories Old and New") (ca. 1620), also known as Yushi Mingyan (喻世明言) ("Illustrious Words to Instruct the World") selections translated by Cyril Birch, Stories from a Ming Collection: Translations of Chinese Short Stories Published in the Seventeenth Century (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1959; rpr New York: Grove).
  • Pingyao Zhuan
  • Qing Shi
  • Yang Shuihu, Yang Yunqin, tr., Stories Old and New: A Ming Dynasty Collection (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000).(A complete translation of Gujin Xiaoshuo).[6]
  • The Oil Vendor and the Courtesan Tales from the Ming Dynasty. (New York: Welcome Rain, 2007). Translated by T. Wang and C. Chen. ISBN
  • Chronicles of the Eastern Zhou Kingdoms

Notes[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]