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CHINESE CONCEPTS OF PRIVACY


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SINICA LEIDENSIA

EDITED BY

W. L. IDEMA IN COOPERATION WITH

P.K. BOL • B.J. TER HAAR • D. R. KNECHTGES E. S. RAWSKI • E. ZÜRCHER • H.T. ZURNDORFER

VOLUME LV


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CHINESE CONCEPTS

OF PRIVACY

EDITED BY

BONNIE S. MCDOUGALL &

ANDERS HANSSON

BRILL LEIDEN BOSTON • KÖLN 2002 •


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This book is printed on acid-free paper.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Chinese concepts of privacy / edited by Bonnie S. McDougall & Anders Hansson. p. cm. — (Sinica Leidensia, ISSN 0169-9563 : v. 55) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 9004127666 1. China—Social life and customs. 2. Privacy—China—History. I. McDougall, Bonnie S., 1941- II. Hansson, Anders, 1944- III. Series. DS727 .C5234 2002 177’.1—dc21

2002066559 CIP

Die Deutsche Bibliothek – CIP-Einheitsaufnahme Chinese concepts of privacy / ed. by Bonnie S. McDougall & Anders Hansson. – Leiden ; Boston ; Köln : Brill, 2002

(Sinica Leidensia ; Vol. 55)

ISBN 90-04-12766-6

ISSN 0169-9563 ISBN 90 04 12766 6 © Copyright 2002 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Brill provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910 Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. printed in the netherlands


contents

v

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements .......................................................................

vii

PART I: INTRODUCTION Particulars and Universals: Studies on Chinese Privacy Bonnie S. McDougall ...................................................................

3

PART II: EXPERIENCING PRIVACY Solitude, Silence and Concealment: Boundaries of the Social Body in Ming Dynasty China Charlotte Furth ............................................................................

27

Privacy in Dream of the Red Chamber Cathy Silber ................................................................................

54

PART III: INSCRIBING PRIVACY Studying the Private Sphere of the Ancient Chinese Nobility through the Inscriptions on Bronze Ritual Vessels Maria Khayutina ...........................................................................

81

Privacy and Letter Writing in Han and Six Dynasties China David Pattinson .............................................................................

97

PART IV: NEGOTIATING PRIVACY The Origins of Modern Chinese Concepts of Privacy: Notes on Social Structure and Moral Discourse Peter Zarrow ................................................................................. 121

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Functions and Values of Privacy in the Correspondence

between Lu Xun and Xu Guangping, 1925-1929 Bonnie S. McDougall ..................................................................... 147

PART V: EXPOSING PRIVACY

Privacy and its Ill Effects in Post-Mao Urban Fiction

Robin Visser ............................................................................... 171

The Extrication of Memory in Tie Ning’s Woman Showering:

Privacy and the Trap of History

Chen Xiaoming .............................................................................. 195

PART VI: CONCLUSION

Reflections on Privacy in China

Stephan Feuchtwang ........................................................................ 211

Glossary ........................................................................................ 231

Index ............................................................................................. 237

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The chapters in this volume are a selection from the papers pre­ sented at a workshop on “Chinese Concepts of Privacy” held at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) and Leiden University in May-June 2001. The aim of the workshop was to identify and analyse Chinese concepts of privacy, now and in the past. Fifteen papers were presented by scholars from the Nether­ lands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, Australia, China and Taiwan. (Indicative of the workshop’s interna­ tional scope was the fact that many of the paper-givers were living or working outside their native country.) Grateful thanks are due to all participants, including discussants, chairs, invited audience, and the general audience at the first two sessions, which were open to Leiden University students and staff. As well as those whose papers appear as chapters in this volume, I particularly want to thank Barend ter Haar, Hsiung Ping-chen [Xiong Bingzhen], Raoul Fin­ deisen, Shuyu Kong, Peter Nosco, M. J. van den Hoven, Michel Hockx, Douwe Fokkema, Stefan Landsberger and Peter Peverelli. The workshop was co-organised by Maghiel van Crevel, Profes­ sor of Chinese Language and Literature at Leiden University, with the assistance of Remy Cristini, student at the Sinological Institute at Leiden University. The academic success and smooth running of the workshop were largely due to their invaluable contributions. The workshop organisers gratefully acknowledge support from the Leiden University Centre for Non-Western Studies, the Leiden University Fund, the International Institute for Asian Studies, the Netherlands Research Council, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Taipei Representative Office in the Netherlands. From the time when the project was no more than an idea to his invitation to submit a manuscript based on the workshop papers, we received the warm support of Albert Hoffstädt, senior editor at Brill, and at all stages it was deeply appreciated. We are also most grateful to the series editor, Wilt Idema, and to Patricia Radder, Asian Studies editor at Brill, for their encouragement and assistance, and to Sarah Gamble, our hard-worked copy-editor. Bonnie S. McDougall Professor of Chinese, The University of Edinburgh & NIAS Fellow in Residence 2000/01

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1

particulars and universals

PART I

INTRODUCTION

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particulars and universals

PARTICULARS AND UNIVERSALS:

STUDIES ON CHINESE PRIVACY

Bonnie S. McDougall

The issue of privacy has commanded intense public attention around the world in the last half-century. The right to privacy of celebri­ ties and public figures from princesses to presidents feature in major stories and debates in the mass media. Perceived threats to privacy through advanced technology have led to new laws and regulations in many countries. Despite cultural differences, international rights to privacy have been recognised in UN declarations. In consequence, Western studies of privacy are numerous: there is a huge bibliogra­ phy ranging across most of the humanities and social science disci­ plines from anthropology, sociology and psychology to history and politics.1 The topic has also attracted much attention in China in recent years, and textual references to certain kinds of conduct or states of mind that suppose an awareness of privacy go back as least as early as the Warring States period. Nevertheless, the topic of privacy in traditional or modern China has until very recently re­ ceived little explicit or theorised attention in Chinese or Western sinology.2

1 For a summary of recent studies on privacy, see my “Briefing paper: con­ cepts of privacy in English” (draft 15 February 2001) at www.arts.ed.ac.uk/ asianstudies/privacyproject. 2 Pioneers in regard to Chinese studies of privacy are Hsiung Ping-chen at the Academia Sinica in Taibei and Yan Yunxiang, now at the University of Southern California. See for example Hsiung’s conference paper, “The Domestic, the Per­ sonal, and the Intimate: ‘Privacy’ and Father-Daughter Bonds in Late Imperial China” (forthcoming). Yan Yunxiang’s Private Life under Socialism: Individuality and Family Change in a Chinese Village, 1949-1999 (forthcoming) is the first major work on privacy in modern China; see esp. Chapter Five, “Domestic Space and the Quest for Privacy”, based in part on his experience as a sent-down youth in the countryside. I am grateful to Hsiung and Yan for allowing me to see unpublished versions of their work.

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bonnie s. mcdougall Privacy awareness, nation-states and cultures

Non-specialist writers (including sinologists) who comment on pri­ vacy often assume that concepts of privacy are uniform within and unique to nation-states or cultures. Factors such the influence of structuralism and the dominance of nationalism in the twentieth century encouraged the study of societies, especially non-Western societies, as enclosed and self-sufficient systems, giving rise to ex­ pressions such as “the Chinese concept [sic] of privacy”. Studies on Western forms of privacy, however, reveal differences in practices and conceptualisations arising from age, gender, social class and other factors, and there is every reason to believe that there is an even wider range of variation in China with its long history, geographi­ cal spread, huge population and ethnic diversity. Although most anthropologists have now rejected it, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that thought is shaped by language also lingers in Western thinking about non-Western societies. According to this hypothesis, the concept of privacy in one language community will be uniform within and unique to that community; and since the terminology for privacy issues differs considerably from one language to another, cross-cultural studies compare different entities. This argument tends to be used selectively. Very few English speakers, for instance, would want to claim that in European countries with privacy terminologies that differ from English (e.g. the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland) there are radically different concepts of privacy, but it is quite commonly claimed (in the extreme form of this argument) that the Chinese language lacks an equivalent vocabulary for privacy and that there­ fore Chinese people do not have a sense of privacy.3 Another claim for national uniqueness is that rights to privacy are related to the legal systems of different states and that concepts of privacy, either as a cause or a consequence, therefore also cor­ respond with nation-states. The emergence of rights to privacy dates back to eighteenth-century European debates on human rights, and just as the universality of human rights is contested so are universal rights to privacy. Nevertheless, legal systems differ even within one country (e.g. England and Scotland, or the US states) and reflect 3 An analysis of this argument appears in my Love-Letters and Privacy in Modern China: The Intimate Lives of Lu Xun & Xu Guangping (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

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differences of opinion on privacy within that country. At the same time, countries across the world, including China, now share com­ mon ground in regard to such phenomena as legal rights to privacy of correspondence. Changes over time within a single culture or state, whether in language or in social practice, are also often ignored. The rapid transformation of the Chinese economy in the late twentieth cen­ tury also demonstrates the contingent nature of practices which might be thought to be intrinsic. From the 1950s up to the end of the 1970s, Chinese office workers lived either in large apartment buildings or in older, courtyard-style housing. In both places, lavatories were segregated by gender but were otherwise communal; the main dif­ ference was that the newer lavatories generally had stalls (not al­ ways with doors), whereas the older lavatories usually did not. In the 1980s, when many families were allocated self-contained flats in new buildings, each with its own combined bathroom and lava­ tory, these lavatories were normally used by one person at a time, behind closed or locked doors. Although nostalgia for the immediate past was common amongst Educated Youth, I have never heard anyone express a wish to return to communal lavatories. Terminology The terminology for privacy in European languages is rich and diverse, some languages drawing on the Latin privatus (originally indicating a person without an official position) and others devel­ oping terminology from diverse sources. English now distinguishes between the adjectival form private, which may refer to selfish inter­ ests or to property rights (including access to property), and the substantive privacy, which denotes a state or condition relating to intimate conduct and relationships in which the subject controls access and makes autonomous decisions.4 In Dutch, by contrast, the 4 For a brief history of the word “private” in English, see Raymond Williams, Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society (London: Fontana Press, 1988), pp. 242­ 43. An even briefer survey of the word ‘privacy’ and its synonyms ‘isolation’, ‘seclusion’, ‘solitude’ and ‘withdrawal’ is given in The Penguin Modern Guide to Syn­ onyms and Related Words, ed. S. I. Hayakawa, rev. P.J. Fletcher (London: Penguin, 1971), pp. 451-52. Julia C. Inness specifically excludes “private” [interests] from her Privacy, Intimacy, and Isolation (New York: Oxford University Press,1992), p. 13. See also my “Briefing paper” for a further discussion of terminologies.

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corresponding adjective is eigen [cognate English “own”], and there is no equivalent substantive; the English word “privacy” has instead been adopted. The Chinese word si covers both “private” and “privacy”; in parallel with English usage, si may refer to private ownership, pri­ vate interests or selfishness, private as distinct from public service, private as in underhand or secretive conduct, and privacy as a state of seclusion to which access is controlled by the subject. English and Chinese also have a range of related words such as intimacy/ni (or qinni), seclusion/you (with variants such as youjing), secret/mi, personal (or individual)/geren and inner/nei. Even apparently straightforward concepts like “inner” and “outer” can be confusing. Lu Xun’s “A Q zheng zhuan” [The true story of Ah Q] begins with a pseudoacademic discussion of terms for biographies, including neizhuan and waizhuan; in the English translation by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang, these appear as “unauthorized biographies” and “legends”. In the Yangs’ translation of Lu Xun’s Zhongguo xiaoshuo shi lüe [A brief history of Chinese fiction], on the other hand, neizhuan and waizhuan as parts of book titles are both translated, quite fittingly, as “The private life [of such-and-such a person]”.5 The physical location of private experience also varies. It is a fal­ lacy to suppose, for instance, that only the single, solitary person experiences privacy, beyond the reach of others’ sight, hearing or smell. Privacy is very often a shared experience (most noticeably, by couples intent on sexual intercourse). Especially in traditional societies, the locus or unit of privacy is frequently not the individual but the family or subgroups within the family (women, children, servants). Privacy can also be experienced in the presence of a crowd; for instance, by retreating into a private mental space as described in Ah Cheng’s 1984 novella “Qi wang” [The king of chess].6 Mecha­ nisms for protecting privacy in cultures where physical isolation is rare include the use of face veils and speaking softly. Cross-cultural comparisons between instances and mechanisms of 5

Lu Xun quan ji [Collected works of Lu Xun] (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1981), vol. 1, p. 487 and vol. 9, pp. 35, 39; Lu Xun: Selected Works (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1980), vol. 1, p. 102; Lu Hsun, A Brief History of Chinese Fiction (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1976), pp. 33, 41. I am indebted to Anders Hansson for this observation. 6 For a translation into English, see Ah Cheng, Three Kings (London: Harvill, 1990), pp. 27-93.

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privacy (for example, the space observed by implicit consent between people in a queue) focus on differences in expression or awareness of privacy; more comprehensive discussions of privacy in terms of functions and values tend to reveal shared ground.7 An English expres­ sion which has no obvious Chinese equivalent is a sense of privacy, but the evidence suggests that privacy awareness exists universally, whether or not there is a word for it. Although some definitions of privacy will be offered in the chap­ ters below, it is not the object of the volume as a whole to reach a comprehensive definition of privacy experiences in China. (One reason to be wary of definitions of privacy is their proliferation in Western studies, where more than a hundred have been listed in English alone.) Rather, this volume is about concepts, i.e., shared, public ways of thinking: these studies will be looking at conduct and texts which demonstrate a common perspective among a group or groups of people. Concepts are also learned behaviour: under dis­ cussion here are not simply instances of privacy awareness but ways of understanding, communicating and analysing privacy in China. Western studies now commonly refer to a state of chaos in pri­ vacy studies. One way to cope with this chaos is to see it not as a problem to be solved but as a reflection of the real-life complexity of the subject. While some precision on terminology and basic prin­ ciples is welcome, it is generally helpful to bear in mind that within societies and cultures there is a great diversity of opinion on what privacy means, how it might be protected or reduced, and how it is valued. Feminists, for instance, observe that the privacy of the fam­ ily which is generally protected by law can also protect wife-battering and child abuse. A young couple tell a popular television interviewer, reaching potentially millions of people, that living in his parents’ house they are embarrassed about making love, so that on weekends they move to a hotel so they can make love in private. Bill Clinton pleads that even presidents need privacy and then makes a confession of wrongdoing on a mass-audience television pro­ gramme. Even individuals find it difficult at times to choose between privacy and publicity, or even to distinguish between their bound­ aries. 7 For a discussion of this point, see Irwin Altman, “Privacy as an Interper­ sonal Boundary Process”, in Human Ethology, ed. Mario von Cranach et al. (Cam­ bridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 95-132, esp. p. 131.

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The complexity of privacy terminology is a reflection of the di­ versity of the meanings and values attached to privacy. For the sake of simplicity, the discussions in this book refer only to English and Chinese usages, and, unless otherwise specified, the adjectival form ‘private’ will refer to the condition of privacy and not to ownership. The term ‘Western’ is shorthand for English-speaking countries around the world (ignoring provisionally the differences between them), plus, to a lesser extent, the countries of continental Europe. These studies refer primarily to studies of Chinese élites, focussing on the gentry and/or rulers; since access and attention to privacy among élites tend to be greater than among non-élites, this restric­ tion limits but does not invalidate the findings in general. Similarly, distinctions between central, provincial and peripheral localities are relevant but not of crucial significance, and are not given special attention. Public and private spheres and interests As in English, the Chinese word si commonly occurs as half of a pair with gong [public]; in this context, it refers to a private sphere of activity and/or private interests. Chinese debates on the politi­ cal and ethical implications of the two spheres or interests go back to the Warring States period. David Hall and Roger Ames, in Think­ ing Through Confucius (1987), claim not to find in early Confucianism the Aristotelian distinction between the public (state) and private (family) spheres with its corresponding dichotomy between the con­ templative and the active life and its consequent development, through Christian theology, into the elevation of the individual’s private self as more authentic than one’s public persona.8 Never­ theless, a distinction between gong and si was observed, and si was not perceived as a wholly negative quality in early Confucianism. In Writing and Authority in Early China (1999), Mark Lewis shows that, contrary to conventional practice in late Imperial China, abdicat­ ing office was considered the highest virtue in The Analects and Mencius, so that Confucian scholars propagated si xue [private learning] or si yi [private righteousness] as distinct from and sometimes contrary to public regulations, while refusal to serve the state was regarded 8 David L. Hall and Roger T. Ames, Thinking Through Confucius (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987), pp. 146-56.

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as moral heroism.9 (In Daoism, the values associated with gong and si appear to be reversed, but only in the sense that the former is more suspect than the latter.) The Confucian debate on gong and si was a common topic in Tang discourse, according to D. L. McMullen. McMullen traces the vo­ cabulary for this debate in early Imperial China in materials includ­ ing informal anecdotes, literature, administrative codes and political rhetoric, and shows that, while acting for private interests in the public domain is always to be considered bad, acting for private interests in the private domain could be either good or bad, depend­ ing on circumstances.10 Hoyt Tillman similarly shows that the term si retained positive as well as negative attributes (and may conse­ quently be rendered into English as “self-regard”) in twelfth cen­ tury philosophical texts.11 In his account of the debate between Sima Guang and Wang Anshi over Song governance, Peter Bol notes that, while Sima Guang draws a clear line between gong and si, he does not argue that the state should suppress or challenge private inter­ ests, only that the institutions of government must always function in the interests of the survival of the state’s political integrity.12 By late Qing, however, the associations given to si in this context had become overwhelmingly negative, so that si might be translated as ‘selfishness’.13 Throughout the whole course of these debates, it is taken for granted by the participants and by later commentators that the principal actors and agents in both spheres are male. In their treatment of the gong/si debate in premodern China, the 9 Mark Edward Lewis, Writing and Authority in Early China (Albany: State Uni­ versity of New York Press, 1999), pp. 64-65, 66-67. 10 I am grateful to Professor McMullen for allowing me to see an early draft of his paper on public and private domains in the Tang dynasty. 11 Hoyt Cleveland Tillman, Ch’en Liang on Public Interest and the Law (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1994), pp. xiv, xv-xvi, and fn. p. 21. Tillman’s ex­ amination of gong and si extends the discussions in Robert P. Hymes and Conrad Schirokauer’s Ordering the World: Approaches to State and Society in Sung Dynasty China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), with their encouragement. 12 See Peter K. Bol, “Government, Society, and State: On the Political Vi­ sions of Ssu-ma Kuang and Wang An-shih”, in Hymes and Schirokauer, pp. 128­ 92. The index to Ordering the World has an entry for “private interests” but not for “privacy”; see also pp. 51-53. 13 Charlotte Furth, “Culture and Politics in Modern Chinese Conservatism”, in The Limits of Change: Essays on Conservative Alternatives in Republican China, ed. Charlotte Furth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976), pp. 22-53, p. 27; see also Hao Chang, “New Confucianism and the Intellectual Crisis of Contempo­ rary China”, in the same volume, pp. 276-302, esp. p. 297.

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scholars cited above demonstrate great subtlety and flexibility in their understanding of the term si (and its translation into English). Col­ lectively they establish that the meanings and values associated with si have not been uniform in Chinese history. The Chinese debate tends to place more emphasis on exploring the public realm, how­ ever, and the studies mentioned above reflect this emphasis; there is relatively little attention paid to the nature, functions or values of privacy experiences. It would also have been helpful if closer atten­ tion were given (as in McMullen’s paper) to distinctions between si used in reference to the self or agent (i.e. in the sense of private or selfish interests, self-regard and so on), and si with respect to spheres of action or influence (i.e. referring to the family, the home and/or domestic life). To the extent that the debate is about ‘private inter­ ests’, it may be considered irrelevant to privacy issues in the sense of intimacy, seclusion and personal authenticity. When si is taken to refer to private domains such as the home or family, however, its negative connotations are greatly reduced and a very different range of issues emerge. The impact of Western thinking on privacy became evident in the early twentieth century in the political journalism of Liang Qichao and Lu Xun. For further discussion, see the articles by Peter Zarrow and Bonnie McDougall in Part III below. Women’s history The association of the public sphere with men and of the private sphere with women is common to many traditional societies. Women were normally excluded from the public sphere in early and medi­ eval China and Europe, although their exclusion was more rigor­ ous in Imperial China than in Europe; by contrast, men had equal access with women to private spheres, although not all men could enter the space allocated to women. The siting of privacy in women’s quarters and women’s bodies corresponds to the belief that women are closer to nature than men (i.e. ‘nature’ as distinct from manmade ‘culture’) and by further implication more often (or in more bodily parts) polluted.14 Three recent contributions to women’s history covering the Song dynasty, the seventeenth century and the 14

Donald E. Brown, Human Universals (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991), pp. 91-92, 137.

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‘long eighteenth century’, published in 1993, 1994 and 1997 respec­ tively, provide a wealth of information about Chinese women’s experiences of privacy and to some extent of men’s experiences as well. A comparison between them also reveals different degrees of scepticism from their authors towards the usefulness of the catego­ ries ‘public’ and ‘private’ in premodern Chinese society. Patricia Buckley Ebrey’s The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Period (1993) is about one kind of private sphere—the inner quarters—which is largely confined to and domi­ nated by women.15 The word nei [inner] is here of crucial impor­ tance in defining the role of women in the family and society,16 and takes on some of the functions of the word ‘private’ in English. Ebrey’s main sources are narratives such as court cases, informal history and fiction, which relate events or describe behaviour from which thoughts and feelings must be inferred.17 Ebrey teases out these meanings with great skill, providing insights on specific areas of privacy in domestic affairs. A locus of privacy unique to middle and late Imperial China are gentry women’s bound feet: the bound feet of gentry wives and daughters (but not of actresses or courtesans) were even more pri­ vate than their faces, and erotic paintings which showed women’s faces did not necessarily reveal their feet.18 Feet have generally been considered more private than faces or hands, since they are in con­ tact with the ground and therefore likely to be soiled (i.e. polluted). Erasmus considered that bare feet should be concealed, but the shod foot was perfectly respectable in premodern Europe, as much as any part of the clothed body. In middle and late Imperial China, on the other hand, the shod bound foot of the gentry woman could not be shown in paintings, although the shod feet of gentry and non-gentry men and of female servants are acceptable. The faces of gentry women during the Song were also extremely private, so that it was advised that in the event of fire, gentry women should screen their faces with their sleeves as they sought escape.19 15 Patricia Buckley Ebrey, The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Period (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), p. 46. 16 Ebrey, The Inner Quarters, pp. 23-27, 115; see also Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), pp. 144-45. 17 Ebrey, The Inner Quarters, p. 17. 18 Ibid., pp. 40-42. 19 Ibid., pp. 23-24, 162-63.

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The emotional attachments between husband and wife were private, and few writers of either sex expressed personal feelings about their own marriages in literary or biographical writings.20 Sexual inter­ course between husband and wife was even more private; while gentry men wrote about their sexual experiences with courtesans they did not write about their wives and only rarely about their concubines.21 The personal names of gentry wives were private, and gen­ try men from other families referred to them by their natal surnames; concubines, on the other hand, were referred to by their personal names, often ones given to them by their masters.22 According to Dorothy Ko’s Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China (1994), the higher rates of lit­ eracy among women at this time provide a greater quantity and range of writing by women than at any earlier period in Chinese history.23 From this material, Ko examines the tendency in the 16th and 17th centuries to devalue rationality and to elevate intuition, spontaneity and emotion, a trend which appears in literature and domestic life as the “cult of qing” [feeling, emotion, love],24 and the related historical process of privatisation of public life.25 Ko shows that some of the phenomena marked as private in the Song dynasty changed character by the end of the Ming. Gentry wives travelled and showed their faces in public, although, judging from the illustrations in her book, their shod feet were still concealed from public gaze in paintings, if not in life.26 Names of gentry wives remained private,27 but companionate marriage allowed public writing on the relationship between husbands and wives.28 Gentry men spent more time at home pursuing private pleasures,29 while their wives and daughters spent more time away from the home in the company of other women,30 and the family engaged in public 20

Ibid., pp. 152-53, 156-60. Ibid., pp. 162-63, 226-27. 22 Ibid., p. 225. 23 Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, pp. 12-14, 19-22, 29-34 and passim. There is of course more writing in toto extant from late Ming than any earlier period. 24 Ibid., pp. 17-18, 24-25, 72-112. 25 Ibid., pp. 151-57. 26 Ibid., pp. 218-24, and the illustrations on pp. 74, 102, 105, 182, 220, 235. 27 Ibid., p. 276. 28 Ibid., pp. 87-89, 179-218, esp. p. 188. 29 Ibid., pp. 46, 152-53. 30 Ibid., pp. 219-50. 21

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activities such as publishing.31 Although the separate spheres of gentry men and women remained intact, the enlargement of the family’s public roles opened more opportunities for women in edu­ cation, culture, and management.32 While the content and functions of privacy had changed since the Song, it appears that the value given to privacy appreciated in late Ming and early Qing. According to Susan Mann’s Precious Records: Women in China’s Long Eighteenth Cen­ tury (1997), the Qing state’s active promotion of family stability (putting family morals under the public gaze) was broadly accepted by the Han gentry with the important exception of the Qing pro­ scription against footbinding; and “since women who had bound feet were usually cloistered and women who did the binding did it in private, enforcing the proscription was impossible.”33 Footbinding itself was carried out by mothers to daughters in strict privacy,34 and shod bound feet still appear to be as visually taboo as breasts and genitals.35 The Qing state also attempted without much success to prevent interaction between men and women at temples and other public sites,36 and the relationship between women’s private and public speech was a topic of a lengthy scholarly debate.37 In other respects, boundaries between public and private spheres were main­ tained more strictly than under the Ming: “Unlike the late Ming period, when courtesans figure prominently in the lives of élite men and their families, and when upper-class ladies consorted freely with their counterparts in the courtesans’ quarters, the High Qing marked a strict divide between the courtesans’ abode and the ‘inner quar­ ters’ where ‘cultivated ladies’ (the guixiu) resided.”38 31

Ibid., pp. 38-39, 153-57. Ibid., pp. 115-42. 33 Susan Mann, Precious Records: Women in China’s Long Eighteenth Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), p. 27. 34 Ibid., p. 56. 35 In the illustrations showing gentry women at full length in Mann, Precious Records, pp. 27, 61, 70, 79, 87, 88, 146, 147, 155, 157, 160, 161, 162, 172 and 211, no shod feet are visible, but on p. 58, in an sketch apparently drawn by a foreigner, the women’s shod feet are clearly visible. Since it is highly inconvenient to wear robes that trail on the ground, the sketch on p. 58 may well be more accurate. A courtesan’s shod feet are slightly revealed on p. 134; a working woman’s shod feet are slightly visible on p. 144 but not in the matching illustration on p. 145; a maid’s shod feet are slightly visible on p. 96. Men’s shod feet are always visible in full-length drawings. 36 Ibid., pp. 193-200. 37 Ibid., pp. 91, 119-20. 38 Ibid., pp. 53, 121-26. 32

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For women and men alike, “turbulent emotional lives [were] concealed” within the women’s apartments.39 Gentry men in High Qing times did not write about their own or their friends’ sexual experiences with their wives or concubines, and if they wrote about courtesans it was usually under a pseudonym.40 Mann’s descriptions of the “women’s chambers” as “a haven for men in a complex brutal world”, “a retreat to which overstressed men might escape or re­ tire”, “a refuge from the world of flux, chaos, and corruption”41 and of “the escape, even the purification, afforded [to men] by a pris­ tine moment in a courtesan’s boudoir, far from the cares and the ‘dust’ of this world”,42 are clear indications of gentry men’s need for privacy and its locations. Although Mann does not elaborate, it appears that women had little privacy in their own rooms and could not seek it in the men’s private rooms. There were, however, av­ enues beyond the family: “As women aged, many withdrew from the family altogether, seeking a private meditative space or turning to Buddhist texts for respite from their wifely and maternal responsibilities.”43 Mann’s conclusion emphasises the public role of articulate and educated gentry women in the High Qing against an official obses­ sion with female seclusion and sexual segregation. Appreciation of the psychological uses of privacy appears to be more evident in the High Qing than in the Song or Ming, although it is not clear whether this is due to the researcher’s sensitivity, the nature of the sources, or genuine changes over time. Despite the wealth of evidence in these three books about the pri­ vate lives of women (and to a large extent also of men) in Chinese society over close to a thousand years, none of the three authors takes privacy as a major theoretical issue. In Ebrey’s The Inner Quarters, there is no index entry for the term “privacy” and only one for “public sphere, exceptional women in”. Ebrey takes awareness of privacy in Song society for granted, and concepts of privacy are not discussed as such. Her examples, nevertheless, show that both gen­ 39

Ibid., p. 65; see also p. 75. Ibid., pp. 52, 123-25. The notable exception, Shen Fu’s Fu sheng liu ji [A drifting life; six records], is discussed below. 41 Ibid., pp. 49-50; see also p. 75. 42 Mann, Precious Records, p. 129; see also pp. 130-34. 43 Ibid., p. 74. 40

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try women and gentry men enjoyed a rich private life, although for gentry women, the restrictions might be seen as imposed rather than chosen. One of the themes of Ko’s Teachers of the Inner Chambers is the porosity of boundaries between gentry women’s experiences inside and outside the home. Ko contends that distinctions between pri­ vate and public spheres in the West are not applicable to Chinese society, but her argument appears to rest only on an unattributed and unsustainable belief that these are “fixed dichotomies” in Western social theory.44 In her introduction to Precious Records, Mann is at pains to point out the differences between the social identities and experiences of Chinese and European women, noting that it is necessary to modify many Western theoretical assumptions in gender studies. Engaging with Ko’s argument on the categories ‘private’ and ‘public’, she comments, “In High Qing times [1683-1839], the distinction between nei and wai—between women’s inner sphere and men’s outer sphere—is quite unlike the Western dichotomy separating the ‘do­ mestic’ from the ‘public sphere,’”45 and adds in a footnote that “The High Qing reading is different too … from the conception of nei and wai posited in Dorothy Ko’s study of the seventeenth century.”46 Like Ko, Mann fails to identify the source of this Western dichotomy. “Instead [according to Mann], in High Qing discourse the principle of bie—separate spheres—is invoked to stress that wives and moth­ ers inside the home embody the moral autonomy and authority on which husbands and sons must rely to succeed outside. All are part of a family system that constitutes a seamless, unitary social order centred on the home and bounded by the outer reaches of the imperium.”47 Apart from this passage, privacy is not a central issue for Mann and is not further discussed. Instances of an awareness or appreciation of privacy among both men and women (whether being upheld or violated) occur in her work without being so labelled or indexed. Mann’s initial avoidance of the term ‘private’ appears to be based on a reluctance to apply the concepts of civil, public and private spheres from “Western liberal political philosophy” inappropriately 44 45 46 47

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Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers, p. 152.

Mann, Precious Records, p. 15.

Ibid., p. 236, note 19.

Ibid., pp. 15, 77.

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to Chinese lives.48 Her materials, nevertheless, reveal a complex awareness of privacy with variable contents, mechanisms, functions and values, similar in many respects to the new notions on privacy emerging in Europe and the US in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Charlotte Furth’s study of medical practice shows how the perspective of privacy can illuminate our understanding of premodern Chinese society; her chapter in Part II illustrates the complex relationships in medical examinations between a woman’s body, the patriarchal family, and controlled access to both by a benevolent outsider, the doctor. Poetry, fiction and autobiography The evidence from Chinese literature also suggests an early date for male consciousness of privacy as an emotional or interior need. Philosophers such as Yang Zhu and Zhuangzi suggested that pub­ lic life was both dangerous and ultimately futile but did not dwell on the joys or solace of private life. Poems and fu from the Han dynasty onwards by men retiring or outcast from public life lament their fate (demotion to the status of privatus) and only rarely welcome its benefits. Exclusion from office in early Imperial China on the whole appears to be resisted: whether a matter of rhetoric or not, men initially seem to be at a loss when they are deprived of a pub­ lic role. Tao Qian’s poems on retirement are among the first to depict contentment in private life. In the Tang dynasty, poems by Wang Wei celebrate solitude; Li Bai seeks, is denied and subsequently scorns public office; Du Fu recalls his family life at moments of national crisis, and in poems about his wife and children he frets about his inability to save the empire. Very little of this material has come under scrutiny by sinologists (apart from McMullen) for its insights on Chinese evaluations of privacy. The vernacular fiction of the Ming and Qing dynasties was also a product of men who moved knowingly between public and pri­ vate spheres. Although we have little biographical information about them, it is known that the writers had disengaged, voluntarily or 48 Mann, Precious Records, p. 223. The source cited on the inadequacy of “Western liberal political philosophy”, The Sexual Contract by Carole Pateman, is directed mainly at writers on civil law, but it seems that Mann’s target is Habermas and his successors.

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otherwise, from the traditional roles of educated men. Vernacular fiction drew readers’ attention to the intimate details of contempo­ rary domestic life, through yanyi [fictionalised history] on the pri­ vate lives of public figures, and renqing xiaoshuo [sentimental fiction] on the private lives of ordinary urban dwellers.49 Patrick Hanan has drawn attention to the depiction (or inven­ tion) of private lives in fiction by Li Yu, whose most famous work is his pseudonymous erotic novel Rou pu tuan [Carnal prayer mat].50 Li Yu’s short fiction also explores the association between privacy and eroticism. In “A Tower for the Summer Heat”, for example, a group of young maids frolic naked in a secluded area of the family home, unaware that they are being spied upon by a young man with a telescope. At the end of the story, the self-parodic narrator reproves them for their folly: “It is clear from this case that women should not only refrain from exposing themselves in front of others, they should also refrain from nakedness in the privacy of empty rooms and secluded retreats.”51 Kam Louie and Louise Edwards point out that for Yuan Mei, what goes on in the home is not a matter for public attention. One of the main themes of Yuan Mei’s Zi bu yu [The master does not mention] is ghostly revenge on interfering magistrates: “Through these tales of the miscarriage of justice by excessively moralistic magistrates, Yuan vigorously opposes the state’s right to interfere in what are essentially personal matters of private individuals. The magistrates, more often than not, are exposed as callously using the private affairs of others to buttress weak personal claims to supe­ rior moral standards.”52 It is not entirely coincidental that Yuan Mei “fancied himself at the centre of an entourage of female poets.”53 The formal consequence of the tension between private and public lives in Chinese fiction is explored most fully by Andrew Plaks. 49 Andrew H. Plaks, “Towards a Critical Theory of Chinese Narrative”, in Plaks, ed., Chinese Narrative: Critical and Theoretical Essays (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), pp. 309-52. 50 Patrick Hanan, The Invention of Li Yu (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 51 In Li Yu, A Tower for the Summer Heat, translated with a preface by Patrick Hanan (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), p. 38. 52 Yuan Mei, Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories, edited and translated with an Introduction by Kam Louie and Louise Edwards (Armonk: Sharpe, 1966), pp. xxx-xxxi. 53 Mann, Precious Records, p. 92.

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According to Plaks, the chief rhetorical feature of traditional Chi­ nese narrative is “the perennial imitation of the oral storytelling situation in all of the colloquial fiction genres.”54 This longevity is accounted for by its effectiveness in bridging the gap between pub­ lic and private spheres: “The aesthetic effect of maintaining this pose lies in creating the illusion of a public airing of private matters, thus directing the readers’ attention ... towards the sort of broader issues of human existence which are usually associated with historical writing.”55 Classical-language fiction, by contrast, has in this respect a closer relation to classical poetry than to vernacular fiction: “It appears that as the author in the classical medium must dispense with the narrative devices that signal the simulated context of oral storytelling, his focus turns ipso facto from an essentially public ex­ posure of private lives ... to a more intensely personal, introspec­ tive revelation of the inner world of fantasy.”56 The rise of autobiographical fiction in the vernacular during the Qing dynasty appears to undermine this general observation, but Plaks notes that, “As in the case of Fielding and Sterne, the selfconscious introversion of conventional narrative rhetoric begins by making the narrator himself the object of public view, but soon turns to the author’s overall erudition [author’s emphasis] as the principal focus of narrative, so that in the end it is the entire cultural heri­ tage and no longer the private world of the individual writer that is of issue.”57 In what has become a standard account of Chinese narratology, Plaks clearly assumes that Chinese readers as well as fictional characters appreciate the functions and values of privacy in traditional Chinese life. The best-known celebration of private life in Qing writing is Shen Fu’s Fu sheng liu ji [A drifting life: six records], an autobiographical memoir of the author’s beloved wife, his other romantic attachments, and his pleasure in the aesthetics of everyday life.58 Shen Fu was 54

Plaks, “Towards a Critical Theory”, p. 327. Ibid., p. 328. 56 Ibid., p. 329. Plaks notes that the term “simulated context” was coined by Hanan. 57 Ibid., p. 329. 58 For the autobiographical nature of Fu sheng liu ji, see Milena DolezelovaVelingerova and Lubomir Dolezel, “An Early Chinese Confessional Prose: Shen Fu’s Six Chapters of a Floating Life”, T’oung Pao 58 (1972): pp. 137-60; Paul S. Ropp, “Between Two Worlds: Women in Shen Fu’s Six Chapters of a Floating 55

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born in 1763; the memoir was written around 1809; the current version (which lacks the last two “records”) was first published in 1877.59 Written in classical Chinese, it conforms to Plaks’ decoding as “a more intensely personal, introspective revelation of the inner world of fantasy [than vernacular fiction]”, although fantasy here is interwoven with real-life experience. In the words of Paul Ropp, “Such a straightforward revelation of conjugal romantic attachments and sexual enjoyment was to say the least a rarity in China, even within the traditions of lyric poetry …. Never before had a Chinese intellectual explored the intimate details of his married life so sen­ sitively and at such length in the mode of prose autobiography.”60 References to privacy in the text itself are numerous and fall into several categories: privacy for sexual intercourse and other intimate contact with his wife and other sexual partners; privacy to conceal unconventional behaviour; privacy in outings with his family and friends; privacy as an aspect of aesthetic enjoyment; privacy as dis­ tinct from public duties.61 Western commentators on A Drifting Life all note Shen Fu’s obsession with privacy although none of them focus on this aspect of the work. Dolezelova-Velingerova and Dolezel, who tackle the problems of determining the work’s genre and place in historical trends, note that intimate experience is predominant, other autobiographical information being suppressed.62 Ropp exam­ ines the autobiography as a portrait of Chinese women “between two worlds” (i.e., the public and the private), and comments: “At Life”, in Women and Literature in China, ed. Anna Gerstlacher et al. (Bochum: Studienverlag Brockmeyer, 1985), pp. 98-140; and Chang Han-liang, “The Anony­ mous Autobiographer: Roland Barthes/Shen Fu” in The Chinese Text: Studies in Comparative Literature, ed. Chou Ying-hsiung (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1986), pp. 61-74. 59 There are several translations into English of this work. The first is Six Chapters of a Floating Life, trans. Lin Yutang, first published in 1935 and reprinted in sev­ eral editions since then, most recently in facing Chinese and English texts (Pe­ king: Foreign Languages Teaching and Research Press, 1999). The most recent is Six Records of a Floating Life, trans. Leonard Pratt and Chiang Su-hui (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1983). For further information on translations, see DolezelovaVelingerova and Dolezel, “An Early Chinese Confessional Prose”, p. 138, note 1. 60 Ropp, “Between Two Worlds”, pp. 104, 127. It has been suggested above that Qing writers were more reticent in this respect than Ming writers. 61 These aspects are analysed below in McDougall, “The Functions and Val­ ues of Privacy in the Correspondence between Lu Xun and Xu Guangping, 1925­ 1929”. 62 Dolezelova-Velingerova and Dolezel, “An Early Chinese Confessional Prose”, pp. 139, 141, 152, 158.

