Ellen Widmer is professor of East Asian Studies and Mayling Soong Professor of Chinese Studies at the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures of Wellesley College; she is also professor at Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. She has contributed distinctive researches on issues including Ming-Qing fiction and Ming loyalism, Ming-Qing fiction and women, Ming-Qing fiction and publication, the history of books and the history of Christian mission. She thinks that Shuihu houzhuan probably does not deserve to be ranked as a first-rate classic, but its value as a manifestation of how the novel form took shape in China under the influence of Jin Shengtan and others is remarkable. The novel was used by its author, Chen Chen, to express political alienation and dissent; introducing the idea of fiction’s capability of expressing personal emotion put Chen ahead of his time. Chen Chen’s loyalism may be related to the utopia in his novel, and such utopia perhaps is a reference to Zheng Chenggong’s rule in Taiwan while referring in part to concepts developed earlier by Zhuangzi and Tao Yuanming; it may also be something about the way The Water Margin itself is constructed that led to the Utopian theme. The Story of Hong Giltong from Korea (the sixteenth century) and Takizawa Bakin’s Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki of the nineteenth century used The Water Margin-based materials but end up with the establishing of island kingdoms off the coast of China. Chinese women underwent waves of development in certain eras. If one looks only at Jiangnan area, one can see development at the end of the Ming and the beginning of the Qing, and also from the late-eighteenth to the late-nineteenth centuries. The latter of these two periods had ramifications in the field of fiction, where women could be readers, critics, and even writers. Women readers help to shape the development of fiction, particularly when it comes to sequels to The Dream of Red Mansion. The various sequels to The Dream of Red Mansion give evidence that women could be respected critics of fiction; and the plots often seem to be responsive to women’s concerns. Although the sequels were not necessarily great literature, they are signs of a growing interest among women in the novel and growing involvement with the form. And at the very end of the chain of sequels an actual woman novelist emerged — Gu Taiqing, who wrote Honglou mengying in 1877. This development is completely independent of the influence of the West, which affects so many aspects of Chinese life since the end of the nineteenth century. There are ties between the topics of publishing and missionaries and the topic of women. Publication culture and women’s culture developed before the end of the nineteenth century, and both Chinese and Western works of fiction gained more readers in the nineteenth century because of growing interest among Chinese readers and sensitivity of booksellers to profits that could be made from fiction, or, in the case of missionaries, of awareness of the power of fiction to change readers’ minds. When one studies who wrote novels in China, who read them, who distributed them, and how they were constructed one gets a picture of how the form of novel evolved before Western influence set in.
赵红娟 [美]魏爱莲. 小说·性别·历史文化——美国汉学家魏爱莲教授访谈录[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 2018, 4(2): 194-201.
Zhao Hongjuan, Ellen Widmer. Fiction, Gender, History and Culture: An Interview of Professor Ellen Widmer, a Famous American Sinologist. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 2018, 4(2): 194-201.