Reading and Transcendence of Ming Dynasty Texts
Social Sciences
Volume 8, Issue 6, December 2019, Pages: 348-353
Received: Oct. 31, 2019; Published: Dec. 9, 2019
Views 441      Downloads 122
Wang Yuehui, Chinese Culture, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China
Li Bi, Chinese Culture, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China; Institute of Art Theory, School of Art and Design, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, Hangzhou, China
Article Tools
Follow on us
In the Ming Dynasty, reading groups proliferated, readers were “no longer restricted to the intellectual class,” nor reading “a special right of scholars.” In recent years, commercial publishing research in the Ming Dynasty has gradually received attention. However, scholars’ attention is still lacking on these questions: When did these books for specific readers begin to enter the public's field of vision? Who compiled the books? And what effect it had on the reading community? This paper attempts to sort out the development of reader communities and reading materials in the Ming Dynasty, taking the readers as the subject of reading and how they construct reading rules, habits, and interests in the Ming Dynasty. As for books, the object of reading, how popular book break the class of "text" within the elite class and begin to provide the general public with access to knowledge. Also, the impact of social background on the reading subject in the specific historical conditions of the Ming Dynasty deserves attention. Few scholars have thus far discussed the specific profile of "readers" and "reading materials." Reading is essentially a collective phenomenon; readers are as much as individuals as members of a reading group. The social background of a reader shapes in a significant way his reading skills, reading concepts, and interpretation strategy. By combing through the social environment, we can explore the reading behavior and reading norms of a particular historical period from a new perspective. This study attempts to expand the cultural and social context on which the "reading action" is based and discuss the social conditions for a particular set of "reading norms" that oriented the reader before the act of reading.
Reading History, Downward Diffusion of Reading Groups, Cultural Publisher
To cite this article
Wang Yuehui, Li Bi, Reading and Transcendence of Ming Dynasty Texts, Social Sciences. Vol. 8, No. 6, 2019, pp. 348-353. doi: 10.11648/
Copyright © 2019 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Li Renyuan, “The subject and viewpoint of reading history: practice, process, effect”, in New Cultural History and Research on Modern Chinese History, Shanghai: Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House, 2009, pp. 213-254.
Dai Lianbin, From the History of the book to History of Reading: Theories and Methods for Historical studies of reading, Beijing: Xinxing Press, 2017, p233.
J. Goody, The power of the written tradition, Washington: Smithsonian, 2000, pp. 107-130, 141-146.
Fish believes that people who speak the same language follow the same set of rules, and their understanding is "consistent" in a certain sense. See S. Fish, “Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics”, New Literary History 2 (1), 1970, p. 140.
The "literary ability" proposed by Culler is the capacity to translate the technique of "understand words" into "literary structure" and "meaning" based on the reader's cognitive ability. See J. Culler, Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics and the Study of Literature. London: Routledge, 2002, pp. 132-144.
Xie Renyan, Book Review: Joseph R. Dennis. Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Gazetteers in Imperial China, 1100–1700. The Association for Ming Studies, No. 26, 2006, pp. 207-212. Wei Yizong, Reading History: Materials and Methods. Historical Theory Research, No. 3, 2018, pp. 109-117+160.
M. De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, translated by Steven Rendall, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. p. 169.
M. De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, pp. 170-171.
R. Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History, New York: Vintage Books, 1985. p. 216.
K. Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker, ed. Reading, Society, and Politics in Early Modern England. Cambridge University Press, 1987, pp. 3, 8.
Li Chenghua, “Viewing Dimensions: Reading Image-text in the Period of Printmaking during the Ming Dynasty”, The Study of Literature and Art, No. 7, 2013, pp. 157-158.
Inoue Sin, “On the changes and academia of publishing in the early Ming Dynasty”, Peking University History, No. 1, 2009, pp. 1-17.
Liu Tianzhen. (2012) The literary spectacle created by the change of literati style, study style and collection of books--A new exploration of the reasons for the prosperous compilation of classical Chinese novels in the middle and late Ming Dynasty, Nankai Journal, No. 5, pp 35-43.
Lu Rong, Ji yuan za ji, vol. 10, Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1997, pp. 128-129.