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first they keep their affection for one another entirely private, but gradually they dare to venture out together in public, to engage in conversation in mixed company, and even to walk outdoors handin-hand.”63 Ropp also notes that “What Shen and his new bride share is a very private delight in what is natural,” and that they share a “private romantic attachment”.64 Owen’s interest is on the rep­ etition of certain motifs related to memory,65 and he refers several times to the private nature of these motifs.66 Chang discusses the text as autobiography with reference to what he terms le privé. Hall shows subversive elements within the narration of personal and intimate events.67 The absence of analysis on Shen Fu’s preoccu­ pation with privacy suggests that to these scholars, late Qing aware­ ness of privacy was an entirely comprehensible and non-problematic phenomenon, readily translatable from Chinese into English or French. With the exception of A Drifting Life, which is generally regarded as an exceptional work, the examples cited above hardly suggest that issues of privacy occupied a prominent place in people’s lives in premodern China, or that sustained attention to interiority was a feature of premodern literature. What they do reveal is that a sense of privacy was highly developed in premodern Chinese society, that literary evidence shows both conceptualisation and appreciation, and that sinologists writing in English by and large take for granted that certain kinds of Chinese texts will include reference to privacy ex­ periences. In the only two examples where it is claimed that West­ ern concepts of private and public spheres do not apply in Ming or Qing China, the claim is based on an inadequate understanding of these concepts. It can also be argued that the public/private debate is conceptually unrelated to the understanding of the functions and values of privacy in premodern China.68 63

Ropp, “Between Two Worlds”, p. 107. Ibid., p. 107. 65 Stephen Owen, Remembrances: The Experience of the Past in Classical Chinese Literature (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), pp. 100-13. 66 Ibid., pp. 102, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111. 67 Jonathan Hall, “Heroic repression: narrative and aesthetics in Shen Fu’s Six Records of a Floating Life”, Comparative Criticism 9 (1987): pp. 155-72. 68 For example, expressions such as “all under heaven was public” [tian xia wei gong] from the “Da tong” [Great harmony] section of the Li ji [Book of rites] exclude the notion of privacy altogether. 64

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particulars and universals Towards a global understanding of privacy

The absence of academic studies by Chinese scholars on the main­ land or (until very recently) in Taiwan on the study of privacy may have had the effect of inhibiting Western research in this area, while the widespread acceptance of post-colonial theory has also made sinologists anxious to avoid imposing Western notions of privacy. The nine chapters below are the outcome of a workshop on Chi­ nese concepts of privacy held in the Netherlands in May-June 2001. Few of the contributors had previously focussed on privacy, and a briefing paper was compiled to summarise some prominent studies on Western privacy. One of the most recent and stimulating of these was by the American philosopher Julie C. Inness, although her analysis was specifically not intended to be cross-cultural; its distinc­ tion between the contents, mechanisms, values and functions of privacy, however, provided a logical structure that many participants found useful. The workshop represented a breakthrough in Chinese privacy studies in concentrating on concepts, that is, on shared assumptions and beliefs to be found in verbal and visual texts. A selection of the workshop papers, along with the reflections of the main discussant, forms the present volume. The chapters in Part II by Charlotte Furth and Cathy Silber demonstrate the range and subtlety of privacy awareness in Ming and Qing China. Furth’s paper supports the well-established prin­ ciple that the sick body has less right to privacy than the well body, that the unit of privacy may be the family rather than the individual person, and that the socially privileged (well-to-do, educated, men) enjoy rights to privacy that are denied to the less privileged (poor, illiterate, soldiers, women). It describes some social practices which appear to be distinctively Chinese, such as the publication of medi­ cal case histories as narratives of real-life experiences, and the pref­ erence of older married men for a solitary bed, along with other phenomena that are more readily comparable with European tra­ ditions, such as out-of-door consultations in China and surgery performed in European barber-shops. Silber’s article indicates that the author of the novel Hong lou meng shows himself and his characters possessed of a very acute sense of what is private (sexual intercourse, excretion, a woman’s toilet) and of breaches of privacy such as eavesdropping. This awareness rarely needs to be spelled out for the reader, suggesting that the author

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takes it for granted that his readers will have no trouble following him. The enthusiastic and continued readership of the novel over more than two centuries seems to confirm that his assumptions are shared from one generation to the next, and such is the centrality of this novel in Chinese culture that a good part of what his read­ ers consider to be privacy may be learnt from the novel itself. The chapters in Part III by Maria Khayutina and David Pattinson describe the beginnings of discourse on privacy in early China and early Imperial times. Since Zhou dynasty bronze vessels are typi­ cally used in ancestor worship, Khayutina’s analysis of inscriptions shows that awareness of distinctions between public service to the state and the consequent private enjoyment of its rewards takes place in a religious context, persuading her to re-define early Chinese religion as a matter not of ‘personal welfare’ but of ‘private welfare’. There are a long chronological gap and great differences in ritual observances between this awareness and the descriptions by Furth and Mann of men in late Imperial China seeking privacy for the purpose of religious meditation and women seeking personal privacy in a religious institutional setting, but it is also possible to see a strand of continuity at the conceptual level. A major finding in Khayutina’s article is that the unit of privacy in ancient China could be as large as the clan: that is, ritual obser­ vances are seen to be private in the sense that they are confined to clansmen (with rare exceptions for non-clan kinsmen or friends). It appears unlikely that the unit of privacy could ever be larger than the clan, although the question remains as to what extent non-familial groups, stable or otherwise, could be deemed private. Here again, the notion of intimacy distinguishes between a group of friends on an excursion (an activity, as described by Shen Fu, which is not concealed but to which access is controlled) and a secret society on the other hand (whose activities are concealed but not intimate). Pattinson finds little evidence that correspondence in early Im­ perial China was considered an appropriate mechanism for the exchange or expression of intimate thoughts and feelings, or for establishing or confirming intimacy between couples or friends. By taking into account the negative evidence, however, he speculates that the absence of intimate letters in the collected correspondence of well-known scholars suggests not that no such letters existed, but that their private nature was too highly valued to make them avail­ able to third-party readers.

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Taking a vast leap across the centuries into late Qing and early Republican China, the articles in Part IV by Peter Zarrow and McDougall analyse the nuanced debates on privacy coincident with the first stages of Western impact on Chinese intellectuals. Zarrow’s analysis of late Qing debates on public and private spheres shows Liang Qichao reasserting the political importance of attributing moral value to private interests as long as they did not adversely affect the larger community. Privacy came to be valued specifically for its contributions to the public sphere as educated men (and possibly women), not just officials, claimed the right and capacity to partici­ pate in public affairs. The reluctance shown by the letter-writers described by Pattinson to put their private feelings into written words is overcome in the twentieth century to the extent that privacy is both revealed and concealed in semi-autobiographical fiction, straight autobiography, and the publication by writers of their own intimate letters and diaries. Lu Xun, who came to value privacy most highly during his adulterous affair with a student, preserved that privacy when he published their love-letters by fictionalising them. In Part V, Robin Visser and Chen Xiaoming characterise the re­ emergence of privacy discourse in fiction in the last years of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. The flagrant self-exposure in the so-called ‘women’s privacy fiction’ appears to reduce the content of privacy to sexual experience and diminish its function to commercial profit and narcissism. Privacy for sale de­ mands a high price: the loss of the writer’s own privacy. A com­ mon feature of this fiction and its critics is the assumption that privacy is a property of individuals. Countering the exploitation of privacy by writers and publishers, and its decreasing conceptual space, is a trend observable in urban and rural areas alike since the end of the 1970s for housing which marks out physical space for family-based and individual private life. Stephan Feuchtwang’s concluding remarks (Part VI) draw out the links between the preceding chapters, supplemented by evidence from recent anthropological studies of premodern and modern China. Direct observations of behaviour provide further grounds for assum­ ing the existence of shared ways of thinking about private states, and also demonstrate that these shared ways of thinking differ greatly in different times and places and among different kinds of people. Feuchtwang’s reflections on appropriate methodologies indicate

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directions for future research: chiefly, the identification of thresh­ olds of disclosure, whether physical, mental or symbolic, which may or may not be crossed. Taken as a whole, these very disparate chapters show that Chi­ nese people at various times and places have demonstrated an acute awareness and appreciation of privacy; that there has been discourse on privacy at least since early Confucianism and possibly earlier; that there appears to be no major area of uniquely Chinese features of privacy, although experiences and awareness of privacy may differ from those familiar in Western countries; that the terminology of privacy discourse does not itself mark off Chinese concepts of pri­ vacy as exclusive and/or unique; and that there is no single Chi­ nese concept of privacy (just as there is no single Western/British/ English/Geordie concept of privacy). Along with other privacy studies cited in this volume, they establish definitively that future delibera­ tions on privacy, in whatever language or country, may no longer deny or ignore the realm of Chinese experience and discourse. The apparent chaos in privacy studies is a reflection of real-life complexity and will not be resolved by including more cultures in the debate. But by taking Chinese and other non-Western cultures into account, a global understanding of privacy will help to clarify crucial issues such as universal awareness of privacy and universal privacy rights.

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solitude, silence and concealment

PART II

EXPERIENCING PRIVACY

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SOLITUDE, SILENCE AND CONCEALMENT: BOUNDARIES OF THE SOCIAL BODY IN MING DYNASTY CHINA

Charlotte Furth

It certainly seems appropriate to start a volume on privacy with the topic of the human body.1 What could be more culturally universal and at the same time more intimate and personal? In English these adjectives (intimate, personal) often are understood as near synonyms for ‘private’. It may be that ideas about ‘our bodies, ourselves’— notions of possession, ownership and autonomy that construct privacy of the body as a right—are quite specifically Northern European, and modernist at that. But some sense of shame or modesty around functions of sex or elimination may be found in all human societies and in rudimentary form among some of the higher mammals as well. If we define the privacy of the body as control over access to the self, such privacy will be established by means of socially agreedupon thresholds. The stuff of anthropological investigation, such thresholds may mark off space or time; they may establish bound­ aries around the body’s clothing, skin, or viscera, around functions such as eating or bathing, or around gestures involving the gaze, touch or speech; or they may give meaning to the silence that guards the privacy of thoughts.2 Socially accepted thresholds of bodily privacy need not require that one be alone, as will be apparent when we think about erotic intimacy, the roles of personal servants, or such facilities as communal but sex-segregated baths and toilets. Still, an 1 In writing this paper I am especially indebted to Francesca Bray, Hsiung Ping­ chen, Liu Xun and Judy Zeitlin, all of whom first discussed the topic with me and then led me to relevant Ming texts based on their own unpublished research. I greatly appreciate their generosity. I also want to thank Katherine Lowry and the members of the East Asian Seminar at the University of California Santa Bar­ bara, Yunxiang Yan and the Southern California China Colloquium, as well as participants in the original workshop for their comments and suggestions. 2 The concept of privacy as a culturally determined threshold was suggested by Stephan Feuchtwang at the workshop. Such a threshold, while itself fixed, may be more or less permeable to selected others.

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individual’s solitude, silence or concealment remain particularly powerful conditions to which a privacy value can be assigned. What constructs privacy in a given cultural context will be seen through how these and other thresholds are defined and negotiated, and what social and personal goals they serve. Language offers an opening to concepts of privacy prevailing among China’s late Ming élite. The sexual private, that which is properly hidden, is one of the senses of yin (yin bu, yin qi). There is also du [to be alone]. Two classical aphorisms are particularly in­ teresting: according to the Huangdi nei jing [The yellow emperor’s classic of medicine], to attain longevity one must know how to du li shou shen [guard one’s spirit while standing alone].3 Shen du [to be watchful of oneself while alone] was a Confucian virtue. Then there is gu [solitary in the basic sense of orphaned, deprived of a father], a condition experienced by ordinary foundlings but also by the emperor. Gu [the solitary one] was a personal pronoun that the emperor alone used to refer to himself. As darkness and conceal­ ment, yin evokes a classic discourse of shame: a need to hide what defines the sexual body from society’s gaze. The solitude invoked by gu seems less about being hidden from view and more about an individual’s separation from social relationships. Du as explicated in our classical aphorisms points toward introspection as essential to self-cultivation, whether for health or sagehood. These linguistic clues point to practices of bodily modesty, bodily intimacy and bodily solitude that must be seen as in tension with the collective and communal relationships (public, familial) to which they are both related and opposed. My inquiry will begin with the clinical encoun­ ter in medicine and move to consider medical and social perspec­ tives on bodily nakedness, sex and reproduction. These lead to a consideration of the significance of the domestic spaces of inner and outer when we oppose the marital chamber and the scholar’s study. A final path suggested by the foregoing takes us to some solitary practices of the scholar and the recluse.

3 Huangdi neijing, Su wen 1.4 (Ren Yingqiu, ed., Huangdi neijing zhangjiu suoyin, Beijing: Renmin weisheng chubanshe, 1986).

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Clinical encounters I am going to start by arguing that the records of Ming dynasty medicine show us an overwhelmingly social body. Medical theory portrayed the human body as a microcosm; its circulating vitalities of yin yang and Five Phase forces were imagined as modelled on the cosmos at large, fitting into the framework linking Heaven, Earth and Humanity. Such a body was open to the winds and airs of the resonant local qi of the environment, responsive to the seasons. Its generative capacities for growth, reproduction and renewal were presumed to derive from the creative energies of Heaven and Earth, and to link human beings in the succession of life without end [sheng sheng bu xi] of an organic universe. In the human world, this unity was manifest in the continuum of lives from ancestor to descendant, a continuum embodied in family and lineage. Thus, from the high ground of the cosmological imagination, individual human beings were always seen as defined by a dense network of natural and social relationships. The social relations of healing revealed in recorded medical cases portray scenes of intense social interaction, of sickrooms where family members, servants and a succession of healing experts might gather. These cases show one reason why in general the sick body is likely to enjoy less privacy than the healthy one. Illness was a threat not just to the individual but to the family’s prosperity and continuity. In late Imperial China, the sociology of medical access traced the sociology of the family. In the collected medical records of MingQing cases that I have gathered, the typical patient was the head of household or other senior adult male; medical services were sought for women most often where their fertility or reproductive health was at stake; among children, sick boys (descendants-to-be) were seen more often than sick girls, except for adolescent maidens ap­ proaching marriage. Crises of illness aroused concern for the house­ hold as a social unit, proportionate to the significance of individual members to its prosperity and continuity, in keeping with the Con­ fucian adage that one’s body belongs not to oneself but to the family.4 Consider this dramatic example from the practice of Cheng 4 Charlotte Furth, “Social Relations of Curing in Ch’ing Dynasty China Medical Cases” (Paper presented to the Fifth International Conference on the History of Science in China, University of California at San Diego, August 1988).

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Congzhou, a late Ming physician practising in Yangzhou. The patient was a prosperous middle-aged merchant named Fang Tingxian: When I arrived I saw him stretched out sleeping in a chair, eyeballs white, sweat pouring like rain, his whole body cold like metal or stone. His six pulses were gone. A servant stood by with a cloth continually wiping the sweat. But the sick man’s panting breath, now stopping, now starting, showed there was only a thread of life. The main event was already over. I forcefully declined the case as hopeless. When the household heard these words, they stood around me in a circle, weep­ ing. Holding out an infant in arms [its mother] said, “The Fang sur­ name has only this one heir; if he expires, who will raise [this baby]? I can see, Sir, that you have a compassionate heart. Use extraordi­ nary skill. Try for a long shot! You may earn the merit of saving a life or at least avoid future regret!” Having spoken, she resumed weeping.5

While most medical case histories portray male doctors assisting at emergencies like these, with an emphasis upon acute and potentially life-threatening prostrating fevers [shang han] like Fang Tingxian’s above, ordinary tending to the sick may have been more about the medical work of household women. Images of the sickroom are quite common in late Ming woodblock prints. They support the account of case histories in their pictures of doctors visiting, family mem­ bers and servants in attendance, and female nursing, as in the draw­ ing of a virtuous matron preparing medicines for her sick step-son from Lü Kun’s Gui fan [ Rules for the inner chambers], a late Ming collection of biographies of model women.6 Nor were non-domestic settings for medical consultation particu­ larly private. Storefront pharmacies as portrayed in the painting “Qingming shang he tu” [Spring Festival along the River] of the 5 Cheng Congzhou, Cheng Maoxian yi’an, juan 1, 10b. Quoted in Charlotte Furth, A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China’s Medical History, 960-1665 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 239-40. 6 See Lü Kun, Gui fan (Beijing: Xueyuan chubanshe, 1998. Reprint of 1590 edition held in the Beijing Capital Library). See juan 4/51b. Further images of the sickroom are scattered through Fu Xihua, ed., Zhongguo gudian wenxue banhua xuanji. 2 vols. (Shanghai: Renmin meishu chubanshe, 1981). This is a comprehen­ sive survey of woodblock prints found in illustrated works of fiction and drama, the largest number dating from the late Ming. Based on the works of historians of Ming material culture, though they are highly conventionalised in many ways, such prints do offer clues about domestic space and furnishing, their uses and social contexts. My thanks to Francesca Bray for allowing me to make use of her “‘Consumer’ Society, Furniture and Gender in the late Ming” (unpublished paper 2001).

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Fig. 1. A mother has personally brewed the medicine for her step-son’s illness, while his siblings look on. From Lü Kun’s Gui fan.

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city of Kaifeng were places of public commerce open to the street.7 In the lower ranks of medical practice, itinerant experts in the minor surgeries, bone setting, acupuncture, and other forms of waike [ex­ ternal medicine] often performed their work out-of-doors, even in the full view of market place or fair, which made them popular as a subject for genre paintings.8 To the extent that medicine was in part both a literati pursuit and a domestic art, the doctor’s knowl­ edge was not privileged or esoteric, and opinions were shared and often disputed. When a doctor carried out a consultation at home, discussion of symptoms included the colour, consistency and texture of stool, urine or sputum. It was normal to inquire about a man’s seminal emissions or a woman’s menstrual cycle. Doctors felt free to ask about a man’s sexual activity as well, believing as they did that excess in this department was an important factor in the etiol­ ogy of illness. The public nature of such information is confirmed for histori­ ans because we find it in collections of printed medical case histo­ ries like the one that included the story of Fang Tingxian above. The author of this casebook, Cheng Congzhou, also read his cases to his poetry club. In publishing a set of medical case histories, a Ming scholarly physician [ru yi] demonstrated his competence, taught his students and disciples and established his credentials as a man of letters. In this enterprise, the social circles of his practice mat­ tered. Patients were identifiable. The more prestigious a client, the more likely that his or her name, including titles and home com­ munity, would be given in full. Clients could be friends and neighbours of the doctor, or kin. A well-known doctor’s case his­ tory collection included, where possible, flattering prefaces by dis­ tinguished scholars among his acquaintance. A prefatory dedication by a grateful patient could refer to the narrative of his own or fam­ ily members’ illnesses within the text. Obviously, a medical case

7

Storefront medicine shops are portrayed in both Song and Qing versions of this famous scroll. In the Song version, the shop is unspecialised, but the Qing version has a shop selling the plasters and poultices of waike while a bone-setter’s shop is shown a few doors down. 8 One early image, reproduced in Furth, A Flourishing Yin, p. 126, shows an itinerant eye doctor removing a matron’s cataracts, while her son and grandchil­ dren stand around. Obviously, out of doors offered the best light for such a deli­ cate procedure. Original was an early Ming wall painting in the Yongle Gong, a Daoist temple in Ruicheng county, Shanxi.

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history collection was as much a social as a technical document, a physician’s version of the essays [wenji] of a man of letters.9 The selection of cases to go into a printed collection was influenced by a number of vocational concerns; a good collection aimed to contribute to therapeutic debate and add to the archive of medical knowledge available to assist clinical decision making. But privacy in reports of the clinical encounter was not a major criterion for exclusion. Sun Yikui (ca 1522-1619), author of a particularly chatty and discursive set of medical case histories published around 1599, did say he disguised the names of clients who requested it, and those of women with ‘secret illnesses’ [yin ji]. But Sun’s case history col­ lection, as a whole, was top heavy with narratives of the ailments of well-connected scholars, merchants and officials and their family members in accordance with his principle of “recording the full names of clients according to the facts”.10 It fitted the pattern of published cases produced by the most highly-regarded doctors about their most prominent clients, that is, just the sort of persons expected to be most sensitive to the civilising norms of gentry society. In sum, if we look at the social setting of the clinical encounter and the conventions of Ming medical reporting, the threshold of access to the sick body was highly permeable, open not only to household and kin, but also to a larger community and reading public. So far this account has overlooked an important privacy thresh­ old, that of the body’s nakedness. If little about the circumstances of illness or the bodily functions gone wrong seems to have been hidden or taboo, the openness I have described has been about written records or verbal exchanges. By modern biomedical stan­ dards, diagnosis was based on very little in the way of a physical examination. The four staples of “asking, looking, listening and smelling, pulse-taking” [wen, wang, wen, qie] focussed the medical gaze on little besides a sufferer’s hands and face, while the main avenue 9 Ming medical case histories are discussed in Charlotte Furth, “Producing Medical Knowledge Through Cases: History, Evidence and Action”; Hsiung Ping­ chen, “Facts in the Tale: Pediatric Case and the Case Genre in Late Imperial China”; and Judith Zeitlin, “ The Literary Fashioning of Medical Authority: a Study of Sun Yikui’s Case Histories” (Papers presented to the conference “Think­ ing With Cases: Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History”, University of Chicago, October 12-14, 200l). See also Furth, A Flourishing Yin, chapter 7. 10 “Fan li” [Guidelines] to Sun’s medical case histories, reprinted in Sun Yikui yixue quanshu, ed. Han Xuejie (Beijing: Zhongguo zhongyi yao chubanshe, 1999), p. 724.

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to the body’s hidden interior was through the patient’s pulse, via a complex process of assessing the circulation of internal qi in rela­ tionship to the cardinal channels and the five major organ systems. But all nine pulse positions (three positions at three levels of pres­ sure) were located on the inner surface of the wrists and forearms. Was this decorum based on some sense of the inviolable privacy of the naked body? One alternative explanation is that doctors did not think that anatomy was particularly important and did not seek understanding of function primarily through examining body sur­ faces. Instead they sought clues to function in the signs of internal imbalance: the pulse as a clue to circulation of qi within, and the patient’s narrative as a clue to the pattern of internal distress he or she was feeling. It is true that literati physicians as pharmacists specialising above all in neike [internal medicine] constructed their craft around the scholarly model where mental effort was superior to manual labour. They were specialists in the pulse, produced customised written prescriptions, and distanced themselves socially from the hands-on popular specialists in midwifery, skin disorders and surgery, and even acupuncture or moxibustian. From this per­ spective, there seems to be evidence that the more élite a practitio­ ner, the more decorous his distance from physical contact and manual manipulations of the bodies of the sick. Medical illustrations complicate this issue somewhat. Acupoints mark the boundaries where the bodily inside meets the outside, and the most common medical drawings of the human body sketched the pathways of circulation channels within links to ‘apertures’ [xue] on the skin, the loci for acupuncture and moxibustian treatments. Such Ming medical images were conventionally modest about the genitals; beyond this, they seem to imply that without clothing we are seeing a ‘natural’ rather than a ‘ritual’ man. For example, in a seventeenth-century work by the learned physician Li Zhongzi, the artist enhanced his figures with stylistic details (the Luohan’s bony, protuberant skull or round, glaring eyes, the Daoist’s peach-wood staff, the Buddhist’s fly whisk ) to suggest the hermit, the recluse or the bonze, not the scholar gentleman.11 In late Ming woodblock prints illustrating popular entertainment literature, clothing emerges as a mark of rank, status and dignity. If those with bare limbs ex­ 11 Li Zhongzi, Shanbu yisheng wei lun. First published 1642. These medical drawings are reproduced in Furth, A Flourishing Yin, pp. 30-43.

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posed were not mendicant monks or wandering swordfighters, they were labourers, soldiers or criminals. In short, nakedness marked marginal people, the poor, outcasts and outsiders. Medical illustra­ tions were in keeping with these conventions, hinting only that the nakedness of the Daoist or monk might also go hand in hand with social nonconformity and occult healing arts. To sum up, we can see that the naked body had less social dignity than the clad one, and that doctors did not normally challenge these norms of bodily decency in any serious way. Gender matters In my search for boundaries of the social body in medicine, these examples tell me that gender matters. Ming medical illustrations of the body are always of males; I have found only one naked female in my survey of literary woodblock prints: a condemned criminal. (In the story, of course, she is the innocent victim of a corrupt magistrate.) At first glance, the many well-known taboos that inhib­ ited male physicians at a woman’s bedside would also seem to point to a high threshold of privacy surrounding the female body. Even though my own research into case histories suggests that the pop­ ular trope of the invisible female patient hidden behind the bed curtains was exaggerated, male doctors were advised not to visit sick women unchaperoned. In seventeenth-century Yangzhou, the phy­ sician Cheng Congzhou had to ask a husband’s permission for a lantern to be brought so that he could see a desperately sick young wife’s face. The incident made him recall the famous complaint of the Song palace physician, Kou Zongshi: “When the doctor can­ not observe … curing women may well be said to be difficult.” Here, however, the taboos concealing a woman’s body in her interactions with a male doctor also opened that same body to patriarchal fam­ ily supervision. As the above anecdote suggests, when a clinical encounter involved a younger female, it was considered desirable for a male relative, or in his absence a senior matron, to preside over the interview. Old women were to be attended by their sons or nephews. In a pinch a servant could act as an intermediary, reporting on intimate details of the illness. Family concern for pro­ creation of its descent line lowered the threshold of privacy when it came to illnesses affecting a woman’s fertility or fecundity. Menstru­ ation, pregnancy and postpartum illness were therefore staples of

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the medical specialty fuke [women’s medicine] and were openly discussed. Taboos and indirection were strongest when the prob­ lem involved the sexual ‘secrets’ that Sun Yikui alluded to. These were most likely to surround the vagina and its discharges, which were believed to be signs of the passions and their disorders, as well as symptoms of a compromised fertility. Doctors describe themselves as talking about these particular illnesses through intermediaries, with problematic results, as in this outburst from a physician writing in the l640s: If you ask about daixia [vaginal discharge] the doctor is in danger; if you don’t ask, the patient is in danger. However, if you do ask, the sick woman speaks to her maid and her maid speaks to the master. Before the master says a word his face is crimson, and when he does speak his language is roundabout.12

These medical thresholds show the links between notions of sexual privacy and a set of gendered restrictions on women’s bodily vis­ ibility and spatial mobility as markers of male and family social honour. Sometimes women accepted these restrictions as marks of respectability and attempted to take charge of them as part of a female sphere of power. Women who refused to see or speak to the doctor or who sought out female healers, like women who embraced chaste widowhood, could be seen as asserting their own worth and dignity against male management that compromised their virtue. On the other hand, the rituals of decorum surrounding female seclu­ sion were also part of the social performance of gentry family life, a Foucauldian bodily discipline in the service of patriarchal pres­ tige and power. A feminist perspective shows how thresholds of bodily privacy were used to establish hierarchical norms, so that in a NeoConfucian reading of female modesty, Mencius’ vision of a primor­ dial ‘sense of shame’ came to shape a complex, patriarchal code of ethics. Two narratives from the Furen ji [Women’s stories], a collection of anecdotes on the fate of palace women at the time of the Ming collapse, show both sides of this picture. In one, the lesson is that female modesty protects woman’s dignity; in the other, that it sup­ ports male authority.13 In the first anecdote, an imperial concubine 12 Min Qiji, 1640 preface to Qi Zhongfu, Nüke baiwen (Shanghai: Shanghai guji shudian, l983 reprint). Quoted in Furth, A Flourishing Yin, p. 142. 13 Chen Weisong (1628-82), comp., Furen ji. n.d. Judith Zeitlin has traced the

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had been driven out of the Nanjing palace by the marauding con­ querors and found herself some months later living humbly in the district of Wuyang as a fisherman’s prize. “She used to sit with her ‘mallet’ hairstyle, fishing, barefoot, wearing on her head nothing but a pink undergarment. She said, ‘This belonged to the former con­ cubine of Prince Xiang of the Ming.’”14 This is a story about a woman’s violation. Unprotected and abandoned, she exposed her body’s private parts to express her sense of sexual degradation. In the second anecdote, the emperor, seeing that the city was about to fall to the rebels, ordered that the palace women each be issued a length of cloth to cover their heads modestly as they fled. The fool­ ish women who fastened their headscarves with jewelled pins were soon identified and seized.15 This is a story of male humiliation, as the ruler’s fatal loss of power over his realm is highlighted by the feebleness of his final gesture to protect the women of his inner court. The foregoing anecdotes teach us about the impossibility of talk­ ing about bodily privacy purely in terms of some primordial, uni­ versal human characteristic. Its points of reference and its elaboration in human action in the context of culture will always add something more. The privacy of sex, seemingly fundamental, may be under­ stood by both women and men as important to their human dig­ nity, but its cultural elaborations mark complex hierarchies of class and gender, hierarchies imposed by the socially-authorized gaze judg­ ing honour and shame. The marriage chamber and the scholar’s studio The privacy of sex discussed here draws us to the threshold surround­ ing the women’s quarters of a gentry dwelling, the space of nei [within] as opposed to wai [without] around which the segregation of the sexes was organized. However, the shifting boundaries of the inner and outer spheres of the domestic domain become clearer when we examine the context of Ming marriage, lineage and family life that surrounded the sex act with reproductive meanings. From this history of this anthology and the evidence for Chen’s authorship. See Zeitlin, “Disappearing Verses: Writing on Walls and Anxieties of Loss” (Paper presented to the Institute of Literature, Academia Sinica, Taipei, December 2000). 14 Furen ji, p. 2a. Since her hairstyle was said to resemble a mallet, it is easy to imagine the undergarment draped on the topknot. 15 Furen ji, p. 1b.

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perspective we can ask, what was private about the Chinese mar­ riage bed? Among the Ming gentry, such a bed was found in the inner quarters of the house, where males who were not kinsmen were allowed entry only under strict supervision. This sort of bed is de­ picted in woodblock prints illustrating the sickroom. A doctor would have to be escorted to see a sick person there, and a young male servant would be told to pause outside the bamboo curtain that likely covered the door to the room. A married woman’s bed was also the site of the social function of reproduction. In the Ming dynasty, a bride brought it into the house as her dowry property when she married; carried through the streets in the wedding procession, it was destined not only for lovemaking but for childbirth and infant care. Ming prints of a bedchamber of the inner quarters coded this bed female by depicting it with curtains. It is not always easy to tell from such contemporary woodblock illustrations whether the bed is actually the hardwood canopy bed (the four-poster jiazi chuang or da chuang) which first became fashionable in the Ming dynasty, and which is still known today to connoisseurs of antique furniture. It may be a sofa-bed, a portable kang or ta chuang, with a low support on three sides, where two or even three people might sit or chat, and unroll quilts at night for sleeping.16 What is invariable in the pictures is that the woman’s bed is enclosed and fitted with curtains.17 (fig. 2) In prints, a story will be illustrated with a curtained alcove bed, whether the occupant is identified as a wife, maiden, widow or child, or someone sick requiring nursing care. Curtains were certainly ‘feminine’, but it is not clear that we can assume they signify modesty and concealment. Francesca Bray has analysed comments by male connoisseurs suggesting that curtains were decorative display, a kind of taste deemed a little too fussy and elaborate for the world of gentlemen. Li Yu (1610-1680), ever the 16 Michael Beurdeley, Chinese Furniture, trans. Katherine Watson (Tokyo: Ko­ dansha International, 1979). Chinese names of different types of furniture are catalogued in a glossary, pp. 190-95. Most beds (chuang) could serve as sitting and lounging space as well. His photographs suggest three general types: the big canopy bed (jiazi chuang) designed to support draperies; the big sofa-bed (ta chuang) with low back and sides that could stand free, and the smaller ta, bench or couch, meant for either sitting or sleeping. Sleepers used quilts, which could be folded and stored to one side during the day. 17 Francesca Bray, “‘Consumer Society’ ”. She includes a woodblock print of a covered canopy bed labeled da chuang [big bed]. It comes from the Lu ban jing [Carpenter’s canon], an artisans’ manual.

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Fig. 2. Late Ming woodblock prints depicting the domestic activities of a woman’s bedchamber fitted out with a canopy bed.

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irreverent artist and taste maker, thought of curtained beds as erotic bowers inseparable from the ‘wives, concubines and maids’ he shared them with, but he also said that curtains were mainly to keep out mosquitoes and night breezes.18 In Ming illustrations of popular fiction, the bedroom is sometimes depicted as a place where a woman reads love-letters, but, in gen­ eral, its erotic connotations are muted.19 More likely it will be con­ ventionally framed by courtyard and garden, but the contents will evoke daily activities of the inner quarters: embroidery, make-up, reading and writing, dressing and undressing and the simple cook­ ing of food and medicine on a charcoal brazier. These items sug­ gest the marital bedroom as the active centre of a woman’s home life. Women often shared it with their children. As we have seen, it was also where someone needing nursing would be expected to stay when sick. Finally, this was not a bedroom where healthy men slept alone. As Craig Clunas, Francesca Bray and others have shown, late Ming authors like Wen Zhenheng (1585-1645) or Li Yu, who were arbiters of taste on the art of living, identified a restrained simplic­ ity of décor with male scholarly culture. By contrast with the mari­ tal chamber, the study, studio or library that should “exude the air of a refined recluse”20 was masculine space, and it too was expected to contain a bed or couch, or a bedroom adjacent to the bookroom. 18 Li Yu, Xian qing ouji. First published 1671, juan 4, “Chuang zhang” [Beds and curtains]. Li, who bragged that he never slept alone, said that preparation of a proper four-poster bed and alcove should be a gentleman’s first task when he arrived at a new place. The bed should have a shelf for flowers, incense and fruit for fragrance to give a sensory enhancement to floral embroidered curtains; ‘bones’ [posts] to make the curtains square and taut, decorative knots for a tight closure at the corners, and a ‘skirt’ of removable, washable cloth to protect the fine silk from dirt. His remarks on how to manage the chamber pot in the middle of the night show that it was not always easy to keep the bower in the bed. 19 The famous late Ming erotic prints as collected by Robert van Gulik show copulating couples in every conceivable setting: indoors, outdoors, in curtained beds, on cots or mats, in chairs, in the library, and hanging from trees and clothes racks. I would argue that this is evidence for the exuberance of the transgressive imagination, not a representation of social conventions. Van Gulik, Erotic Colour Prints of the Ming Period. 3 volumes (Tokyo: privately published, 1951). 20 Wen Zhengming, “Zhangwu zhi”, quoted in James C. Y. Watt, “Literati Environment”, in The Chinese Scholar’s Studio: Artistic Life in the Late Ming Period, ed. Chu-tsing Li and James C. Y. Watt (New York: Asia Society Galleries, 1987), p. 5.

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Here is a sketch of an ideal scholar’s studio from the famous literatus and painter Li Rihua (1565-1635): The studio should be situated where the brook twists and bends be­ tween the hills …. Fragrant herbs and thick moss surround the stone foundation. The east building houses the Daoist and Buddhist canon; the west building the Confucian classics. In the centre a bed and desk with a scattering of fine calligraphy and paintings.21

Any full account of privacy and private life in late Imperial China will have to consider how people managed to realise the dreams of seclusion, leisure, self-cultivation and enjoyment of nature and the arts that such retreats were designed to make possible. Though Li Rihua concluded this passage by adding to his imaginary scene a doorman to keep away callers, his own biography makes clear that the scholar’s studio could easily be a place of sociability, drinking and even partying. However, by focussing on the studio bed, I can suggest one set of traditions concerning such studios that linked masculine space, health and the privacy of the body. The scholar’s couch was supposed to be for solitary sleeping. Our Ming woodblock prints suggest this by furnishing the studio with a simple, free-standing cot, a piece of furniture which in other Ming prints is coded as the bed of the poor. Lü Kun’s Gui fan portrays the man’s couch in contrast to a woman’s bed in these illustrations to two stories, one about a widow and one about a widower. The widow, in her cur­ tained alcove bed, dreams that a man approaches her with a ro­ mantic proposal. She refuses his advances. The widower sleeping on his couch is planning to marry again, and in his dream his dead wife comes and tells him that it is all right to do so.22 Fictional images of the studio couch often depict solitary males dreaming of love, as in this picture of the irresolute hero of Pipa ji [Story of the lute] (he has left his bride at home to go take the examinations and now is tempted to accept the offer to marry the prime minister’s daugh­ ter), or of the ‘phony immortal’ in Li Yu’s Bimuyu [Sole mates]. But in spite of these popular romantic tropes, medical and reli­ gious writings taught the hygenic and spiritual benefits of the kind of withdrawal from erotic and family life that the studio and its couch invited. Medical authorities had long preached the health benefits 21 Li Rihua, Zitaoxuan zaji, juan 1, entry on the library. Quoted in James C. Y. Watt, “The Literati Environment”, in Li and Watt, The Chinese Scholar’s Studio, p. 6. 22 Lü Kun, Gui fan, juan 3, 61a; juan 3, 38b.

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Fig. 3. A chaste widow's dream of a marriage proposal she will reject. From Lß Kun’s Gui fan.

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Fig. 4. A widower planning to remarry dreams that his dead wife approves the match. From Lß Kun’s Gui fan.

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Fig. 5. Late Ming woodblock prints depicting the solitary scholar in his study retreat, with books and couch.

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of the conservation of seminal qi. The classic passage by the Tang master Sun Simiao suggested that like the oil in a lamp the primor­ dial qi endowed at birth is finite; if squandered recklessly, it would flare up like a lamp just before going out.23 Such an account of the body’s energies supported the Neo-Confucian interpretation of Mencius’ self-cultivation ideal: gua yu [have few desires]. Together, these homilies were a staple of Ming medical writings on yang sheng [the nourishment of life]. In short, the marriage bed was not just a place of pleasure and comfort, but the site of a man’s social duty to beget heirs, after which he was free to think of his own physical and spiritual welfare. The old medical proverb, attributed to the sage of longevity Pengzu, put it this way: “The superior man sleeps in a sepa­ rate bed; the average man sleeps under a separate quilt. One hun­ dred doses of medicine are not as good as sleeping alone [du wo].”24 Equally well-known was the story of the famous Southern Song prime minister, Jia Sidao, who was told that his sprightly elderly colleague’s formula for longevity was a dushuiwan [sleep-alone pill].25 For young male scholars under the supervision of their parents, the studio couch was sometimes a place of exile from the marriage bed. The poet and scholar Ye Shaoyuan (1589-1648) may have married as a young teenager, but he was under orders from his mother not to sleep with his equally young bride without permis­ sion, and for the first five years of their marriage he spent most nights 23 Sun Simiao, Beiji qianjin yaofang, juan 27, section 8, “Fang zhong bu yi” (Beijing: Renming weisheng chubanshe. Reprint 1955, 1994). 24 Found in Ge Hong’s biographies of the immortals, under Pengzu. See Hanyu da cidian, vol. 5, p. 117. 25 I want to thank Hsiung Ping-chen for sharing with me her unpublished papers: (1) “Heavenly Ways and Human Doings: A Consideration of Chinese Man’s Body Management During the Late Imperial Period” (Paper presented to the confer­ ence “Right to Family Planning, Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Re­ ligions”, Princeton, May 31-June 4, 2000); (2) “More or Less: Cultural and Medi­ cal Factors Behind Marital Fertility in Late Imperial China”, in Abortion, Infanti­ cide and Reproductive Behavior in Asia: Past and Present, ed. James Lee and Osamu Saito (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming); (3) “Zhong zi fang yu du wo yin: cekui Ming-Qing nanxing shenti wenhua” (Paper presented to the conference “Concealing to Reveal: An International Scholarly Conference on the ‘Private’ and ‘Sentiment’ in Chinese History and Culture”, Academia Sinica, Taipei, August 200l). James Lee and his colleagues have argued that sexual restraint in marriage must in fact account for some of the relatively low marital fertility found in their demographic data for late imperial China. See James Z. Lee and Wang Feng, One Quarter of Humanity: Malthusian Mythology and Chinese Realities (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).

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in the study. Only afterwards did they begin to produce their many children.26 Feng Mengzhen (1548-1605) left this record of his in­ structions to his student sons (and their brides): While I don’t think the marital love of young people should be dis­ continued, it can be regulated by a departure in the morning and a return between 9 and 10 p.m. Periodically you shall sleep in the li­ brary.

In a later set of instructions on daily routines, he was even stricter: Every five days a family visit is allowed to inquire about the health of your mother. You may stay in your own bedrooms that night. On other nights any place outside the library quarter is off limits.27

When they quantified the dissemination of qi and its consequences for health, many purveyors of medical advice allowed youth more leeway than this stern patriarch did, but the exact numbers of sem­ inal ejaculations recommended for each decade of life were perhaps less important than the cautionary rhetoric pointing to primordial qi as a finite resource.28 Thus in the late Ming, as Hsiung Ping-chen has pointed out,29 a man’s decision to sleep alone after he passed the age of forty was not without its attractions. It could be under­ stood from multiple perspectives: an aesthetic choice, a moral com­ mitment and a prudently hygenic practice. In imitation of a famous verse by the Tang poet Bai Juyi , it was even fashionable to pen “Du wo yin” [Songs of sleeping alone] such as this: Chilly and pure, the solitary crane Roosting alone on a frosty night Hugging his arms, he warms his feet Where quilt covers brazier, a whiff of fragrant incense No heart rises to battle beauty in the solitary gloom. To sleep here till sunlight flares at the window This too may be thought a happy way to live.30 26 See Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), p. 188. 27 These instructions from Feng’s Kuaixuetang ji are translated by Wai-kam Ho in “Late Ming Literati: Their Social and Cultural Ambience”, in Li and Watt, The Chinese Scholar’s Studio, pp. 27-28. [The original is in juan 45 p 8-10, Wanli edition of 1616. ] 28 For a representative sample see Furth, A Flourishing Yin, p. 202, note 22. 29 Forty was identified as the beginning of the dangerous age for men in Sun Simiao’s classic Jian jin fang. See juan 27, section 8, “Fang zhong bu yi”. 30 Hsiung Ping-chen, “Heavenly Ways and Human Doings”, p. 29. The poem is by Hu Yizi, reprinted from Lidai biji xiaoshuo daguan, Taipei, l978, p. 5891. I have revised Hsiung’s translation a little.

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On the one hand, this poem hints of the physical warmth of shared beds, a comfort that was not only the prerogative of lovers and married couples but was often provided for elderly women by the nightly companionship of filial children or grandchildren. On the other hand, its reference to the solitary crane (a symbol of Daoist immortality) suggests ways in which sleeping alone could also been seen as an avenue to spiritual self-cultivation. Meditation Finally, the scholar’s studio could also be a place of meditation. In the late Ming, spiritual experiment was part of the zeitgeist: med­ itative disciplines abounded, and seekers might follow a variety of paths.31 These included the jingzuo [meditation] of the orthodox NeoConfucians, techniques of guo guan, san guan [traversing the passes] taught by Chan Buddhists, and the nine-step healing meditation favoured by the syncretist Lin Zhao’en.32 While a common NeoConfucian vision of transcendence envisioned the unity of the self and the cosmos (Heaven, Earth and myself are one body), varieties of Daoist-flavoured nei dan [inner alchemy] offered a more individ­ ualistic model of self-perfection. For those who believed in the body’s potential for health, renewal and even immortality through the nurture, circulation and enhancement of its own primal reservoirs of qi, inner alchemical meditation could be prescribed, step by step. One such detailed guide to nei dan meditation was the work of Cao Heng (fl. 1634), a physician, Daoist, and one-time follower of Lin Zhao’en. In his Dao yuan yi qi [The unitary qi of the Way’s origin],33 seven methods and twelve rules guiding nightly meditation

31 For the varieties of religious experience in the self-cultivation literature of the Ming see Pei-yu Wu, The Confucian’s Progress: Autobiographical Writings in Tradi­ tional China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), and Timothy Brook, Praying for Power: Buddhism and the Formation of Gentry Society in Late Ming China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993). For my account of Daoist inner alchemy, I am much indebted to my student, Liu Xun, particularly his “Essential Secrets for Conserving Life: Meditative Regimens for Self-Healing in the Late Ming: the Case of Cao Heng” (Paper presented to the “International Symposium: Medicine in China: Health Techniques and Social History”, Collège de France, Paris, June 2000). 32 For the san guan see Wu, Confucian’s Progress, pp. 107-09; for the nine-step path see Liu Xun, “Essential Secrets”, p. 5. 33 Cao Heng, Dao yuan yi qi (Beijing: Shifan daxue chubanshe, 1990. First ed.

