Polygamy and Sublime Passion: Sexuality in China on the Verge of Modernity

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9780824833763: Polygamy and Sublime Passion: Sexuality in China on the Verge of Modernity

For centuries of Chinese history, polygamy and prostitution were closely linked practices that legitimized the "polygynous male," the man with multiple sexual partners. Despite their strict hierarchies, these practices also addressed fundamental antagonisms in sexual relations in serious and constructive ways. Qing fiction abounds in stories of female resistance and superiority. Women―main wives, concubines, and prostitutes―were adept at exerting control and gaining status for themselves, while men indulged in elaborate fantasies about female power. In Polygamy and Sublime Passion, Keith McMahon introduces a new concept, "passive polygamy," to explain the unusual number of Qing stories in which women take charge of a man’s desires, turning him into an instrument of female will. To this he adds a story that haunted the institutions of polygamy and prostitution: the tale of "sublime passion," in which the main characters are a "remarkable" woman and her male lover.

Throughout the book McMahon examines how polygamy, prostitution, and the story of sublime passion encountered the first stages of paradigmatic change in the nineteenth century, decades before the legal abolition of polygamy. By the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911, love stories were celebrating the exploits of street-smart prostitutes who fleeced gullible patrons in the bustling city of Shanghai. What do these characters have in common with their early counterparts as men and women became inhabitants of a new city in an era flooded with ideas from radically foreign sources―all of this taking place in a time of economic and cultural dislocation? McMahon reads late Qing love stories in a historically symbolic way, taking them as part of a larger fantasy of Chinese civilization undergoing a fundamental crisis. The polygamous marriage and the affairs of the brothel became metaphorical staging grounds for portraying the destiny of China on the verge of modernity. Finally, McMahon speculates on the changes polygamous sexuality underwent after the Qing dynasty ended and whether it exerted a residual influence in later times.

Polygamy and Sublime Passion will undoubtedly engage those interested in Chinese society, culture, literature, and gender studies as well as comparativists seeking to understand the diverse responses to modernization around the world.

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About the Author:

Keith McMahon is professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Kansas.

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Keith McMahon
Published by University of Hawai i Press, United States (2009)
ISBN 10: 0824833767 ISBN 13: 9780824833763
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Book Description University of Hawai i Press, United States, 2009. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. For centuries of Chinese history, polygamy and prostitution were closely linked practices that legitimized the polygynous male , the man with multiple sexual partners. Despite their strict hierarchies, these practices also addressed fundamental antagonisms in sexual relations in serious and constructive ways. Qing fiction abounds in stories of female resistance and superiority. Women - main wives, concubines, and prostitutes - were adept at exerting control and gaining status for themselves, while men indulged in elaborate fantasies about female power. Keith McMahon introduces a new concept, passive polygamy , to explain the unusual number of Qing stories in which women take charge of a man s desires, turning him into an instrument of female will. To this he adds a story that haunted the institutions of polygamy and prostitution: the tale of sublime passion , in which the main characters are a remarkable woman and her male lover. Throughout McMahon examines how polygamy, prostitution, and the story of sublime passion encountered the first stages of paradigmatic change in the nineteenth century, decades before the legal abolition of polygamy. By the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911, love stories were celebrating the exploits of street-smart prostitutes who fleeced gullible patrons in the bustling city of Shanghai. What do these characters have in common with their early counterparts as men and women became inhabitants of a new city in an era flooded with ideas from radically foreign sources - all of this taking place in a time of economic and cultural dislocation? McMahon reads late Qing love stories in a historically symbolic way, taking them as part of a larger fantasy of Chinese civilization undergoing a fundamental crisis. The polygamous marriage and the affairs of the brothel became metaphorical staging grounds for portraying the destiny of China on the verge of modernity. Finally, McMahon speculates on the changes polygamous sexuality underwent after the Qing dynasty ended and whether it exerted a residual influence in later times. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780824833763

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Keith McMahon
Published by University of Hawai i Press, United States (2009)
ISBN 10: 0824833767 ISBN 13: 9780824833763
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
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Book Description University of Hawai i Press, United States, 2009. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. For centuries of Chinese history, polygamy and prostitution were closely linked practices that legitimized the polygynous male , the man with multiple sexual partners. Despite their strict hierarchies, these practices also addressed fundamental antagonisms in sexual relations in serious and constructive ways. Qing fiction abounds in stories of female resistance and superiority. Women - main wives, concubines, and prostitutes - were adept at exerting control and gaining status for themselves, while men indulged in elaborate fantasies about female power. Keith McMahon introduces a new concept, passive polygamy , to explain the unusual number of Qing stories in which women take charge of a man s desires, turning him into an instrument of female will. To this he adds a story that haunted the institutions of polygamy and prostitution: the tale of sublime passion , in which the main characters are a remarkable woman and her male lover. Throughout McMahon examines how polygamy, prostitution, and the story of sublime passion encountered the first stages of paradigmatic change in the nineteenth century, decades before the legal abolition of polygamy. By the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911, love stories were celebrating the exploits of street-smart prostitutes who fleeced gullible patrons in the bustling city of Shanghai. What do these characters have in common with their early counterparts as men and women became inhabitants of a new city in an era flooded with ideas from radically foreign sources - all of this taking place in a time of economic and cultural dislocation? McMahon reads late Qing love stories in a historically symbolic way, taking them as part of a larger fantasy of Chinese civilization undergoing a fundamental crisis. The polygamous marriage and the affairs of the brothel became metaphorical staging grounds for portraying the destiny of China on the verge of modernity. Finally, McMahon speculates on the changes polygamous sexuality underwent after the Qing dynasty ended and whether it exerted a residual influence in later times. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780824833763

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Book Description Univ of Hawaii Pr, 2009. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. 1st new edition. 216 pages. 9.00x6.25x1.00 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # __0824833767

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