Yang Shiqi, Dongli xuji, Qin ding si ku quan shu hui yao, jibu, biejilei. Changchun: Jilin Publishing Co., Ltd., Shenzhen: Haitian Publishing House, 2005.
Joseph P. Mc Dermott, translated by He Zhaohui, A Social History of the Chinese Book: Books and Literati Culture in Late Imperial China, Beijing: Peking University Press, 2009, pp. 98-99.
Chen Xianzhang, Bai sha yu yao,Beijing: The Commercial Press, 1938.
Inoue Sin translate from Japanese into Chinese by Li exian, Chinese Publishing Culture History, Hubei: Central China Normal University Press, 2015, p. 193. Kai-Wing Chow, publishing Culture and power in Early Modern China. Stanford, Calif Stanford University Press, 2007, p. 184.
Li Zhi (1527-1602) mentioned in the Book of Burning, “Get your hands on the good readable eight-legged essays. Read a few of them every day and until you have gone through about five hundred of them by the time you get to the examination hall. When the examination topic comes down, all you need is to be a clerk and copy down what you have memorized, and you will score well in the examination.” Li zhi, Book of Burning, Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1975, p. 84.
Oki Yasushi, The Publishing Culture of Jiangnan in the Late Ming Dynasty, translated Zhou Baoxiong, Shanghai: Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House, 2014, p. 7.
Shen DeFu, Wan li ye huo pian, vol. 2 Jin ping mei. Zhu Yixuan, Zhu Tianji. Selected Novels of Ming and Qing Dynasties. Tianjin: Nankai University Press, 2006, p. 531.
Shang Wei and David Der-wei Wang, “The Making of the Everyday World: Jin Ping Mei Cihua and Encyclopedia for Daily Use.” International Sinology vol 1, 2011, pp. 188-109.
Denis C. Twitchet, Frederick W. Mote, translated by Yang Pinquan, The Cambridge History of China, Volume 8, the Ming Dynasty 1368–1644 Part 2. p. 607.
Books about the moral requirements: Stories about the Famous Women, Norms Expected of Women, Female Norms, Four Norms Books of Female.
See Qian Qianyi, The Collection of Poems of the Dynasty, Lie chao shiji xiaozhuan jiaji, Haikou: Hainan International Press and Publication Center, Cheng cheng Culture Publishing Co., Ltd., 1995, p. 492.
During this period, the reader's attention was gradually guidedby the printed industry, and the "talented women" phenomenon began to get the attention of the intellectuals in the middle and late Ming Dynasty.
In Hu Wenzhao's Textual Research on Women's Works of Past Dynasties, there are 245 female writers in the Ming Dynasty. The increase in female readers also represents an expansion in women's cultural accomplishments. For example, Ye Yuan Shao's daughter, Ye Xiaoying, wrote a drama called Yuanyang meng, and her Wumengtang quan ji was co-published with her mother and sister. In the sequel of Chidu xinyu guangbian, it is recorded that a female painter wrote a letter to the female editor to suggest forming a female poet group. They sent poems to each other during the Spring and Autumn Holidays and compiled them into a collection of poems. The Cambridge History of China, Volume 8, The Ming Dynasty 1368–1644 Part 2, p. 611. Oki Yasushi, The Publishing Culture of Jiangnan in the Late Ming Dynasty. p. 61.
Dorothy Y. Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-century China. Translated by Li Zhisheng, Nanjing: Jiangsu People's Publishing House, 2005, p. 68.
Miu Heyong, General History of Chinese Publishing, Beijing: China Book Publishing House, 2008, p. 11. Qiu Pengsheng, The Suzhou Publishing Industry and its Social Effects in the Ming Dynasty, Jiu Zhou Academic Journal, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 13.
Cui Wei's observed in 1488, “Many people can read, even rural children, ferry workers, and boatmen are expected to be literate. Although there is no evidence that the common folks can reach the cultural level beyond basic literacy, such as writing and expression, it is enough to show the spread of basic education and the improvement of literacy rate.” Denis C. Twitchet, Frederick W. Mote, translated by Yang Pinquan, The Cambridge History of China, Volume 8, the Ming Dynasty 1368–1644 Part 2. p. 607.
Science Publishing Group
1 Rockefeller Plaza,
10th and 11th Floors,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (001)347-983-5186