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taught the adept to visualize an internal bodily landscape (its path­ ways, channels, barriers and bridges) through which to guide pri­ mordial qi to coalesce and concentrate at the body’s generative centre behind the navel. For novices, the meditative exercises were recom­ mended for self-healing as an esoteric form of medical therapy; advanced practitioners aspired to a harmony of psychic and physi­ cal powers imagined as the sexual union of Heart fire and Kidney water, and ultimately to rebirth via an ‘immortal embryo’ so con­ ceived and gestated. Among the prerequisites for advanced practice was a fudi [blessed site] in a secluded spot naturally configured to gather harmonious qi influences. There the immortality seeker was instructed to build a practice chamber that sounds remarkably like the ideal scholar’s studio. In the words of Wu Shouyang (1552-1640), a Daoist of the Quanzhen sect who once served as a tutor to one of the Ming princes: A ‘blessed site’ should be far from the disorders of war, the threat of banditry or the bustle of the highway … yet near the city markets and their provisions of daily necessities. It should be removed from the woods and their racket of wind and birdsong. The chamber should not be too large, but have thick walls and a proper balance of light and dark; a bed [chuang zuo] and a thick quilt, plus [what is needed for] purest tea and simple foods, flavoured according to the seasons and whole­ some for digestion, everything for the tranquility of one’s body and spirit [qi ti].34

The physician and poet Fu Shan, also a seventeenth-century Dao­ ist master, imagined an even more elaborate meditation retreat: a house of thatch or tile furnished with bright windows and clean furniture, surrounded by bamboo and facing a body of water, and requiring the services of four or five servants.35 Cao Heng left a laconic record of the site and circumstances of his hundred-day session of secluded practice in 1624. “In 1624 I travelled to Pheasant Heights [Zhigao, possibly near a mountain in Chun’an county, Zhejiang], gathered companions and entered into the circle [of their fellowship]. Penetrating the three passes, the river 1636). For a brief biography of Cao Heng see Liu Xun, “Essential Secrets”, pp. 16-24. 34 Wu Shouyang, Tian xian zhengli (Zhengzhou: Henan renmin chubanshe, 1987. First ed. 1639), pp. 86-88. The phrase fudi is an allusion to Baopuzi. I am espe­ cially indebted to Liu Xun for providing me with this text. 35 Fu Shan, Yang zhen mi ji, in Dao zang jinghua, ed. Xiao Tianshi (Taipei: Ziyou chubanshe 1974. First ed. 1686) pp. 122-24.

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chariot [flowing qi] reached the mountaintop and within the vessel the union was consummated. It is truly the case that yin and yang are all within my own body.”36 Cao Heng provided a further account of a meditation retreat il­ lustrated by a woodblock print that highlights its resemblance to a scholar’s rustic studio. There are three figures in the practice cham­ ber, forming a ‘triple ring’ [san huan]. The accompanying text ex­ plains the importance of the two ‘companions’, fellow practitioners who are both practical and spiritual assistants, providing for the food and drink of daily sustenance on the one hand while keeping watchful vigil over the adept’s progress on the other.37 The solitude of the mystic is never complete. Even the monk’s ascetic discipline depends upon the communal setting of the monastery. Nonetheless, Cao Heng celebrated his meditative discipline in a poetical ‘song of myself’ that accompanied that most sophisticated of personal self-representations: the portrait drawn from a mirror. The poem reads: Hah!

A body thin and meagre

A spirit well aware

Called, do not answer

Cursed, do not rage in return

Steep cliffs and strange rocks

And an ancient tree root weathered

One dawn arise in fury

Shake a fist and bellow out into the empty air

Strike and all entanglement breaks free.38

This is the purest Ming example I can find of a privacy of the body claimed for the self alone, dedicated to a practice undertaken for entirely personal reasons. That the path of inner alchemy was a choice was well understood. We can see this in the well-known Ming Daoist aphorism about generative qi: “Release it and create an heir; return it and create an immortal embryo.” As Cao’s poem tells us, inner alchemy, more than other styles of meditation available in the Ming, hinted of rebellion, of the impulse to subvert the social re­ sponsibilities of ordinary society. Certainly not a right, but perhaps a privilege, such privacy of the body was a possibility among other related, if tamer, methods of self-cultivation, legitimised as part of 36

Cao Heng, Dao yuan yi qi, p. 43. Cao Heng, “San huan tu shuo” in Dao yuan yi qi, pp. 107-110. 38 Cao Heng, Dao yuan yi qi, p. 12. For an account of other late Ming self portraitists see Wu, The Confucian’s Progress, pp. 196-208. 37

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Fig. 6. The secluded practice of inner alchemy [nei dan]. From Cao Heng, Dao yuan yi qi.

a rich cultural continuum of practices that find a private self in spiritual introspection. From genteel recreation to solitary study to mystical quest, I have sketched a range of activities identified with the scholar’s studio and its cousin, the recluse’s hut, activities that in this telling have been identified as both masculine and as private. This is not to imply that women were never scholars or practitioners of self-cultivation. There were learned women who created studios for themselves, and there were pious women who meditated at midnight, or dreamed of al­ chemical transformation into an immortal. But the avenues for these

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Fig. 7. Cao Heng’s self portrait drawn from a mirror. From Dao yuan yi qi.

pursuits were comparatively constrained. Maureen Robertson, writ­ ing about spatial metaphors in the verses of women poets of the pe­ riod, finds lines about courtyards, gardens (especially at night) and views from an upstairs window or balcony (that is, spaces that could be transformed by introspection but were not expressly created for

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it).39 These traces of women’s lives point to the links between pri­ vacy and time rather than space. For those women and men—the majority, certainly—who did not have the luxury of places to re­ treat to, introspection was possible during quiet hours especially at night and early morning (a favourite prescribed time for meditation as well). Because others need not even be aware of these activities, or to license them, such privacy of moments could be understood as stolen. Conclusion I began my tour of the Ming private body looking for practices marked by concealment and solitude. Though linked in the discourse of health, they turn out to have different valences when the issue is the nature of privacy. The scholar’s studio—a space claimed by men for privacy and introspection, whether it took the form of personal enjoyment, literary reflection or spiritual discipline—has usually been understood as a retreat from the public sphere of Chinese official life. Our search for a private body through the lens of medicine and gender helps us to see the scholar’s studio and its surrogates from a different vantage point, that is, in relationship to the “inner” sphere of the family. When the scholar’s couch is opposed to the marriage bed, we see a Confucian definition of the social as opposed to the private that was formulated around the issue of who owns the body. From this perspective, the inner quarters were the social space of Ming private life, a place of confinement perhaps, but one where the kinship order was secured and ancestors were provided with descendents. In contrast to the rituals that shaped the primal hu­ man sense of bodily shame into gendered rules of respectable fam­ ily behaviour, we find a different sense of privacy in solitary bodily practices embraced as necessary to spiritual self-realisation. Perhaps it is not so surprising that the rituals of concealment— the decorum that surrounded the sick, naked or sexual body, the marriage bed and the inner quarters—turn out to be primarily social after all. Being sick and engaging in sex were social acts because they mattered to the kin group; where shame and its partner honour dic­ 39 Maureen Robertson, “Gendered Landscapes” (Paper presented to the panel “Nature, Culture, Text: Siting Feminine Values in Imperial China”, Association for Asian Studies, Chicago, March 2001).

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tated the norms of modesty, they did so through the gaze of others acting on a self that sees through the world’s eyes. To be ashamed, after all, is to have nowhere to hide. But the solitary recluse, as Cao Heng’s poem says, can be indifferent to the gaze of others; in the eyes of the world he can appear shameless. He is freed to look at himself, turning inward to an interior landscape that, turning the world inside out, reveals a universe of his own creation.

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PRIVACY IN DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER

Cathy Silber

In her groundbreaking study of privacy in the West, Julie C. Inness contrasts two fundamental approaches to the issue: separation-based and control-based accounts of privacy.1 In separation-based accounts, privacy involves an individual’s separation from others in order to restrict their access to particular aspects of her life; in these terms, privacy is often understood as antithetical to publicity. Consistent with this approach is the attempt to locate privacy in the private realm of a dichotomy between public and private. Yet, as McDougall points out in her discussion of terminology in the introduction to this volume, English distinguishes between the adjectival ‘private’ and the substantive ‘privacy’; in fact, in common usage, the adjec­ tival form can describe both the state of privacy and the realm opposed to the public. (In the Chinese case, si can also refer to both.) Despite this lexical slippage, it seems to me that a state of privacy might plausibly occur in the public realm as well as in the private, and that the public/private issue is conceptually distinct from the question of what privacy is. I follow Inness in understanding privacy as a matter of control rather than separation; control is the mechanism that enables the content of privacy.2 Privacy content, in other words, is that which agents seek to protect when they employ this control. When privacy is a matter of control, the antithesis of privacy becomes not neces­ sarily publicity, but rather loss of this control. Indeed, a distinction can be made between publicity and lost or breached privacy. Pri­ vacy is constantly and inherently vulnerable; privacy, like secrecy or exclusion, can be defined at least in part by its vulnerability to rupture, diminution or loss. In an effort to avoid the imposition of my own culture-bound no­ tions of privacy by simply looking for what I already understand the 1 Julie C. Inness, Privacy, Intimacy, and Isolation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 41-42. 2 Ibid., p. 56.

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content of privacy to be, this essay on the mechanisms and contents of privacy in Chinese culture will approach Chinese notions of privacy indirectly by examining instances in which control is threat­ ened, diminished or lost. In other words, I will be examining instances of breach. Lila Abu-Lughod inverts Foucault’s assertion “where there is power, there is resistance” to say “where there is resistance, there is power”, thereby suggesting that we “use resistance as a diagnostic of power”.3 I take this as a cue to use breaches as a diagnostic of privacy. This method depends upon the notion that privacy is inherently vulnerable and the expectation that all instances of privacy will show this vulnerability, which may not always be the case. Furthermore, this breach diagnostic can easily end up associating every cough with pneumonia; just because there is breach or concern about breach does not mean the vulnerable entity is privacy, or only privacy. In fact, instances of breach (of threatened, diminished or lost control) might point to any of several states or practices similar to privacy in their vulnerability to breach: secrecy, concealment, exclusion, seg­ regation or separation. While control is the general mechanism of privacy, this control can be exerted in different ways (through se­ crecy, concealment, exclusion etc.), and these mechanisms of con­ trol in turn function through particular mechanisms of their own. Approaching privacy through finer and finer mechanisms of con­ trol makes it possible to understand the coexistence, in a single instance, of privacy and other states or practices such as conceal­ ment or exclusion. But the breach diagnostic alone can only point to these mechanisms of control; it cannot determine whether the protected content is private or merely secret or solitary. Secrecy, concealment and withdrawal can operate to enable privacy but may not necessarily produce it. Still, by identifying instances that might involve privacy, the breach diagnostic makes a useful starting-point for cross-cultural studies. In identifying breaches, I begin with spying and eavesdropping, which are intentional behaviours, and go on to inadvertent notic­ ing and overhearing, unintentional acts that may or may not con­ tinue with intention. After all, peepholes and eavesdropping are common devices in traditional Chinese narrative. It may be the case 3 Lila Abu-Lughod, “The romance of resistance: tracing transformations of power through Bedouin women”, American Ethnologist 17 (1989): p. 42.

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that breaches involving the senses of touch, smell, taste or even extra­ sensory perception and practices such as voodoo might also diag­ nose privacy, but I restrict my discussion to the most obvious breaches, those effected through sight and hearing. I consider an act to be a breach when either the agent, the recipient or both evince some behaviour or reaction that shows they consider it to be one. For the purpose of this diagnostic, I also consider the threat of breach to function like an actual breach. As the breaches examined below point to possible privacy content (that is, acts or states that people consider private), they also highlight the boundaries of privacy (i.e., boundary in purely a figurative, not spatial, sense), and bring into focus the finer mechanisms of control at work in privacy. Rife with the male gaze into the feminine boudoir, early ci [lyric] would seem to offer a promising object for this study. However, the gender dynamics and erotics of such verse would complicate a search for privacy, even though we must recognise the ways in which pri­ vacy in Chinese culture is surely gendered and often eroticised. I have chosen instead Hong lou meng [Red chamber dream], that in­ famously encyclopedic novel of life in a wealthy household in eighteenth-century China, full as it is of representations of social interactions across and within genders, and across and within classes. Even so, a novel that opens with the notion of “true events con­ cealed” and takes concealment and gender aberrations as two of its many themes will be inclined to motivate representations of breach and privacy in certain ways. Hong lou meng nonetheless offers many representations of breaches that may diagnose privacy, or, if not always privacy, at least one of the mechanisms of control that can produce privacy. This study therefore looks to instances of breach for the way privacy is represented and understood in the novel. Aware of the pitfalls of using literary works as social data, I make no claim to be describing social reality, although instances of pri­ vacy in the novel do assume an understanding of norms of behaviour shared by characters, author and readers. Instances of breach or concern about breach (usually evidenced by cautionary measures to guard against breach, or verbal expres­ sions of concern about it) suggest several kinds of privacy content and several mechanisms of control that produce privacy. We might expect content to be the aspect of privacy most likely to vary across cultures and the mechanisms of privacy to seem more familiar. As it happens, many kinds of both content and mechanisms represented

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in the novel appear familiar to the English reader, but the mecha­ nisms of privacy offer a much richer area of inquiry into Chinese notions of privacy. In fact, an act considered private might also be used as a mechanism of control to produce privacy for another private act, such that we cannot, independently of context, categori­ cally designate particular acts as either content or mechanism. In all of the examples below, whether the protected content turns out to be private or merely secret (for example), privacy and related states always depend upon context and the particular social relationship between breacher(s) and breachee(s). I begin with a review of breached acts or states that might be considered private and the ways one kind of content can become a mechanism to protect another kind, and then turn to a closer examination of the mechanisms of control of this content, and the ways this control is contested and negotiated when it is threatened or broken by breach. Privacy content Breaches (including concern about breaches) diagnose several cat­ egories of what might be considered private: crying, discord, misbehaviour (a tricky category because it includes many acts that may belong in another category as well; for instance, sex may be impermissible), sexual activity and activities associated with bodily functions or body maintenance (or simply a sense of modesty or integrity of the body), as well as intimacy and certain kinds of com­ munication. Breaching behaviours, like spying and eavesdropping, and even inadvertent noticing and overhearing, are themselves acts that are breached with some frequency in the novel, suggesting that they might also be considered private. Many kinds of privacy con­ tent diagnosed by breach are hard to classify, both because it is difficult to ascertain what specifically the agents and recipients of the breach consider to be protected and what they consider to be incidental, and because in fact the protected content may indeed be more than one thing at the same time. Breaching behaviour Spying and eavesdropping, or noticing or overhearing, may diag­ nose privacy, or at least secrecy, if these acts are considered by either

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their agents, recipients or both to be behaviours that pose a breach to privacy. When these activities do pose a breach, both agents and recipients tend to view these acts themselves as private ones, which then may be breached by another party (usually, but not always, the recipient of the breach). Breaching behaviour may be nothing more than a specific kind of misbehaviour, i.e., another category of privacy content; one doesn’t want to get caught spying, eavesdrop­ ping or lurking about, all suspicious behaviours. But it may be worth a closer look, since representations of privacy often come in clus­ ters (just as many other themes and motifs in the novel gain mean­ ing from juxtaposition). A few such instances show how breaches that diagnose privacy might also be read as privacy content in them­ selves. In the simplest example below, Madam You’s efforts to ensure she is not caught spying may indicate nothing more than that getting caught will prevent her from continuing to spy, but the fact remains that she guards against breach of her own breaching behaviour. (Be­ cause the men are gambling during mourning, the content of the privacy she is breaching can be considered misbehaviour.) “I’ve been dying for I don’t know how long to have a look at the men while they are gambling,” said Madam You, “but so far I haven’t had an opportunity. Tonight is the best chance I shall ever get. Let’s go along the wall in front of the windows so that we can peep in at them.” The women with lanterns made a detour towards the building in which the men were congregated. One of them went ahead and warned the pages waiting outside not to announce their arrival to the men or make any other noise that would warn those inside of their coming. Madam You and her party were thus able to steal right up to the win­ dows and could hear everything that was going on inside. (3.75.491; 1172)4 4

I have used two translations of the novel and then checked passages against the original to make sure Western assumptions about privacy had not been un­ duly imported into translation (sometimes they had). Passage citations in the body of the paper use Roman numerals for volume number to indicate Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang’s translation, and Arabic numerals for volume number to indi­ cate David Hawkes and John Minford’s translation. Parenthetical citations follow this format throughout: (volume.chapter.page of translation or translations; page number of the Chinese edition). Tsao Hsueh-Chin and Kao Ngo, A Dream of Red Mansions, trans. Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1978); Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone, trans. David Hawkes, vols. 1-3 (Har­ mondsworth: Penguin, 1973, 1977, 1980); …ed. Gao E, trans. John Minford, vols. 4-5 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982, 1987); Cao Xueqin, Zhi yan zhai ping pi Hong lou meng, ed. Huang Lin (Jinan: Qilu chubanshe, 1994).

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In this next example, Daiyu eavesdrops on her maids. After a con­ versation with Baoyu, “Daiyu went into the inner room and lay down on her bed, slowly turning all these things over in her mind. Night­ ingale came in to ask if she would like some tea. ‘No thank you. I just want to…lie down for a bit’” (4.89.206; 1373). The maids stand outside gossiping about Baoyu’s engagement until the parrot’s squawk, “Miss Lin’s back!”, frightens them into stopping and going back inside. They found Daiyu at her chair. She was out of breath and had clearly only just sat down. Nightingale asked rather awkwardly if she wanted any tea or water. “Where have you two been all this time?” asked Daiyu. “No one came when I called.” She walked back to the kang and lay down once more facing the wall, telling them to let down the bed curtains. They did so and left the room, each secretly thinking to herself that she had overheard them, but neither daring to say so. (4.89.207-208; 1374)

Daiyu’s eavesdropping itself may be considered a private act, be­ cause she takes pains to hide it by rushing, upon threat of immi­ nent discovery, from the door to a chair. This eavesdropping, of course, is first of all a breach of the maids’ private conversation. But Daiyu’s effort to hide her eavesdropping shows a concern that her maids will find out, even though we might expect her to have no reason to worry, given the imbalance of power in her favour and the maids’ own fear at the prospect of acknowledging that they had been overheard. Though the reasons Daiyu cares about getting caught eavesdropping may have more to do with the plot require­ ments of deception, still, Daiyu’s failure to confront her maids with what she has overheard and thus disclose that she had been eaves­ dropping on them is cast as plausible behaviour in this scene. The fact that Daiyu tries to protect her eavesdropping from the breach of discovery by her maids might diagnose eavesdropping itself as privacy content. Or, again, if not privacy content necessarily, then at least something very much like it, something also defined, at least in part, by an inherent vulnerability to breach. Finally, the following passage depicts an instance in which an inadvertent act of overhearing instantly becomes intentional eaves­ dropping, definitely considered a breach (by both agent and recipi­ ents), and in which the agent of the breach, Baochai, shows such concern over being caught that we must consider her breach behaviour as a candidate for designation as private. The several pages

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preceding the passage also show how privacy instances are clustered in this novel: the event is set in motion by Baochai’s decision not to intrude upon Daiyu and Baoyu, followed by Baochai’s effort to catch the pair of butterflies, which leads her to the pavilion where she overhears and then eavesdrops upon the maids’ private conversa­ tion. Baochai, worried about getting caught, averts this outcome by pretending to be searching for Daiyu, who is supposedly hiding; the maids then worry about the certain breach of Daiyu’s having over­ heard their private conversation. Their conversation about the consequences of Daiyu’s having overheard them is interrupted, fi­ nally, by the sight of several other maids approaching, forcing them to change the subject to a non-private one. Consider in this pas­ sage Baochai’s breach and the concern on the part of both agent and recipients that suggests this breach itself might be private. …[Baochai] was about to turn back when she became aware of a low murmur of voices coming from inside the pavilion. Raindrop Pavilion was built in such a way that it projected into the middle of the pool into which the little watercourse widened out at this point, so that on three of its sides it looked out on to the water. It was surrounded by a verandah…. In each of its wooden walls there was a large paper-covered casement of elegantly patterned lattice work. Hearing voices inside the pavilion, Baochai halted and inclined her ear to listen. [She overhears a conversation between Hongyu and Zhui’er about Jia Yun’s return of Hongyu’s handkerchief, trysting behaviour; this con­ versation about misbehaviour is the core privacy content of the scene.] …“You must swear a solemn oath not to tell anyone else about this.” “May my mouth rot and may I die a horrible death if I ever tell anyone else about this, amen!” said the first voice. “Goodness!” said the second voice again. “Here we are talking away, and all the time someone could be creeping up outside and listening to every word we say. We had better open these casements; then even if anyone outside sees us, they’ll think we are having an ordinary conversation; and we shall be able to see them and know in time when to stop.” Baochai, listening outside, gave a start. … “If they open those windows and see me here, they are going to feel terribly embarrassed. And one of those voices sounds like that proud, peculiar girl Crimson who works in Baoyu’s room. If a girl like that knows that I have overheard her doing something she shouldn’t be doing, it will be a case of ‘the desperate dog will jump a wall, the desperate man will hazard all’: there’ll be a great deal of trouble and I shall be involved in it. There isn’t time to hide. I shall have to … give them something to put them off the scent—”

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cathy silber There was a loud creak as the casement yielded. Baochai advanced with deliberately noisy tread. “Frowner!” she called out gaily. “I know where you’re hiding.” Inside the pavilion Crimson and Trinket, who heard her say this and saw her advancing toward them just as they were opening the case­ ment, were speechless with amazement; but Baochai ignored their confusion and addressed them genially: “Have you two got Miss Lin hidden away in there?” “I haven’t seen Miss Lin”, said Trinket. “I saw her just now from the river bank”, said Baochai. “She was squatting down over here playing with something in the water. I was going to creep up and surprise her, but she spotted me before I could get up to her and disappeared round this corner. Are you sure she’s not hiding in there?” She made a point of going inside the pavilion and searching; then, coming out again, she said in a voice loud enough for them to hear: “If she’s not in the pavilion, she must have crept into that grotto. Oh well, if she’s not afraid of being bitten by a snake…!” As she walked away she laughed inwardly at the ease with which she had extricated herself from a difficult situation. “I think I’m fairly safe out of that one”, she thought. “I wonder what those two will make of it.” What indeed! Crimson believed every word that Baochai had said, and as soon as the latter was at a distance, she seized hold of Trinket in alarm: “Oh, how terrible! If Miss Lin was squatting there, she must have heard what we said before she went away.” (2.27.26-28; 464-467)

Does Baochai’s concern about getting caught eavesdropping and her deception to avert this outcome show that her eavesdropping in this case is private? Or does it simply show mechanisms of control to establish something like privacy, something that is inherently vul­ nerable to breach but not necessarily therefore privacy? Like Daiyu in the scene above, Baochai far outranks the maids, and so we might expect her not to care whether they discover she has overheard their conversation. And yet she resorts to deception to prevent this. Per­ haps her professed reason for not wanting to get caught eavesdrop­ ping is meant to show the reader that the same sweet, pure, moral Baochai who takes it upon herself to lecture Daiyu about her ques­ tionable reading habits also has it in her to choose the morally expedient over the morally correct. Yet whatever requirements of character or narrative development may impel Baochai’s behaviour, her effort to maintain control over her eavesdropping (that is, to protect it against the breach of discovery) might diagnose eavesdrop­ ping as private. At the least, this scene illuminates the boundaries

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of something like privacy content, the vulnerability of those bound­ aries and the mechanisms of their control. Even if we cannot con­ clude decisively that breaching behaviours like spying, eavesdropping, noticing and overhearing are always private independently of con­ text, rather than simply a kind of behaviour that will be brought up short by discovery, or a kind of misbehaviour one takes pains to conceal, these examples suggest that, in certain circumstances, breaching behaviour in itself might be private. Crying As might be expected, crying takes place both privately and openly in the novel. In the countless instances in which characters sob openly, even histrionically, their crying often works performatively to chastise, rebuke, remonstrate or demand; perhaps crying works this way precisely because the shared expectation that it should be private is violated, even defied. Clearly, crying is not always private, but certain crying may be. When crying is breached, the weeper either takes explicit pains to withdraw from others, or is spied upon, overheard, discovered, and/or suddenly interrupted. In cases of in­ trusion, the weeper does not seem to object, though it is possible he or she may have objected had the intruder been someone else. The many instances in which crying is not private, and the other instances below, show the extent to which privacy is conditioned by particu­ larities of context and social relationship. In an instance of shared privacy, Daiyu, sensitive to the lack of ‘real’ family around her, has left a mid-Autumn festival party with Shi Xiangyun. “She had slipped away not in order to go to bed but to lean on the terrace railings and cry” (3.76.513; 1188). Daiyu has withdrawn from the group to create a zone of privacy in which to cry. This instance is followed in close succession by two others that may indicate something like privacy: first, Daiyu and Xiangyun withdraw further to a pavilion by the lake to look at the moon and compose couplets, and later they are unexpectedly interrupted by Miaoyu, who joins them. We may be led to suspect privacy content here from the fact that these events show the pattern of clustering and juxtaposition char­ acteristic of the narrative. But we also know Daiyu well enough by this point in the novel to know that her hypersensitivity to her outsider status would never permit her to spoil the party by express­

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ing her feelings of exclusion openly to the very people she perceives as excluding her. Daiyu’s feelings, withdrawal and tears are all the­ matically overcharged. Moreover, the image of a beautiful young woman leaning on the terrace railings to cry, so charged as a trope for the lonely woman longing for an absent lover, confuses even further a simple reading of this scene as an instance of private cry­ ing. Daiyu’s withdrawal from the group works as a mechanism to establish solitude, if not privacy, yet the narrative also casts this withdrawal as demonstration of the need for consolation by listing several characters who might offer it and explaining why they could not or did not, before Xiangyun finally emerges as the only plau­ sible candidate. In another scene that can be read as indirect manifestation of the emotional turmoil between Baoyu and Daiyu, Baoyu is upset after his rebuff by Daiyu’s maid Zijuan. “Presently he sat down on a rock somewhere to think. Tears rolled down his cheeks, but he did not feel them. For an hour or more he continued to sit there motion­ less, turning the same question, ‘What am I to do?’ over and over in his mind, but never reaching a conclusion” (3.57.89-90; 898). Another of Daiyu’s maids, Xueyan, passes by. Noticing him, she squats down, peers into his face and asks him what he’s doing. Baoyu is startled by the interruption but objects to it not on the grounds that his privacy has been violated but rather out of hurt and anger over Zijuan’s (and Daiyu’s) insistence that he now maintain a prop­ erly gendered distance from them. Baoyu has gone off alone to think, and, ultimately, to cry, but the breach of his privacy merely pro­ vides him an opportunity to lash out in words with the feelings he had been expressing in tears. The thematic investment in the rela­ tionship between Baoyu and Daiyu (played out here with Daiyu’s ‘shadow’ character, Zijuan, as well as Xueyan, the maid whose presence at the altar convinces Baoyu he is marrying Daiyu) com­ plicates a reading of the crying in this scene as simply private. Two related scenes show Baoyu or Daiyu overhearing an actress in the Garden. In the first, Baoyu hears sobbing on the other side of the rose trellis, and he watches the girl “crouching below the flow­ ers and weeping all alone as she scratched the ground with a hair­ pin [writing the character qiang (rose)]” (I.30.446-447; 522). He continues to watch until it begins to rain, and he calls out to her. While this scene is important to the novel itself for what it tells us about Baoyu, here we see the actress crying and writing in an ex­

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pressive moment similar to Daiyu’s murmuring of the line about love from Xi xiang ji [Romance of the western chamber] in chapter 26. We surmise that the actress is pining for Jia Qiang, and that she has withdrawn from others to do this. Baoyu’s surreptitious watch­ ing of the actress can be considered a breach; indeed, we are told the only reason the actress does not flee upon discovery is that she mistakes him for a maid. Crying, along with the expression of long­ ing, is cast as private here. In a related scene, Daiyu overhears the actresses rehearsing over a wall and stops to listen. “As she brooded over the meaning of all these verses [about the passage of time and the fading of flowers/ women], her heart ached and tears coursed down her cheeks. She might have remained there weeping and comfortless, had not some­ one come up behind her all of a sudden and given her a shove in the back” (combination of I.23.337-338 and 1.23.467; 401-402). Daiyu’s tearful reaction to the lyrics she overhears is entirely pre­ determined by her karmic destiny, and the fact that she is crying alone and then suddenly interrupted does not necessarily cast her crying as private. The breach in this case, which returns Daiyu to the mundane, brings the thematic work of the scene to an end so that the narrative can proceed. Daiyu’s tearful delirium can never­ theless be considered intensely private, in the sense that its bound­ ary is controlled by forces concealed from everyone, including Daiyu herself. The instances above show characters interrupted while they are crying; in several others, we see the privacy of crying breached not at the time, but after the fact, when red and swollen eyes are read as a sign of recent crying, and the weeper seeks to maintain her privacy by claiming that her eyes were itchy and she had been rubbing them. One such example occurs after Xifeng suffers humili­ ation at the hands of her mother-in-law. She flees the scene to weep in her own apartment, but when called back, she “wiped away her tears, washed and dried her face, and put on a fresh lot of make­ up” before returning (3.71.409; 1112). When Yuanyang “peer[s] into her face, …wondering why her eyes are so swollen”, Xifeng explains she had been rubbing her itchy eyes and denies that anyone has upset her, insisting that even if someone had, she “wouldn’t dare to cry on Her Old Ladyship’s birthday” (3.71.410;1112-1113). Xifeng’s private crying is breached first by the maid who called her back to Jia Mu’s apartment, and then by Yuanyang and Jia Mu,

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who scrutinize her eyes and question her about them. Xifeng tries to establish the privacy of her crying through four mechanisms of control: withdrawal (leaving), concealment (new make-up), decep­ tion (itching, rubbing) and denial. For Xifeng to have been caught crying in the context of her humiliation would have only deepened it; this is why Xifeng wants privacy to cry. The breaches in this instance not only show crying as private but also demonstrate the various mechanisms of control against breach that establish and maintain privacy. Discord Several instances of people shouting in anger and either being over­ heard or worrying about being overheard suggest that discord is understood by characters as a kind of misbehaviour that should be kept private. For example, Xifeng overhears Baoyu’s nanny Li yelling at Xiren, and, a few pages later, Concubine Zhao yelling at her son Huan. In both cases, she intervenes, both times alluding to the harmony that should prevail during the first-month festivals. She brings an end to the tirades by reminding Li and Zhao respectively that the misbehaviour that has upset them will be punished (1.20.402, 408-409; 342, 348-349). When Jia Lian and Ping’er fight over the hair she has found in his bed, Xifeng arrives on the scene, sees Ping’er at the window, and says, “Why not talk inside? Why run out here to [talk] through the window? What’s the idea?” (I.21.309; 370). Finally, three instances of loud discord in the Xue household pro­ voke someone to urge the volume be lowered, lest others overhear and pass judgement. When Xue Pan’s mother yells at him for sup­ posedly telling on Baoyu about the missing actor Jiang Yuhan, Baochai urges, “Do keep your voices down” (I.34.498; 574). Later in the novel, Xia Jingui provokes a similar reaction in both her mother-in-law and her husband. “What sort of manners are these?” Aunt Xue was trembling all over and her voice was choking. “Since when did it become acceptable for a young woman to shout at her mother-in-law through the window? I was under the impression that you had been brought up in an edu­ cated household. All this shouting and screaming—I can’t make out what you are trying to say.” Xue Pan stamped his foot and shouted at Jingui despairingly. “Oh stop, stop! You’ll have everyone laughing at us.” (3.80.603; 1253)

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Aunt Xue happened to be in Baochai’s room and heard the terrible racket they [Jingui and her maid] were making. … “What’s the meaning of this?” cried Aunt Xue. “Look at the state things are in! What a disgraceful way to behave! Other people can hear what goes on, you know. Aren’t you ashamed of what our relatives will think? Aren’t you afraid of being a laughing stock?” (4.83.90-91; 1299-1300)

At the core of these efforts to protect discord against breach lies one of two things: concerns about reputation, about what others will think, or concerns about disturbing or upsetting others. In either case, discord that might be overheard is cast as a kind of misbehav­ iour. Misbehaviour In many instances in the novel, including some discussed above, characters are concerned about protecting misbehaviour or the per­ ception of misbehaviour from breach. Misbehaviour or perceived misbehaviour is actually breached in many instances as well: people do not want to get caught doing something wrong. As with spying and eavesdropping, one reason for not wanting to get caught is simply that getting caught may prevent one from continuing to misbehave. Instances of breach show the ways characters employ mechanisms of control such as separation, concealment, and deception to pro­ tect their misbehaviour from interruption or intervention. But this does not mean that the protected behaviour is necessarily private. Sexual Activity When sexual activity is impermissible, we might see it as just an­ other kind of misbehaviour, breached or protected against breach. But even when it is permissible, it is still cast as private in the same way as impermissible sex; characters planning or engaging in per­ missible sexual activity still take pains to guard against being dis­ covered, and sometimes fail. With permissible sex, however, we also see a new kind of guard against breach: the narrator himself rather coyly steps in and guards the sexual activity of characters against breach by readers. In chapter five, for instance, the narrator tells us that Baoyu has sex with Fairy Disenchantment and then says, “nan yi jin shu” [it would be difficult/I am uncomfortable to tell this fully] (108). Again, when Baoyu catches Qin Zhong and the nun

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Zhineng together and says he’ll settle up with Qin Zhong later, the narrator comments, “As for how Baoyu settled scores with Qin Zhong, what the eye does not see can only be surmised, and far be it from us to speculate” (I.15.208; 254). In short, sexual activity is kept private, sometimes even from the reader. Body Maintenance and Modesty Various acts of body maintenance, including urination and defeca­ tion and, in some circumstances, washing and dressing, are cast as private in that characters remove themselves from others for these activities or object when certain other characters intrude upon them. People step off the path in the garden and behind a rock or tree to urinate. Defecation, we learn when Granny Liu asks for paper and starts undoing her clothes in the garden, belongs in the privy (2.41.317; 675-676). Characters repeatedly go off to geng yi [change clothes], though of course their clothes are not kept in public set­ tings. In fact, geng yi is also used as a euphemism for urination or defecation; euphemistic reference to these acts in itself reinforces their private nature. We find both expected and unexpected signs of gender- and classinflected physical modesty in the novel. Daiyu tells Baoyu, “You’d better go outside if you want us to get up [from bed in the morn­ ing]” (I.21.298; 356). When Xue Ke finds himself the object of Jingui’s and her maid’s lustful intentions and hears a tap at his window, he does up his gown again after having started to undress (4.91.228-229; 1388). But we also see Baoyu’s lack of modesty about his body around his maids, who change his clothes and even bathe with him (though this may tell more about Baoyu’s character than indicate norms of behaviour, for we do not see this with other char­ acters). Baoyu is accompanied by maids on more than one occa­ sion when he relieves himself. For example: “He tiptoed out again and taking his stand behind a rock, began hitching up his clothes. Musk and Ripple, who were standing behind him, suppressed a giggle. ‘Why don’t you squat down to take off your underthings? You’ll get the wind on your belly, standing up like that’ (3.54.2425; 853). The maids’ reaction expresses their discomfort over his lack of modesty in their presence. In several instances, acts of bodily maintenance become mecha­ nisms that enable another kind of privacy. In the first, during the

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period in which Tanchun is in charge, she is washing her face after crying, aided by several maids and Ping’er. As Tanchun begins washing, a servant woman enters and addresses her with an item of business. “‘What’s the hurry?’ snapped Patience. ‘Haven’t you got eyes in your head? Can’t you see that Miss Tan is washing? You ought to be waiting outside. What do you mean by bursting in like this?’” (3.55.55; 872). Tanchun’s authority has been at stake in the scene preceding this passage; Ping’er objects to the fact that Tanchun does not get as much respect as Xifeng. In the hierarchy of servants, the woman who intrudes ostensibly lacks the standing to do so while Tanchun is washing. Yet even if Ping’er’s ultimate intent is to se­ cure for Tanchun a zone of privacy in which she can find reprieve from conflict in which to regain her managerial mettle, the mecha­ nism she uses to do this is the apparently common knowledge that someone like Tanchun should not be interrupted while washing by someone like the servant woman. Grooming is also the privacy content that operates as a privacy mechanism in a scene late in the novel when Xifeng visits Baochai. Xifeng stands in the doorway watching Baoyu, who is lying on the kang and staring, entranced, at Baochai as she combs her hair. When Baochai notices Xifeng, she scolds her maid for not having an­ nounced her guest (who had signalled the maids not to do so). Xifeng, who wants a private conversation with Baochai, then says to Baoyu, “Well, what are you waiting for? Off you go! Honestly, I’ve never set eyes on such a great big baby. A lady wants to do her toilet in private, and you have to climb up beside her and sit there staring!” (5.101.57;1517). Though Xifeng’s purpose may well be to get rid of Baoyu, her assertion that combing is something that people do for themselves (renjia gezi shutou) strikes no one in the scene (except Baoyu, with his idiosyncratic fascination with feminine grooming) as unrea­ sonable, thus casting combing in this instance as one kind of pri­ vacy content that serves as a mechanism to justify or enforce another kind of privacy content. We see again the way gender inflects pri­ vacy, since Baochai can ostensibly have privacy in the presence of Xifeng but not her husband. We also see urination used as a mechanism for another kind of privacy content. In one instance, Baoyu leaves a party to relieve himself and Jiang Yuhan takes the opportunity to follow him out to apologize to him. As they converse and exchange sashes as tokens of friendship, Xue Pan bursts in upon their intimate exchange:

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“‘What are you up to?’ he cried. ‘Leaving your wine and slipping away from the feast! Come on, let’s see what you’ve got there” (2.28.416-417; 495-496). In the instance above, Xifeng used what should have been Baochai’s privacy as a mechanism for her own privacy with Baochai. Here again it is not Baoyu but Jiang Yuhan who uses the privacy afforded by Baoyu’s body maintenance as a mechanism to establish privacy for something else. In another in­ stance, an agent seeking his own privacy for something else uses the need to urinate as a ruse to create it. By saying, “Wo yao zou yi zou” [oh dear, I have to pay a little call], Baoyu contrives to slip behind a rock with the two maids assigned to accompany him on this errand so he can question them about Qingwen’s death (3.78.561;1223). Privacy mechanisms Most of the instances of privacy (or something similar) examined so far show two main mechanisms at work in establishing or maintaining control: concealment and separation. Separately or together, these mechanisms are sometimes combined with other mechanisms of control as well. For example, Madam You uses concealment to spy on the men; she commands the complicity of others to conceal her concealment. Threatened by lustful women, Xue Ke uses conceal­ ment when he does up his gown. In the instances of discord, urgings that people lower their voices can be understood as auditory (rather than spatial) separation that in turn effects concealment. When Daiyu tells Baoyu to leave so she and Xiangyun can get out of bed in the morning, she is asking for separation that will effect concealment. We see the same thing with instances of urination and defecation. Again, in instances of sexual activity and misbehaviour, we can easily imagine separation and concealment working the same way. Baoyu’s maids’ reaction to his lack of physical modesty suggests a need for such concealment. We see separation at work in most instances of solitary crying, though when Daiyu cries at overhearing the actresses, her separation is incidental rather than intentional. This raises the question of whether privacy can exist when no one employs mecha­ nisms of control to effect it. In the instances of body-maintenance privacy (established by separation) used as a mechanism of privacy for something else, we see that one person can use another person’s privacy as a mechanism to protect the privacy of a conversation. The mechanisms of separation and concealment are sometimes

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used in conjunction with or effected through other mechanisms of control. Xifeng tries to maintain the privacy of her crying with a succession of four different mechanisms: separation, concealment, deception and denial. The lengths to which Baochai goes to keep the maids in the pavilion from knowing she has overheard them, and the pains Daiyu takes to hide her eavesdropping on her maids show mechanisms of deception and diversion working to produce concealment. Indeed, when one kind of privacy can become a mechanism to protect another kind of privacy content, other mecha­ nisms of control such as deception and diversion might well come into play. In the anomalous case of sleep, they often do. Sleep as a privacy mechanism Because most representations of sleep show that characters see it as something that is not to be disturbed, we might wonder whether to consider sleep itself as privacy content. Sleep is usually intensely solitary, even when it does not require physical separation from others, yet this novel offers particularly shaky ground for settling the question when so many representations of sleep show us characters visited in dreams by apparitions or one character responding to another’s dream while both of them are sleeping. But representa­ tions of sleep that are not invested in developing themes of reality and illusion show very clearly the ways sleep can be used as a mechanism of privacy. The novel contains several instances in which sleep, lying down to rest, the feigning of sleep or rest or the assump­ tion that someone is sleeping work in this way. The shared assump­ tion that sleep should not be disturbed makes it possible for characters to use sleep as a mechanism for privacy. This first instance shows how the assumption that sleep is not to be disturbed can create privacy. Baoyu has gone to visit Xichun. When he “reached the courtyard and stood by one of the windows, it all seemed very quiet and deserted. She . . . he concluded, was having her nap and not to be disturbed” (4.87.168; 1348). In fact, Xichun and Miaoyu are enjoying an intimate game of Go, and Baoyu spies upon them for some time before announcing his presence. But his initial assumption that she was napping shows how sleep can es­ tablish privacy. Again, we see the privacy enforced not by any con­ trol on the part of the one enjoying privacy. Xichun has not done anything intentionally to create the impression she is sleeping; sepa­

