Summer 1962 • Vol. XXIV No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1962 |

“To What Fyn Lyve I Thus?”: Society and Self in the Chinese Short Story

The decadent and turbulent reign of the Northern Sung Emperor Hui-tsung saw the rise of many legends, and among these may be listed the minor story of Han Yü-ch'iao, an unhappy beauty in his harem. In its final written form as Tale 13 of the seventeenth-century Ming anthology Tales to Rouse the World (Hsing-shih Heng-yen), we are told that Lady Han, because of the Emperor's infatuation with his concubine An Fei, languished under neglect and fell seriously ill. By imperial command she is sent back to her sponsor, the prominent minister Yang Chien, for a rest cur.. Though as lonely as ever in her strictly guarded quarters at the minister's residence, she eventually becomes better and must return to the palace. At the farewell banquet, however, she suffers a complete relapse as she hears a recital of a tale about a sad la(dy of an earlier dynasty who, thanks to the rare generosity of her imperial lord, was given permission to marry a scholar-official who had furtively sympathized with

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