AAS Annual Meeting

China and Inner Asia Session 200

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Session 200: Forgeries, Fakes, and Imitations in Ming Publishing

Organizer: Scott W. Gregory, University of Arizona, USA

Discussant: Lucille Chia, University of California, Riverside, USA

The celebrated late Ming publishing boom brought an unprecedented number of texts into the hands of scholars and commoners alike. Yet along with this new access to printed books came charges of imitation and forgery. Critics claimed that certain books were printed merely for financial or other personal gain, that their texts were of dubious quality, or that they were not the authentic works of their alleged “authors.” These charges, while often valid, also caused certain books (or aspects of them) to remain understudied or otherwise stigmatized. These papers discuss three publications against which such allegations were made, taking into account literary, textual, biographical, and historical perspectives. Gregory discusses a lesser-known literary work, the Yinglie zhuan, which Ming literati accused of being created in imitation of the Shuihu zhuan and the Sanguo yanyi by a powerful military figure who sought personal gain. Galambos examines the textual history of a Ming strategy manual ascribed to Three Kingdoms-era strategist Zhuge Liang, taking into account evidence from a Tangut-language manuscript. Vance interprets the ascription of a dream interpretation manual to the fourth-century Daoist Ge Hong as an attempt by its Ming-era compiler to legitimize his own thought. Chen discusses Jin Shengtan’s elaborate “forgery” of an “ancient edition” of the Shuihu zhuan as part of a larger program to create an alternative canon. Examining these disparate texts together through the lens of the allegations they have in common, this panel will show the often complex motivations for publishing.

Imitation Heroes: The Yinglie zhuan and the Social Uses of Vernacular Fiction in the Ming
Scott W. Gregory, University of Arizona, USA

The Yinglie zhuan (“Record of the Heroes”) is a work of vernacular fiction relating the story of the founding of the Ming. It is traditionally attributed to Guo Xun (1475-1540), a descendant of a dynastic founder and himself a powerful ally of the Jiajing emperor. Late Ming literati accused Guo of having deliberately imitated the well-known works The Water Margin and Romance of the Three Kingdoms as part of a “subtle scheme” to glorify his ancestor and win a promotion from the title of marquis to that of duke. In addition to analyzing the Yinglie zhuan for literary borrowings from the other, more famous works, in this paper I also situate the production of the Yinglie zhuan in greater historical context by accounting for the entirety of Guo’s publishing output: In addition to all three of these works of fiction, Guo is linked to the printing of several other works, including a compilation of family documents, a history of his and two other prominent families, and a collection of Yuan art-songs. All of these works provide evidence not only of Guo’s publishing mission, but also, by way of their prefaces penned by prominent figures, the social networks of power in which he moved. By examining these factors, I suggest social functions of vernacular fiction publication beyond the marketplace.

A forged text attributed to Zhuge Liang: The Jiangyuan and its earliest extant edition
Imre Galambos, British Library, Hungary

Among the military compositions of Zhuge Liang is a short treatise called Jiangyuan. Since the book does not feature in Sui and Tang dynastic histories, scholars have subsequently argued that it was a forgery, dating to the Yuan or Ming period. While in reality the title occurs in at least one Song source, our extant editions come from the late Ming. This, as well as the reputedly large number of textual parallels with existing military works, made Qing philological scholarship skeptical regarding the authenticity of the text. An important piece of evidence regarding the textual history of this work comes from a Tangut manuscript that has been discovered by Sir M. Aurel Stein at Khara-Khoto in 1914. It dates to the 12th century and thus represents the earliest surviving edition of this text, even if in a different language. Although the content is remarkably similar to later editions, there are also some differences, especially in the last four sections describing the foreign peoples living on the peripheries of the Chinese world. While it is possible that this portion of the original was adapted for Tangut readers, the rest of the manuscript testifies to a high degree of translation fidelity. Consequently, while the Jiangyuan is not necessarily “authentic” in the sense of having been authored by Zhuge Liang, it unquestionably goes back to at least the 12th century.

Claiming a Classical Dream Tradition: He Dongru and An Explication of the Profundities in the Forest of Dreams
Brigid Vance, Lawrence University, USA

The 1636 encyclopedic collection, An Explication of the Profundities in the Forest of Dreams (hereafter Forest of Dreams) attributed authorial credit to Daoist master Ge Hong (284-364), but was later dismissed as a Song forgery by Qing scholars and therefore largely neglected. I argue that He Dongru (1572-1637), the work’s primary compiler, used Ge Hong’s name to lend authority and credibility to his own ideas. In that sense, Forest of Dreams might be better read as an “authentic” forgery, the result of a conscious decision to claim a classical dream tradition. Reading Forest of Dreams against He's biography and against the larger backdrop of Ming publishing and printing, I contend that the so-called “forgery” or creation of a classical dream tradition offered compiler He Dongru the means to justify himself and his dreams to a larger audience.

The Forgery of the “Ancient Version” in Jin Shengtan’s Water Margin Commentary
Lei Chen, University of the West, USA

The late Ming literary commentator Jin Shengtan is famous for his literary pedagogical program under the rubric of “Six Genius Books.” This program was designed to teach readers of future generations how to become genius writers like these six authors. In 1641, he published his first book project, the commentary on the vernacular fiction Water Margin, as a part of his “Six Genius Books” program. However, the Water Margin text selected for his commentary is radically different from the novel widely circulated in the late imperial reading public. This text is entirely Jin Shengtan’s forgery with his claim to the acquisition of an authentic, “old-text” version under the name of the “Guanhua Studio” edition, with his charge against all the received texts read in the public as “vulgar texts,” as false perversions of the authentic version he has possessed. In doing so, Jin Shengtan can radically cut and rewrite the Water Margin text as he wishes and dissociate his own text permanently from the received textual tradition. Also, Jin Shengtan fabricated a preface with a forged signature by the so-called original author Shi Nai’an. This paper explores how this forgery lends Jin Shengtan a free rein to manipulate the original author Shi Nai’an as a mouthpiece of the commentator, and Shi Nai’an’s writing as the footnote of Jin Shengtan’s commentary, to prove Jin Shengtan’s vision of Shi Nai’an, to fulfill the commentator’s aesthetic and ideological agenda, for the purpose of literary pedagogy.