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ration, if not privacy, are effected by Baoyu’s assumption she was sleeping. Whether genuine or feigned, professed desire for sleep can be used as a mechanism of separation to effect privacy. For example, when Baoyu is in the middle of a conversation with Zijuan, Lan and Huan are announced. Because he wants to continue his conversation with­ out interruption, Baoyu says, “Tell them it’s very kind of them, … but not to come in here, because I’ve only just gone to sleep” (3.57.101; 906). This polite deception works because everyone in­ volved shares the same assumption about sleep; Baoyu has main­ tained the privacy of his conversation with Zijuan, allowing it to continue, by using the professed desire to sleep as a mechanism of separation. Two thematically related scenes suggest that talking in one’s sleep might be considered private, and that sleep (real or feigned) works as a mechanism of control to enforce this privacy. In the first of these scenes, when Daiyu peeps through Baoyu’s window and sees him lying fast asleep, Baochai embroidering (mandarin ducks and lotuses on a pinafore for him) at his side, she ducks away and stifles her laughter. After Daiyu has called Xiangyun over for a look and they both leave, Baochai hears Baoyu talking in his sleep about doubt­ ing the marriage affinity of gold and jade and affirming that of stone and plant (2.36.202-203; 598-599). To understand the workings of privacy in this scene, we must first examine the breaches. Neither the presence of Baochai nor that of the maid Xiren she replaces at his bedside is cast as a breach, though they do whisper to keep from waking him. If sleep itself is private here, then we see once again that privacy does not require physical separation from others but depends upon the social relationships involved. One breach occurs with Daiyu’s spying, but the content that her breach points to seems to be less the simple fact of Baoyu sleeping and more the intimacy of his sleeping soundly with Baochai sitting by his side. Daiyu leaves and does not overhear Baoyu talking in his sleep; Baochai does. Baoyu’s speech (and indeed the whole scene) carries thematic freight that interferes with relying upon this instance for representations of norms of behaviour; concealment/awareness alone muddies the question of whether Baochai’s overhearing Baoyu’s sleep talk con­ stitutes a breach. We might say talking in one’s sleep is itself a mechanism of inadvertent control that establishes the content or message of speech as protected by the very deed of revealing it. In

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other words, we might read sleep talk in this instance as performative of divulgement. Even inadvertent divulgement retroactively creates secrecy or concealment, if not privacy. We see Daiyu retroactively establish privacy, or attempt to reas­ sert privacy, by feigning sleep in a related scene. Even though this representation of breached privacy, like the instance above, is the­ matically important (depicting the conflicting desires of both char­ acters about revealing or concealing their feelings for each other), the pretence of sleep still works as a mechanism of control. Baoyu, outside Daiyu’s window, overhears her murmuring the line from Xi xiang ji, “Each day in a drowsy waking dream of love”, and then sees her “lying on her bed, stretching herself and yawning luxuriously. He laughed: ‘Why “each day in a drowsy waking dream of love”?’ Daiyu realised that she had been caught off her guard. She covered her burning face with her sleeve, and turning towards the wall, pre­ tended to be asleep” (1.26.516; 452-453). Once Daiyu realises she has been overheard, she pretends to have been sleeping in order to re-establish the privacy Baoyu breached, for if she had been sleep­ ing, then her murmuring would have been sleep talk. Although almost immediately afterwards Daiyu shows herself to be awake, thus undermining the plausibility of her own ruse of sleep, she denies having said anything. Both Daiyu’s pretence of sleep, however un­ successful, and her equally unsuccessful denial are attempts to re­ gain control over a certain boundary and its content by implicitly casting Baoyu’s intrusion as a breach of her privacy. This next instance shows a similar retroactive assertion of privacy. Daiyu attempts to regain control of a breached boundary by say­ ing, “I want to go to bed now. Please go now. Come again tomor­ row” (2.45.402; 732-733), right after Baoyu has snatched up and read one of her poems, and she has grabbed it back and burned it. Daiyu’s claim to want to go to bed, on the heels of the (real or feigned sense of) breach of the privacy of her poem, performs an unassailable (if ineffectual) reassertion of her privacy. Here, whether or not Daiyu actually intends to sleep, her claim works the same way as Baoyu’s polite fib to Lan and Huan in that it shows again how shared as­ sumptions about sleep make it a mechanism of privacy. Like groom­ ing and urination, sleep can also be used as a mechanism to protect another kind of privacy; here Daiyu’s professed desire to sleep works like Ping’er’s rebuke to the maid who intruded upon Tanchun when

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she was washing, or like Xifeng’s insistence that Baoyu let Baochai comb her hair without him watching. Even when the pretence of sleep is even more transparent than the one in Daiyu’s drowsy waking dream of love, it still works to assert privacy. Consider, for example, the long and complex scene, involving much spying and eavesdropping, which depicts Yuanyang’s predicament over Jia She’s desire to take her as a concubine. When Yuanyang “realised that Baoyu must have heard everything that had been said, [she] lay face downwards on the rock and pretended to be asleep. Baoyu laughed at her and gave her a little prod…” (2.46.419; 744). While feigned sleep here also expresses shame or embarrassment, Baoyu’s breach means Yuanyang’s loss of control over who has access to information about her. Yuanyang’s pretence of sleep here represents an effort to assert privacy, and sleep works as a mechanism of privacy, however ineffectual. In the following passage, Xifeng also pretends to be resting as a mechanism of control to reassert privacy, or to establish privacy retroactively. Daiyu, Yuanyang and Xifeng all feign sleep or rest even when the breacher of their privacy knows the truth. This scene also provides the opportunity to return to the issue of privacy content, and particularly the question of whether breaching behaviour itself should be considered private. [Xiren/Aroma] continued on her way then, out of the Garden and round to Xifeng’s place. As she entered the courtyard, she could hear the sound of Xifeng’s raised voice coming from inside the house. “It’s monstrous! Treating me like a criminal, after all I’ve had to put up with in this place!” Whatever the background of this remark might be, it was obvious to Aroma that this would be an extremely inopportune moment to go in; and yet it was already too late for her to turn back. The best she could do was to advertise her presence. She deliberately made a heavier noise with her feet and called out to Patience [Ping’er] through the window. Patience came hurrying out to welcome her. “Is Mrs. Lian in?” Aroma asked her. “Is she quite better yet?” By now she was inside the house; but Xifeng had already had time to get up on the couch and pretend that she had been lying down. She rose to her feet as Aroma entered. (3.67.322; 1057)

These three instances of retroactive mechanisms of privacy all show sleep or rest as a mechanism of privacy, yet the basis for control in these uses of the mechanism does not rest entirely in the shared assumption that sleep should not be disturbed. Another shared as­

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sumption about proper social behaviour contributes to the basis of control in Xifeng’s ruse as a mechanism of privacy. Xifeng seems to be saying to Xiren, “If you catch me doing something you shouldn’t have noticed (because I shouldn’t have been doing it), and I point this out to you by pretending, however ineffectually, that I wasn’t doing what you caught me doing, but rather resting (something else you know you shouldn’t be disrupting), then you have an obliga­ tion to join me in pretending that you didn’t catch me doing what you shouldn’t have noticed, or, at the least, you are obligated to refrain from calling my attention to the fact that you noticed some­ thing you shouldn’t have. Furthermore, it goes without saying that you are obligated to refrain from calling anyone else’s attention to this.” Here we see a shared assumption not about sleep but rather about the way to behave in embarrassing situations. The rules for behaviour in these circumstances adapt to the per­ sonalities of and the particular social relationship between the par­ ties involved. As maid to another master, Xiren seems obligated to participate in Xifeng’s pretence, though perhaps her participation is encouraged by her knowledge of Xifeng’s personality; indeed, Xiren’s own effort to pretend in the first place that she is not breach­ ing Xifeng’s privacy is motivated by a desire to avoid the conse­ quences she can imagine arising from Xifeng’s personality. Baoyu, as a master even to his grandmother’s principal maid, is certainly under no obligation to indulge Yuanyang’s pretence of napping on the rock, though we must consider the extent to which his own personality might trump the class and gender norms of this social relationship. Neither is Baoyu under any obligation to indulge Daiyu’s pretence of sleep in her drowsy waking dream, and beyond the moment, Daiyu does not insist that he do so. Baochai’s behaviour with the maids in the pavilion (see above), on the other hand, is curious because as mistress (even to another master’s maids) she is surely not bound by all the tacit rules gov­ erning the interaction between Xifeng and Xiren, yet the terms are similar. Baochai says, “If they … see me here, they are going to feel terribly embarrassed … If a girl like that knows that I have over­ heard her doing something she shouldn’t be doing … there’ll be a great deal of trouble and I shall be involved in it” (2.27.27; 465). Baochai is not obligated to protect the maids from embarrassment; she is motivated instead by a desire to protect herself from the consequences of their embarrassment, and she recognises that be­

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ing found out, even by maids, will obligate her to act upon her discovery of their misbehaviour by seeing that they are punished. Baochai therefore conceals her breach of the maids’ privacy from them. The mechanism of concealment she uses is disguise; she con­ ceals her breach by disguising it as a perfectly innocent intrusion to look for Miss Lin. The mechanism of disguise is outright deception: Miss Lin last we saw her was at home with Baoyu. Furthermore, Baochai makes this deception far more elaborate than necessary; surely this draws our attention to excessive exertion of control, even if all these finer mechanisms of control do not necessarily diagnose her breach itself as private. Perhaps the excessive elaboration of Baochai’s deception is better explained by Baochai’s need to divert herself from her own unease, or even unconscious guilt, over in­ tentional eavesdropping. The guilty maids also conceal their private conversation, by disguising it as open in a way that also allows them to strengthen their control against breach by affording them better surveillance. Though Xiren, like Baochai, announces her presence when it becomes apparent that it will constitute a breach, she protects the breach with quite different mechanisms of control. She wishes to conceal her breach, but knows it is too late. Because she cannot conceal it she does not disguise it, perhaps because her eavesdrop­ ping was unintentional. Paradoxically, the only way to protect this inadvertent breach is to exaggerate it, rather than conceal it, though perhaps we might also consider exaggeration a mode of disguise like the one the maids used with Baochai above. This exaggeration is a way for Xiren to say to Xifeng, “I’ve accidentally breached your privacy, but I’m giving you ample warning so that you can exert control to restore it.” By giving control of the breached boundary back to Xifeng, Xiren has also exerted control to protect the breach she has committed. Conclusions The breach diagnostic points to states or practices that are defined in part by an inherent vulnerability to rupture, diminution or loss: privacy, concealment, secrecy and separation. Concealment, secrecy and separation, as mechanisms of control, can produce privacy, sometimes through finer mechanisms of control such as deception, denial and disguise. More than one of these mechanisms might

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coexist in privacy, but these mechanisms of control do not neces­ sarily always produce privacy. Instances of breach point to mecha­ nisms of control that may or not produce privacy, but breaches do show the contests of control that can occur in creating, maintain­ ing or restoring privacy. Neither does the breach diagnostic in it­ self necessarily identify privacy content; protected content might be both private and concealed, for instance, but it also might be sim­ ply concealed. I have called all the instances discussed in this essay privacy as shorthand for privacy or something like it, something that also employs mechanisms of control to protect whatever content the agent desires to protect. I have intentionally described the content of privacy in this vague and circular way because I have found no explanation more satisfactory at this early stage of investigation into Chinese concepts of privacy. Modern Western theories of privacy are necessarily motivated by and implicated in legal and political debates with very high stakes. Inness defines privacy in the US as “the state of possessing control over a realm of intimate decisions, which includes decisions about intimate access, intimate information, and intimate actions.” Inti­ macy, she goes on to say, “is a product of an agent’s love, liking, and care for others. To claim that an act, action, or activity is in­ timate is to claim that it draws its meaning and value for the agent from her love, liking, and care.”5 I can follow Inness only so far as to agree that privacy is the state of possessing control over an inti­ mate realm. However, Inness’s definition of intimacy does not even accord with the way I as an American understand privacy in my own life. Surely many Americans desire privacy in order to control a realm that has far more to do with caring about themselves than caring about others. What I desire when I want to stop commercial telephone calls at home must surely be considered privacy. When I sing in the shower, it is not because I care for others but because the bathroom acoustics are the best in the house, yet surely the state I would want for singing in the shower is privacy. However, even with the issue of definitions unresolved, the in­ stances examined in this paper bring representations of privacy in a famous Chinese novel into focus. We have seen that something that can be private is not necessarily always private. For a fuller 5

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Inness, p. 140.

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picture, instances of comparable content not breached should be considered alongside those that are breached, though given how privacy is so heavily dependent upon context, this would probably be impossible using fiction. We have seen that privacy content in one context can also work as a mechanism of privacy in another, such that it is impossible to strictly categorise any behaviour as ei­ ther content or mechanism of privacy. Perhaps most striking to the English reader is the relationship between sleep and privacy depicted in this novel. We have also seen the ways privacy depends upon the particu­ lars of context, personality and inflections of status and gender in the social relationships between the characters involved in privacy; though not shown in this study, age can easily be added to this list. Many of the examples here have shown retroactive privacy, the mechanisms of control of which arise only in response to a breach; these instances show in sharp relief the social and psychological negotiations of control involved in the reassertion or restoration of privacy. We have seen brief consideration of the questions of whether privacy can exist when no one employs mechanisms of control to effect it, or how to understand mechanisms of control in instances of incidental privacy. Finally, we must also consider the possibility of kinds of privacy in this novel and in Chinese culture that escape such designation because the mechanisms of their control defy breach, or because negotiations of control take place in unfamiliar ways, or because protected content is something beyond expecta­ tion.

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PART III

INSCRIBING PRIVACY

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STUDYING THE PRIVATE SPHERE OF THE ANCIENT CHINESE NOBILITY THROUGH THE INSCRIPTIONS ON BRONZE RITUAL VESSELS*

Maria Khayutina

The question of whether people had a private life in premodern times has been the subject of debate for many years. Scholars of privacy in all regions and periods have to deal with a lack of docu­ mentation as well as methodological and epistemological difficul­ ties. A project on the history of private life conducted by the Institute of General History (Moscow) of the Russian Academy of Sciences has attempted to overcome such problems through multi­ disciplinary and cross-cultural approaches.1 Researchers taking part in the project have mostly concentrated on the study of represen­ tations, ethical values and behavioural models related to the sphere of private life, adopting what may be called a case history meth­ odology to distinguish investigative paradigm from the “history of mentalities” with its tendency to generalisations.2 That is, the re­ searchers have directed their attention not to what was common and typical but to whatever specific cases of privacy, if any, could be discovered in the sources available. In Yuri Bessmertny’s words, this methodology is based on the “perception of human society as an incompletely integrated system” which is able to contain “non­ * I would like to thank the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany) for making possible my participation in the original workshop and the prepara­ tion of this chapter for publication. 1 This project has been led by Yuri L. Bessmertny in co-operation with the Max Planck Institute of Social History in Göttingen since 1994 and has attracted researchers from various institutes within the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University, Russian State Humanities University and other aca­ demic bodies. 2 The name of one of the publications from this project, the almanac Kasus, speaks for itself. The subtitle of this title is “The Individual and Unique in His­ tory” (Kasus: Individual’noe I unikal’noe v istorii, ed. Y.L. Bessmertny and M.A. Boitsov [Moscow: RGGU, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001]). 3 Bessmertny, summary to Chelovek v mire chuvstv. Ocherki po istorii chastnoi zhizni v Evrope I nekotoryh stranah Asii do nachala Novogo vremeni [Man in the world of feel­

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standard situations”.3 Accordingly, private life is regarded as a system that is discrete to a certain extent and has space for indi­ vidual and non-standard behaviour. Special attention is paid to the individual (typically, a male member of the élite; less often women) and the level of his behavioural freedom. Some researchers there­ fore focussed on examples of deviant behaviour and its possible influence on the evolution of ethical norms and behavioural stereo­ types. Nevertheless, a case may be defined as specific only when examined in comparison with the typical. The project researchers consider macro-historical investigation of serial data necessary to understand “what in every society configured the private life into a system”, while the micro-historical method reveals “what con­ travened its integration and allowed an existence of “non-systematic, unique phenomena”.4 A historian of private life has to deal with a subject which is dif­ ficult to define in positive or negative terms. The definition of pri­ vate as opposed to public, as proposed by sociologists, may be valid for modern life but is less suitable for research on premodern his­ tory. The concept of public life is more appropriate to an open, constitutional, democratic modern society (or to the ancient repub­ lics of Greece and Rome), rather than to the authoritarian hierar­ chical societies of the past.5 To avoid misunderstanding, Yuri Bessmertny has suggested that ‘the private’ in premodern societies be considered “a social sphere that both objectively and from the viewpoint of our contemporaries was opposite to the sphere of ser­ vice (irrespective of what kind of service it might be: that to the polis, the state or the ‘golden calf’)”.6 This scheme is not flawless, since ing: essays on the history of private life in Europe and in certain countries of Asia before modern times], ed. Y. L. Bessmertny (Moscow: RGGU, 2000), p. 578. 4 Ibid., p. 20. 5 Jürgen Habermas in his work, dedicated to the genesis of civil society in the European Enlightenment, regards private and public spheres as interdependent. He shows how one aspect of private sphere becomes public, articulating public opinion and addressing governmental structures. Habermas calls it an “authen­ tic” public sphere as different from a “pseudo-public” sphere of governmental structures. Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Cam­ bridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989), pp. 27-31. 6 “The opposition of the two spheres did not always acquire an identical concrete meaning. Yet the ‘unifying’ point here was that relationship in the ‘non­ public’ sphere presupposed not ‘service’ but mutual aid. Not of the least impor­ tance was the fact that there reigned specific emotions uncharacteristic of other spheres of life, feelings like mother’s love, sensuality, sufferings caused by disabil­

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these spheres often partially or even wholly overlapped.7 However, Bessmertny himself has warned that regarding as absolute such dualist opposites as private/public, individual/communal and central/marginal tends to lead to a dead-end.8 Different spheres of social life, such as service, public associations and private relations, were tightly interwoven, and communications between the same persons often included official, public and private aspects simultaneously. The forms and limits of the private sphere varied according to cultural and historical circumstances as well as to the life of the individual, and were perceived and appreciated from different points of view. In Chinese, the semantic variability of the concept private/privacy clearly depends on the relevant discourse. The character si, generally translated into English as private or privacy, had the following meanings in ancient Chinese:9 1. Private, particular, as opposed to gong [communal] (identified with the interests of the state and society as a whole). A servant or an official of someone other than the head of the state. 2. Selfish, partial. In one’s own interests. Without authorisation. 3. Secret, clandestine, private. Illicit, especially used of bribery and smug­ gling. Without witness. 4. Private, particular, proper. Property of private persons or groups (jia si [familial property]. Siren [members of a clan, relatives, friends; ser­ ity of old age, or the loss of near and dear, and so on”. Bessmertny, summary to Chelovek v krugu sem’i. Ocherki po istorii chastnoi zhizni v Evrope do nachala Novogo vremeni [Man within his family circle: essays on the history of private life in Europe be­ fore modern times], ed. Bessmertny (Moscow: RGGU, 1996), p. 356. The substi­ tution of “service” for “mutual aid” as a basic principle of private communication is not satisfactory. Of course, we should not imagine the private sphere as a realm of love and harmony. Hatred, envy and violence belong to this sphere as well. That is true in Bessmertny’s observation that the relatively intensive emotional coloration is characteristic of private aims and actions of any kind, whether they concern one’s personal affections or commercial interests. 7 Theoretically, all forms of human communication in premodern societies may be reduced to the model of service: humans served deities, men served the state, vassals served sovereigns, slaves served owners, peasants served landlords, sons served fathers, wives served husbands, and friends were at the service of each other. Both in private and external spheres the model of service predominated. 8 Bessmertny, “Vydelenie sfery chastnoi zhizni kak istoriograficheskaya i metodologicheskaya problema” [Identification of the sphere of private life as a historiographical and methodological problem] in Bessmertny, Chelovek v krugu sem’i, p. 27. 9 Note that not all of these connotations were inherent in the word si in Western Zhou times (the focus of the present study); some were acquired later.

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5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

maria khayutina vants, belonged to families of great seigneurs. Brother-in-law].10 To love or favour [someone] particularly. To consider [something] as one’s own. One’s everyday clothes. In one’s mind. To urinate. Genitals.11

I have shown the glosses in this order to demonstrate how the con­ tent of the concept si leads from the level of the whole state to the most intimate parts of an individual. At the level of political organisations, from the viewpoint of central power and state ide­ ologists, any socio-political or economical activity maintained apart from or against to the interests of the centralised state, was regarded as private. In this context, si acquired strongly negative connota­ tions. In contrast, in clans (i.e. large social units organised on the basis of kinship), the private sphere consisted of everything related to their affairs, assets, members and subordinates. At this level, si was understood positively. At the level of the individual, any manifestation of immediate interhuman communication within a certain socio-communicational structure could be regarded as private. This was especially true of communications which extended beyond or contradicted institutio­ nalised norms and behavioural patterns, and characterised by rela­ tively intensive emotions. Finally, bodily functions and states of mind could also be classified as private. Positive or negative evaluation depended on particular cases. In short, the private sphere in premodern societies was not a separate sector, wholly removed from communal life. Multiple pri­ 10 A term used by women to refer to a sister’s husband. In ancient China, a woman became a member of her husband’s clan after her marriage, losing her membership in her natal family. When sisters marry men from different clans, they do not have any formal grounds for regarding each other’s kin by marriage as relatives. Thus their relations to each other’s husbands come in the category of si. 11 This glossary is based on the following dictionaries: Gu hanyu da cidian [Great dictionary of the ancient Chinese language] (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe, 1999), p. 2086; F.S. Couvreur, Dictionnaire classique de la langue chinoise (Sien-Hsien: Imprimerie de la mission catholique, 1930), p. 654; Herbert A. Giles, Chinese-English Dictionary, vol. 2, second ed. (Leyden: Brill, 1912), p. 1276, No. 10308; Hanyu da cidian [Great dictionary of the Chinese language], vol. 2 (Shanghai: Shanghai jiaotung daxue chubanshe, 1993-95), p. 2405.

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vate spheres existed at various levels with more or less definable (albeit alterable and permeable) boundaries.12 However, these pri­ vate spheres were characterised on every level by fractionality and limited access from outside. The most immediate manifestation of private communication may be observed in familial structures, whether in a nuclear family or in a clan. Nevertheless the concepts ‘familial’ and ‘private’ are not identical, since many sides of familial life, including childbirth, education, marriage, funerals, and domestic economy, belong to the public sphere as well. In the first stage of the Moscow project on private life (1994-96), researchers investigated familial life in premodern societies with special attention to the relationships be­ tween couples and between parents and children. The results of this research were published in 1996 under the title Man within his Fam­ ily Circle.13 Given that the private sphere of inter-human communi­ cation in premodern times was not limited to familial space, the investigation since 1997 has been widened to cover non-relative intimates (e.g. friends, companions, neighbours); at the same time, it also looks more closely at the inner life of the individual person.14 A second book, Man in the World of Feeling, was prepared for publi­ cation in 1999.15 Considering the scarcity of transparently private documents, such as personal letters and diaries, the project researchers accepted all sources that were able to shed light on private life in premodern 12 Kurt Lewin proposed a topological distinction between more “peripheral” and “central” regions of personality. The central regions may be defined as inti­ mate, personal regions, in which the individual is more sensitive than in periph­ eral regions. Greater accessibility and lesser resistance against external interactions characterise the peripheral layers. “Then the accessibility of different regions is regarded not from the point of view of a second individual, but of a group, the domain of the displayed outward, communal, ‘public’ life will be associated with more peripheral regions, while the domain of the private life – with the more central ones.” Lewin, “Sozialpsychologische Unterschiede zwischen den Vereinigten Staaten und Deutschland”, in Die Lösung sozialer Konflikte (Bad Nauheim, 1953), p. 49. 13 Chelovek v krugu sem’i. 14 It was at this stage that I joined the project and the following year contrib­ uted to the second volume. See M. S. Khayutina, “Druziya I gosti v drevnem Kitae (Epoha Zapadnogo Zhou period Chunqiu. XI-V vv. do n. e)” [Friends and guests in Early China (Western Zhou—Chunqiu epochs, the eleventh to fifth centuries BC)], in Chelovek v mire chuvstv, pp. 221-42. 15 It appeared one year later because of technical difficulties (see Chelovek v mire chuvstv).

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times. These included edited texts of various kinds, genealogies, population registers, court protocols, notarial acts and epitaphs. My contribution to the second stage of the project was a study based on epigraphic and edited sources, including inscriptions on ritual bronze vessels and bells, and the Shi jing [The book of poetry]. Below I will try to substantiate the reliability of one of these sources (bronze ritual objects) for the study of the private sphere, and attempt to reveal some traces of privacy representations in Western Zhou (1056/ 45/40-771 BC) society. Specifically, I am concerned with ancient Chinese aristocratic clans and, as far as it is possible, the private relations and ideas of their individual representatives.16 The main texts are two inscriptions composed by an official from the late Western Zhou. The ancient Chinese aristocracy used special bronze vessels (see Fig. 1) for offering sacrificial food and wine to ancestral spirits, as well as bronze bells for playing music during the ceremonies.17 The bronze artefacts often have inscriptions [jinwen], whose content, com­ position, length and other features are modified over time. These inscriptions, originating not from the state archives but from the treasuries of aristocratic clans from different regions of the coun­ try, are one of the very few kinds of immediate, authentic, unedited documents that are available for the study of the pre-Warring States period, i.e., from the Shang dynasty to the Spring and Autumn period (16th century BC to 481 BC). Several bronze vessels dating from this period have inscriptions which show that they were cast at the order of a person named Ke. 16

There is no agreement in the English-language literature on the terminol­ ogy for designating the different types of kinship organisation. In this paper the clan will be described according to the terminology proposed by G. P. Murdock, as different from the sib as a consanguineal group. See Murdock, Social Structure (New York: Free Press, 1965), p. 66-68. In defining the clan itself I will follow M. V. Kryukov’s understanding of ancient Chinese clan [zongzu] as a “group of hi­ erarchically subordinated families, descending from a common eponymous an­ cestor”. See Kryukov, Formy social’noi organizacii drevnih kitaicev [Forms of the social organization of the ancient Chinese] (Moscow: Nauka, 1967). English summary “Sib and Clan in Ancient China”, p. 200). Unlike the sib, the clan included both consanguineal and affinal relatives. A female lost her membership in her father’s clan after marriage and obtained a new one in her husband’s clan, while her membership in the native patrisib remained intact. Both structures, patrisib xing and patriclan zongzu, coexisted in Zhou China. 17 The Zhou aristocracy inherited this ritual practice in the pre-dynastic pe­ riod from the Shang.

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Fig. 1. Ke’s small tripod

It is not clear whether these objects belonged to a single person18 or to three different people of the same name.19 However, it is evident that the owner of three of them was a certain Ke who held the office of shanfu in the royal administration. A shanfu served the king per­ sonally, “taking out and bringing in” royal commands for adminis­ trative or military purposes.20 H. G. Creel notes that the shanfu was listed fourth among the chief royal officers in two poems in the Shi jing.21 18 See Guo Moruo, Shi Ke xu ming kaoshu [Investigation of the inscription on the shi Ke’s xu-container] (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1962), p. 10. 19 A personal name Ke (“Mighty”) could be assumed by different persons. See Li Xueqin, Xia Shang Zhou niandai zalun [Assorted articles on the chronology of Xia, Shang and Zhou] (Shenyang: Liaoning daxue chubanshe, 1999), pp. 151-55. 20 See K.V. Vasil’ev, Istoki kitaiskoi civilizacii [The sources of Chinese civilisation] (Moscow: Vostochnaya literatura, 1998), p. 133. 21 See H. G. Creel, The Origins of Statecraft in China: The Western Zhou Empire (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1970), p. 120. These are poems 193 and 258, composed probably quite soon after the end of the reign of King Li, whom our shanfu Ke served. The first one traditionally after Zheng Xuan’s com­ mentary was attributed to the time of King Li himself. However, upon Legge’s astronomical argument, it was composed under the reign of King You (781-771 BC) (See James Legge, The She King: The Chinese Classics, 1872, repr. Hong Kong University Press, 1960, vol. 4, p. 320). Poem No. 258 traditionally is attributed to the reign of King You’s father King Xuan (827/25-782), although the drought, to which the text is referring, could happen even in the last years of King Li’s reign (Legge, p. 528). This chronology is rather uncertain, and both texts may be

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Which of the Zhou kings Ke served remains a subject of discus­ sion. In the inscription on a bronze ritual vessel known as the Da Ke ding [great Ke’s tripod], shanfu Ke mentioned as his zu [a term referring to any male ancestor beyond one’s father] Shi Huafu who served King Gong (917/15-900 BC). If the character zu is understood as meaning grandfather, Ke would have held office some thirty years after King Gong’s reign. Ke is also thought to have served during the reign of King Xiao (872-866 BC), King Yi (865-858 BC) or King Li (857-842/28 BC).22 Most scholars prefer the last of these reigns, assuming that from the archaeological point of view the Da Ke ding is a late-middle Western Zhou vessel. However, the Xiao Ke ding vessel is dated the 23rd year of a reign period, but King Li did not hold the throne for this length of time.23 The most plausible date for shanfu Ke’s inscription, therefore, is the reign of King Xuan (827/25-782).24 An excerpt from the inscription on the Da Ke ding reads as follows:25 The king was in [the capital] Zongzhou. At sunrise he entered the Muwang temple and took his place. Ji, accompanying shanfu Ke, en­ tered the gate and stopped at the Middle Yard facing north. The king ordered the yinshi [official title]26 to write down an order to shanfu Ke. The king said thus: “Ke! Formerly I charged you to execute my or­ ders. Now I reward you for your service. I bestow on you [fields and men in 8 different locations; M. K.]. Respectfully use them mornings and evenings for the service. Do not dare to disregard my orders.” of even later provenance. Both poems show that shanfu have a very high status in the state hierarchy in late Western Zhou period. 22 See Shanghai bowuguan, Shang Zhou qingtongqi mingwen xuan 3 [Shanghai Mu­ seum, “Selection of inscriptions on the Shang and Zhou bronze vessels”, part 3] (Beijing: Wenwu, 1988), p. 216; Chen Mengjia, Xi Zhou niandai kao [Study of Western Zhou chronology] (Shanghai: Shangwu, 1955), p. 33; Guo Moruo, Shi Ke xu ming kaoshu pp. 9-10; Kryukov, Ritual’naja kommunikacija v drevnem Kitae [Ritual communication in ancient China] (Moscow: Medea Enterprises Co., 1997), p. 284; Ulrich Lau, „Quellenstudien zur Landvergabe und Bodenübertragung in der westlichen Zhou-Dynastie (1045? – 771 v. Chr.). Sankt Augustin, Germany: Monu­ menta Serica, 1999, p. 246; D. Nivison, “Fully Dated Western Zhou Bronze Inscriptions”, http://www.stanford.edu/~dnivison/WZBronzes.html, 1997. 23 He fled into exile in Zhi, while a certain Gong He usurped the Zhou throne. It is hardly believable that King Li could give audiences in the Zhou capital and distribute lands and other goods while hiding in Zhi. 24 I am grateful to David S. Nivison for his most recent opinion on the dat­ ing of Ke’s vessels (email 15 October 2001). 25 Bronze objects are usually identified by the names of their casters (in this case, Ke) and the type of object (ding and gui: tripods; pan: plates; he: wine vases; zhong and goudiao: bells). When a caster had more than one object of the same type, the objects are differentiated by size (da: large or xiao: small). 26 On the interpretation of yinshi title see below.

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Ke bowed and thanked the Son of Heaven for his beneficence. He used it to make a treasured vessel in honour of his enlightened ances­ tor Shi Huafu. Ke will gain longevity for ten thousands years without limit. Sons and grandsons will use [the vessel] as a treasure.27

This text, like most of similar bronze inscriptions of the time, exists at the interface of two spaces: service to the state, and the private life of an aristocratic clan. A standard jinwen opens with a report on the events leading up to the casting of the vessel (i.e. military cam­ paigns, civil service or ritual actions in which the caster took part, resulting in an audience with the king and receiving gifts from the king), then refers to the vessel’s manufacture, and ends with a dedication.28 In the dedication, the caster indicates the ancestor for whom the vessel is intended and specifies the blessings expected from its ritual use. Lothar von Falkenhausen has interpreted this structure as a three-part chronological composition encompassing the past, the present and the future.29 It may also be seen as a transition from external events to internal goals, or from a public to a private space, where the casting of a bronze object may be regarded as a fulcrum between these two spaces (see Fig. 2). EXTERNAL (service) ————>

————> Service In the public interests; increases prestige of the clan.

Donation Increases prestige of the clan; pleases the ancestors.

————> Vessel Informs the ancestors about the merits of clansmen.

————> Sacrifice Conveys the prayers of clansmen to the ancestors.

Happiness Final goal of public activity and ritual practice INTERNAL (private)

Fig. 2. From “external” towards “internal” 27 Guo Moruo, Liang Zhou jinwenci daxi [Great corpus of Western and Eastern Zhou bronze inscriptions vol. 7] (Beijing, 1957), pp. 121-22. 28 For the structure of bronze inscriptions see Edward L. Shaughnessy, Sources of Western Zhou History: Inscribed Bronze Vessels (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), pp. 73-85; Lothar von Falkenhausen, “Issues in Western Zhou Studies: A Review Article”, Early China 18 (1993): pp. 152-67; Kryukov, Ritual’naja kommunikacija, pp. 101-2. 29 Falkenhausen, op. cit., pp. 152-61.

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How can we determine what had priority in the system of values manifested through these bronze inscriptions: external or internal, public service or private sphere? Although the bronze inscriptions have not previously been assessed explicitly on the basis of the di­ chotomy between public and private spheres, different approaches to their nature and functions implicitly presuppose different levels of their privatisation. Edward Shaughnessy regards jinwen as archival documents in­ tended to commemorate the deeds and merits of their owners and their ancestors for later generations.30 This approach supposes the dominance of public over private with respect to external events, i.e. the achievements in state service are endowed with substantive value, and the text appears to merely serve their reflection. The message to sons and grandsons in this context appears to be a pre­ scription to commemorate the glorious history of the clan, with consequent connotations of loyalty to the ruling house. The notifi­ cation of a gift appears to be slightly more private. However, judg­ ing from the inscription on the Da Ke ding as well as from many other texts, the gifts should “be used for service”.31 Only the desire to obtain longevity looks indisputably private, and the question is then why it occurs in such a non-private context. Vassili M. Kryukov and Lothar von Falkenhausen challenge this documentary approach.32 They regard jinwen as essentially religious documents, a means of sacred communication between clansmen and their ancestral spirits. The addressees of the message thus were not their respectful and curious sons and grandsons but the ances­ tors themselves. This interpretation throws a different light on the relationship between public and private. Ancestral worship held the central place in the religious life of the ancient Chinese. These powerful deities on whom the clansmen’s very lives depended were to a high degree private, as every clan had its own patrons. Based on the reciprocal exchange, it supposed offering and performing appropriate ceremonies by the descendants 30

Shaughnessy, Sources, pp. 175-82. Kryukov defined their nature as “institutional”: see Ritual’naya kommunikaciya, pp. 137-91. 32 See Kryukov, “Dary zemnye I nebesnye (k simvolike arhaicheskogo rituala v rannezhouskom Kitae)” [Earthly and heavenly gifts (on the symbolism of ar­ chaic ritual in Early Zhou China)] in Etika I ritual v tradicionnom Kitae [Ethics and ritual in traditional China] (Moscow: Vostochnaya literatura, 1988) and Falkenhausen, op. cit., p. 146. 31

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and providing of sacral patronage in reward. Only authorised us­ ers, i.e. the members of a clan,33 could conduct communication with the ancestors. Bronze, often characterised in the inscriptions as ji jin [blessed/ fortunate/ happy metal] (i.e. a sacred material), served as a mediator in this sacred communication, while the inscriptions were supplementary means to facilitate and control it.34 The prescription to use the sacred objects “as treasure”, ubiqui­ tous in bronze inscriptions, meant precisely their use in sacrifices. The character bao [treasure] consists of the graphs yu [nephrite] and bei [cowry] under a roof,35 hence bao’s value first as sacred and only secondarily as monetary. Nephrite and cowries, like bronze, were believed to be sacred materials. The determinative “roof” plausibly represents the roof of the ancestral temple where the treasure was stored. At the same time, as Vassili Kryukov has noticed, it carries a supplementary nuance of “concealment”.36 A synonym of bao in early Zhou inscriptions was the homonymic term bao [to safeguard, to secure]. These terms were interchangeable in referring to the bronze vessels.37 The need to protect any object against any unde­ sirable interactions automatically drew a line between those who could access it freely and those whose access could lead to harmful consequences. The bronzes were concealed from free public access, and their sacrificial use required authorisation from both living and dead users within a particular clan, although limited access by in­ vitation was allowed to some of the clan’s associates from the late Western Zhou period on.38 In this respect, the sacred bronzes should be regarded as the clan’s private belongings. 33

“The Spirits of dead do not enjoy the sacrifices of these who are not of their kindred, and … people only sacrifice to those who were of the same ancestry as themselves” (Legge, The Ch’un Ts’ew with the Tso Chuen: The Chinese Classics, 1872, repr. Hong Kong University Press, 1960, vol. 5, p. 157). 34 Falkenhausen, op. cit., p. 167; Kryukov, Tekst i ritual v drevnem Kitae [Text and ritual in ancient China] (habilitation thesis, Moscow, 1997), pp. 371-75. 35 A phonetic fou forms the fourth part of the character. 36 See Kryukov, Tekst i ritual. Opyt interpretacii drevnekitaiskoi epigrafiki epohi YinZhou [Text and ritual: an essay of interpretation of ancient Chinese epigraphy of Yin-Zhou epoch] (Moscow: Pamyatniki istoricheskoi mysli, 2000), pp. 22-23. Kryukov compares the term bao with a corresponding term in the Russian sokrovisctshe, meaning a treasure that has to be concealed. 37 Ibid., pp. 22-23. 38 Cf. Khayutina, “Sacred Space of an Aristocratic Clan in Ancient China under Transformations (An Attempt of Interpretation)” (Paper presented at the International Workshop “Creating and Representing Sacred Spaces”, Ostasiatisches Seminar der Universität Göttingen, June-July 2000 [proceedings in press]).

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The construction of sacrificial vessels was itself meaningful, es­ pecially the usual placement of the inscriptions on the inner surface. This does not suggest that vessels’ sacred entrails needed protection from those who gathered around them, since the content of the texts, commemorating the glorious deeds of the ancestors and the own­ ers themselves and offering standard prayers, was usually well-known to the users. Further, since only authorised clan members attended the ceremonies, the sacred space was already protected from strang­ ers or uninitiated observers. The interiorisation was due to the belief that the sacred message was transmitted to the spirits by contact with sacrificial food. That is, communication proceeded inside the medium, and therefore its internal space was functionally more valuable. The evolution of the external decoration of vessels from the highly elabo­ rated Shang-style vessels towards standardisation and simplification through the Western Zhou and Spring and Autumn periods sup­ poses the decrease of the functional abilities of their external sur­ face in favour of the inner space. The final goal of the sacred communication between living and dead was happiness in general. Mu-chou Poo has called the religion of ancient China “a religion of personal welfare”.39 This definition may be accepted for the pre-Warring States periods with one res­ ervation. “Personal” suggests the domination of individual welfare over that of the family or clan. However, the holders of bronze vessels (the heads of clans or their lesser segments) performed rituals be­ fore the ancestors on behalf of the whole clan body, or at least of the family. Thus the happiness obtained as a result of the sacrifices was to be distributed among all its living members and expanded further to future generations of sons and grandsons. Therefore, the religion of ancient China could be more precisely defined as a re­ ligion of private welfare where privacy is located not in the indi­ vidual but in the family or clan. The blessings expected from the ancestral spirits that are listed in the dedications usually consist of private matters relating to the vessel’s owner and the internal interests of his clan, such as health, longevity and multiple progeny. Even wishes for success in office for himself or his descendants show a desire for personal and corpo­ rate benefits rather than the idea of selfless service. In an inscrip­ 39 Mu-chou Poo, In Search of Personal Welfare; A View of Ancient Chinese Religion (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), p. 210.

