Collection of BaiJuyi (Chinese classical literature series) by 白居易

By 白居易


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By the time the novel gets underway, China has a constitution but is still deficient in rights for women. Other important forces in the political arena are the emperor and the parliament. The emperor’s wife also plays an important role. At a nationwide athletic contest for young talent in Beijing, the top female student Huang Renrui (Yingniang) develops a crush on the top male student Ren Zili who returns her interest. The two go out for dinner together in Beijing, with Yingniang’s servant present most of the time.

Meanwhile, one of Pingquan’s friends 32 Ellen Widmer spends a large amount of time in America acquiring education, though her sojourn there is not described. Turning now to differences, the most obvious contrast between the travelogue and the novels is that Guimao lüxing ji is not a work of fiction. This means that it does not have a fictionalized narrator but rather revolves around the daily doings of the biographical Shan. Only occasionally does it break away from this format into disquisitions on such subjects as the new Western calendar, the fifth (1903) Japanese national exposition in Osaka, and the stages of evolution of mankind.

Though she keeps her clothes on through the entire ordeal, she feels her virtue has been compromised. The upshot is that she jumps into the sea and drowns. Back in China, the society’s influence is extensive but worrisome. For example, some wives go so far as to follow the example of a fringe faction in the United States, setting a daily time limit on their wifely duties, demanding that their husbands cook meals, limiting the number of nights out their husbands may have, and so forth (p. 68). Alongside these developments, Hua Qixing plots revenge on behalf of Xin.

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