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Abstract

Theatre critics of the Ming dynasty spoke only occasionally about the "example (li)" of the Yuan-dynasty plays (za ju). In early Qing dynasty, Mao Qiling proposed "lyric example ( ci li)" as the primary commentary approach to The Romance ofthe West Chamber. The concept of "lyric" refers to the Yuan-dynasty plays, and the concept of "example" refers to the conventions, commonalities, laws and paradigms. Mao's concept of "lyric example" provided a comprehensive analysis of the language, the temperament, the system, and the performance as well as the critical standards in evaluating not only The Romance of the West Chamber but also the Yuan-dynasty plays in general. Mao's concept was used both to criticize The Romance of the West Chamber but also to establish the norms for the Yuan-dynasty plays and even for Chinese plays in general. In other words,Mao's engagement with The Romance of the West Chamber is his effort to establish a general theory for the criticism of Chinese theatre.Mao's concept of "lyric example" is of great significance in the history of classical Chinese literary criticism and deserves great attention in contemporary scholarship.

Keywords

lyric example (ci li), Mao Qiling, comments on The Romance of the West Chamber, value in literary criticism history

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