The chapter aims to critically introduce the concept of humour and discourses around it in China at the beginning of the twentieth century, when Chinese intellectuals started to reconsider their native literary and cultural legacy with respect to the Western tradition. It then illustrates how collections of humorous anecdotes were classified and evaluated in pre-modern China, in order to explain the relationship between humorous texts and the literary canon and to highlight problems of classification of the textual material (i.e. how to understand the ‘genre’ of jestbook). To clarify certain difficulties that emerge when comparing the Chinese literary tradition with other traditions, in particular Western ones, and to provide fruitful elements to ponder on for scholars in different fields, this chapter will first clarify the terminology, identify the primary sources in which to look for the texts under discussion, and highlight certain methodological problems. It will then offer an overview of the first two jestbooks transmitted, Xiaolin 笑林 (Forest of Laughter, third century CE) and Qiyan lu 啓顔錄 (Record of Bright Smiles, fifth-sixth century), as case studies, to examine their humorous content in relation to their cultural background.

"Approaching Jokes and Jestbooks in Premodern China"

giulia baccini
2020

Abstract

The chapter aims to critically introduce the concept of humour and discourses around it in China at the beginning of the twentieth century, when Chinese intellectuals started to reconsider their native literary and cultural legacy with respect to the Western tradition. It then illustrates how collections of humorous anecdotes were classified and evaluated in pre-modern China, in order to explain the relationship between humorous texts and the literary canon and to highlight problems of classification of the textual material (i.e. how to understand the ‘genre’ of jestbook). To clarify certain difficulties that emerge when comparing the Chinese literary tradition with other traditions, in particular Western ones, and to provide fruitful elements to ponder on for scholars in different fields, this chapter will first clarify the terminology, identify the primary sources in which to look for the texts under discussion, and highlight certain methodological problems. It will then offer an overview of the first two jestbooks transmitted, Xiaolin 笑林 (Forest of Laughter, third century CE) and Qiyan lu 啓顔錄 (Record of Bright Smiles, fifth-sixth century), as case studies, to examine their humorous content in relation to their cultural background.
The Palgrave Handbook of Humour, History, and Methodology
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3717431
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