Heroines of Jiangyong: Chinese Narrative Ballads in Women's Script

Heroines of Jiangyong: Chinese Narrative Ballads in Women's Script

by Wilt L. Idema
     
 

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Heroines of Jiangyong is the first English translation of a set of verse narratives recorded in the unique women's script (nushu) of rural Jiangyong County, Hunan, in southern China. This selection of Chinese folk literature provides a rare window into the everyday life of rural daughters, wives, and mothers, as they transmit valuable lessons about surviving

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Overview

Heroines of Jiangyong is the first English translation of a set of verse narratives recorded in the unique women's script (nushu) of rural Jiangyong County, Hunan, in southern China. This selection of Chinese folk literature provides a rare window into the everyday life of rural daughters, wives, and mothers, as they transmit valuable lessons about surviving in a patriarchal society that is often harsh and unforgiving. Featuring strong female protagonists, the ballads deal with moral issues, dangers women face outside the family home, and the difficulties of childbirth.

The women's script, which represents units of sound in the local Chinese dialect, was discovered by scholars in the late twentieth century, creating a stir in China and abroad. This volume offers a full translation of all the longer ballads in women's script, providing an exceptional opportunity to observe which specific narratives appealed to rural women in traditional China. The translations are preceded by a brief introduction to women's script and its scholarship, and a discussion of each of the twelve selections.

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Editorial Reviews

Nan Nu - Fei-wen
A valuable addition to contemporary scholarship of Chinese literature, especially regarding studies of Chinese peasant women and changben.... Heroines of Jiangyong serves as an excellent point of departure for exploring rural women's complex lifeworlds...

Feminist Formations - Jeana DelRosso
The book represents a significant contribution to Chinese history, language, and culture, as well as to global literature and women's studies.

Folklore - James H. Grayson
The book provides a wealth of comparative thematic, topical, and motif material for folklorists, ethnographers, and anthropologists, and is highly recommended.

On the Issues
Heroines of Jiangyong provides a paradigm for Chinese feminists to better understand and recognize the hidden tensions of traditionally imposed gender roles in China in order to move toward gender equality.

Journal of Folklore Research
Idema brings a sensitive literary perspective to nushu texts. The result is a set of translations through which, it is easy to believe, the Jiangyong women's voices may be heard.... The Heroines of Jiangyong is a valuable contribution to English language studies of nushu.

The China Quarterly
… provide fascinating glimpses into the trials and tribulations, as well as the ideals and aspirations, of rural women… the protagonists of these ballads, while they may weep, lament and wail, also shout and curse and scold and, for the most part, do indeed emerge as 'heroines'… translations such as these… should be especially welcomed by those who teach China in the classroom. For the language of these ballads, deftly conveyed by Idema's translations, is lively, earthy and often… refreshingly vivid.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780295988412
Publisher:
University of Washington Press
Publication date:
01/01/2009
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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What People are saying about this

Robert E. Hegel
An excellent entry into a form of writing widely noticed only in the last few decades, the 'women's script' of a small area in southern Hunan in central China.

Fei—wen Liu
Contributes to the study of Chinese literature, history, and society by filling the void of research on rural women in imperial China—-a field grossly underexplored due to the lack of historical documentation.

From the Publisher
For the first time Western readers will be able to appreciate some of the most popular stories composed in Women's Script and survey the kind of stories and songs enjoyed by these village women. Thanks to the detailed notes provided, readers will understand the cultural context within which these texts were interpreted by the women of Jiangyong. The introduction succinctly summarizes the various theories concerning the origin of Women's Script material, and the uses and social function of Women's Script within Jiangyong... Heroines of Jiangyong will be favoured reading for all those with an interest in Chinese popular literature, Women's Script, Chinese oral and literate culture, folklore and gender studies.

University of Washington Press

Anne McLaren
The stories and songs translated here are gems of folk literature. For the first time, Western readers will be able to appreciate some of the most popular stories composed in women's script and survey the kind of stories and songs enjoyed by these village women.

The Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies
For the first time Western readers will be able to appreciate some of the most popular stories composed in Women's Script and survey the kind of stories and songs enjoyed by these village women. Thanks to the detailed notes provided, readers will understand the cultural context within which these texts were interpreted by the women of Jiangyong. The introduction succinctly summarizes the various theories concerning the origin of Women's Script material, and the uses and social function of Women's Script within Jiangyong... Heroines of Jiangyong will be favoured reading for all those with an interest in Chinese popular literature, Women's Script, Chinese oral and literate culture, folklore and gender studies.

Fei—wen Liu
Contributes to the study of Chinese literature, history, and society by filling the void of research on rural women in imperial China—-a field grossly underexplored due to the lack of historical documentation.

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Meet the Author

Wilt L. Idema is professor of Chinese literature at Harvard University. He is the translator of Meng Jiangnu Brings Down the Great Wall: Ten Versions of a Chinese Legend and the author (with Beata Grant) of The Red Brush: Writing Women of Imperial China.

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