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tion on another vessel known as Ke xu, shanfu Ke applied to his ancestors for all of these benefits: Ke will use the vessel mornings and evenings, sacrificing to his great ancestors and his deceased father. The great ancestors and the deceased father will bless Ke with much happiness, longevity and eternal life, and service to the Son of Heaven. Ke will be bestowed [by the king] with favours without limit. For ten thousand years Ke’s sons and grand­ sons will use [the vessel] as treasure.40

Since all areas of an élite man’s life in ancient China depended on his position in the state hierarchy, it is little wonder that achieve­ ments in state service constituted one of his main private interests. Besides, not only did the well-being of the clansmen depend on the favour of the sovereigns or lesser seniors, it was also an important link in the chain of sacred communication between men and dei­ fied ancestors. Success in public office, despite its external nature, depended to a high degree on one’s ability to copy the model of one’s “enlightened progenitors”, giving devoted service to one’s ancestors and receiving ancestral rewards. In this context, the achievements of men in state service as well as their moral self-improvement were regarded as deeds which pleased the ancestral spirits and were there­ fore carefully reported in the inscriptions as acts of filial piety.41 The report on external events was dropped from the standard composition of jinwen in the Spring and Autumn period. From this time on, the jinwen often consisted of the dedication alone, suggest­ ing that the authors now concentrated on the internal life of their clans. What is unusual in the case of shanfu Ke is his decision to express in his dedication on the xu vessel his feelings towards some of his associates: The king ordered the yinshi’s assistant [you] scribe [shi ] Yin to register fields and men conferred on shanfu Ke. Ke … dared to respond to the incomparably bounteous royal beneficence by making a travelling xu. [He will] use it to make offers [i.e. at a feast] to the shiyin, friends [pengyou], and relatives by marriage [hungou].42

Ke is one of the very few of his contemporaries to mention in his 40

Ke xu, in Guo, Liang Zhou jinwen vol. 8, p. 123. It does not mean that the activity of men in the public sphere was subor­ dinate to the service to the spirits; it appears secondary only in the context of ancestral worship. 42 Guo, Liang Zhou jinwen, vol. 8, p. 123. 41

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dedication people who are not members of his clan and who have no right to take part in the sacred communication with the clan’s ancestors. However, the term pengyou in Western Zhou apparently defined kin relatives, i.e. members of a clan.43 As follows from the analysis of other contemporary inscriptions, pengyou were the closest associ­ ates of an élite male of this period. Since they took part in clan sacrifices, the act of using the sacrificial vessel for a feast with pengyou accorded with existing ritual norms. The reference to hungou, the relatives of women married to the clansmen who were not them­ selves members of the clan and could not sacrifice to its ancestors, is more unexpected. Nevertheless they could probably attend the ceremonies as guests, since ritual hospitality may be traced back to late Western Zhou. In any case, including reference to outsiders (hungou being the more acceptable in this category) in the dedica­ tion on a bronze vessel was a matter of Ke’s own choice. The most unusual feature of the dedication is its reference to the shiyin. He was probably the same official as the above-mentioned yinshi. The yinshi, who executed the king’s orders to transfer the lands to shanfu Ke was also mentioned in the inscription on the Da Ke ding. Ke’s own official status was high, and it is unlikely that he was the yinshi’s subordinate (although dedications to patrons occur in jinwen from time to time). This suggests that Ke probably had some kind of private relationship with the officer. The title yinshi reads literally as “a [man] from the Yin clan”, or “Mister Yin”. Yin was an official title in the Shang-Yin times, as witnessed from the oracle bone inscriptions from this period.44 The early Western Zhou chapters of the Shangshu [Book of documents] mention bai yin [hundred administrators, i.e. various governors].45 However, some of the texts of the Shi jing refer to persons with Yin being their clan name. Poem 191, “Ji nan shan”, addressed to Grand­ master Yin, begins as follows: Lofty is that southern hill. With its masses of rocks! 43

Khayutina, “Druziya I gosti v drevnem Kitae”, p. 226. See Chen Mengjia, Yinxu buci zongshu [Conjoined interpretations of the oracle texts from the ruins of Yin capital] (Beijing: Kexue chubanshe, 1956), pp. 517­ 18. 45 See The Book of Documents [Shu-ching], xxii, trans. Bernard Karlgren (Stockholm: Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities [Östasiatiska Samlingarna], 1950), p. 70. 44

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Awe-inspiring are you, O [Grand]-master Yin, And the people all look at you!46

While the first stanza addresses this person as shi Yin, the third one calls him Yin-shi dashi as in the Ke xu inscription: The Grand-master Yin Is the foundation of our Chow, And the balance of the State is in his hands.47

The Yin clan and its members are mentioned in the Zuo zhuan [Zuo annals], covering the events of the Spring and Autumn period (770­ 453 BC). As was not uncommon at this time, the name of an he­ reditary office seems to have been transformed into a family name.48 The Yin, occupying different positions of zuoce49 and neishi,50 or named without title as Yin-shi or simply Yin, are mentioned in a number of bronze inscriptions throughout the reigns of several Zhou kings. Like other officials in the same positions, they took part in the investiture ceremonies and other receptions of Zhou aristocrats by the kings.51 They recorded on bamboo strips the king’s orders concerning assignments to positions, registration of land possessions and distribution of other goods. The other official mentioned in the Ke xu inscription, the scribe Yin, was referred to as yinshi you. This expression, translated above as “the yinshi’s assistant”, could mean also “the friend of the Yin clan”. As I have noted before, the term “friend” in Western Zhou time was usually applied to fellow-members of a clan, and it seems likely that the scribe Yin also belonged to the Yin clan. The influence of the Yin family on the distribution of royal favour could have been of considerable importance. As depicted in Poem 191, the Yin probably held great power in their hands. The poem is traditionally dated to the reign of King Xuan, that is, the period 46

Legge, “The She King”, p. 309. Ibid., p. 311. Legge comments: “Yin was the clan name of a great family in the royal domain, members of which, through successive reigns, were charged with the highest functions of the state.” Ibid., p. 310. 48 Another well-known example is the family name Sima, “superintendent of stables”. 49 Literally, “[one] who makes writing tablets”, i.e., records orders on bam­ boo strips. 50 “Internal scribe”. 51 There were other zuoce and neishi who performed the same duties. This may be an additional argument in favour of taking Yin as a clan name and not as a part of an official title. 47

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when it is most likely that shanfu Ke held office. The poem and the bronze inscriptions may actually refer to the same person, although proof of this is impossible given the uncertain dating of both sources. In any case, whether the office of court scribe was hereditary to the Yin clan or whether the term yinshi only designated the name of this influential office, it explains why shanfu Ke was so keen to secure good relations with this official that he mentioned him in his dedication. In using an object assigned to sacred communication to gain the favour of an official who was neither his superior nor his relative, Ke automatically categorised this kind of relationship as private. It confirms that Ke regarded the ritual object as a private one that he was entitled to make use of to serve a slightly uncon­ ventional end. Ke’s actions as recorded in his inscriptions may be regarded to a certain extent as deviating from contemporary norms. Ke was not the only court official who tried to gain the favour of a powerful colleague, but there were few who attempted to legitimate this kind of private relationship through the authority of his ancestral patrons. As may be observed from the bronze inscriptions of the Spring and Autumn period, this practice gradually became more acceptable in ancient China, and non-kin relations such as friendship, hospitality and fealty gained religious approval. This analysis confirms that bronze inscriptions in general, and those of shanfu Ke in particular, may be considered as private docu­ ments. As documents they not only serve as authenic and reliable texts for the study of representations of privacy by members of the ancient Chinese aristocracy but also illustrate specific features of its private life.

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PRIVACY AND LETTER WRITING IN HAN AND SIX DYNASTIES CHINA

David Pattinson

This paper explores the relationship between letter-writing and privacy in China during the Han and Six Dynasties period (206 BC­ AD 589). By examining a selection of letters and information re­ garding letter writing practices, this paper will draw some initial conclusions about the function of letters in relation to issues of privacy during this period, a question which has received little scholarly attention to date.1 It will argue that although intimacies were some­ times expressed in letters, especially after the late Han, and letters were clearly used to maintain interpersonal relationships, correspon­ dents probably did not feel they had sufficient control over the contents of letters to commit private matters to them. Although it is difficult to prove, keeping intimate matters out of letters was probably one mechanism by which people during the period in question sought to maintain privacy. This paper is guided by a broad notion of privacy as being re­ lated to the ability of people to define and control access to things they regard as intimate, which is more or less the definition of pri­ vacy proposed by Julie C. Inness in her book Privacy, Intimacy, and Isolation.2 Trying to define what is or is not intimate is clearly dif­ ficult, but again it seems not unreasonable to follow Inness, whose definitions are broad enough to allow us some flexibility: “Intimacy is a product of the agent’s love, liking, and care for others. To claim 1 The most detailed study of letter writing during the Han period is Eva Y. W. Chung, “A Study of the ‘Shu’ (Letters) of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220)” (Ph.D. diss., University of Washington, 1982), but it does not address the question of privacy as such. My own Ph.D. dissertation also contains a general discussion of letter-writing practices through Chinese history until the early Qing, but I have not examined them from the point of view of privacy. See David Pattinson, “The Chidu in Late Ming and Early Qing China” (Ph.D. diss., Austral­ ian National University, 1998), especially ch. 1 and 2. 2 Julie C. Inness, Privacy, Intimacy, and Isolation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). See especially the conclusion, pp. 138-42.

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that an act, action, or activity is intimate is to claim that it draws its meaning and value for the agent from her love, liking or care.”3 However, it should be emphasised that this liking or care cannot refer to one’s public likes or cares: although a certain person might care a great deal that the Chinese imperial state be run according to Confucian values, that clearly is a public matter. That letter-writers seemed not to want to commit private mat­ ters to their letters does not necessarily mean that the Chinese of the time did not have a concept of privacy; it just means that we may need to look elsewhere to find it. The apparent reluctance to commit private matters to letters might indicate that privacy was a difficult thing to protect in that period, and therefore had to be guarded more carefully than in more recent societies where there is a broad social agreement that certain matters are private and should not be interfered in. We also need to recognise that, in numerical terms, most of the letters which would have been written during the six centuries in question have been lost; in particular, if letters were written with the assumption that access to them could and would be controlled and privacy therefore preserved, they are not very likely to have been preserved. In any case, letters from this period which might have been of a familiar nature, containing matters of no wider import, were most likely to have been lost because they were generally held in low regard from a literary or historical point of view, and little effort would have been made to preserve them. Compilers of writ­ ers’ collected works, compilers of anthologies and others engaged in literary preservation traditionally placed much more importance on a writer’s public documents and other works which discussed matters of recognised scholarly legitimacy, most often from a Con­ fucian point of view. Well-written letters expressing friendship were preserved, but the tone was often morally uplifting rather than in­ timate, and they were anyway not numerous. It was only beginning in the Song dynasty that more familiar letters on matters of lesser import began to be anthologised, and such collections did not ap­ pear in significant numbers until the late Ming. However, as long as we recognise that the surviving letters from the Han and Six Dynasties period are only the tip of an epistolary iceberg, we should

3

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Ibid., p. 140.

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still be able to draw some general conclusions about letter writing practice and its relationship to privacy for this period. It should also be pointed out that the period in question was a formative one for personal letter-writing in China, since it was during the Han and Six Dynasties that the earliest personal letters which survived to be read in later periods were written, and although let­ ter writing practices evolved over the centuries, the best-known letters from this early period were often held up as models of good writing in later times. Even in the late Ming dynasty, a period in which there was increased interest in letter writing as an art, those writers who discussed the epistolary art saw the Han and Six Dynasties period as a crucial one in the history of letter-writing in China.4 If we put aside the messages written to spirits as part of religious ceremonies going back to at least pre-Zhou times, the earliest let­ ters of any sort that we know of in China are those written between rulers and officials, usually of different states, during the Spring and Autumn period (722-481 BC). Traditional Chinese scholarship usual­ ly traces the origins of letter-writing back to this time, but these letters are entirely about government and diplomacy and so have little to do with privacy. It is probably impossible to know when and under what conditions people started writing letters to each other which were not written in the actual performance of official duties. The earliest examples that have come down to us date from the Qin (221­ 206 BC), in the form of two letters on wooden strips by soldiers which were found in Hubei; the soldiers wrote to their families to ask for clothes and money.5 There can be no doubt that this sort of prac­ tical letter continued to be written. The earliest letters to be found in literary sources are from the middle of the Western Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 9). There are two letters by the poet Sima Xiangru (179-117 BC), one to his wife Zhuo Wenjun and one offering advice on the writing of rhapsodies 4 Several of the later writers who pointed to letters of the Han and Six Dy­ nasties as models of epistolary writing were clearly borrowing from Liu Xie’s essay on epistolary writing, discussed below. For a discussion of Ming and early Qing accounts of the history of letter writing in China, see my Ph.D. dissertation, “The Chidu in Late Ming and Early Qing China”, especially ch. 3 and 4. 5 See Endymion Wilkinson, Chinese History: A Manual (Cambridge, MA: Har­ vard University Asia Center; distributed by Harvard University Press, 1998), p. 759. Wilkinson also notes that ‘considerable numbers of private letters have been found in Han tombs, the best preserved is on silk’ (p. 116). I have not yet seen the original texts.

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[fu]. However, both of these might be spurious, since they cannot be found in reliable sources. Much more significant is Sima Qian’s (c. 145-c. 85 BC) famous letter to Ren An. Sima Qian cannot have invented this form of letter, but this case demonstrates that by the early first century BC letter-writing between members of the politi­ cal and scholarly élite was well established, even if the topics seem to have been mainly political and scholarly. Sima’s letter is an outpouring of private anguish, and Stephen Durrant suggests that by using the letter form Sima “allowed himself to be much more direct and emotional than was appropriate in a more formal docu­ ment like his ‘Self-Narrative’”, which appeared in the Shi ji itself.6 Although in the letter Sima is greatly concerned about the shame he has to bear as a eunuch and about the place of his Shi ji in his­ tory (both of which relate to the public view of him), his anguish has still been a private one. The question we cannot answer now, however, is whether or not Sima meant the letter to become public or not; did the fact that he was sending it to a condemned man mean that he thought the contents might not be divulged, or did he mean the letter to be a public explanation of his position, knowing that it would be circulated? Other letters between individuals on matters related to politics survive from approximately the same period. For example, there is a letter by Dongfang Shuo (154-93 BC) to Gongsun Hong (c. 200­ after 120 BC) in which he chides Gongsun for snubbing the younger and more junior Dongfang, pointing out how even wise men of the past have not thought it below them to seek the advice and com­ pany of men of inferior status if they felt they could benefit. Again, though, the earliest source in which this letter appears is the Chu xue ji of the early eighth century, so we cannot presume its authen­ ticity, which is a problem with many of the apparently personal letters which have come down to us from the Han period.7 Yan Kejun’s (1762-1843) Quan shanggu San Dai Qin Han San Guo Liu Chao wen (here­ after Quan wen) includes another scrap of a “letter to a friend” in which Dongfang imagines throwing off the fetters of the mortal world and escaping to the pleasures of an immortal one, but Yan gives no source for this at all, so although it is not impossible that this was 6 Stephen Durrant, The Cloudy Mirror: Tension and Conflict in the Writings of Sima Qian (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), p. 17. 7 See Yan Kejun, Quan shanggu San Dai Qin Han Sanguo Liu Chao wen (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1958), p. 265.

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part of a real letter, it is neither reliable nor of much use to us because of the complete lack of any context. The same is true of two letters allegedly from the reign of Em­ peror Cheng (r. 33-37 BC). Both are found in the Northern Song encyclopaedia Taiping yulan, and are said to have come from a work entitled Furen ji [A collection of works by women]. There appear to have been several works with this title, possibly related, the earliest of which might have been compiled in the Liu Song dynasty (420479).8 The author of one of these letters, Lady of Handsome Fair­ ness Ban (c. 48-c. 6 BC), great-aunt of the historian Ban Gu (AD 32-92), was a favourite of Emperor Cheng’s until she was replaced in the emperor’s favour by Zhao Feiyan (d. 1 BC), the recipient of the second letter which was written to her by Emperor Cheng.9 Emperor Cheng’s letter was written to Zhao while she was still Lady of Handsome Fairness. It states in quite straightforward language (“what need is there for flowery yet empty words”) that the emperor does have true feelings for Zhao, and explains apologetically why the emperor has not been able to give Zhao all the attention she might otherwise receive. The letter by Ban to her nephews is almost certainly a response to this, since it refers directly to the “flowery yet empty words”. Ban compares the letters of Emperor Yuan (r. 49-33 BC) (presumably those to his concubines) to those by Emperor Cheng: 8 The fourth chapter of the bibliographical section of the Sui shu [History of the Sui dynasty] records an anonymous Furen ji in 20 chapters, and notes that there existed a book by the same title in the Liang in 30 chapters written by the Liu Song dynasty writer Yin Chun (379-438), as well as one in 11 chapters which was already lost by the Sui. See Wei Zheng et al., Sui shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1973), p. 1082. The biography of Xu Mian (466-535) in the Liang shu [History of the Liang dynasty] mentions that Xu compiled a book by this title in 10 chap­ ters, which might be the one mentioned in the Sui shu. There is no way of know­ ing whether these were based on earlier books, or what their sources were. See Yao Silian, Liang shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1973), p. 387. 9 According to the Han shu, when Zhao was born her commoner parents did not feed her for three days, but changed their minds after she did not die. She later learnt singing and dancing in the household of a lord in modern Shanxi, where she caught Emperor Cheng’s eye during a visit. We do not know Zhao’s real name; Feiyan, or flying swallow, was a nickname probably given to her be­ cause she was a talented dancer. In 16 BC Zhao, previously a Lady of Handsome Fairness too, was made Empress. The Chinese for Lady of Handsome Fairness is jieyu, a title given to favoured imperial concubines. We do not know Ban’s given name either. See Han shu, pp. 3988-89, and Denis Twitchett and Michael Loewe, ed., The Cambridge History of China, vol. 1, The Ch’in and Han Empires, 221 BC­ AD 220 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 214.

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david pattinson I have just seen the official records, and compared the letter [Emperor Cheng] wrote to Lady of Handsome Fairness Zhao. Because Emperor Yuan was sickly and unhappy, in his letters he just played around with the ladies of the Rear Palace, so his letters contained many flowery yet empty words, whereas Emperor Cheng’s letters were sincere and truthful, like the letters written between husband and wife or other family members. How can they be compared! So I have briefly pointed out their relative strengths and weaknesses, and leave it to you to judge them for yourselves.10

If these letters are genuine, they at least provide evidence of the sort of letters which might be exchanged among relatives or others with whom one had some sort of intimate relations. We can see how difficult it was for the emperor to balance the various demands made upon him, particularly during a period when relations among the different branches of the imperial family were so complex and dan­ gerous. We also wonder what level of control senders of letters in the palace had over who would read them. But we must limit our speculations about the value these letters have for understanding privacy in the Han because of unavoidable doubts about the authen­ ticity of these letters. If we are generous and grant that the compil­ ers of the Taiping yulan, which itself contains many errors, were indeed using a source perhaps dating from the Liu Song, we still do not know which sources were used in compiling the Liu Song Furen ji, some four hundred years after Emperor Cheng’s time. The letters perhaps tell us something about Six Dynasties perceptions of the epistolary exchanges that might take place in the imperial court, but we should concentrate on less speculative material. Indeed, having surveyed all the letters (by which I mean those that have been given the title shu or similar) included in Yan Kejun’s Quan wen, it is clear that the vast majority of letters which have come down to us from that time were written for some political purpose, although beginning in the Han there is some widening of subject matter to include philosophy and literature. Letters were preserved in most cases because they played some role in politics, which caused 10

The letters appear in Li Fang et al. comp. Taiping yulan (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1960), pp. 704-5, and in Yan Kejun, Quan wen, p. 186. The Taiping yulan version says that the letter to Zhao was written by Emperor Yuan, but those two characters are missing in Quan wen, and they do not make sense, as Yan must have realised. Without any other context, it is difficult to assess just what Ban’s intent was in writing this letter, but it could indicate realisation that Zhao’s position was very strong.

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them to be included in the histories of the time, or because they were regarded as important contributions to political, philosophical or literary debate. The letters which are almost certainly authentic are nearly all to be found in the dynastic histories. The few which appear to be more personal come in most cases from much later sources and are often bereft of any context, so we must doubt their authen­ ticity, which means that their value for us as evidence of private life in Han China is limited. Therefore, one of the biggest barriers to gaining a deeper understanding of letter-writing, particularly letterwriting in relation to notions of privacy, is the lack of extant mate­ rial. Letters about more mundane matters were unlikely to be preserved, or even if people kept them, they were unlikely to find their way into published texts, as I have argued above. Therefore, it is not easy to gauge the extent to which letters were used in any kind of ‘private’ sense. More reliable information about the types of letters exchanged during the Han period appears in records of Wang Mang’s Xin dynasty period (AD 9-25) and beyond. One of the better-known early references to letter-writing, which appears in the biography of Chen Zun (d. 24 or 25 AD) in the “Biographies of Knights-Errant” in the Han shu, reads as follows: [Chen] was by nature good at calligraphy, so when he wrote a chidu to people, they would all keep them and regard it as an honour to have [an example of Chen’s calligraphy]. …Wang Mang admired Chen’s abilities, often praising him from the throne, so he made Chen Governor of Henan commandery… After Chen reached his post … he called ten scribes who wrote good callig­ raphy to his presence and composed private letters (si shu) of thanks to his friends in the capital. Chen leant on a table dictating the letters to the scribes, while at the same time attending to official matters. He wrote several hundred letters, each appropriate to the relative close­ ness or distance of his relationship to the addressee. All of Henan was astonished.11

I have included the first paragraph above because it points to what is probably the key reason why some letters not meant for a wider audience have survived: because the calligraphy of the writer was admired. This avenue of preservation does not work for all or even well-known calligraphers (none of Chen Zun’s letters survive), but in at least two cases, those of Wang Xizhi (321-379) and Su Shi (1037­ 11

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Ban Gu, Han shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962), p. 3711.

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1101), admiration of their calligraphy was almost certainly the rea­ son why letters which did not appear to be of interest according to the normal political, literary or philosophical criteria for preserva­ tion did in fact survive in considerable numbers. The second point of interest here is that in the first paragraph Chen is said to have written the letters in his own hand, while in the second he calls scribes to do the writing for him. Unfortunately, the passage does not tell us in what circumstances Chen decided to write the letters himself. What evidence I have been able to trace suggests that to write a letter oneself did give it added weight, and perhaps an added degree of intimacy or honour. A nearly contem­ porary letter, written in 27 AD by the first emperor of the restored Han dynasty, Liu Xiu (Emperor Guangwu, 6 BC-57 AD), while hardly an intimate letter, provides us with some clues about the role of handwriting in letters in the Han dynasty. The newly-installed Emperor Guangwu writes to the warlord Wei Ao (d. AD 33) thanking him for his support in helping to deal with the Red Eyebrow rebels, and tries to forge closer relations with Wei, who was in fact more Guangwu’s rival than ally. At the end of the letter, which is intro­ duced in the text of the Hou Han shu as shou shu “a letter written in one’s own hand”, Emperor Guangwu says, “From now on, let us write to each other in our own hand, rather than relying on others with their words designed to sow discord.”12 In other words, a let­ ter written personally was viewed as more reliable than messages delivered by messengers or written by scribes, and seems to have marked a special relationship between the correspondents. A further answer to this question, and to another question about how Chen could dictate so many letters (in the second paragraph) in such a short period of time, can be found if we look some cen­ turies later to the shuyi, or etiquette manuals for letter writing and other occasions. The major study of these in English is Patricia Ebrey’s 1985 article “T’ang Guides to Verbal Etiquette”.13 The earliest recorded shuyi dates from the early fifth century, though the form is almost cer­ tainly older than that. As Ebrey shows, the basic role of these guides was to help people compose letters appropriate to the range of social 12 Fan Ye, Hou Han shu (History of the Latter Han dynasty) (Beijing: Zhong­ hua shuju, 1965), p. 523. Guangwu did not succeed in winning Wei Ao to his side. 13 See the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 45, no. 2 (1985): pp. 581-613.

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occasions which demanded some sort of formal response, particu­ larly births, deaths and marriages. What mattered more than the content was that the correct forms were used, since such letters were essentially a form of ritual, taking the place of ritual performed in person. Indeed, the fact that they were meant as a form of ritual meant that for the proper effect to be had, it was important to adhere to the standard forms of phrasing, since to vary them might have the effect of undermining the ritual process by introducing inappro­ priate elements. These letters played an important role in maintaining social ties, both amongst kinsmen and with superiors, whose favour it was important to cultivate. Therefore it is highly likely that a great number of these letters were sent on a regular basis, and that main­ taining ties this way was the most important function of non-political and non-literary letters, rather than their being used to exchange intimate information or thoughts. As I have said, the content of these letters was not expected to be original or even interesting. However, the fact that there were widely recognised structures and phrases for these letters made them relatively easy to write once one had mastered the art. It is this which accounts for the speed with which they could be written. Chen’s task would be made much easier if there were pre-existing formulas which he could use, though of course he needed to be a master of the appropriate language for each recipient. It is also likely that the scribes themselves knew these formulas, and that Chen therefore did not have to dictate every word but could leave the scribes to fill in the minor details. Perhaps only when Chen felt a letter was particu­ larly important did he write it in his own hand. If we return to the second paragraph from Chen’s biography, it is clearly relevant to our investigation of privacy in Han letters to try to understand what was meant by sishu, which I have translated for convenience as “private letter” without meaning to imply that these letters were similar to what we think of as a private letter now. This term appears once in Sima Qian’s Shi ji, six times in the Han shu, including a repetition of the use in Shi ji, and four times in the Hou Han shu. It is clear from the contexts in which the term appears that although we can assume that access to these letters was con­ trolled, they were not private letters in the sense of intimate letters between friends. In fact, the use of the term in Chen’s biography is the only one in these early dynastic histories which does not seem pejorative. More often it suggests a secret letter sent between offi­

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cials or others in a position to wield political influence, such as relatives of the emperor, which attempts to manipulate the politi­ cal process in some way. It is difficult to know exactly what sort of material such letters contained, since to the best of my knowledge none survive, but there seems to have been some sort of prohibi­ tion against sending them, or at least they were much frowned upon. One example which is typical of the kind of context in which the term sishu was used can be found in the “Biographies of the Six Princes of the reigns of the Emperors Xuan and Yuan” in the Han shu. Zhang Bo, a maternal uncle of Liu Qin, Prince Xian of Huaiyang, one of the sons of Emperor Xuan (r. 74-49 BC), and his son-in-law Jing Fang were executed for maligning the emperor to the Prince of Huaiyang, and their relatives were exiled. After Em­ peror Cheng came to the throne in 32 BC, the Prince of Huaiyang became his favourite among all the princes. The Prince presented a memorial to the emperor asking that Zhang Bo’s relatives be brought out of exile, on the grounds that Zhang had been forced to do what he did by the powerful eunuch Shi Xian. However, a counsellor-in-chief opposed the prince’s request, saying, “Previously [the Prince of Huaiyang] exchanged sishu with Zhang Bo, the in­ tentions of which were not appropriate for someone of the rank of a feudatory prince.”14 A similar example can be found in the “Biography of Liang Tong” in the Hou Han shu. Liang’s son Liang Song was a scholar of certain classics who took over his father’s post upon the latter’s death. He became a favourite of Emperor Guangwu and married one of the emperor’s daughters. In 58 AD, after the death of Guangwu, Liang Song was promoted to Chamberlain of the Imperial Stud, but ac­ cording to the Hou Han shu, “[Liang Song] wrote several sishu to [various officials] in the civil service asking certain favours. In 59 this was discovered and he was removed from office.”15 A clearer indication that sishu themselves were frowned upon appears in the biography of Zhi Du, an official at the time of Emperor Jing (r. 157-141 BC), in the “Biographies of Harsh Offi­

14

Ban Gu, Han shu, p. 3318. Fan Ye, Hou Han shu, p. 1170. Liang Song bore a grudge as a result of this, and two years later posted an anonymous letter slandering certain people (the text is rather vague), for which he was imprisoned and executed. 15

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cials” [Ku li zhuan] in the Han shu, Zhi is recorded as being “impar­ tial and incorruptible, never writing sishu.”16 The other examples are more or less similar, and together sug­ gest that sishu stood in contrast to public letters written in the per­ formance of official duties. The latter were written openly and constituted the correct way to conduct official matters, whereas si­ shu seem to have been associated with intrigue. This is in line with the generally held view that the word si in Chinese often has nega­ tive connotations. However, it does not seem to have those nega­ tive connotations in the passage about Chen Zun above, which suggests that sishu not related to politics were written and were not always frowned upon. This would seem to be particularly true if the letter was only written in fulfilment of the requirements of etiquette. There is, however, some increase in the number of letters which might be considered to have more personal content from about the middle of the Eastern Han dynasty onwards. This might be explained by two factors: the political instability and violence of the time, and the increasingly widespread use of paper for writing. As Patricia Ebrey describes it, the instability of the Eastern Han dynasty led to “a general trend whereby private ties and institutions came to assume greater importance, while official and public con­ nections were being taken less seriously”.17 In particular, the crack­ down on the partisan movement between 166 and 184 produced “a large body of articulate, energetic and politically interested men who could no longer hold office”, but who maintained contact with one another through non-official channels.18 The longer-term philo­ sophical implications of this have been explored by Ying-shih Yü, who argued that the crisis in the élite class of the period led to China’s only period when individualism played a prominent role.19 Follow­ 16 Ban Gu, Han shu, p. 3646. We can conjecture that this might indicate that the sishu mentioned in these contexts were not intimate letters since the contents of such letters seem to have been political and often conspiratorial. It is quite pos­ sible that it was perfectly acceptable for people like Zhi to write apolitical per­ sonal letters. 17 Patricia Ebrey, “The Economic and Social History of the Later Han”, Chap­ ter 11 of The Cambridge History of China: Volume 1: The Ch’in and Han Empires, 221 B.C.-A.D. 220, ed. Denis Twitchett and Michael Loewe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 641. 18 Ebrey, “Economic and Social History”, p. 646. 19 Ying-shih Yü, “Individualism and the Neo-Taoist Movement in Wei-Chin

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ing Yü, Yu-kung Kao has shown how the instability of the period caused withdrawal into the self, which was reflected in the poetry of the period.20 Certainly some of the letters dating from this pe­ riod reflect upon the turmoil of the time, so it seems reasonable to assume that this turmoil, following a period of unprecedented im­ perial power, would be reflected in a turn towards more non-public uses for letters and the increased use of them for expressing more private emotions. Before the use of paper for writing became widespread during the later part of the Eastern Han, everything was written on bamboo or wooden strips, or occasionally silk. One of the early terms used for a type of letter was chidu, chi being a unit of measure roughly equal to one foot, while du were the wooden strips used to write on. The Han shu records an exchange between the Khan of the Xiongnu and Emperor Wen of the Han in which letters [shu] are exchanged on du just over a foot in length. Although the exchange is very for­ mal, and the Khan deliberately slights the Han emperor by send­ ing a du which is one inch [cun] longer than that sent by the Emperor, it indicates which material was used to send such letters, and sug­ gests that it was common to send formal letters of greeting as part of social or political etiquette.21 The first of the passages from the biography of Chen Zun above uses the term chidu, though it does not indicate what these chidu were. However, it is fairly safe to say that they were a kind of letter, based on slightly later usages of the term. The reason why special mention is made of the recipients keeping Chen’s chidu might be a reflection of a practice whereby people would normally reply to a letter by scraping the original letter off with a knife and writing their reply on the clean du, or simply by writing their letter in the space left after the original letter. People would only keep the letter if the calligraphy was particularly good. China”, in Individualism and Holism: Studies in Confucian and Taoist Values, ed. Don­ ald J. Munro (Ann Arbor: Center For Chinese Studies, The University of Mich­ igan, 1985), pp. 121-55. 20 Yu-Kung Kao, “The Nineteen Old Poems and the Aesthetics of Self-Reflection”, in The Power of Culture: Studies in Chinese Cultural History , ed. Willard J. Peterson, Andrew H. Plaks and Ying-shih Yü (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1994), pp. 80-102. I hesitate to relegate this point to a footnote, but the issue of the relationship between letters and poetry in reflecting issues relating to privacy is a very important one for which there is considerable scope for further research. 21 Ban Gu, Han shu, p. 3760.

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This would suggest that the content was not particularly important, and would partly account for the lack of extant examples. The in­ convenience and expense of using strips of wood to write on might also have restrained letter-writers. However, two letters from about the middle of the Eastern Han tell us something about changes in the materials used for letterwriting and point also to what might have been written in more personal letters during this period. The scholar-official Cui Yuan (77-142) is mentioned in Liu Xie’s (c. 465-522) chapter on letterwriting in his work of literary criticism Wen xin diao long as being especially good at the art of letter-writing, and Cui’s biography in the Hou Han shu says that he “excelled at composition, and was especially good at letters (shu), memoranda, admonitions and inscriptions”.22 However, there is now little evidence by which to judge Liu’s statement, since only scraps of his letters survive.23 One of these letters, though, tells us something about the materials used for writing: Today I respectfully send you this letter, with a thousand pieces of cash as a gift. I also send you a copy of Xuzi in ten chapters. I am too poor to be able to afford silk, so I can only send a paper copy.24

However, it is not entirely clear in the original whether the “silk” and “paper” refers to just the book, or to both the book and the letter. One of Cui’s close friends was Ma Rong (79-166), one of the outstanding Confucian scholars of the Eastern Han. Yi wen lei ju contains an intriguing letter by Ma to his friend Dou Zhang, which, if authentic, is another early reference to letter-writing on paper, and demonstrates that letters were seen to be the next best thing to the correspondents meeting in person. The letter, possibly an ex­ cerpt from a longer letter, reads as follows: A messenger has come from Mengling, bringing your letter. When I saw your handwriting, how could my happiness be measured! It was second only to seeing your face. The letter was only two sheets of paper, on each page eight lines, on each line seven characters. Seven eights are fifty-six, so all together it was just 112 characters long.25 22 Lu Kanru and Mou Shijin, Wen xin diao long yizhu (Translation [into mod­ ern Chinese] and annotations of The Literary Mind Carves Dragons) (Jinan: Qilu shushe, 1982), vol. 2, 59. Fan Ye, Hou Han shu, p. 1724. 23 See Yan Kejun, Quan wen, p. 717. 24 Yan Kejun, Quan wen, p. 717. 25 Ouyang Xun, Yi wen lei ju (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1965), p. 560.

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Ma Rong lived at the time Cai Lun (d. AD 121) is credited with inventing paper. Paper had in fact existed in China since at least the time of Emperor Wu of the Han (r. 140-87 BC), although it is not clear exactly when people began using it for writing. An example of paper with writing on it dating from about 110 AD has been found at Juyan in modern Gansu, which would suggest that paper had been used for writing on for some time before that. It is possible that, as Tsien Tsuen-hsuin suggests, Cai Lun’s contribution was to improve considerably the quality of paper, which might have made it a more attractive medium to write on, even if it did not immediately re­ place bamboo, wood and silk.26 However, I would like to suggest that the increasingly widespread use of paper for writing on might have encouraged letter-writing, since it was much easier and cheaper to produce, and lighter than everything except expensive silk to carry around. If letter-writing had become materially easier and more economical, then it would seem possible that correspondents might feel encouraged to write more, and more often. Letters written on paper would also have been easier to conceal, which has implica­ tions for privacy, but I have not yet found evidence to show whether or not paper made any difference in this respect. In a second letter of Ma Rong’s included in Yi wen lei ju, Ma expresses his mood in the autumn. The formality of the style con­ trasts quite sharply with that of the previous letter, and the subject matter is perhaps already a bit hackneyed, but if it is genuine, it again suggests writers were bringing some private expression to their letters: I am burning with melancholy thoughts, and still I cannot drive them from my bosom. I want to be among the bamboo, letting dogs run free and chasing deer. It is late autumn and almost winter… in order to pass my remaining days. This is my only joy.27

Further evidence can be found in the circle around Ma Rong that letters might have been increasingly used for non-public exchanges. A letter by Yan Du (d. 167), one of Ma’s students, to Zhang Huan (104-181), is similar to the first letter by Ma quoted above in that it shows the joy felt in receiving what was almost certainly a rela­ tively personal letter: 26 Tsien Tsuen-hsuin, Chemistry and Chemical Technology, vol. 5 of Joseph Need­ ham ed. Science and Civilisation in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 38-41. 27 Ouyang Xun, Yi wen lei ju, p. 1588.

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It is three years since we last parted, and I have thought of you in my dreams and often spoken about you. When would I ever avoid you. [My son] Boying came, and brought your kind letter which filled four whole pages. I read it three times, and my joy was indescribable.28

Just a few decades later, during the Jian’an period (196-219) at the end of the Han dynasty and the reign of Cao Pi (187-226), or Emperor Wen of the Wei dynasty, there was a well-known flour­ ishing of literary talent, and a number of letters well known to Chinese literary history were composed at this time. To our mod­ ern eye, practically all of these letters, with their parallel structures and learned allusions, seem consciously literary, so even when they contain clear indications of intimacy between the writer, the recipient and perhaps other people mentioned in the letters, the letters them­ selves do not seem to be particularly private. While it is true that the fact that the letters were written in a highly literary style does not necessarily exclude the possibility that the letters were meant to be private, given that most of the correspondents were at the centre of public life at the time and were members of a vibrant literary community, it seems more likely that they wrote in the expectation that their letters would be circulated, so there was no real attempt to control access to the intimacy expressed through the letters. For example, the letters by Cao Pi to Wu Zhi (d. 230), written in the last decade of the Han before Cao took the throne as the first emperor of the Wei dynasty, despite being written by an ambitious and often callous man, show genuine personal concern both for Wu and for others mentioned in the letters.29 While it is obviously a contestable point, it seems unlikely that a figure like Cao Pi could write letters of this type and remain confident that they would not be circulated to people other than the intended recipients. There­ fore, I would argue that such letters were unlikely to be private because the writer could not assume that access to them could be controlled. Intimacy that was meant to remain private could not be committed to paper in the circumstances of that period. The many short letters written by the famous calligrapher Wang 28

Ouyang Xun, Yi wen lei ju, p. 560. These letters are preserved in Pei Songzhi’s annotations to the Wei shu (His­ tory of the Wei dynasty) within the Sanguo zhi [Records of the Three Kingdoms]. See Chen Shou, San Guo zhi, 2nd ed. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1982), pp. 608­ 9. They were also included in Xiao Tong’s sixth century Wen xuan [Selection of literary works] (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986), pp. 1894-99. 29

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Xizhi about a century and a half later are also worthy of attention. As mentioned above, in some cases it was the writer’s calligraphy rather than the content of his letters which enabled his letters to be preserved for posterity. Wang’s case is particularly important, be­ cause in numerical terms far more letters by him survive than for any writer before him, and because most of them have little liter­ ary value, we can presume they were not preserved for literary reasons.30 Therefore, we might expect that these letters will reveal to us the kind of letters members of the aristocracy wrote to each other when they were not consciously writing literature, though in Wang’s case we have to wonder whether he might have been just a little guarded in what he wrote because he must have known many people would keep the letters for their calligraphy. Generally speaking, Wang’s letters do not reveal much about his private life. So many of them mention illness that we have to won­ der if Wang was not something of a hypochondriac. Members of his family are often mentioned, and sometimes their problems al­ luded to. He often informs friends of his movements and reflects on the season, the weather and so on. The twentieth-century writer and critic Zhou Zuoren (1885-1967), in a 1927 article about letters and diaries, felt the best letters revealed something of the writer’s char­ acter. One of the letters by Wang which he quotes reads: I do not know how you have been lately? Have many people been to visit you? Are you going to pick chrysanthemums on the ninth? I very much hope we can go on an outing together, but I do not know when the weather will clear.31

While this letter and the others Zhou cites clearly have a certain charm, it would be difficult to claim that Wang’s letters were origi­ nal in this regard. Like Cao Pi’s letters, they certainly hint at inti­ macy and were perhaps instruments for maintaining intimate relations, but I do not think we can claim that the letters themselves are intimate. My purpose in pointing out these things is not to say that Chi­ 30

Quite a number of Wang’s letters are thought to be forgeries, but we can presume the vast majority of them are genuine enough. In Yan Kejun’s Quan wen they can be found on pp. 1582-1611. There are also a significant number of let­ ters by his son Wang Xianzhi (344-386), but they do not add anything to our discussion. 31 Zhou Zuoren, “Riji yu chidu” [Diaries and short letters], in Yutian de shu [A book for rainy days] (Shanghai: Beixin shuju, 1927), p. 12.

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nese letters of the period under discussion are in some way inferior to letters in the Western tradition because they appear to be more reserved. More importantly in the context of discussing Chinese concepts of privacy, we should not conclude from the relative lack of details which we in the West might regard as intimate that the Chinese of this time had no concept of privacy, as is sometimes claimed (I suspect such claims are anecdotal, not based on any se­ rious research of the question). Rather I would argue that letters were simply not the major arena for the expression of the intimate, though they certainly were a vehicle for the expression of emotion and the maintenance of social relationships. Indeed, the relative circumspec­ tion of Chinese letter-writers in this regard may be a result of the writers’ trying to maintain control over access to those areas of their lives which they wished to protect from intrusion. A significant reason for their wanting to do this was related to personal safety, since the Eastern Han and Six Dynasties were dangerous times; this is am­ ply illustrated by the many cases of men withdrawing from public life, Ruan Ji (210-263), Xi Kang (223-262) and Tao Qian (365-427) being amongst the most famous examples. However, I believe that Chinese writers at this time tended to look at letters in two ways: either they were letters which the writer initially addressed to one person, but which were written in the expectation that that letter would later be circulated widely and recognised as one of that writer’s literary compositions to be left for posterity, or they were short letters whose main purpose was to maintain one’s web of social contacts. The last text I would like to discuss in relation to the function of letters in relation to notions of privacy is the essay on letters in Liu Xie’s (c. 465-522) Wen xin diao long, which had considerable influ­ ence upon later conceptions of the role of letter writing, even if the ideas which Liu addressed had little in common with the actual epistolary practices of the late Ming dynasty, for example. Liu summarises the characteristics of shu-type letters as follows: To summarise the shu genre, its essence is stating one’s feelings with­ out reserve, and its function is to unburden the mind of melancholy thoughts, and to be a vehicle for the expression of outstanding words and deeds. Therefore letters should be written in an orderly and smooth style, so the author can give full rein to his spirit, and they will be soft and pleasant for the reader. If the style in which letters are written is lucid, they will indeed be the expression of the voice of the mind.32 32

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Lu Kanru and Mou Shijin, Wen xin diao long yizhu, pp. 59-60. The transla­

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This might appear to mean that the expression of feelings was para­ mount when writing in this genre, which would in turn suggest that letters could be about anything one had feelings about which one felt the need to express, including intimate feelings. However, some of the other elements of letter-writing Liu mentions here in fact have the effect of limiting what can actually be said, a point that is borne out by the examples Liu cites. Possibly the most significant of these is the stylistic requirement. While it does not necessarily follow that letters written in an elegant style cannot be private, the concern with style suggests literary appreciation is an objective of writing, which suggests that Liu expected that in many cases letters would be read by people other than the intended recipient. Again, there is no reason why someone writing a letter which they know is only going to be read by the intended recipient would not pay attention to the liter­ ary style of the letter if he or she wished, but in view of the very strong traditional Chinese consciousness of the role of literature both as a moral force and as the means by which one ensured one’s name would be passed down to posterity, we can safely assume that Liu considered style to be important because it was expected that let­ ters would be written for a wider audience. If one was supposed to make the style “soft and pleasant for the reader”, that seems to imply that one must temper one’s language to fit certain widely-held sty­ listic expectations. Secondly, in saying that letters should be “a vehicle for the ex­ pression of outstanding words and deeds”, Liu seems to be imply­ ing that letters are to be about matters of import, perhaps talking of things people have said or done which can provide inspiration to others; private matters do not seem to have a significant place. The examples Liu Xie cites in his essay appear to confirm that letters were not normally viewed as a genre for expressing private thoughts. First of all, though, I should mention briefly that it seems that quite a few of Liu’s views are in fact second-hand, and that there are some inaccuracies. For instance he mentions Chen Zun’s letter-writing skills, and those of Mi Heng (173-198), but in both cases he is almost certainly relying on the short passages about their letter-writing skills in the Han shu and Hou Han shu respectively, as there tion is based on Vincent Yu-chung Shih’s The Literary Mind and the Carving of Drag­ ons, by Liu Hsieh: A Study of Thought and Pattern in Chinese Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959), pp. 144-46, with some alterations.

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is no indication that Liu had seen any of Chen’s or Mi’s letters, and it is unlikely that they survived even to Liu’s time.33 The other letters which Liu mentions in his essay are all in one sense or another public. The earliest examples he mentions are the letters written between states during the Spring and Autumn period, all of which were written in the performance of state business. Liu writes, “Reading these four letters [the four examples from the Spring and Autumn period he cites] carefully, it is as if the author and recipient were talking face to face.”34 The idea of letters being like “talking face to face” [ruo dui mian in Wen xin diao long and often ru mian tan in later formulations] was highly influential, appearing in the late Ming dynasty in prefaces to letter collections and even in the title of at least one collection. This certainly suggests intimacy, and perhaps by Ming times it did, but in the context of Spring and Autumn period diplomacy it can only mean that the letter took the place of face-to-face negotiations. Most of the later letters Liu cites, from Sima Qian’s letter to Ren An in the Western Han to Xi Kang’s letter breaking off relations with Shan Tao written during the Wei, are possibly or certainly public statements of the writers’ positions relating to certain matters. Perhaps the sole exception is the letter by Zhao Zhi (though the authorship is disputed) to Xi Kang’s son Xi Fan, in which the author, sent to be a retainer in the far north­ east, writes to Xi about the harshness of the landscape he passes through, and thus the completeness of their separation.35 Like Cao Pi’s letters to Wu Zhi mentioned earlier, this letter shows that the author and Xi Fan were intimate friends, but I do not think we can claim that the letter is private. Liu’s comment on it is that “Zhao Zhi’s letter depicting his sadness at separation expresses the eager­ ness and impatience of young people.” Although from a modern point of view one can find fault with the scholarly rigour of parts of Liu Xie’s essay on letters, his is the earliest consideration of purpose of letters we have, and it was influential 33

The Hou Han shu records that when Mi Heng came into the employ of Huang Zu, the Governor of Jiangxia commandery, “Mi Heng wrote letters [shuji] for [Huang]. He was able to phrase all of them in perfect accordance with the im­ portance of the matter at hand, and in the socially appropriate manner.” Fan Ye, Hou Han shu, p. 2657. 34 Lu Kanru and Mou Shijin, Wen xin diao long, vol. 2, p. 59. 35 The text of this letter can be found in Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, pp. 1940-42.

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in later times. Zhou Lianggong (1612-1672) went so far as to say that there was no need for him to write a preface to the collection of late Ming and early Qing letters he had compiled because the Wen xin diao long essay had already said everything that mattered about the epistolary art.36 Liu’s essay gives no indication that let­ ters were thought of as a private genre, although they were seen as well-suited to the expression of certain emotions within a certain range of topics. In this sense Liu’s views reflect what seems to have been the general view of the role of letters during the period dis­ cussed here, judging by the examples which have come down to us: that letters were certainly a genre in which one could express deeplyfelt emotions, but that this did not mean that the emotions were private. On the contrary: letters, despite usually being sent to one person, were commonly seen as public documents, and it was ex­ pected that these letters would circulate more widely. Although Liu Xie mentions the lesser types of letter such as chidu, he might have used the different terms for letters loosely to avoid repetition in his parallel structures, and in any case he does not say anything concrete about these subgenres. Therefore we probably have to presume that the letters of the sort by Wang Xizhi discussed above constitute the main type of letter that was not meant for wider circulation. However, these letters, while often containing expres­ sions of affection, do not in themselves contain intimate material but seem to have functioned more to maintain one’s web of social re­ lationships. The correspondents might have been intimate friends, but they kept private matters out of their letters. Although it is clear that Chinese epistolary practice did change sig­ nificantly over the centuries, it will require a great deal of work to trace those changes in more detail, and even more work to relate these changes to evolution in Chinese conceptions of the private. Here I would like to offer some comments about the possible influ­ ence early letter-writing practice and theory might have had on later letters, and how later letter-writers might have moved towards more private uses for their letters. 36

Zhou Lianggong, ed., Chidu xin chao (Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1990), p. 3. For a discussion of how collections of chidu might have been used to express dispossession and marginalisation during the early Qing, see my article “Zhou Lianggong and Chidu xinchao: Genre and Political Marginalisation in the MingQing Transition,” East Asian History 20 (December 2000): pp. 61-82.

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Although the term shu was often used for any type of letter, in the collections of literary works of well-known writers from the Song dynasty (960-1279) onwards, their personal (as distinct from letters written in their capacities as officials) letters were sometimes divided into at least two categories, usually shu and either shujian or chidu. The criteria upon which this division was based are not very clear, but generally speaking the shu were the descendants of the public letters discussed above, meant for wide circulation and recognised as one of the main genres upon which a writer’s literary reputation was based. The vast majority of writers whose collected prose works have come down to us have written at least some shu, though many of these shu are little more than treatises with salutations affixed to either end. The second category of letters appeared only in some writers’ collected works, or were circulated as separate collections. Generally these letters are shorter than the shu, and, beginning in the Song dynasty, they often contained more information about their authors’ private lives than did letters from before this time. How­ ever, it is not very easy to trace the origins of this change, since such letters appear in only a few Song collections, most notably those of Su Shi, without clear antecedents. Nonetheless, there is fairly good reason to believe that these letters were descended from the short letters of the sort written by Wang Xizhi, which gained expanded functions in accordance with the very different societies of the Song and beyond. Su Shi’s shujian survived probably because of his fame from other forms of writing and because of his calligraphy, but by the late Ming these letters were seen to have a literary value of their own. They also seem to have provided an avenue for greater per­ sonal expression when creative possibilities in so many other more formal genres, including the shu, had practically been exhausted. Despite this relatively clear trend towards a freer form of letterwriting, it is still hard to avoid the impression that writers contin­ ued to be influenced by ancient conceptions of the purpose of letters. The prefaces that were written for letter collections in the late Ming and early Qing frequently refer to epistolary practices going right back to the Spring and Autumn period which would seem to have nothing in common with the personal letters of the seventeenth century. Quite probably they did this in part to justify their interest in a genre which was less legitimate, but I do think that many writers remained conscious of what letters were supposed to be for, and my impression is that most writers before the late Qing were still reluc­

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tant to give away much of their intimate lives in their letters (after which the situation seems to have changed dramatically). However, this question awaits much more detailed study. To sum up, it appears that letters were not seen as a genre for the expression of private matters. For a range of reasons which might include concern for personal and family security, traditional views as to the role of writing and Confucian notions of propriety, letters were seen as a vehicle for expressing one’s views on a more or less prescribed range of topics, for expressing certain emotions in a lit­ erary manner, and for maintaining friendships and other social relations. Generally speaking, the letters that have come down to us do not give us much insight into the private lives of the corre­ spondents. This does not mean premodern Chinese had no concept of privacy, but it might mean that for much of Chinese history, letters that were collected and anthologised were more a part of public life than an expression of private life. Indeed, the reluctance to put intimate matters into letters may have been an instrument by which access to intimate matters was controlled and privacy protected.

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PART IV

NEGOTIATING PRIVACY

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THE ORIGINS OF MODERN CHINESE CONCEPTS OF PRIVACY: NOTES ON SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND MORAL DISCOURSE

Peter Zarrow

The problem of privacy in late Qing (c. 1890-1912) political discourse was subsumed in a larger discussion of the realm of si [personal, self, selfish, private] in terms of its relationship to the realm of gong [public, public space, open, communal]. No single word existed that was equivalent to the English ‘privacy’ in the sense of personal, closed off from the public, inner life, family life, private (individual) rights and related concepts. Nonetheless, what we can identify as concerns about privacy arose in discussions of the realm of si and new ways to legitimate it in the context of the collapse of China’s dynastic system. This collapse was both symptom and cause of a reorienta­ tion of thinking about the nature of the public. As other chapters in this volume demonstrate, Chinese concepts of privacy certainly predate the modern era. By the late imperial era, at the latest, there was extensive (élite) awareness of privacy and an appreciation of its benefits. However, the unprecedented political conditions of the late Qing and the adoption of Western-derived notions created a new context in which privacy was imagined. As in Western traditions of privacy and its relation to the public, the Chinese si and its relation to gong were protean concepts. Faced with the evident need to build a strong nation-state, late Qing intellectuals were forced to recon­ sider the entire cultural and social basis of what they increasingly regarded as outmoded tradition. This chapter argues that we can identify ideas about the neces­ sity of a private realm in late Qing moral discourse. The second part thus briefly discusses Liang Qichao’s (1873-1929) essay “Lun side” [Personal morality] (1903) to show the critical importance of indi­ vidual subjectivity to Liang’s entire scheme of political change. But Liang’s essay could not have been written without long-term social change having already occurred. It certainly needs to be understood in the context of four phenomena outlined below. In other words,

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this chapter rests on the following premises: 1) that a public sphere had been developing at least since the nineteenth century; 2) that changing ideas about desire and the realm of si had been working for perhaps several centuries to legitimate a private realm of sensu­ ality and ‘profit’ [li]; 3) that si, though highly suspect, was to be understood as valuable in particular contexts; and 4) that the an­ cient parallel drawn analogically between family and state (father: emperor) may have begun to break down during the Qing, enlarg­ ing the social capacity for privacy. That is to say, although one may speak of public and private spheres, such as the state or the home, at almost any point in Chinese history (as in other societies), a ‘public sphere’ in the sense used here is a more modern phenomenon. It refers to a realm of rational, critical discussion of public issues—a realm open at least in theory to all educated and rational voices, regardless of official status, wealth or class position. It is a sphere of public activity independent, to a large degree, of the state.1 The social basis of modern privacy An enlarged and clearly visible public sphere was, in my view, cre­ ated in China in the years immediately following the Taiping Re­ bellion (1850-1865), and a new discourse of the public, related to radical political thought, was underway by the 1890s. I begin with a brief review of recent debates in the US and elsewhere over the question of the public sphere in China, in particular, why I believe that the ‘public sphere’ is a necessary concept, entirely separate in analytical terms from the ‘civil society’ question.2 In Habermas’s 1 Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger (Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 1989). See also the useful essays in Craig Calhoun, ed., Habermas and the Public Sphere (Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 1992). The issue is explored in fur­ ther detail below. 2 The debate began with articles by Mary Backus Rankin, “The Origins of a Chinese Public Sphere: Local Elites and Community Affairs in the Late Imperial Period”, Études Chinoises 9.2 (automne 1990), pp. 13-60; William Rowe, “The Public Sphere in Modern China”, Modern China 16.3 (October 1990), pp. 309-29; and David Strand, “‘Civil Society’ and ‘Public Sphere’ in Modern China: A Perspec­ tive on Popular Movements in Beijing, 1919-1989”, Working Papers in Asian/Pacific Studies, (Duke University, 1990). It was then taken up by Rankin, Rowe, Strand, Frederic Wakeman Jr., Philip Huang, and others in the Symposium “‘Public Sphere’/‘Civil Society’ in China?” Modern China 19.2 (April 1993). There are also useful comments (more on the civil society question) in Prasenjit Duara, Rescuing

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original treatment of the rise of a “bourgeois public sphere” in Britain, France, and Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, civil society and the public sphere are virtually conflated. However much this may apply to Europe, and however much Habermas may be reflecting a long and complex tradition of dis­ cussions about civil society, the relationship between civil society and public sphere is culturally specific in ways that make it less useful as a category of historical analysis in the field of Chinese studies. This issue will be pursued further below; it is sufficient for now to note definitional distinctions. The public sphere, as we have seen, is a space in which open or public discourse over issues of general concern takes place, a discourse founded on principles of rational and critical inquiry. (Though Habermas emphasises the creation of a dominant bourgeois public sphere, the public sphere as such may occur in societies marked by quite different class formations.) Civil society, on the other hand, is here defined as a set of institutions that are relatively independent of the state and through which society may express demands on the state: institutions such as chambers of commerce, professional associations, churches, universities and the like. A strong civil society certainly may support a strong public sphere, but does not necessarily do so; indeed, just as there may be a strong but fragmented civil society with a weak public sphere (perhaps generally describing the contemporary West), a vibrant public sphere may emerge in the absence of a strong civil society, which was generally the case in late Qing China. The public sphere Scholars of modern China began to debate the existence and sig­ nificance of a public sphere in the 1990s. This debate was unavoid­ ably tied to the ‘civil society’ issue that emerged out of the collapse of communism in Europe and corresponding questions concerning History from the Nation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), esp. pp. 147­ 75; Michael Tsin, “Imagining ‘Society’ in Early Twentieth-Century China,” in Imagining the People: Chinese Intellectuals and the Concept of Citizenship, 1890-1920 , ed. Joshua Fogel and Peter Zarrow (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1997), pp. 212-31; and Peter Zarrow, “Liang Qichao and the Notion of Civil Society in Republican China”, pp. 232-57 in ibid. The issue of civil society, but not necessarily that of a public sphere, was taken up by Chinese scholars, again from a contemporary viewpoint; see Shu-Yun Ma, “The Chinese Discourse on Civil Society,” China Quar­ terly, no. 137 (March 1994), pp. 180-93.

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contemporary China, and finally petered out due more to exhaus­ tion than the creation of a new consensus. In terms of the debate, the issues were multitudinous and con­ fusing, often reflecting readings from the post-1978 period. How­ ever, the historical arguments can be reduced to the following propositions. Given its long-term problems and especially the dis­ locations of the Taiping Rebellion, the Qing state was fundamen­ tally weakened, altering the relationship between local élites and the state; the state still had access to many resources, but in commer­ cially advanced areas such as the middle and lower Yangzi, at least, local élites began to provide quasi-state functions operating with greater independence from the government. So far, there may seem to have been little that was new in this historiographical approach; the long-term structural weaknesses of the Qing have been known for some time. But the argument proceeded to a further stage. Mary Rankin showed that in taking charge of administration and fund­ raising for purposes ranging from orphanages to bridge-building projects, the local gentry had developed a new managerial ethos. Given the general demographic explosion and the large number of degree-holders who could never become officials, lower-level gen­ try no longer served in purely informal roles between state and community, but increasingly in public non-state positions. William Rowe showed that, in the case of Hankou, merchant guilds were adopting a local identity (even when members were ‘sojourners’ in Hankou from other places), and providing philan­ thropic and even quasi-public services like fire-fighting, especially as the bureaucracy declined during the nineteenth century. For Rankin and Rowe, these public activities by non-state actors dem­ onstrate the existence of a public sphere. David Strand took the argument further, finding that in early twentieth-century Beijing, not only were organisations of a public nature more or less independent of government control (weakened as it was during the warlord era), but that these organisations were often of an oppositional charac­ ter. Furthermore, Beijing provided specific sites where members of such voluntary associations could meet (bathhouses, teahouses, broth­ els) and could play out oppositional politics (streets, public squares, parks): a civil society and a public sphere in the most literal sense. It seems clear that much the same could be said of other Chinese cities, although not the countryside. Other historians remain dubious of these claims. Frederic

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Wakeman argued that a civil society, at least, can scarcely be said to exist without institutions to form and protect it. Furthermore, the Qing state managed to keep the reins of power even in the postTaiping period. It delegated many local responsibilities but in the final analysis could remove ‘managers’ it did not trust and deny funding (and ultimately legality) to organisations it did not like. In other words, there was very little space where a public sphere out­ side of the state could be found. Non-official associations may have been multiplying but they did not constitute civil power. If we look for the trends and institutions discussed by Habermas in terms of eighteenth-century Western Europe, not only does post-Taiping China obviously lack a bourgeoisie, but it lacked even the capacity to create independent public opinion, which would in turn have been necessary for any kind of civil society. The state was simply too strong, even in its weakened form. Local élites still turned to it to ratify their position and powers. Wakeman does not, of course, mean to say that we should define China by what it lacked; on the con­ trary, he finds that the attempts to impose analytical constructs derived from European history distort the true nature of Chinese society, which was simply organised on different principles. Wang Hui presented the Western European and the late Qing experience as diametrically opposed. The Habermasian civil society, “standing outside the state and bearing a special relation to the individual’s private domain”, emerged as the nation-state developed. “In late Qing China, however, various social groups were formed against the background of the decline of the state apparatus. Euro­ pean civil society, and the public sphere built on it, played a crucial role in restricting the despotic state and became a social foundation of the democratic system. In the Chinese case, the civil groups and gentry-village communities employed by the Qing government and a sector of intellectuals had a completely different significance.”3 That is, they too wanted to build a nation-state but were implicated in the functioning of the existing state rather than opposed to despo­ tism as such. Michael Tsin carried this argument in a slightly different direc­ tion. He acknowledges the oppositional nature of many social groups 3 Wang Hui, “Zhang Taiyan’s Concept of the Individual and Modern Chinese History”, in Becoming Chinese: Passages to Modernity and Beyond , ed. Wen-Hsin Yeh (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), pp. 231-59, esp. pp. 246-47, 252­ 53.

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and suggests that a new conception of “society” was opposed to the state in the late Qing; however, the various organisations that arose during this time were complicit in a nationalist discourse that sought to create a unified society. Members of these organisations sought to identify their own interests with those of the nation and often favoured increasing the powers of the state. Tsin concludes that the “plurality of civic voices” cannot be seen in isolation from the na­ tionalist project, since “nationalism tends simultaneously to enable and repress a plurality of voices from within the polity.”4 Though a convincing argument, this nonetheless speaks directly only to the issue of civil society, not the public sphere. Even if civic discourse, vol­ untary associations, the nationalist project and state power were all jumbled together indivisibly, there is no reason here why a space open to public reflection and action could not have formed. Indeed, the jumbling together of aggrandising but competing interests seems to have done just that. In general, the argument against finding a civil society or even a public sphere in modern China might be analysed in terms of three approaches: semantics, teleology and substance. I discussed Wakeman’s substantive objections to the thesis above: he offers a differ­ ent reading of the second half of the nineteenth century that stresses continuity over discontinuity. I will come back to this issue in a moment, but first I want to show why the other two critiques are less useful (although all three overlap to a degree). The semantics argument takes its definitions from Habermas (as Wakeman tends to do), to show that a public sphere and civil society as he defined them did not exist in China. But that clearly begs the question of whether some other kind of social formation might still be consid­ ered a Chinese public sphere, even though not a (Habermasian) bour­ geois public sphere.5 No scholar to my knowledge suggests that 4

Michael Tsin, “Imagining ‘Society’”, p. 213. Habermas himself suggested that a “plebeian” public sphere was a historical road not taken, which certainly implies that non-bourgeois public spheres are historically possible, although he also stressed he was describing conditions unique to Europe. See Habermas, The Structural Transformation, p. xviii. A recent article by Leo Lee founders on these semantic rocks, as he seems to accept the notion of a “public space” (in 1920s Shanghai) but not a (Habermasian) “public sphere” (although possibly a “semipublic sphere”). See Leo Ou-fan Lee, “The Cultural Construction of Modernity in Urban Shanghai: Some Preliminary Explorations”, in Yeh, Becoming Chinese, pp. 31-61, esp. p. 58, n. 8. Other scholars have begun to explore alternative public spheres, such as democratic, feminist, and national 5

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Habermas’s description of northwestern Europe in the eighteenth century can be applied to China (or even to most of Europe) with­ out considerable modification. Yet there may be enough fundamental and structural similarities to make the concept useful, especially when the idealisation inherent in Habermas’s history is kept in mind.6 William Rowe has specifically noted that although he is dubious of applying the notion of civil society to China, he is struck by the existence within China of a long discourse over gong, a term that overlaps to a considerable extent with ‘public’. This suggests that a public sphere might well not be a foreign imposition in analytical terms.7 If we define the terms more abstractly, then we can see if they apply to China and what they might tell us about China with­ out all the Habermasian baggage. For example, if civil society, as we have seen, is defined as the institutionalisation of voluntary associa­ tions between the family and the state that are reasonably free of state control and oversight while public sphere refers to less formal spaces of associational activities relating to public opinion, political and social commentary, then the possibility of a public sphere without a civil society is clear. Another of the attacks on the thesis is teleological, or an attack on a certain teleology: supposedly that a public sphere should give rise to a civil society, which in turn should give rise to a democratic order. China is/is not (pick one) going to become a democracy, hence public spheres, as well as of the working class; see inter alia Mary P. Ryan, “Gender and Public Access: Women’s Politics in Nineteenth-Century America”, pp. 258­ 88 in Calhoun, ed., Habermas and the Public Sphere; and Geoff Eley, “Nations, Publics, and Political Cultures: Placing Habermas in the Nineteenth Century”, pp. 289­ 339 in ibid. For China, see also Haiyan Lee, “All the Feelings That Are Fit to Print: The Community of Sentiment and the Literary Public Sphere in China, 1900-1918”, Modern China 27.3 (July 2001), pp. 291-327. 6 In contrasting putative historical experiences, Wang Hui may have fallen into this trap (see note 3). If it is remembered that European élites too had their government ties (and often enjoyed the privileges of high bourgeois life even under absolute monarchs), the Habermasian “public sphere” becomes less oppositional, more real, and more like late Qing China. 7 Although Rowe does not seem so certain, I think it would be difficult to attack the use of foreign or outside categories of analysis in principle. It would be excessively historicist to limit ourselves to the terms used by the historical actors themselves. How could we discuss “hunting and gathering societies” that did not call themselves such? How could we discuss Christian “hermeneutics” before the term/concept of hermeneutics was developed? “Feudalism” (whether French, Japanese, or arguably Chinese)? The point is of course not whether terms of analysis are anachronistic as terms but whether they are useful for understanding or categorizing.

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read back the lack/existence of a public sphere. However, public sphere (and civil society) can be regarded as analytical categories without attached teleologies. They can describe social formations that may tell us something about future possibilities, but they are not teleological. In terms of actual historical changes, although the Taiping Re­ bellion was a significant turning point in many respects as well as a horrifying shock to the system, it may not have been as sharp a break as some historians have suggested. As Wakeman points out, there are many precedents for the types of behaviour discussed by Rankin and Rowe (and even Strand). However, the continuity ar­ gument by itself does not prove the lack of a public sphere; it also raises the possibility that a public realm in China might have deep historical roots. In any case, it is clear that the Qing government deliberately minimised its bureaucracy and relied on local gentry to perform many quasi-public functions. In my view, a general trend accentuated by the Taiping Rebellion may be detected in which the state’s share of public activities was decreasing. A change in what we might call ‘gentry consciousness’ was a natural result, although it would have been very gradual and would have assumed orthodox (Neo-Confucian) forms. A rise in statecraft concerns can be traced throughout the entire nineteenth century, for example. A managerial ethos in economic core areas may well have emerged by the end of the century. Given the well-known connections between wealthy merchants and gentry [shenshi], it was thus natural that the emerging late Qing public sphere would be a gentry-merchant public sphere, rather than Habermas’s bourgeois public sphere. Both public spheres excluded the uneducated and, for the most part, women, but both created discourse communities specifically concerned with public issues as opposed to private ones. If the bourgeois public sphere in Europe putatively conflated uni­ versal humanity with the bourgeois (a property-owning patriarch), the gentry-merchant public sphere in modern China rested on obviously different philosophical premises. The point here is that we cannot look for gentry to have expressed oppositional views in the nineteenth century (indeed, especially in the wake of the Taiping Rebellion, the state would have seemed more necessary than ever), and the edu­ cational and the examination systems continued to link state and society closely. Nonetheless, as the state’s presence grew relatively smaller and, in the intellectual world, as the dramatic changes of

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the eighteenth century filtered down to the growing numbers of educated men in general, values began to shift.8 After the 1860s and especially in the 1890s, an influx of Western learning gave the lite­ rati new resources as well. But meanwhile, even in discussing the mid-nineteenth century, we cannot assume an exact correspondence between individual officials and the state. This point may seem obvious: officials have always been known to place family loyalties above devotion to the emperor, or to defend local or class interests against the demands of Beijing, and so forth. But it also has impli­ cations for the existence of a public sphere, which arose with the cooperation of officials, not against them, and which officials saw as aiding them in their official duties and also participated in as private individuals. At any rate, official oversight or approval of quasi-public voluntary associations cannot necessarily be regarded as state control. At the heart of this issue is an area historians normally shy away from: psychology. Did local managerial gentry still identify with the state, as they presumably had done? Did officials not identify with their families, communities and friends? Where did their hearts lie? Presumably, identities and loyalties were mixed, as the record sug­ gests; a more precise reading must await further research. The legitimation of desire As we have seen, the term si was among other things associated with the ignoble, with profit [li] or with immoral desires [yu]. Such as­ sociations persisted into the twentieth century and received new impetus under Mao Zedong (much of Maoism was dedicated to destroying the private realm), but they came increasingly under attack in late Imperial China. The legitimation of profit and of desires can be traced from the mid-Ming, in the hands of some of the followers of Wang Yangming (1472-1529), into the Qing (with ups and downs), in the hands of a variety of thinkers.9 How deeply such new ideas 8 This is an area needing further exploration, but I am chiefly thinking of the challenges to the orthodox canon being developed through the kaozheng movement and the new legitimacy given to desires (a subject which I briefly discuss below). These intellectual shifts had no pronounced social effects until the Qing was radically weakened in its very last decades, but they laid the basis for a shift in values. 9 See Wm. Theodore de Bary, “Individualism and Humanitarianism in Late Ming Thought”, pp. 145-248 in Self and Society in Ming Thought, ed. de Bary (New

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penetrated élite and popular culture is a harder question to answer, although we might also ask whether the traditional orthodoxy had thoroughly penetrated popular culture in the first place. In any case, the term si was clearly undergoing long-term modification as a small but legitimate place for desires and profit in individuals’ lives be­ came permissible. In other words, what might have been stigmatised as selfish was increasingly regarded as natural renqing [human emo­ tion], not necessarily to be morally valued but neither to be con­ demned out of hand. There seems little doubt that, broadly speaking, this reworking of moral values reflected the increasing tempo of commercialisation noticeable by the end of the sixteenth century. A conservative, strati­ fied, agrarian society was becoming less so. Older values and inter­ pretations of the Classics did not disappear, of course, and the Qing period saw competing moral ideologies. Neo-Confucianian think­ ers demanded that élites and rulers pursue moral improvement through self-cultivation. Conversely, conservative Neo-Confucians preached an ascetic ideal of self-denial that Ming and Qing rulers tried to disseminate for obvious ideological reasons, people without desires being easier to rule, and people who learnt to suppress their own desires still easier (i.e., people who were properly content with their lot would not make trouble). Reflecting the pre-capitalist val­ ues of an agrarian civilisation even (or especially) in an age of growing commercialisation, imperial edicts designed to reach the populace stressed the morality of frugality and diligence.10 York: Columbia University Press, 1970); Mizoguchi Yåzo, “Chågoku ni okeru ‘kÙ, shi’ gainen no tenki’” [The evolution of the concept of “public and private” in China], ShisÙ no. 669 (1980 no. 3), pp. 19-38; Mizoguchi Yåzo, “Chågoku no ‘kÙ, shi’” [“Public and ‘private’ in China], Bungaku no. 9 (1988), pp. 88-102, no. 10 (1988), pp. 73-84; Yu Yingshi, Zhongguo jinshi zongjiao lunli yu shangren jingshen [Modern Chinese religious theory and the commercial spirit] (Taibei: Lianjing, 1986); Zhang Shou’an, “Saoshu wufu, qing heyi kan? Qingdai ‘lizhi yu renqing zhi chongtu’ yili” [The conflict between classical ritual and human desire during the Qing: a case study of mourning garments], in Lijiao yu qingyu: qianjindai Zhongguo wenhua zhongde hou/xiandaixing [Neo-Confucian orthodoxy and human desire: post/ modernity in late imperial Chinese culture], ed. Xiong Bingzhen and Lü Miaofen (Taipei: Zhongyang yuanjiuyuan jindaishi yanjiusuo, 1999). 10 Ming Taizu toward the beginning of the Ming and the Kangxi and Yongzheng emperors of the Qing sought to impose their interpretation of ortho­ doxy on the populace. See Edward L. Farmer, “Social Regulations of the First Ming Emperor: Orthodoxy as a Function of Authority”, in Orthodoxy in Late Imperial China, ed. K.C. Liu (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 103-25; and Victor H. Mair, “Language and Ideology in the Written Popularizations of

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Nonetheless, there does seem to have been a general shift of opinion, albeit within long-established categories. As the other chap­ ters in this volume make clear, it was not that the entire realm of si suddenly became respectable, but that by the Qing certain forms of si had long been seen not only as natural but even necessary: reasonable desires, controlled forms of self-benefit, and even individual self-expression. Indeed, the term si had retained positive attributes in the Tang and into the Song, as McDougall shows in her intro­ duction to this volume. If its connotations had become markedly more negative by the Qing, however, it is still necessary to note the acknowledgement given to perfectly legitimate aspects of human nature like the needs for leisure, sex, material wealth and the like. Physical desires were seen as rooted in a human nature that was itself cosmically ordained. Even if si is understood as ‘selfishness’ or ‘self­ regard’ (see McDougall’s introduction above), late Ming thinkers like Gu Yanwu (1613-1682) and others explicitly argued that si was a basis for regard for others, as understanding of one’s own needs permits understanding of the needs of others.11 Self-regard also extends outward from individual to family, community and realm. Furthermore, self-regard collectively speaking amounted to gong (here to be understood as impartiality): put all the si together and gong results. This amounted to recognition of a legitimate private realm: the arena of desire and profit (at least by implication). Rulers are to respect the commoners’ si. Although the realm of the ruler is sup­ posed to represent gong, late Ming thinkers opposed to harsh auto­ cratic rule nonetheless sometimes allowed even rulers a certain right to desires, from which they were to gain an understanding of their subjects. The association of these ideas in a critique of the centralising monarchy found in figures like Huang Zongxi and Gu Yanwu sug­ gests that their larger reconceptualization of political values and institutions forced them to rework the entire gong/si dichotomy. Having noted these intellectual trends in late Imperial China, how­ ever, it is important to recognise the conservatism of Qing orthothe Sacred Edict”, in Popular Culture in Late Imperial China, ed. David Johnson, An­ drew J. Nathan and Evelyn S. Rawski (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), pp. 325-59. 11 Stephen C. Angle, Human Rights and Chinese Thought: A Cross-Cultural Inquiry (ms, March 2000; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming), pp. 128­ 33.

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doxy (seen, among other places, in the examination system) which still taught the illegitimacy of si (that is, errant desire, selfishness) and the legitimacy of the emperor’s claims to perfect gong [impar­ tiality] and omnipotence. The public/private distinction When we look for the public/private distinction in Chinese, we see a less-than-perfect overlap. When we look at terminology more closely, however, some interesting parallels emerge. Just as ‘public’ and ‘private’ are protean words in English, so too gong and si have been applied to a wide range of concepts. A critical point is that gong and si are often found explicitly or (almost invariably) implic­ itly paired. Ancient Chinese dictionaries defined gong in terms of the absence of si.12 As with the word ‘public’, gong might specify or in­ clude the government as part of collective concerns and the ideal of impartiality. A tripartite division was sometimes used to distin­ guish among gong, si, and guan [official],13 where the governmental sphere of guan activities is distinguished from other collective con­ cerns. Conversely, the gong/si dichotomy can map onto either government/non-government spheres, or to the sphere of the collec­ tive (including government and also most cooperative forms) and the sphere of the family and individual. Si was applied both to individ­ ual desires and to property, while that which we call ‘society’ or ‘social institutions’ could be either gong or si.14 As we have seen, gong was infused with moral qualities while si referred to matters subject to suspicion. On the other hand, as the realm of si, which included desire, was rehabilitated to a certain extent, gong could not represent absolute value. If selfishness was condemned in Chinese morality (as in all pre-capitalist moralities), altruism (implying complete impartiality) was also suspect. The notion

12

William Rowe, “The Public Sphere in Modern China”, p. 316. Ibid., pp. 320-323. Huang Kewu, “Cong zhuiqiu zhengdao dao rentong guozu—Mingmo zhi Qingmo Zhongguo gongsi guannian de chongzheng” [From the search for orthodoxy to identifying the nation: reconceptualizations of ‘public’ and ‘private’ from the late Ming to the late Qing], in Gong yu si: jindai Zhongguo geti yu qunti zhi chongjian [Public and private: reconstructing individual and collective bodies in modern China], ed. Huang Kewu and Zhang Zhejia (Taibei: Zhongyang yuanjiuyuan jindaishi yanjiusuo, 2000), pp. 59-112, esp. pp. 59-60, n. 1. 14 At least by the late Ming; see Huang Kewu, “Cong zhuiqiu”, pp. 61, 63. 13

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of graded love and the value placed on devotion to one’s own fam­ ily were to frustrate twentieth-century revolutionaries trying to create a unitary society. Like ‘public’ and ‘private’ in English, even in the most conservative, orthodox interpretation, gong and si did not map onto morally opposite absolutes but remained relative to one an­ other. However, if in general moral discourse gong and si were rich and ambiguous concepts, in political discourse they often retained a strong moral flavour. This is seen in Huang Zongxi’s famous Mingyi daifang lu [A plan for the prince], which begins: In the beginning of human life each man lived for himself [zi si] and looked to his own interests [zi li]. There was such a thing as the gen­ eral benefit [gongli], yet no one seems to have promoted it; and there was general harm, yet no one seems to have eliminated it. Then someone came forth who did not think of benefit in terms of his own benefit but sought to benefit all-under-heaven .... Thus his labours were thou­ sands of times greater than the labours of ordinary men. Now to work a thousand ... times harder without enjoying the benefit oneself is certainly not what most people in the world desire.15

Huang thus mapped gong and si onto a moral dichotomy in order to contrast the later (historical) emperors’ selfishness with the im­ partiality of the sage-kings. Yet he also stressed the naturalness of selfishness: only those rare souls, the sage-kings, escaped it, which is what qualified them to be kings. If later kings behaved selfishly, as Huang charged, such behaviour might be considered natural but disqualified them from kingship. Huang thus neatly encapsulates the trend in late Imperial China to allow si greater scope, while simul­ taneously separating the political sphere away from this trend, as a realm of pure gong. We see in Huang a real cultural and political radicalism combined with a particular use of moral conservatism.16 Although it is convenient to translate si as ‘selfish’ here, its asso­ ciation with the corrupt monarchy also connotes ‘private’. Huang charged that the empire was turned into the private property of one family, that the court and policy-making became the private con­ cern of one individual, and that the privacy of the singular impe­ 15

Huang Zongxi, in Waiting for the Dawn: A Plan for the Prince, ed. and trans. Wm. Theodore de Bary (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 91, mod. 16 For the scope of political radicalism in the seventeenth century, see Xiong Bingzhen, “Shiqi shiji Zhongguo zhengzhi sixiangzhong feichuantong chengfen de fenxi” [An analysis of non-traditional elements in seventeenth-century China’s political thought], Zhongyang yanjiuyuan jindaishi yanjiusuo jikan no. 15A (June 1986), pp. 1-31.

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rial presence (“I, the one man”) was emphasised at the expense of the people. In contrast, gong only referred to good things: the pub­ lic realm, the empire as common property, the people as a whole and the commonwealth (as verb, ‘to commonwealth’ [gong tianxia]). In English, ‘private’ refers to the individual, or other small group, or to matters pertaining directly to them; it may refer only to the individual’s secret or inner feelings and thoughts, or, more com­ monly, to behaviour and phenomena which are public: that is, open to the gaze of others, at least to a degree, such as family life. Thus we speak of ‘private wealth’, most of which will be a matter of public record, and ‘private affairs’ which are known to people other than the individual or small group. In the ancient Greek city-states, especially Athens, the barrier between the home or family on the one hand and the outside world on the other was, of course, permeable. It was also a particular historical product or social construct and not an eternal Greek trait. The distinction between the big ‘public’ households of local chief­ tains and the homes of private citizens disappeared with the ero­ sion of aristocratic privilege. Citizens’ homes were logically prior to social life, insofar as they constituted the ‘realm of necessity’, but in social practice they were regarded as unworthy, as compared to public life. That the household encompassed the world of economic activities, as Hannah Arendt points out,17 only strengthens this point: what Athenian citizens valued was the world of their common ac­ tivities. This was a political and not merely a social world, as op­ posed to the world of the household and economic activities (i.e., farming and household crafts). The recognition of the necessity of the private realm meant that, even if it could not belong to the realm of freedom, the private realm could not be completely devoid of value either. Yet even so, on a scale of values, the public would take precedence. The classical ideal relegated the private realm to the residual. Including the household, it was what was left over after the borders of the public realm were established. Even if it were more highly valued and the citizen’s freedom in the public realm more circumscribed (as in Rome), the private may have logically been prior 17 Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), pp. 58-67. We do not need to dwell on the fact that Arendt’s is an ideal­ ised portrait and that many Athenian citizens indeed valued wealth (many, in­ deed, being quite poor); the point remains that importance and value were at­ tributed to the realm of the public while denied that of the private.

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to the public realm from one point of view, but in social fact it was conceived as secondary to it. Biological life began and was main­ tained in the household, but it found meaning in the public. In sum, the classical Greek and Roman view that valued the public sphere and denigrated the private as inconsequential (at best) ap­ pears to resemble late Imperial China more than post-Renaissance Europe. It seems that discourse in late Imperial China, at least, was thoroughly permeated by moral judgements that found gong to be good and si to be evil or at least highly suspect. On the one hand, it should be possible to look for a social reality where privacy is practised in a variety of other forms, such as in the Neo-Confucian emphasis on moral autonomy, on the importance of family relations and, to a degree, relations between friends, on the private study as the proper place for gentlemanly activities, and, as Barrington Moore suggests, through li [ritual etiquette], which acted to protect an individual or a family’s space.18 A focus on the rhetoric of gong/si is not meant to imply that ‘privacy’ can only be found in si. However, on the other hand, it is in the discourse of si that we may find the beginnings of an explicit legitimation of the private realm. Family and state As is well known, the state was explicitly analogised to the family in classical Chinese political philosophy. More precisely, the two ex­ isted as social microcosm and macrocosm. The san gang [three bonds] postulated parallel hierarchical relations between ruler and minis­ ter (or subject), between father and son (or parents and children), and between husband and wife. A famous rhetorical chain in the Da xue [Great learning] linked self-management to the management of one’s family and ultimately to rulership of the realm. Conversely, “Through filial piety [xiao] the ruler is served. Through fraternal obedience [ti] superiors are served. Through compassion [ci], the common people are served.” When Confucius proclaimed that, in an ideal kingdom, children did not report their parents’ thieving to the authorities, he was not setting the family against the state, but arguing that the state would ultimately benefit from the larger so­ cial order that orderly families would provide. This became encap­ 18 Barrington Moore, Privacy: Studies in Social and Cultural History (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1984).

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sulated in such proverbs as, “The emperor rules the realm with filial piety” and, “Seek a loyal subject in a filial son.” If orderly and lov­ ing families would benefit the state, the state (the emperor) was also supposed to support such families. The emperor not only maintained the cosmic balance in general terms, he also assured that li [ritual propriety] emanated from the court. Essentially (although not liter­ ally) the same rituals applied both to family relations and to officialdom. The discourse of jia guo [family and state] dominated élite and especially official writings in late Imperial China, although the possibility of conflicts between obligations to the family and to the state was recognised.19 Hsiung Ping-chen has recently suggested that the assumption of an “immediate relationship” between the family system and the political order of China is itself a product, in part, of twentieth-century discourse on modernity that dismissed both family and state as ‘feudal’. In actual Ming-Qing social practice, she argues, family and state functioned non-analogically.20 Many close family relationships were based on emotions not applicable to the public realm. Norman Kutcher has also raised the possibility of ritual changes in the Qing that broke the family/state analogy, pointing to signifi­ cant changes in Qing policies concerning mourning rituals. Since mourning was the main form of the ritual expression of filial piety, and filial piety was the bedrock virtue that linked duties to and love for parents to duties to and love for the emperor, official policies in this regard are highly revealing. The Kangxi emperor habitually allowed high officials to ignore their traditional mourning obliga­ tions and remain at their posts. Yet in mourning his beloved grand­ mother in ways that went beyond the bounds prescribed by orthodox ritual, he also represented a privatisation of grief, reflecting tradi­ tional Manchu values and possibly also late Ming notions that ritu­ als should reflect, not form, emotions. These notions were never fully accepted in the Ming, but they are also a sign of the new attitudes toward ‘desire’ outlined above. At any rate, although rhetoric did not change much, bureaucratic practice did, and even Qianlong’s 19

See Norman Kutcher, Mourning in Late Imperial China: Filial Piety and the State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 3, 16-17. 20 Hsiung Ping-chen, “The Other Side of Filial Piety: Reflections on Com­ passion versus Loyalty in Late Imperial Chinese Family Relations”, in Huang and Zhang, Gong yu si, pp. 313-59, esp. pp. 313-18, 356-59.

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attempts to short up filial piety “were mere gestures”.21 Of course, mourning rituals were but one aspect of a complex and multifac­ eted set of relations postulated between state and family. Whether this postulate was once strong but began to break down in late Imperial China awaits further research, but it is clear that we can­ not assume the existence of an unchanging discourse. Social forces that clearly separated family from state and that granted real value to emotions were perhaps in the process of de­ marcating a private realm. Major, if gradual, structural transforma­ tions in the Qing would have supported such a process. In addition to the commercialisation of the economy, as well as its commodifi­ cation and the rise of great wealth, we can also point to demographic change and the resulting increase in the numbers of educated men (and women) and examination-certified gentry (although not in the numbers of officials). Thus on the one hand, more gentry who had no hopes of official employment would be separating family from state in order to give ultimate devotion to family, and perhaps more attention to local communities, while those men who did become officials would be pursuing their ambitions by displaying their ulti­ mate loyalty to the state (or the emperor), and thus separating fam­ ily from state as well. That is to say, for most gentry men, the family’s function as a site of sentiment and even escape from the world would be accentuated over a family and state that were enmeshed in ways marked by public symbols and performances, such as signs of of­ fice, behaviour at birthday functions and funerals, libraries and art collections, and children’s schooling). The fact that the rhetoric of family and state seems to have been little altered, however, suggests that the emergence of a publicly-acknowledged private realm re­ mained latent. In contradistinction to a public realm, any private realm remained barely if at all legitimate. Filial piety, for example, was anything but a purely private emotion or behaviour; it remained a matter of public policy, orthodoxy and state ideology, and even law. The implications of a gap between family and state for changes in the meaning of si were enormous, but it has yet to be shown that such implications were realised before the dramatic decline of the political system in the last decades of the Qing.

21

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Norman Kutcher, Mourning in Late Imperial China, pp. 9-10, 73-119 passim.

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peter zarrow Notes on the modern Chinese discourse of si: the late Qing

The importance of the notion of gong to late Qing literati has been well established.22 Many looked to a fantasised West as the fulfill­ ment of Chinese dreams of a universal commonwealth where demo­ cratic practices erased the gap between upper and lower classes and society was unified. We may conclude that the ‘West’ here was a synonym for gong values promoted by reformers. Even after more was learned of the West, like the ancient Three Dynasties [San Dai], it was less a matter worth investigation in its own right and more a symbol of goodness contrasted to immediate decadence. Indeed, as is well known, it was often claimed that the institutions of the Three Dynasties were the ancestors of Western democratic institutions: the two were equivalent. The point here is not the psychology of seek­ ing equivalence in this way but the powerful rhetorical effect of contrasting contemporary degeneration to a putatively real, historically-experienced utopia.23 What marked this utopia as such was precisely its fulfillment of gong ideals: gong and si were directly con­ trasted in the political realm. Liang Qichao was among the first to make this contrast explicit, although it had been implicit for over a generation. Possibly as early as Feng Guifen (1809-1874) and cer­ tainly by the time of Wang Tao (1828-1897) and Zheng Guanying (1842-1923) writing in the late 1860s and early 1870s, Western parliamentary systems were associated with gong and Chinese autoc­ racy with si. However, the explicit mapping of gong and si onto politics does not seem to have become a major trope until the 1890s. The transmission of the throne from father to son (which ushered in the first of the Three Dynasties) was particularly condemned as si. 22 For the case of Liang Qichao, see Hao Chang, Liang Ch’i-ch’ao and Intellectual Transition in China, 1890-1907 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971). For a more general treatment, see Huang Kewu, “Cong zhuiqiu”, pp. 76-108; Huang’s essay includes many useful comments on si but his primary focus remains on gong. 23 When some writers claimed to find in the Three Dynasties or the Classics proof of Chinese precedents for Western institutions, this may have been salve to a certain kind of wounded pride, as claimed by Joseph Levenson, Confucian China and its Modern Fate: A Trilogy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), esp. vol I, pp. 75-94. But it should also be remembered that seeking ways to comment on contemporary issues in classical sources was standard, and in this case it was a way to approach what would otherwise have been incomprehensibly foreign ideas. As well, it may be doubted how effective the salve could have been, since after all the formula still implied the superiority of Western development regardless of the question of precedence in terms of origins.

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Liang Qichao developed this line of thought into a general con­ demnation of the imperial system. Not coincidentally echoing Huang Zongxi, Liang wrote in 1896: “The Former Kings treated the em­ pire with gong [public-mindedness], and thus did they manage af­ fairs. Later ages treated the empire with si [selfishness], and thus they avoided harm [but, that is, refused to deal with important issues].”24 Liang then traced a historical process which exalted im­ perial power, intensified oppression of the people and isolated rulers from their own ministers. In this way, privatising the empire and behaving selfishly were linked in the behaviour of the monarch. Liang continued to use the gong/si dichotomy to associate the individual’s rights to autonomy and benefits (as seen in Western theory) with gong and the autocratic monopolisation of everybody else’s rights with si. In other words, this vocabulary was used to anchor an attack on the monarchy. Gong represented individual rights but only within their proper bounds, while si essentially represented the same concept of rights but as practised in an aggrandised, monopolistic and preda­ tory fashion.25 At the same time, si within its proper sphere was perfectly acceptable. Liang made this point in a private letter to Yan Fu written in early 1897 while condemning the monarchy in even sharper terms than he dared use in public.26 He began with a moral antithesis, “Monarchism is simply si [selfishness] while democracy is simply gong [public-mindedness]”,27 but immediately added, “Public-mindedness is the ultimate standard of governance while selfish­ ness is rooted in humanity.” He thus urged that a balance be struck between gong and si, recognising the naturalness of si and the like­ lihood that excessive self-suppression would lead to self-destruction. Liang Qichao returned to the question of the proper sphere of si a few years later as part of his extended reflections on citizenship. In a series of loosely connected essays written in 1902 and 1903 under the collective title Xin min shuo [On renewing the people], Liang called 24 Liang Qichao, “Lun Zhongguo jiruo youyu fangbi” [On the origins of China’s weaknesses in avoiding harm], in Yinbingshi heji: wenji [Collected essays from the Ice-drinker’s studio]; (hereafter YBSWJ) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1996), vol. 1, pp. 96-100. 25 Liang relates duties, powers and profit or benefits to one another in several contexts, including his discussions of quanli [ethically legitimate interests]. See Stephen Angle, “Human Rights”, pp. 193-218. 26 Liang Qichao, “Yu Yan Youling xiansheng shu”, in YBSWJ, vol. 1, pp. 106­ 11. 27 Ibid., p. 109; cf. Hao Chang, Liang Ch’i-ch’ao, pp. 104-5.

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for the Chinese to become more active, assertive and responsible citizens, capable of contributing to a strong nation.28 These essays advocated a strong nationalist consciousness and the ideal of devo­ tion to group. However, more was at stake here than Liang’s con­ tinuing concern with the Chinese nation. One of the longest essays was “Lun side” [On personal moral­ ity], which dealt with side [personal virtue, or private morality] in contrast to gongde [civic virtue, or public morality]. This essay ap­ peared late in the series and might represent an afterthought or rethinking of the problem.29 His “Lun gongde” [On civic virtue], published early in the series, had emphasised his central theme of the individual’s duties to the community. The later essay did not contradict this theme, but it emphasised the moral responsibilities of the individual to the self, not to the community. Liang demon­ strated that the moral process he had in mind was essentially pri­ vate, and this essay represents one of the most sustained meditations on si in the late Qing. Liang was engaged in a tirade against con­ temporary decadence (a classic conservative theme) as well as an attack on revolutionaries who favoured more radical and disruptive change than he was willing to countenance. Yet he was also exploring the roots of morality in human nature with an emphasis on what we might call training for moral behaviour, a training which ulti­ mately depended on the individual’s ability to engage in introspec­ tion detached from the concerns of the world and even the judgments of others.30 Liang explicitly denied that he had anything to add to the per­ fect understanding of morality of earlier sages and worthies, but he seems to have decided that the difficult times needed a discussion that would relate timeless truths to contemporary events. He emphasised that he was not contrasting civic virtue to personal vir­ tue as opposites (that is, in conflict with one another) but as entirely 28 See Hao Chang, Liang Ch’i-ch’ao and Huang Kewu, Yi ge beifangqi de xuanze: Liang Qichao tiaoshi sixiang zhi yanji [A rejected choice: a study of Liang Qichao’s accomodative thinking] (Taibei: Zhongyang yanjiuyuan jindaishi yanjiusuo, 1994). 29 Liang Qichao, “Lun side”, in “Xin min shuo” (hereafter XMS), in Yinbingshi zhuanji (Taibei: Taiwan Zhonghua shuju, 1972), vol. 3, pp. 118-143. The essay was published in three instalments after Liang’s visit to the US and subsequent “conservative turn”. 30 See also Liang Qichao, “De yu jian” [The mirror of moral nourishment], in Yinbingshi heji: zhuanji [Collected essays from the Ice-drinker’s studio], vol. 8, juan 26.

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complementary.31 He began with the claim that the group’s moral­ ity [qun zhi de] was nothing more than the collective virtue of each person’s morality [yi zhi de]. Citing Herbert Spencer to this effect, Liang went on to claim that the basis of the group was the individual (in effect, denying the proposition with which he might otherwise be associated, that the whole could be greater than its parts). The properties that describe the group all stem from the individual, and whatever properties describe its individual members describe the group; conversely, the group could not make up whatever proper­ ties the individual members lacked. In Liang Qichao’s terminology, ‘group’ stands for ‘nation’, which was becoming his overriding political value. Liang was thus concerned less with public morality as a general proposition and more with gongde as civic virtue. It is fair to conclude that his concern for civic virtue brought him to the problem of personal virtue, but he discovered that personal virtue was hardly a secondary issue. Rather, side was not merely the foun­ dation of gongde, but personal virtues, collectively speaking, were civic virtue. Therefore, if private persons or individuals [siren] lack their own indi­ vidual or private moral natures [siyou zhi dexing], then even a group consisting of millions of individual members could not possibly pos­ sess a public moral nature. This is easy to understand. Blind individu­ als, if massed together, will not suddenly be able to see. Deaf individu­ als, if massed together, will not suddenly be able to hear. Cowards, if massed together, will not suddenly become brave. Thus if individuals possess no self-trust, how can they trust others? If individuals are faithless to themselves, how can they have loyalty to the group? This is also very clear.32

To bring the point home to the immediate political situation, Li­ ang stressed that if the goal was to create citizens, the first require­ ment was to “nourish their personal virtue”. This applied as much to those who would do the nourishing as to the citizens themselves.33 31

XMS, pp. 118-19. XMS, p. 119. 33 By translating guomin as “citizens” and xinmin as “new citizens” I do not imply that Liang had worked out a full-fledged theory of citizenship by this point. These terms are nonetheless preferable to “nationals” or “people” since Liang’s conception was of a more active and educated (or to be educated) populace as opposed to the passive commoners of the Confucian tradition; furthermore, insofar as Liang is taking guomin from the Japanese kokumin, it connotes Meiji constitutionalism. See Peter Zarrow, “Introduction: Citizenship in China and the West”, in Fogel and Zarrow, eds., Imagining the People, pp. 3-38. 32

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Morality itself, for Liang, was indivisible: not a matter of public or private but a single concept. Furthermore, Liang claimed that both Western and Chinese scholars defined morality in terms of group needs. Morality was relational: it arose through the interac­ tions of individuals. What furthered public peace and benefit was moral, and what hurt them was immoral. An individual isolated on an island inevitably lacked morality: moral questions simply did not apply to behaviour in this context. Nonetheless, Liang did not con­ clude that morality was somehow not rooted in the individual; rather, it was precisely derived from the private individual. Civic virtue (or public morality) is simply the extension of private morality. Indeed, thinking of the needs of the group, Liang concluded that a society might lack civic virtue, but if personal virtue could be found in abundance, then it would take very little effort to create civic vir­ tue. Conversely, a society whose members lacked personal virtue could never become generally moral. Looking at China, Liang was highly pessimistic. Liang Qichao advertised his approach to morality as conserva­ tive (or at least anti-revolutionary), but in deriving so many of his views from Wang Yangming, he inevitably raised the problem of individual subjectivity. He rooted morality in an intensely private process of introspection and self-reform. On the one hand, innate good knowledge represents the worth of subjectivity as well as the goal of a kind of technology of introspection. On the other hand, by itself it can only represent the germ of moral praxis, which needs further efforts. Presumably moral theory, the admonitions of par­ ents, teachers and friends, and ‘rules’ could all help the individual achieve goodness. Yet in spite of the fact he was writing an intensely political tract, Liang emphasised only the individual’s lonely pur­ suit of morality in mental isolation. Although this essay was not part of a discourse of si (and desires are still treated with suspicion), it nonetheless placed a very high value on privacy indeed. Si and the private realm On the one hand, Liang Qichao basically demanded that individ­ uals subjugate their ‘selfish natures’ for the sake of the collectivity: the nation. He raised the group [qun] and the ‘public’ or ‘public­ mindedness’ [gong] to the highest value as alternative ways of talk­ ing about the nation. Ascribing such discursive space to gong might

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seem to leave little room for si. On the other hand, as we have seen, the nation naturally depended on morality, and morality in turn depended on the individual. Furthermore, it depended on individ­ uals marked by subjectivity and autonomy. It is true that morality, for Liang, was inherently social: the individual alone on the island had no morality. Yet the social nature of morality did not mean that its practice (which is to say the essential meaning of morality) existed anywhere but in the individual. Liang emphasised that this prac­ tice was rooted in the individual’s very subjectivity, or liangzhi [in­ nate good knowledge], effectively creating a large discursive space for si precisely in the most private realm of all: the individual’s mind. Thus, without attributing value to the individual in and of him/ herself, Liang nonetheless made si the very basis of his moral sys­ tem and ultimately of his political system as well. As Huang Kewu has pointed out, “for Liang, the mutual depen­ dence of individual values and group values is very largely a ques­ tion of individual morality.”34 Liang did not define the relationship between collectivity and individual members antagonistically. Rather, just as the collectivity was greater than any individual member, it could only operate through morally autonomous individuals as mutuality rather than subjugation. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that Liang often did use a binary structure to set the nation off against other potential claimants for loyalty or identity: aside from the in­ dividual, there were also the family, the clan, the court, culture, cosmopolitanism and so forth. It is all the more important to realise that these were not necessarily mutually exclusive oppositions. It might be argued that there was little new and nothing modern in Liang’s views, which were apparently derived from Wang Yangming, took Zeng Guofan as a model and neglected ‘privacy’ in any explicit way. But such an argument ignores the new context that gave rise to urgent political reformulations, as well as the force of the implicit limitations on gong. Even if privacy was not explicitly defined as a value, it is clearly inherent to Liang’s approach to morality. It may have been inherent to all forms of xiushen [self­ cultivation] and jingzuo [meditation] in the long tradition from which Liang was borrowing.35 But if Liang was trying to preach some version of traditional values, his motives were to create an unprec­ 34

Huang Kewu, Yi ge bei fanqi de xuanze, p. 66. I would argue that thinking, as a neurological process, is inherently private: to protect thinking (or introspection) is to protect a private space. 35

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edented sort of nation-state. In a larger sense, the state- and nationbuilding projects inevitably required a rethinking of si. The nationalism of the late Qing was not the only factor; the social changes of the late Qing also made this rethinking possible. The associations drawn between gong [public], qun [group], nation and justice inevitably created a space for si, and within this sphere be­ gan to place the individual and privacy. In other words, quite an­ cient dichotomies meant that to have a clear sphere of gong necessitated a clear si sphere. Liang Qichao’s moral discourse, self­ consciously rooted in indigenous notions, reflects the scope of this sphere and the importance of privacy in introspection. The longterm trend toward legitimating desire did not lead to a clear legiti­ mation of si as a whole, as we have seen above. But it did encourage thinking about si as a natural function and legitimating aspects of si such as privacy. To condemn the emperorship as si (that is, deny­ ing the claim that the subject-emperor bond was analogous to the child-parent bond) was not to condemn si as such. ‘Private moral­ ity’ then was by no means a contradiction in terms but an essential category. Although the populace generally represented gong values,36 insofar as si was sometimes associated with the people, the si sphere was certainly not a bad thing. For intellectuals like Liang, excessive individualism was dangerous, but they sought to guard against this danger precisely by creating the morally-rooted individual. The private realm was thus not a residual category, left over after the public sphere was defined, but an essential part of the late Qing reconceptualisation of the political. Nor was the private realm purely instrumental, designed to contribute to group survival and then to be discarded; rather, in Liang’s moral vision, it was an integral part of an ongoing political process. Neither gong nor si could be imag­ ined without the other.37 The concept of rights [quanli], especially in the sense of a citizen’s rights and duties, was part of a complex emerging discourse in which rights were associated both with gong and with si. In other words, I suspect that late Qing thinkers increas­ ingly saw rights as operating in the public sphere but as rooted in the private sphere. This conception would be analogous to Liang’s views on morality. The complex of problems surrounding si arose in the context of 36 37

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See Mizoguchi Yåzo, “Chågoku ni okeru ‘kÙ, shi’”, pp. 32-35.

See Huang Kewu, “Cong zhuiqiu”, p. 95.

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the ongoing political crises of the late Qing.38 In this context, Liang Qichao used a traditional vocabulary to investigate new questions about political community. He discovered or rediscovered the pri­ vate sphere as the source of an unchanging moral base, as he and others simultaneously pursued fundamental political change in radical and destabilising ways. The abandonment of the civil service exami­ nations in 1905, the weakening of classical studies, the rise of West­ ern learning and the collapse of the monarchy itself all seemed to threaten to create a moral vacuum. Liang thought this threat could be met through the ultimately private sphere of individual subjec­ tivity. His reflections on personal morality were written as he turned to a statist organic nationalism and “enlightened despotism”. Yet radical and anti-Manchu republicans also often sought a statist sort of unity. In any case, Liang’s views were certainly not unique. His highly critical tone acts to position the author as a lonely voice, but similar ideas were being voiced by many, including those consciously or unconsciously echoing Liang himself. The influence of Wang Yangming among revolutionaries, for example, was enormous.39 What they made of si remains to be seen, but certainly neither subjectivity nor the notion of personal rights belonged to Liang alone. On the other hand, it is true that late Qing thinkers do not seem to have valued the private realm as a refuge or escape from the world. It would perhaps be difficult anywhere to find social thinkers with this point of view, although Zhang Binglin may have sometimes come close.40 Late Qing thinkers never celebrated the entirety of what John Stuart Mill called “the private side of life”. Nor did late Qing thinkers conceive of privacy rights in ways familiar at the beginning of the twenty-first century (but not, it should be emphasized, to the writ­ ers of the US Constitution). But they did, in their effort to imagine a new national community and a new relationship between state and people, conceive of a legitimate si sphere. It should also be remembered, as Mizoguchi Yåzo points out, that 38 There is, of course, a large secondary literature on these topics; notwith­ standing more recent work, perhaps most relevant here are Hao Chang’s Liang Ch’i-ch’ao and his Chinese Intellectuals in Crisis (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987). 39 Song Jiaoren’s diaries repeatedly refer to Wang Yangming, showing, for example, that he spent most of January 1906 reading Chuanxilu [Instructions for practical living]. See Song Jiaoren, Wo zhi lishi [My history] (Taibei: Wenxing shudian, 1962), pp. 97-101 (3.5a-7a). 40 See Wang Hui, “Zhang Taiyan’s Concept”.

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in the broader political discourse it was si, not gong, that became associated with government, rulership and officialdom, while gong became associated with the people, equality, freedom and non-official spheres.41 Late Qing thinkers condemned rulers who could be characterised as si because rulership was supposed to be gong; the problem lay not in any inherently evil nature of si but in its misap­ plication. Indeed, gong and si were seen as complementary; thinkers as early as Huang Zongxi already referred to gong as si understood collectively. It should not be surprising that, as the public sphere was enlarged both socially and discursively in the late Qing, si and, with it, something corresponding in part to a private sphere, should have received new attention.

41 Mizoguchi Yåzo, “Chågoku ni okeru ‘kÙ, shi,’” vol. 1, pp. 96-97; vol. 2, pp. 75-78.

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FUNCTIONS AND VALUES OF PRIVACY IN THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN LU XUN AND XU GUANGPING, 1925-1929

Bonnie S. McDougall

The publication of qingshu [love-letters] by literary couples in China between 1924 and 1933 is a phenomenon without obvious precedents either in Chinese or Western literary history; the most likely source of inspiration is the overtly autobiographical (or pseudo-autobiographical) epistolary fiction that immediately preceded it.1 The most famous collection of love-letters from this time, and itself in some ways a work of autobiographical fiction, is the edited correspond­ ence between Lu Xun and Xu Guangping, published under the title Liang di shu [Letters between two] in 1933.2 In both the original and edited versions of the letters, the two writers dwell on three privacyrelated issues: secrets and secrecy, solitude and seclusion, and pri­ vate interests and spheres.

1 A discussion of this phenomenon appears in Chapter 9 of McDougall, Loveletters and Privacy in Modern China: The Intimate Lives of Lu Xun and Xu Guangping (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); the present paper is based on Chapter 22 of the same book. For a discussion of the relationship between published letters and epistolary fiction, see McDougall, “Revealing to Conceal: Love-letters and Pri­ vacy in Republican China”, in Concealing to Reveal: the ‘Private’ and ‘Sentiment’ in Chinese History and Culture (Taipei: Center for Chinese Studies, forthcoming). For a com­ prehensive summary of published qingshu see Raoul David Findeisen, “From Lit­ erature to Love: Glory and decline of the love letter genre”, in The Literary Field of Twentieth-Century China, ed. Michel Hockx (Richmond: Curzon Press, 1999), pp. 79-112. 2 There are several modern editions of Liang di shu: for example, in the stan­ dard collection Lu Xun quan ji, vol. 11 (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1981). The edition edited by Wang Dehou et al., Lu Xun zuopin quan bian: Liang di shu (Hangzhou: Zhejiang wenyi chubanshe, 1998), corrects some minor errors and has more comprehensive and reliable footnotes. For my English translation of Liang di shu see Letters between Two (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2000) (abbreviated hereafter as LBT); the index in this edition is defective.

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bonnie s. mcdougall The correspondence

The correspondence in Letters between Two was written in three stages between 1925 and 1929. Part I, dating from March to July 1925 and written when both Lu Xun and Xu Guangping were living in Peking, is an integral part of the courtship which led to their be­ coming lovers that autumn. Part II dates from September 1926 to January 1927, following their separation as they both went south to teach, Lu Xun to Amoy and Xu Guangping to her hometown Canton; in this stage, the lovers explore the changes in their rela­ tionship and confirm their intimacy by exchanging trivial informa­ tion on their domestic lives. Part III was written in May and June 1929, after the two had set up home together in Shanghai; Lu Xun made a brief visit to Peking to see his mother, leaving Xu Guangping in Shanghai in case the rigours of travel might affect the baby they were expecting, and their letters are tender and affectionate mes­ sages about their respective states of mind and body. In 1932, observing the commercial success of published love-letters, Lu Xun and Xu Guangping decided to publish their own correspondence. Other motives, declared and undeclared, include their wish to explain their relationship to their son as he grew up and their desire to control their own story by taking it over from the gossip-mongers. To present themselves as they wished to be known to the public, Lu Xun, presumably in consultation with Xu Guangping, made drastic changes to the contents, deleting, re-writing and even adding long passages. The accident of Lu Xun’s fame led to the publication of the original correspondence in the 1980s,3 making them unique among Chinese love-letter collections.4 A comparison between the original letters with the published versions shows that the ‘personal space’ created by Lu Xun’s edito­ rial interventions corresponds closely in content, functions and val­ ues to what is generally understood by ‘privacy’ in contemporary 3 The complete text of the original letters from both sides, first printed in 1984, appears as an appendix in Wang Dehou et al., Lu Xun zuopin quan bian: Liang di shu, pp. 391-634. For a letter-by-letter comparison of the two versions, see Wang Dehou, <Liang di shu> yanjiu 2nd ed. (Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1995) (abbrevi­ ated hereafter as LDSYJ). A facsimile edition was published in 1998. 4 While Chinese scholars may have access to letter manuscripts, this privilege is rarely granted to outsiders; it is also rare for manuscript versions to be pub­ lished unedited.

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Western studies.5 The evidence suggests that Lu Xun and Xu Guangping’s ‘personal space’ can be regarded as an inner level of privacy from which they sought to exclude the readership that they admitted to an outer level in publishing their letters. Secrets and secrecy The study of secrecy by Western sociologists begins with Georg Simmel’s Soziologie, Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung (1908), which has become the canonical source on the topic since its English translation in 1950.6 Simmel regarded secrecy, “the hiding of realities by negative or positive means, [as] one of man’s great­ est achievements .… The secret offers, so to speak, the possibility of a second world alongside the manifest world; and the latter is decisively influenced by the former .… For even where one of the two does not notice the existence of a secret, the behavior of the concealer, and hence the whole relationship, is certainly modified by it.”7 He pointed out that, “the secret is often ethically negative; for, the secret is a general sociological form which stands in neu­ trality above the value functions of its contents. It may absorb the highest values—as, for instance, in the case of the noble individual whose subtle shame makes him conceal his best in order not to have it remunerated by eulogy and other rewards; for, otherwise, he would possess the remuneration, as it were, but no longer the value itself. On the other hand, although the secret has no immediate connec­ tion with evil, evil has an immediate connection with secrecy: the immoral hides itself for obvious reasons even where its content meets with no social stigma as, for instance, in the case of certain sexual delinquencies.”8 Simmel captures the attraction of secrecy beyond its immediate 5

As far as I am aware, this text-based approach to the study of privacy has not previously been attempted. Although accredited scholars may find Western letter archives more readily accessible than Chinese ones, I know of no example where a collection of Western love-letters published by one or both of the corre­ spondents has been followed by the publication of the unedited manuscript ver­ sions. 6 The Sociology of Georg Simmel, translated, edited and with an introduction by Kurt H. Wolff (New York: Free Press, 1950); see Part Four: The Secret and the Secret Society, pp. 307-76. 7 Simmel, The Sociology of Georg Simmel, p. 330. 8 Ibid., p. 331.

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instrumental use: “In the first place, the strongly emphasized exclu­ sion of all outsiders makes for a correspondingly strong feeling of possession. For many individuals, property does not fully gain its significance with mere ownership, but only with the consciousness that others must do without it …. Moreover, since the others are excluded from the possession—particularly when it is very valuable— the converse suggests itself psychologically, namely, that what is denied to many must have special value.”9 At an even deeper level, he explores our fascination with secrets and the sense of pleasure associated with concealment, disclosure and betrayal: “The secret puts a barrier between men but, at the same time, it creates the tempting challenge to break through it, by gossip or confession— and this challenge accompanies its psychology like a constant overtone.”10 The mystery surrounding secrecy is imaginatively transferred to the study of mundane transactions in Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1969). According to Goffman, secrecy is a kind of “backstage behaviour” that establishes intimacy between a cou­ ple or among a group. He distinguishes between three kinds of secrecy: dark, strategic and inside; inside secrets may not be very dark but simply trivial or domestic.11 In similar fashion, Julie C. Inness in Privacy, Intimacy, and Isolation (1992) differentiates between intimate and non-intimate secrets.12 By contrast, Carol Warren and Barbara Laslett dispel this appre­ ciation of the licit and illicit pleasures of secrecy in their “Privacy and Secrecy: A Conceptual Comparison” (1997).13 Drawing on “a considerable body of sociological and social psychological literature on secrecy” since Simmel, they distinguish between ‘privacy’ (con­ cealment of intimate facts or relationships that are morally neutral or acceptable), ‘private-life secrecy’ (concealment of behaviour in private life that is an actual or potential threat to the moral or 9

Ibid., p. 332. Ibid., pp. 333-34. 11 Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (London: The Pen­ guin Press, 1969), pp. 123-24. 12 Julie C. Inness, Privacy, Intimacy, and Isolation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 60-61. 13 Carol Warren and Barbara Laslett, “Privacy and Secrecy: A Conceptual Comparison”; reprinted in Secrecy: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, ed. Stanton K. Tefft (New York: Human Sciences Press, 1980), pp. 25-34. 10

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political order), and ‘public-life secrecy’ (political or business relat­ ed secrecy, including journalism).14 They point out that the secrets can be individual, shared by a couple, shared by a family, or shared by a large unit such as a government department.15 Comparing privacy and secrecy, they conclude that privacy is more likely to be available to adults, the healthy, and socially privileged, while secre­ cy is more likely to be practised by children, the ill, the morally stigmatised and lower socio-economic classes, and by those with high public visibility.16 Again, “Privacy is consensual; the behaviour it protects is socially legitimated and seen as nonthreatening to oth­ ers. Secrecy is nonconsensual; the behaviours it protects are seen as illegitimate and as involving the interests of the excluded.” Stanton Tefft reached a similar conclusion by analysing secrecy according to conflict theory:17 “Individuals and the organisations to which they belong determine the rewards or costs of secrecy in terms of their own self-interests as the conflict with outsiders intensifies or dissipates …. Secrecy is a social resource which opponents can use defensively or offensively during social conflicts.”18 “To the extent that secrecy denies social actors information which might reveal that they are exploited, or manipulated by others, to that extent then secrecy promotes order. For the most part, however, secrecy fur­ thers social antagonisms and tensions …. Each of us, by choice or by the requirements of certain group memberships, pursue our interests through both concealing information and disclosing it …. Secrecy enables the powerful to escape accountability for their ex­ ploitation and manipulation of the weak and enables the weak to escape coercion by the powerful and to oppose them.”19 By ignoring the magical properties of secrecy and its function in creating intimacy, Warren & Laslett and Tefft end up with impov­ erished, negative appraisals of secrets.20 The balance is somewhat restored by Sissela Bok, whose previous work includes Lying (1978). Although Bok indicates aspects of life where both secrecy and pri­ vacy can be undesirable in Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and 14

Warren and Laslett, “Privacy and Secrecy”, p. 25.

Ibid., p. 30.

16 Ibid., p. 32.

17 Stanton K. Tefft, “Secrecy, Disclosure and Social Theory”, in Tefft, ed.,

Secrecy: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, pp. 35-74. 18 Ibid., p. 63. 19 Ibid., p. 67. 20 Ibid., p. 32. 15

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Revelation (1984), she takes a minority view in upholding secrecy as deserving protection in law.21 Undifferentiated secrecy, however, is not generally given a strong positive value in Western countries, and laws on privacy do not grant a fundamental right to secrecy. The terms mi or mimi [secret] are used sparingly in Lu Xun’s and Xu Guangping’s correspondence, and their secrets are domestic and intimate rather than dark or strategic. Nevertheless their secrets created “a second world” which they cherish and to which they deny access by others. The earliest use of the word mimi occurs in Part I, where in a letter written immediately after a visit to Lu Xun’s home in March 1925, Xu Guangping refers to his studio-bedroom as a mimi wo [secret nest]: this is changed in Letters between Two to zun fu [honourable residence], and subsequent use of the term is also revised.22 It is likely that in 1932 Lu Xun thought that mimi wo sounded too intimate for a stu­ dent to use in correspondence with her teacher about his domestic arrangements. The last instance occurs in Part III, in 1929, where Lu Xun writes that he has told his friends in Peking about their affair and cohabitation but not about their mi (i.e., her pregnancy).23 Lu Xun suppresses this passage in Letters between Two, as with all refer­ ences to Xu Guangping’s pregnancy: although their son is now born, he appears to feel that pregnancy is too intimate a matter for pub­ lic mention. Sharing these secrets is a bond between them, and keeping them out of the public eye is another. Editing the letters in 1932, Lu Xun denied that he had any se­ crets. When he left Amoy to take up a professorship at Zhongshan University, he suspected that one of the students accompanying him had been sent by the Amoy University authorities to find out his real reason for breaking his contract. He mentioned his suspicions in a letter to Xu Guangping written on board, and for the published version he added, “Although I don’t indeed have any secrets [mimi], nevertheless it is irritating to have to put up with this kind of thing.”24 His denial is disingenuous, since despite the gossip about them, Lu 21 Sissela Bok, Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984). For her distinction between secrecy and privacy, see pp. 10-14; for privacy as a legal right, see pp. 90, 141. 22 Letter 13, 16 April 1925; LDSYJ, p. 255; LBT, p. 63. 23 Letter 126, 25 and 26 May 1929; LDSYJ, p. 209; LBT, p. 366. 24 Letter 113, 17 January 1927; LDSYJ, p. 189; LBT, p. 342.

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Xun and Xu Guangping were still attempting to conceal their re­ lationship, and neither at the time nor subsequently was Lu Xun prepared to admit that his main reason for going to Canton was to rejoin Xu Guangping (see also below). Alternatively, Lu Xun’s edi­ torial addition might be meant to signify that he had no hidden political mission in going to Canton. In their conduct and in words, Lu Xun and Xu Guangping shared a belief that letters were confidential to sender and recipient unless agreed for public release by joint consent. In her early letters to Lu Xun, who was already a famous and influential figure in the liter­ ary scene, Xu Guangping would have been conscious that at some point her letters to him, and almost certainly his letters to her, might reach publication. She is the first to anticipate this, writing in June 1925 to suggest that some passages in his letters could be patched together for publication in his journal Mangyuan [The wilderness].25 At this stage in their correspondence Lu Xun was still very cautious in what he put on paper, and publication of these excerpts without prior editing would have revealed not much that was personal, nothing that was secret. Nevertheless, Lu Xun did not then adopt her suggestion. Their expectation that personal letters should be regarded as secret is articulated in an exchange in 1925, when Xu Guangping had been expelled from Women’s Normal College but had refused to move out of her dormitory. Xu Guangping begins her letter by express­ ing her anxiety that “the enemy” (changed to “they” in Letters be­ tween Two) may have opened his last letter to her.26 It is implied first that letters should not be read by third parties, and second that if anyone has tampered with the mail it must have been the College authorities. Lu Xun’s response, especially his admitted carelessness in sealing his letters, suggests that he also takes it for granted that letters will be not be opened and read by third parties and that there is no postal censorship in China at that time.27 (It was not until 1933 that censorship officially became a function of the Chinese Post Office.28) He remarks that tampering with the mail [si zhe hanjian] 25 26 27 28

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Letter 31, 19 June 1925; LBT, p. 118.

Letter 25, 1 June 1925; LDSYJ, p. 34; LBT, p. 101.

Letter 26, 2 June 1925; LBT, p. 103.

I am indebted to Hans van de Ven for this information.

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is customary in China, and that he had been expecting something like this to happen. The meaning of si in this context is not entirely clear, but it may suggest that the tamperers are individuals or insti­ tutions rather than official agencies; in any case, si has a negative connotation, suggesting something underhand or illicit. In Amoy, Lu Xun finds the Post Office regulations for preserving the secrecy of registered letters merely ridiculous.29 When they settled in Shanghai in October 1927, Lu Xun and Xu Guangping first occupied different storeys in the same house, and it took some time even for friends to realise that they were living together. Their relationship was no secret, however, to Lu Xun’s youngest brother, Zhou Jianren, who had set up house next door with his former student, Wang Yunru, and their children. Like his brother, Zhou Jianren had a wife in Peking, and there was great sympathy between the two couples in their similar predicament. Despite their intimacy, however, Xu Guangping concealed from Zhou Jianren and his family her expeditions to the Post Office to mail letters to Lu Xun in Peking in 1929, and even tried to prevent letting the postal clerks suspect how frequent her letters are. Mak­ ing a joke of her secretiveness, she writes: “I realise that it’s not important if people know but naturally it seems as if I feel there is something secret [mimixing shide] about it”.30 In Letters between Two, the first part of the sentence is changed to “I realise that it’s not a secret…”, perhaps acknowledging that these playful and affection­ ate “secrets” can now be made public.31 Like letters, the contents of diaries are also expected to be secret, although there is no reason not to refer to their existence. The first reference in the correspondence to diaries is when Lu Xun checks his diary about mail he has sent to her from Amoy; this is retained in Letters between Two.32 Xu Guangping’s teasing rebuke for having muddled the dates in his diary is deleted in Letters between Two, but probably only because it occurs in a longer passage about missing journal issues; the passage as a whole is presumably considered to be too trivial for reader interest.33 Xu Guangping’s single mention 29 30 31 32 33

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Letter 64, 29 October 1926; LBT, p. 223.

Letter 120, 17 May 1929; LDSYJ, p. 201.

LBT, pp. 355-56.

Letter 66, 1 November 1926; LBT, p. 226.

Letter 74, 11 November 1926; LDSYJ, p. 106.

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of her “simple diary” is retained.34 On his visit to Peking in 1929, Lu Xun gets very agitated when he discovers that a cousin staying at West Third Lane in his absence has been reading his old diaries, although there is little intimate information in them.35 His anxiety reminds Xu Guangping to remind him to buy adequate supplies of the right kind of notebook for his diaries while he is in Peking.36 Neither of these remarks requires editorial intervention. The general impression from the correspondence is that although Lu Xun and Xu Guangping felt justified in regarding the contents of letters and diaries as secret, they felt vaguely embarrassed about admitting to sharing secrets or having secret lives. Their ambiva­ lence corresponds to the kinds of ambiguity about secrets described by Goffman, Inness and Bok. As described above, some of their secrets (or talk about secrets) have the function of creating or con­ firming intimacy between them; others, such as the contents of Lu Xun’s diary or their letters, suggest that these personal documents, innocuous though they may be, are nevertheless not for the public gaze except at the authors’ choosing. A third possibility is that in­ formation released not by consent may cause trouble to the authors or to a third party. In their own developing relationship, secrecy becomes an absolute need as they approach and then practice adul­ tery, and although as an accepted couple in the 1930s they no longer need it in the same way, they still wish to preserve their secret world. Solitude and seclusion The relationship between seclusion and privacy is a close one. In one Dutch-English/English-Dutch dictionary, the translation for ‘privacy’ is given as afzondering, but the translation of afzondering is given as ‘seclusion’.37 If the connotations of si in Chinese tend to be negative, the word you [seclusion] is almost always agreeable. In Du Fu’s “General He” poems (a set of fifteen poems on Du Fu’s visit to the retired general’s estate), the concept of seclusion is the 34

Letter 110, 5 January 1927; LBT, p. 333. Letter 116, 15 May 1929; Letter 118, 19 and 21 May 1929; LBT, pp. 350 and 353. 36 Letter 120, 17 May 1929; LBT, p. 355. 37 Fernand G. Renier, Dutch Dictionary: Dutch-English, English-Dutch (London: Routledge, 1989). 35

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key to the whole set, even to the extent that the word you appears eleven times in the fifteen poems.38 The reader understands that the poet, as the guest of General He, is accompanied in this desirable seclusion by his host and probably other guests as well, and the poem itself is an exercise in sociability. Nonetheless, the poet’s longing for seclusion (a home of his own far from the troubles of official life) can be regarded as entirely sincere. Neither in English nor in Chi­ nese is seclusion necessarily solitude. Neither Lu Xun nor Xu Guangping discusses their attitudes to­ wards solitude or seclusion in any kind of systematic way, and there is no particular vocabulary they use to describe these states. Most of their remarks on seclusion are in the form of complaints about the intrusion of other people on their personal time and space: Lu Xun introduces the topic and sets the tone. These passages occur only in Part II of the correspondence, i.e., in the context of con­ firming their own intimacy. Before moving to Amoy, Lu Xun had not taught full-time or lived on campus, and he found it hard to get accustomed to claims on his time from colleagues and students. His letters from Amoy ex­ press his irritation about having nowhere to hide from unwelcome visits by students or staff39 and his hopes of being free from such intrusions in Canton.40 With one exception, these passages are re­ tained in Letters between Two, suggesting that Lu Xun was not em­ barrassed by his lack of sociability; he concealed his irritation at students, however, referring to them only as “visitors” in Letters be­ tween Two.41 Contemplating his move to Canton, where he would also be housed on campus, Lu Xun justifies his desire to avoid visitors as a hindrance to his work, although another reason for seclusion—pressing in Canton but absent in Amoy—would have been in order to have time alone with Xu Guangping. Not long after moving to Canton, he left his campus dormitory and moved to a house with Xu Guangping and his old friend Xu Shouchang. Lu Xun also expresses exasperation at having to take part in the 38

See Eva Shan Chou, “Tu Fu’s ‘General Ho’ Poems: Social Obligations and Poetic Response”, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 60 no. 1 (June 2000): pp. 165­ 204, esp. pp. 199-201. 39 Letter 85, 2 December 1926; Letter 86, 3 December 1926; LBT, pp. 280 and 282. 40 Letter 93, 12 December 1926; LBT, p. 298. 41 LDSYJ, p. 151.

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normal round of social activities in Amoy. In one letter he claims that his main reason (changed in Letters between Two to a “minor part” of his reason) for leaving Peking was to get some rest from this kind of intrusion on his time;42 this change lends more weight to his political reasons for leaving Peking. Elsewhere, to emphasise his impatience with the hypocritical farewells that precede his leaving Amoy, he adds the extra line: “This kind of boring socialising is really the enemy of life”.43 This kind of attitudinising is conventional among writers and academics and need not be taken too literally. Xu Guangping was probably influenced by his rhetoric. In a pas­ sage retained in Letters between Two, for instance, she echoes his condemnation of “wasteful” social intercourse, although in other passages she appears to enjoy outings with friends and colleagues.44 Not being famous, of course, spares her the excessive attention paid to Lu Xun. In another passage, she complains that her exploitative family regard her as a dushenzhuyizhe [alone-ist], a charge to which she lamely responds that she is not any kind of “ist”.45 This pas­ sage is deleted in Letters between Two, presumably because of the unfavourable light it casts on her relatives; Lu Xun and Xu Guangping were as protective of their families’ privacy as of their own. In 1929, circumstances had changed: together as a couple, not living in a campus dormitory, they no longer found the company of others oppressive. On his brief visit to Peking, Lu Xun takes pleas­ ure in looking up his old friends and spending time with them, and Xu Guangping encourages him to make best use of this opportu­ nity. Still, as the time approaches for them to be reunited, they express their longing to spend time alone together, perhaps in some peaceful rural setting. Lu Xun reports that Peking is very tranquil [chenjing],46 almost like an “other-worldly Peach Blossom Spring”.47 A few days later, Xu Guangping describes to him an excursion with her Aunt Feng to a place that is “extremely tranquil and secluded” [ji wei qing you] and “a true other-worldly Peach Blossom Spring, the very acme of tranquillity” [qingjing zhi zhi].48 Lu Xun, who did not 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

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Letter Letter Letter Letter Letter Letter Letter

102, 29 December 1926; LDSYJ, p. 165; LBT, p. 318.

109, 6 January 1927; LDSYJ, p. 180; LBT, p. 332.

51, 30 September and 4 October 1926; LBT, p. 180.

107, 30 December 1926; LDSYJ, p. 178.

121, 22 May 1929; LBT, p. 358.

122, 23 May 1929; LBT, p. 360.

134, 28 May 1929; LBT, p. 379.

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receive this letter in time to reply to it, deleted the latter phrase from Letters between Two49 and added the following passage to his last let­ ter from Peking: “Why don’t we go to some small village incognito, not telling a single soul, and just enjoy ourselves”;50 it is as if he transferred the responsibility for their shared desire for seclusion from her to him. These were the only occasions where either of them associated seclusion with the countryside. It is noticeable that the setting described by Xu Guangping is only semi-rural, and that Lu Xun was bored by country towns such as Amoy, Hangchow or Shaoxing. Unlike Rousseau, Lu Xun did not seek personal privacy in nature.51 From the above, it can be seen that Lu Xun and Xu Guangping understood seclusion as an opportunity for them to be together, or (if they were apart) at least to be free from the distraction of third parties so that they could think about each other. Although their expressed dislike of social intercourse need not be taken too liter­ ally, it is implied that only in seclusion (whether alone or together) can their authentic, private selves find rest and renewal. Private interests, private spheres As noted in the introduction to this volume, the word ‘private’ in English has long had the peculiar sense of ‘private property’ or ‘pri­ vate access (or way)’. The term ‘private sphere’, as distinct from the public sphere, may denote the family or the home, both of which are customarily regarded as locations for privacy, but it may also refer to other transactions, such as business or industry, which are carried out in public for private gain. The same ambiguity can be found in Chinese, where si covers a range of meanings including selfish and personal, as well as anything that is not public.52 In this section, I will examine the meanings of si in the correspondence be­ tween Lu Xun and Xu Guangping. 49

LDSYJ, p. 220. Letter 135, 30 May and 1 June, 1929; LDSYJ, p. 224. 51 For Rousseau’s views on privacy, see Margaret Ogrodnick, Instinct and Inti­ macy: Political Philosophy and Autobiography in Rousseau (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1999), Chapter 7, “Public and Private Realms”, pp. 162-93; for his in­ terest in solitude and nature, see pp. 165-66. 52 An example of si meaning “personal” in a neutral sense is in Yu Dafu’s essay title, “Yiwen sijian” [A personal view on literature and the arts]; see Yu Dafu wen ji, vol. 5, pp. 117-19. 50

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In their 1925 letters, Lu Xun and Xu Guangping paid little atten­ tion to the matter of the public interest versus private/selfish inter­ ests; to the extent it is mentioned, both accept the conventional interpretation of high-minded scholars in the late Qing and Repub­ lican period that only the former is honourable.53 Xu Guangping worries briefly about using a public cause for private ends when she gives way to the impulse to denounce the principal of Women’s Normal College during a student demonstration against the May Thirtieth Incident, but both causes are in the public political do­ main, and the passage is retained in full in Letters between Two.54 In the same letter, Xu Guangping castigates the student leaders for not subordinating their private ambitions [sijian] for the sake of the cause; this passage is weakened in Letters between Two, presumably because Lu Xun wished to avoid showing Xu Guangping being over-critical of the student movement.55 There is no indication in their oth­ er references to gong/si that either Lu Xun or Xu Guangping sees any serious conflict between public and private interests in their own lives.56 By 1926, in contrast, conflict between public and private inter­ ests becomes a problematic topic in their letters, as Lu Xun fails to match Xu Guangping’s determination that they resume their rela­ tionship as lovers sooner rather than later (or not at all). This new aspect of the gong/si dilemma is preceded by a semi-facetious ex­ change about whether or not Lu Xun is sexually attracted to his female students in Amoy. Responding to his remark that he keeps his eyes from “straying”, Xu Guangping pretends to take umbrage at the suggestion that she might be jealous, arguing that “the desire for private possession [siyou] would naturally disappear” once peo­ ple raised their educational levels.57 To this, Lu Xun replies that “Judging from my own example, I know that the elimination of the 53 Charlotte Furth, “Culture and Politics in Modern Chinese Conservatism”, in The Limits of Change: Essays on Conservative Alternatives in Republican China, ed. Charlotte Furth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976), pp. 22-53, p. 27; see also Hao Chang, “New Confucianism and the Intellectual Crisis of Contempo­ rary China”, in the same volume, pp. 276-302, p. 297. Passing references in the correspondence can be found in Letter 9, 6 April 1925; Letter 19, 3 May 1925; LBT, pp. 46, 84. 54 Letter 27, 5 June 1925; LBT, p. 106. 55 Letter 27, 5 June 1925; LDSYJ, p. 34; LBT, p. 105. 56 Letter 9, 6 April 1925; Letter 19, 3 May 1925; LBT, pp. 46 and 84. 57 Letter 57, 14 October 1926, LBT, p. 199.

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idea of private property [siyou zhi nian] will probably have to wait for the twenty-fifth century.”58 Both remarks are retained in Letters Between Two, showing that Lu Xun is willing in the 1930s to label Xu Guangping as his “private property”; “private property” here, of course, punningly refers to a private (i.e., intimate) relationship. Writing in the same letter about his aborted plan to go to Can­ ton in October with Sun Fuyuan, Lu Xun is more serious: “Part of the reason I was going to go with him was naturally for private pur­ poses, but the main reason was in the public interest” [xiao ban ziran ye you xie sixin, dan da bufen que shi wei gong]; this remark is retained in Letters between Two.59 A week later, he expresses his new plans to leave Amoy for Canton somewhat differently: “I am naturally de­ termined to go, although not wholly for the public cause”; this is changed to “I should certainly be very happy to go there now” in Letters between Two.60 These two passages show some ambivalence on Lu Xun’s part, but it is notable that he is willing to admit that “private purposes” related to his personal life are part of his moti­ vation in wanting to pay a visit to Canton and possibly also to ac­ cept a new position there. By December 1926, Lu Xun finally made up his mind to break his contract with Amoy and come to Canton. Since her own job in Canton had become intolerable, Xu Guangping needed to look for other work herself, and remarks self-deprecatingly, “I’m really not much good for anything, I do a bit of this and that and then I feel like stopping, it’s better from a private point of view [zisi fangmian], I suppose you would agree?”61 Here Xu Guangping hints that she does not wish to become engaged in any work that might interfere with their reunion; the meaning of ‘private’ is here closer to ‘inti­ mate’ rather than ‘selfish’. The remark is deleted in Letters between Two, presumably because it refers to the imminent resumption of their previous intimacy. By the end of his stay in Amoy, Lu Xun came to reject the el­ evation of the public over private interest. Reacting to the sugges­ tion by his students that he is not “just himself” any more, Lu Xun writes, “This caused me some alarm, and I thought to myself that 58 59 60 61

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Letter Letter Letter Letter

58, 58, 64, 97,

20 20 29 19

160

October 1926; LBT, p. 204.

October 1926; LBT, p. 202.

October 1926; LDSYJ, p. 92; LBT, p. 223.

December 1926; LDSYJ, p. 159.

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I have become an object in the public domain [wo chengle dajia de gongwu]. This is disastrous and I won’t agree to it. It is worse than being overthrown, which would be much more comfortable.”62 Lu Xun retains this disclaimer of his public role in Letters between Two, thus affirming that his private interests—his wish to live with Xu Guangping—will take precedence over any duty he might owe his students in Amoy, or over any potential harm his adultery might inflict on his political or moral authority. In 1929, the conflict between public and private interests has dis­ appeared as a topic in their letters. It is no longer an issue: the resumption of their relationship has caused gossip, but it does not seem to have damaged Lu Xun’s political influence or moral stand­ ing. Xu Guangping has by now also shifted her position. In a letter to her old school friend Chang Ruilin, a copy of which she sends to Lu Xun in Peking, she uses the word si in three different senses. Referring to the school protest in 1925, she describes the importance of Lu Xun’s support, which he offered dique hao wu sixin [without any private interests whatsoever]: here, the term sixin means ‘self­ ish interests’. She then explains, somewhat less than frankly, that when he came to Canton, she became his teaching assistant, and when they came to Shanghai she was his private assistant (siren zhushou): here, siren means only that she is not then employed in the public sphere. She concludes by saying that now they have little money but they love each other and have a joyous private life (si xing shenghuo): here, si refers to a treasured intimate relationship.63 The changes in meanings and associations in Lu Xun and Xu Guangping’s use of si from 1925 to 1929 correspond to the change in their attitudes towards the function and value of privacy. As their future as a couple became assured, they shifted the balance between private and public in their lives towards favouring private interests, although in Letters between Two this is only clear in Lu Xun’s case. The chief function of privacy as shown in the passages cited above is to sustain their intimacy; its value, accordingly, becomes of su­ preme importance in their lives. In editing Letters between Two for publication, Lu Xun revealed to readers that he and Xu Guang­ ping desired secrecy and seclusion in their lives as a couple and also 62 63

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Letter 105, 5 January 1927; LBT, p. 324.

LDSYJ, pp. 191-93.

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individually in regard to their letters and diaries. Only a few specif­ ic references to secrecy in their early stages of their relationship are suppressed, while just as much is added to indicate their wish for seclusion. By publishing their letters, they sacrificed an outer layer of their privacy in order to keep their inner privacy intact. The tactic was largely successful, and thereafter they were generally accepted as a married couple. Late Qing uses of privacy It is reasonable to assume that Lu Xun and Xu Guangping, at some stage in their lives, had read Shen Fu’s Fu sheng liu ji [A drifting life: six records], since it was such a well-known work.64 There is no evidence that it influenced their own ideas on privacy, but a com­ parison of the ways in which Shen Fu described the functions and values of privacy in his life with those described above shows sub­ stantial continuity. Rather than direct influence, the similarity sug­ gests that there has been a large area of common agreement on what constitutes privacy in nineteenth- and twentieth-century China. References to privacy in Shen Fu’s text are numerous and fall into several categories: privacy for sexual intercourse and other intimate contact with his wife and other sexual partners; privacy to conceal unconventional behaviour; privacy in outings with his family and friends; privacy as an aspect of aesthetic enjoyment; and privacy as distinct from public duties.65 Shen Fu’s desire for privacy for sexual intercourse with his wife, Chen Yun, is expressed indirectly. When it is hot, they take refuge in a pavilion with bamboo blinds that can be lowered so that passers­ by cannot see them.66 When they move to new housing, they find that the windows on the ground floor have been taken down, so that 64

For a description of this work and its discussion by Western scholars see the Introduction, pp. 18-20. 65 The terminology in the following discussion is based primarily on the bilin­ gual edition of Six Chapters of a Floating Life translated by Lin Yutang (Peking: Foreign Languages Teaching and Research Press, 1999). Reference is also made to Six Records of a Floating Life, trans. Leonard Pratt and Chiang Su-hui (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1983), and Paul S. Ropp, “Between Two Worlds: Women in Shen Fu’s Six Chapters of a Floating Life”, in Women and Literature in China, ed. Anna Gerstlacher et al. (Bochum: Studienverlag Brockmeyer, 1985), pp. 98-140. 66 Six Chapters, pp. 18-19; translated as “privately” in Six Records, p. 30.

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the room is quite open; they feel that the place lacks privacy [jue kongdong wu zhelan]67 and put up curtains. With prostitutes Shen Fu does not need to be so discreet. On a business trip to Canton, he accompanies friends to a floating brothel, and is pleased to find a girl somewhat resembling Chen Yun. He secretly [an]68 asks her to find a private place69 where they can disport themselves away from his friends and their companions. The unconventional intimacy between Shen Fu and Chen Yun make them especially jealous of their privacy. Before they are mar­ ried, Yun secretly [an] takes him to her room where she had hid­ den some rice gruel for him; he secretly [an] takes her hand at their wedding banquet.70 After they are married, they clasp hands on the sly [si xin tete] when they come across each other at home.71 When Shen Fu is summoned to join his father away from home, Chen Yun encloses personal letters [xiao han] to him72 along with the regular family correspondence. Most of the time, to his regret, these letters are nothing but enquiries after his health and polite chat. Occasionally, he secretly [mi]73 writes to her and she to him, but it does not seem to have occurred to either of them that his father would as a matter of course open any correspondence between family members. It seems almost inevitable that on one occasion, Shen Fu having just left to return home, her letter to him is opened by his father, and since she commits the grave error of referring informally to his parents and to discord between them, his father demands that she be expelled from the household.74 Hoping to evade his wrath, Chen Yun makes secret [mi]75 arrangements for them to go and live with her friends. As they are about to depart, Shen Fu in secret [mi]76 informs his father about these plans, since he is also being perse­ 67 Six Chapters, pp. 120-21; Six Records, p. 68. On the same page, zhelan is re­ peated and translated as “privacy”. See also Ropp, “Between Two Worlds”, p. 106. 68 Six Chapters, pp. 258-61; Six Records, pp. 121-22. 69 Ropp, “Between Two Worlds”, p. 110. 70 Six Chapters, pp. 8-9 and 10-11; Six Records, pp. 27. 71 Six Chapters, pp. 26-27; translated as “furtively” in Six Records, p. 33. 72 Literally, small letters; Six Chapters, pp. 126-27. Pratt and Chiang translate as “notes”in Six Records, p. 73. 73 Six Chapters, pp. 128-29; Six Records, p. 74. The character mi [secret, confi­ dential] is unless otherwise specified the one written with the grain radical. 74 Six Chapters, pp. 130-31; Six Records, p. 75. 75 Six Chapters, pp. 140-41; Six Records, p. 78. 76 Six Chapters, pp. 144-45; Six Records, p. 79.

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cuted by a “Westerner” for repayment of debt. In their temporary new home, Shen Fu secretly discusses their plans [yu zhi si yi]77 with Chen Yun’s friends. Secrecy is also needed to cover flagrantly unconventional conduct, as when Shen Fu encourages Chen Yun to dress as a man so that the two of them can steal away and back without letting anyone know [mi qu mi lai, yan de zhi zhi]78 on an outing to a local temple festival. When a neighbour wants to warn Chen Yun that Shen Fu has been seen with two women (whom she takes to be courtesans), she secretly [si] takes her aside.79 When a friend takes him to visit a famous cour­ tesan, Shen Fu secretly [si]80 reminds him that he is too poor to afford to pay. When Chen Yun invites the courtesan’s daughter to become Shen Fu’s concubine (and/or her own lover), the transactions are carried out in secrecy.81 Shen Fu also uses the term qie [fear] in the sense of [thinking or feeling] privately or secretly,82 as in fearing that Chen Yun was too clever to be happy. Close family members and servants are not necessarily excluded from the private space shared by Shen Fu and Chen Yun: when they visit the Rippling Waves Pavilion next door, Shen Fu orders the gate­ keeper not to let anyone else in, but they themselves are accompa­ nied by his younger sister, an amah, a maid-servant and an old attendant.83 Seclusion is frequently mentioned as an aesthetic experience in respect to natural scenery. In the fourth Record, subtitled “The pleasures of wandering”, the word you and compounds such as youpi, youya, youjing and youqu occur again and again to denote Shen Fu’s appreciation of secluded, out-of-the-way spots.84 On these excursions 77

Six Chapters, pp. 150-51. Pratt and Chiang do not translate si; Six Records, p.

78

Six Chapters, pp. 58-59; Six Records, p. 44. Six Chapters, pp. 70-71; Six Records, p. 48. Six Chapters, pp. 74-75; Pratt and Chiang translate as “quietly” in Six Records,

81. 79 80

p. 48. 81 Six Chapters, pp. 76-77, 78-79; Pratt and Chiang translate as “secret” and “privately” in Six Records, p. 44. 82 Lin Yutang translates qie kong as “feared”; Six Chapters, pp. 4-5; Pratt and Chiang translate as “privately feared” in Six Records, p. 26. 83 Six Chapters, pp. 34-35; Six Records, p. 35. The Rippling Waves Pavilion (Canglang ting) was already one of Soochow’s famous gardens at this time. 84 Six Chapters, pp. 198-99, 202-03, 216-17, 218-19, 226-27, 238-39, 282-83, 284-85, 288-89, 326-27 (translated as “enjoyable”); Six Records, pp. 101, 102, 107 (translated as “refined” and “splendid”), 110, 114, 129, 130 (translated as “nicely”), 131 (translated as “serenity”), 143 (translated as “lovely”).

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he is usually accompanied by one or more friends; if not, he laments the absence of a companion.85 Shen Fu’s periods of employment as a magistrate’s clerk are short, and his business ventures are equally unsuccessful; the only com­ pany in which he feels at ease is with women or friends of a like disposition. He is a member of a gathering of artists, writers and minor officials who draw a strict line between public and private matters; one of their rules is to ban talk about official business, and they take offence when a monk they encounter on one of their excursions pompously questions them about provincial affairs.86 They go about in ordinary clothes, not expecting or wanting the defer­ ence due to officials.87 Privacy as an aesthetic value is generally related to place: only certain types of flower and stone arrangements, for instance, are suit­ able for keeping in one’s you zhai [private studio].88 Beyond the ter­ minology of privacy discourse, there is repeated praise throughout the text for what Shen Fu calls “the joys of leisure” and professions of indifference to public wealth or fame.89 Whether or not Shen Fu’s desire for privacy in his life was in any way representative of his times, it was undeniably strong, and many twentieth-century readers were in sympathy with him. The renewal of privacy awareness in late 20th-century China The intrusive nature of the post-1949 regime progressively inhib­ ited many kinds of private activities, especially in urban areas where control was relatively easy to establish. It was commonly understood, for example, that mail was censored and visitors to homes or offices were monitored. Living and work spaces provided by work units were cramped, political study and public duties left little time for private affairs, and periodic campaigns demanded details of inner states of mind as well as reports on friends, colleagues and neighbours. Western observers readily succumbed to the notion that privacy was 85 86 87 88

Six Six Six Six

Chapters, pp. 294-95; Six Records, p. 133.

Chapters, pp. 110-11 and 284-85; Six Records, pp. 65 and 129.

Chapters, pp. 214-15; Six Records, p. 106.

Chapters, pp. 94-95; Pratt and Chiang do not translate you in Six Records,

p. 59. 89 Ropp comments that the work is “a subjective biography” that is “not con­ cerned with public life”; “Between Two Worlds”, pp. 98 and 99.

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foreign to China, yet it was equally noticeable that those Chinese who were able to—politicians and celebrities—fiercely guarded their own privacy.90 The Cultural Revolution in most respects intensified the level of intrusion into people’s lives, although political chaos had the practical effect of opening up private spaces that led, in the 1970s for example, to increased sexual activity among the young and the production and circulation of underground literature.91 This para­ doxical state of affairs is nicely depicted in Ah Cheng’s stories of life among Educated Youth in remote Xishuangbanna in south-west China.92 One of the most intrusive and resented campaigns of the late 1970s and 1980s was the implementation of the one-child policy, which gave neighbourhood committees the right to keep charts of women’s menstrual cycles and to inspect their sanitary napkins for proof of menstruation. After the opening of China at the end of the 1970s, privacy in the sense of respect for personal dignity as well as the practice of leisure activities became a new topic for discussion. Zhang Xianliang was one of the first writers to open up his own private life for pub­ lic appraisal. Written in the early 1990s, Fannao jiu shi zhihui [Wis­ dom through adversity] purports to be a diary written in a labour camp in 1960 with a commentary from the present. In the com­ mentary, the author notes that “the social circumstances in which we were living at that time did not allow a person to have personal thoughts or private matters.”93 The inevitable result was hypocrisy, and to the extent that people continued to write diaries or other normally private documents these would be dishonest: “a diary could become a work of self-promotion, written not for oneself but for others to see.”94 In 1982, certain citizens’ rights and safeguards were incorporated into the new constitution, including the right to “personal dignity” and the sanctity of the home, as well as the right to enjoy “freedom 90

I am grateful to Stuart Schram for this insight. See McDougall, “Breaking Through: Literature and the Arts in China 1976­ 1986”, Copenhagen Papers in East and Southeast Asian Studies 1 (1988), pp. 35-65; re­ printed in McDougall, Fictional Authors, Imaginary Audiences (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2002). 92 See Ah Cheng, Three Kings: Three Stories from Today’s China, trans. with an introduction by Bonnie S. McDougall (London: Harvill Press, 1990). 93 Zhang Xianliang, Grass Soup (London: Secker and Warburg, 1994), p. 5. 94 Zhang, Grass Soup, p. 6. 91

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and privacy of correspondence” (although subject to proviso).95 Commercial privatisation and the opening up of leisure activities in the 1980s and 1990s also gave space to an enhanced sense of autonomy.96 A 1997 survey showed significant public awareness of privacy in regard to personal feelings, marital relations, diaries and other documents in five cities (Peking, Shanghai, Canton, Chung­ king and Amoy), with more younger, highly-educated, well-paid and female respondents identifying themselves as sensitive to privacy issues than older, less-educated, low-paid and male respondents.97 The “privacy rule” which received the highest level of agreement was “Do not read a colleague’s files and documents without his or her permission” (73.6% approval), followed by “Parents should not read their child’s diary” (71%); at the bottom was “Do not ask a new friend his or her beliefs” (32.9%). In 1998 the connotation of the newly-current term yinsi [privacy] seemed entirely positive in the provocatively-titled collection of oral confessions, Juedui yinsi: dangdai Zhongguoren qinggan koushu shilu [Ab­ solute privacy: Extempore recordings of contemporary Chinese people’s emotions], as told to the journalist An Dun.98 Neverthe­ less, the debate on private versus public interests is still conducted mainly in terms of political and business affairs.99 A survey conducted in 2000 which focussed more closely on concepts of privacy among a group of 150 Chinese students of roughly the same age, social background and expectations showed that although there was much common ground, there was also a very great range of differences in what was and what was not regarded as private.100 There is nothing in the cases described above to suggest any specifically Chinese concepts of privacy; it is manifestly not the case 95

See Baum, Burying Mao: Chinese Politics in the Age of Deng Xiaoping, p. 150. Shaogang Wang, “The politics of private time: changing leisure patterns in urban China”, in Urban Spaces in Contemporary China: the potential for autonomy and community in post-Mao China, ed. Deborah S. Davis et al. (New York: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1995), pp. 149-72. 97 See Ling Yue, “Gongzhong rending yinsi” [The public recognise privacy], Zhongguo qingnian ribao 30 August 1997, p. 8. I am grateful to Suzanne Ogden for drawing this to my attention. 98 Published by Xin shijie chubanshe, Beijing, 1998. 99 Lucian Pye, The Spirit of Chinese Politics: A Psychological Study of the Authority Crisis in Political Development (Cambridge, MA: M.I.T Press, 1968), pp. 133, 243. 100 McDougall, “Privacy in Contemporary China: A Survey of Chinese Student Attitudes, June 2000” (China Information, vol. 15, no. 2 (2001), pp. 140-52). 96

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that there is such a thing as â&#x20AC;&#x153;a [single] Chinese concept of privacyâ&#x20AC;?. In the absence of a clearly identifiable native tradition, it is likely that contemporary Chinese discourse on privacy will tend to adopt Western, especially American, concepts and terminologies.

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functions and values of privacy

PART V

EXPOSING PRIVACY

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privacy and its ill effects

PRIVACY AND ITS ILL EFFECTS IN POST-MAO URBAN

FICTION

Robin Visser

The relationship of subjectivity to space is a persistent theme in postMao urban fiction. While some works feature the city as subject, many contemporary narratives focus on urban subjectivity, explor­ ing the psychic effects of the city on ego formation. In this chapter I develop a profile of privacy based on contemporary fictional accounts dominated by protagonists struggling to maintain their autonomy in the perpetually modernising metropolis. The radical transformation of China’s cities in the past two decades has pro­ foundly impacted Chinese conceptions of privacy owing to the flux of metropolitan crowds, patterns of urban destruction and renewal, altered economic configurations, and the introduction of new tech­ nologies of transportation, communication and socialisation. Each novel under consideration illustrates that the attempt to safeguard privacy under such conditions results in a variety of ill effects. In my reading of a sampling of post-Mao urban novels, I conclude that shifting urban configurations shape Chinese conceptions of privacy in several ways. First, protagonists often maintain a reserved public persona to mask a sense of repulsion and alienation from the city and its masses; in turn, their private lives are dominated by obses­ sive desire. Second, fictional characters regularly construct their own private utopias in order to offset the exterior chaos of the metropo­ lis and regain an integrated, autonomous sense of self. Third, this self-imposed privacy often results in psychopathic symptoms of paranoia and melancholy. Although some literary critics have de­ nounced these works for depicting idiosyncratic views, I maintain that the recent creative obsession with interiority is a common strata­ gem for addressing global concerns. These writers privilege the private, the local and the feminine precisely as a means of address­ ing universal issues of modernity. While particular aspects of China’s traditional culture, revolution­ ary history and post-revolutionary market economy inform the sen­

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sibilities of the contemporary Chinese urbanite, she increasingly identifies with global concerns about privacy. This is due to several factors. The most evident is that the average urban Chinese citizen became privy to global flows of information in the 1990s. Further, those who came of age in the 1980s, especially the university-educated, were greatly influenced by modernist works by foreign writ­ ers, with their concomitant portrayals of alienation, autonomy and the associated values assigned to privacy. A final determining fac­ tor has to do with the lived experience of modernisation and urbanisation and its effects on the psyche, a topic that continues to dominate literature on modernity.1 It goes without saying that con­ temporary urban culture in China is informed by multiple sensibili­ ties. However, the hybrid space of late twentieth-century China, a post-revolutionary society rediscovering traditional so-called Asian values while permeated by Western market values, is difficult to characterise, despite recent attempts by scholars to do so.2 In order to negotiate the multiple, cross-cultural influences inform­ ing contemporary urban perceptions of privacy in China, I appeal, in part, to the methodology set forth by philosopher Julie C. Inness in Privacy, Intimacy, and Isolation.3 Inness suggests that, in addition to examining privacy in relation to instances of conduct, we can bet­ 1 Here I think of the psychological effects of modern urban life as presented in the seminal essay by Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1905), The Sociology of Georg Simmel, ed. Kurt H. Wolff (New York: Free Press, 1950), pp. 409-24. Simmel’s observations were since developed, critiqued and altered in sociology, psychology, and literary and cultural criticism addressing the relation­ ship between subjectivity and urban space. More recent examples are Marshal Berman, All That is Solid Melts Into Air (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1982); Michel de Certeau, “Spatial Practices”, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984); Consciousness and the Urban Experience: Studies in the History and Theory of Capitalist Urbanization, ed. David Harvey (Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985); Massimo Cacciari, “The Dialectics of the Negative and the Metropolis”, in Architecture and Nihilism: On the Philosophy of Modern Architecture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993); Anthony Vidler, “Bodies in Space/Subjects in the City: Psychopathologies of Modern Urbanism”, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 5, No. 3 (1993): pp. 31-51, and Anthony Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely (Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 1996). 2 Recent studies by scholars such as Dai Jinhua, Chen Xiaoming, Wang Xiaoming, Chen Sihe, Zhang Yiwu, and Zhang Xudong, among others, vary greatly in their characterisation of China’s contemporary urban culture. 3 For further elaboration on this methodology for understanding privacy see Julie C. Inness, Privacy, Intimacy and Isolation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

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ter understand how privacy is conceptualised by examining its func­ tions, mechanisms and values. By function, Inness refers to the nature of the relationship between the agent and outside entities. For ex­ ample, privacy might mean that something, such as one’s belong­ ings or a room, is closed to access by others. On the other hand, its function might be to provide control over aspects of one’s life, such as jurisdiction over how to act in a given situation. Thus privacy might either separate areas of the agent’s life from the public sphere, or provide her with control over them within the realm of the public sphere. The function of privacy depends on its content, which may be information about the agent, access to this information or deci­ sions about the agent’s actions. Further, Inness suggests that under­ standing privacy requires one to define the nature of the information, access or decisions about actions. Here she distinguishes between privacy that protects all information versus that only intended to safeguard intimate information. Finally, Inness raises another help­ ful category for cross-cultural investigations of privacy, namely, the value of privacy. In contemporary US culture, for example, privacy is considered of paramount importance.4 Its loss provokes talk of violation, harm and loss of agency. Paradoxically, privacy is else­ where conceived as a condition to avoid, as it promotes isolation, deprivation and separation. Further, in assessing how a culture (or groups within a culture) values privacy, we might ask whether it is because it promotes desired ends, such as intimate relations, selfrespect and freedom from the scrutiny of others, or as an end in itself. It may well be the case that privacy is valued for other rea­ sons by contemporary Chinese urbanites. My inquiry into the con­ cept of privacy in contemporary Chinese urban novels is guided by the following questions. In which instances do we see Chinese ur­ banites express concerns about privacy? What is the function of the relationship between self and other when issues of privacy are at stake? How do modern transformations of urban space and socialisation affect this relationship? What is the content of privacy 4

A 1999 Wall Street Journal-NBC survey suggests, for example, that privacy is the issue that concerns US citizens most about the twenty-first century, ahead of overpopulation, racial tensions and global warming. Cited in Toby Lester, “The Reinvention of Privacy”, The Atlantic Monthly (March 2001): p. 27. The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, however, have provoked new US public debate reevaluating the value of individual privacy rights relative to national security concerns.

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and what mechanisms are involved in safeguarding it? Finally, how is privacy valued? With the exception of Black Snow and Fly Eyes, each novel analysed below is termed semi-autobiographical [ban zizhuan], featuring pro­ tagonists whose biographical details so closely parallel those of their authors that many readers conflate the two. While all fiction is somehow informed by authorial experience, the tendency to con­ struct fictional narratives with transparently autobiographical details is especially prevalent in 1990s urban fiction, as it was in the 1920s and 1930s. 1990s urban fiction shares the same documentary drive as “Sixth Generation” films: the desire to address the decade’s post­ industrial anxieties by blurring the lines between constructed and lived narrative. One should avoid interpreting these works as direct mimesis, yet it is clear that these accounts are continuous with common structures of everyday experience. Black Snow Liu Heng’s (b. 1959) Hei de xue [Black snow, 1988] is one of the earliest examples of a post-Mao novel expressing urban alienation. The third-person narrative details the intimate thoughts of Li Huiquan who, at the age of twenty-five, attempts to negotiate the complexities of modern urban life in 1985 Beijing after his release from a labour-reform camp. Abandoned at birth and later orphaned by his adoptive parents, Huiquan returns to his home, a hovel in the Yongan district of East Beijing, where he is aided in his reha­ bilitation by his parole officer and the Neighbourhood Committee representative, Auntie Luo. He goes through the motions of trans­ forming himself into a law-abiding modern citizen, peddling clothes as a getihu [private businessman] in the new market economy of the 1980s, jogging to maintain his health, frequenting art museums and classical music concerts, and reading the daily papers to stay abreast of current events. However, the narrative is dominated by a sense of Huiquan’s utter alienation from the modern city and its masses. The few friends he re-establishes contact with show little concern for his well-being; they instead demonstrate the classic utilitarian traits of social relations in a market economy. Further, Huiquan responds to the transforming cityscape with a sense of horror rather than excitement. Emerging from his back lane to peruse the city, Huiquan describes his disaffection from the crowd milling along the

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“newly constructed, nearly identical matchbox apartments” that line the streets. “Did anyone out there give a damn? Up and down the street they strolled, men and women, not one of them so much as glancing at him. It was as though he didn’t exist—no parents, no friends, just a pair of eyes and a beat-up old bicycle. He flitted around aimlessly, talking to no one. No one knew him, anyway. If they had known him, they’d probably have avoided him” (14; 14-15).5 He claims to “shun human contact”, and characterises human relations in the city in terms of estrangement: Something was going very wrong with his life, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. … He felt as lost and as isolated as a leaf that has fallen from the tree. He knew there was precious little kindness to be drawn from the crowds passing before him. They didn’t understand him, and he didn’t understand them. Was anyone ever saddened by the pain of others? No. He was not moved by the sight of the blind street musi­ cian who had set up shop beside the bus stop; in fact, he assumed it was a sham, one of the oldest tricks in the world. The old lady who picked up trash on Spirit Run Street didn’t earn his sympathy either. After spending all her waking hours buried in piles of garbage, she became little more than garbage in his eyes. No sym­ pathy, no pity. Yet the absence of expression does express something— apathy. He got back the same as he gave. Was there a soul on earth who cared about the confusion in his mind when he awoke in the morning? Did anyone understand how his thoughts tormented him nightly? Surely not. If he were hit by a car tonight, he would be for­ gotten tomorrow. At most his mangled body would become a gory statistic and, briefly, a hot topic of conversation. People count for little in others’ eyes. … The cop directing traffic was in the same predicament as he: sur­ rounded by all those cars yet lonely. How about the streetcar conduc­ tor, the street sweeper, the busboy, the construction worker clinging to his scaffolding up there—were they any better off? … Huiquan saw himself in others’ eyes. Lonely, helpless people are all alike: pale, waxen skin; dull, lifeless eyes; mouth in a perpetual droop, eyes too; dingy teeth. (241-43; 202-04)

As Huiquan wanders through the city, he is terrified by the apa­ thy of the crowd, his own callousness and the dire implications for individual significance. Indeed, such morbid sentiments drive the novel toward its conclusion, where Huiquan appears destined to be extinguished in anonymity.6 As the protagonist is beaten by hood­ 5 Parenthetical page references refer, respectively, to Liu Heng, Hei de xue (Beijing: Gongren chubanshe, 1988), and the English translation by Howard Goldblatt, Black Snow (New York: Grove Press, 1993). 6 In her discussion of anonymity in contemporary urban China, Ellen Hertz

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lums to the point of death in an obscure alley, Black Snow closes with the abstract threat of further destruction: “The middle of the night. From the bowels of the city came the heavy thud of footsteps. Calmly he listened to them draw near” (313; 261). In Black Snow, privacy is valued as a means of protecting the protagonist from further contact with the alienating individuals whose tortured lives he ‘reads’ on a daily basis. To the extent that the crowd mirrors his own sense of loneliness, he attempts to shield himself from intimate interaction with others. Instead, his craving for intimacy is satisfied through guarded mediation: by remembering moments with his deceased mother, or rereading a rare letter from a child­ hood friend still in reform camp “to extract what little warmth it contained” (76; 69). One of the functions of privacy is to protect the self not so much from surveillance, but from revealing vulner­ able aspects of the self that may be disparaged by another. Perhaps an even greater fear is that, in exchanging meaningful information with another, one’s suspicions about the emptiness of modern life may be validated. In this case, privacy is paradoxically devalued for the same reason it is prized. By separating areas of his life from the social sphere that would otherwise foster intimacy (compounding niming [anonymity] through dour refusals to socialise), Huiquan with­ draws into a state of isolation. A condition that safeguards intimate information, privacy simultaneously promotes the very breach in hu­ man contact that drives Huiquan to despair. In this sense, privacy indicates that trying to locate the concept in the Chinese lexicon is misleading. Chinese terms for anonymity are either niming [hidden or concealed name] or wuming [without a name; indefinable, indescribable]. The former is more closely related to si [private, personal; secret, selfish, illicit], whereas the latter is associated with loneliness [jimo, gudu, huangliang]. “But this is the loneliness associated with the solitude of the recluse, not the aloneness of the individual awash in the anonymous crowd. Chinese also has an extensive lexicon for describing anonymity from the point of view of those who are not anonymous – words, that is, for strangers or outsiders [mosheng, xinlaizhe, shengke, wairen]. Thus the notion of anonymity itself presupposes a certain set of relations to the group, the self, and sacrifice [of the self to the collective] that require untangling in the Chinese context.” She concludes that the urban Chinese experience of anonymity, or facelessness, is the experience of being part of a crowd in which one can neither have nor lose face because one’s personal relation to the community is not at issue. This characterises much of Huiquan’s struggle, namely the lack of community he now experiences in the modernising city despite the fact he is a Beijing native. See Ellen Hertz, “Face in the Crowd: The Cultural Construction of Anonymity in Urban China” in China Urban: Ethnographies of Contemporary Culture, ed. Nancy N. Chen et al. (Durham: North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2001), p. 280.

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becomes a trap, reinforcing his sense of powerlessness and hampering his agency within the public sphere.7 Further, by withdrawing from meaningful social contact, Huiquan’s life becomes dominated by obsessive desire. He resents intrusions into his private life, refusing to stop to chat with a child­ hood playmate, and ‘begging off’ when Auntie Luo invites him over to watch TV and share New Year’s Eve dinner with her family. Instead, alone in his hovel, “Huiquan’s thoughts turned to lewd walls—toilet walls whose scars could not be whitewashed out of existence, battered walls about to topple under lustful assaults. Weird, obscene thoughts and excrement were in strange harmony there, forcing him to confront the filthy body he was trying to conceal. Huiquan knew there was no place he could hide. All alone on New Year’s Eve, he added his own fantasies to those sordid walls. Rather than girls, maybe what had disgusted him all along was himself” (42­ 43; 39-40). As the novel progresses he becomes fixated on a barsinger whom he escorts home nightly until she learns of his past incarceration. As his social and psychological disaffection increases, his obsession takes on violent dimensions; at one point Huiquan envisions raping the girl in an alcove beneath the towering highrises, and “his thoughts, obviously unhealthy and spooky, seemed those of a dispassionate observer” (133; 114). In each of these instances, Huiquan demonstrates classic symp­ toms of melancholia. In addition to his exaggerated sense of social isolation, his obsessive ruminations on the meaninglessness of exist­ ence and his morbid fixations on the bar singer, he repeatedly engages in self-deprecation, one of the key Freudian distinctions 7 Although privacy is positively valued in most modern liberal societies, Hannah Arendt points out the etymological connection between privacy and privation, stating that “in ancient feeling the privative trait of privacy, indicated in the word itself, was all important; it meant literally a state of being deprived of something, and even of the highest and most human of man’s capacities.” The Human Condition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958), p. 38. Ferdinand Schoeman makes an important distinction between two types of privacy norms that are dif­ ferently valued, those that promote self-expression, and those rigidly defined by social norms that afford little individual discretion, where “the privacy afforded a person … manifests a rigid and internalized form of social control.” For example, the norm of not violating another’s personal space in the crowd (by making pro­ longed eye contact, asking personal questions etc.) tends to stabilise society, but may be experienced as isolating rather than liberating. Schoeman, Privacy and Social Freedom (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 17.

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between grief and melancholy.8 In addition to passages divulging his sense of abjection, Huiquan states matter-of-factly that “nearly everyone is superior to him” and describes himself as “superfluous”. He considers that his admiration for the singer, in particular, is “ridiculous and utterly worthless. His fantasies regarding women are nothing but emotional garbage” (134; 115). Importantly, his selfcastigation is often linked to calculations of worth in the new money economy of the city. He thwarts Auntie Luo’s attempts to match him with another girl since “he did not enjoy trying to calculate his worth in the eyes of others. Worth-less was more like it” (264; 220). As he sells commodities to his customers, he claims that “he could no longer tell who was toying with whom. Like his merchandise, the people were absolutely devoid of value” (283; 237). In Black Snow, privacy serves to mask repulsion toward the new market economy and the urban masses even as the individual is implicated in these alienating practices. Private instances of neuro­ sis provide commentary on the melancholy exhibited by isolated urbanites in general. Some readers, such as Li Jiefei, limit the melancholy delineated in Black Snow to a particular class of urban­ ites, that of “urban youth awaiting employment” [chengshi daiye qingnian]. He points out that the problems of these “troubled youth” of the mid-1980s were exacerbated by their position straddling the change between a socialist and a semi-capitalist urban economy, epitomised in their status as getihu. In the 1980s, when employment by state-sponsored work units prevailed, most getihu were indepen­ dent peddlers from questionable backgrounds that prevented them from gaining proper employment, and were thus considered social pariahs.9 This is an instance where the particularities of China’s transition from a socialist to market-based economy magnifies the sense of social alienation for a specific group of urbanites. However, I would argue that the portrayal of privacy’s function, value and effects in Black Snow speaks, at the same time, to the broader phe­ 8

“In grief the world becomes poor and empty; in melancholia it is the ego itself. The patient represents his ego to us as worthless, incapable of any effort and morally despicable; he reproaches himself, vilifies himself and expects to be cast out and chastised.” Sigmund Freud, “Mourning and Melancholia” (1917), General Psychological Theory: Papers on Metapsychology (New York: Touchstone, 1997), p. 167. 9 Li Jiefei, Chengshi xiangkuang [City frame], Jiushi niandai wenxue guancha congshu [Examination of 1990s literature series], ed. Yang Kuanghan (Taiyuan: Shanxi jiaoyu chubanshe, 1999), p. 50.

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nomenon of modern alienation affecting a larger cross section of China’s urban citizenry. Many of the themes in Black Snow are rep­ licated in another Beijing novel, Private Life, which delineates differ­ ent social, class, gender and historical considerations while exhibiting remarkably similar effects in the relation of privacy to modern ur­ ban life. Private Life Chen Ran’s (b. 1964) controversial novel, Siren shenghuo [Private life], portrays modern life in Beijing through the interior monologue of the protagonist, Ni Niuniu.10 Niuniu engages in a form of self-diagnosis, retrospectively examining her coming-of-age after suffering a breakdown at age thirty in the mid-1990s. Aside from her college boyfriend, Niuniu’s emotional attachments are exclusively to women. She is close to her mother and has a mutually-dependent emotional, sometimes sexual, relationship with a neighbour ten years her se­ nior, Widow He. In contrast, Niuniu’s emotionally distant father divorces her mother and abandons the family, and her teacher, Mr T, humiliates her as a schoolgirl and seduces her as a teenager. In fact, each female character in the novel has been seriously harmed by men. Private Life is generally classed as a prime example of ‘women’s privacy literature’ [nüxing yinsi wenxue], one of the many highly sug­ gestive works by women writers published after the 1995 Interna­ tional Women’s Conference in Beijing. The novel attracted a great deal of mostly negative critical attention, ostensibly because of its autobiographical details and ‘immodest’ flaunting of female sexual desire. Yet in an interview a year after its publication, Chen indi­ cated that the prime reason Private Life was attacked was because of its focus on an individual [geren], “which is disparaged by default since Chinese traditionally value writing about social issues. The first ‘mistake’, according to Chinese cultural values, is to write about something private, something individual. But my perspective is exactly the opposite; I think the more individual something is, the more universal it is.”11 Indeed, Chen Ran’s writing on the city 10 Chen Ran, Siren shenghuo [Private life] (Yangzhou: Jiangsu wenyi chubanshe, 1996). Subsequent parenthetical references are to this edition. 11 Author’s interview with Chen Ran, July 1997, Beijing.

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privileges female over male, local culture over global culture and the private over the public sphere, precisely as a means of speaking to broader issues. Like Black Snow, the narrative of Private Life is permeated with a sense of melancholy. While many critics have located this melancholy in a sense of repressed anger toward men, a closer reading demonstrates that spatial considerations, especially those of the modern urban landscape and crowd, serve to compound the protagonist’s sense of angst. In reflecting on mental breakdown, Chen Ran foregrounds spatial and historical contributions to the protagonist’s ‘disease’, deconstructing its diagnosis as the predict­ able outcome of unhealthy female yearnings. Chen Ran uses the trope of melancholy as a means of subverting stereotypes of the feminine as private, revealing the implicitly public aspects of the melancholic condition in the modern city. As Ni Niuniu negotiates the spaces defining her public and pri­ vate life in Beijing, her valuation of public and private is far from transparent. On the one hand, she cloisters herself within her house in a reactive attempt at self-preservation. She valorises the private space of inner rooms, especially the womb-like, hermetic sanctity of her bathroom. However, the exterior space of the city constantly threatens to intrude on her privacy: “the solemn and heavy breath of Beijing spreads through the room and fills her lungs, like grey, dirty time” (37). In this sense the value of privacy seems ambiguous at best, suggesting a sense of powerlessness and lack of agency as it did in Black Snow. The lack of agency that characterises the private sphere is reinforced by Niuniu’s descriptions of the city as an ag­ gressor that one must take refuge from. Niuniu codes the exterior space of the city in the stereotypes of the male: dominant, suffocat­ ing, time-bound, and unfeeling. Inner space she associates with tropes of the female: obscure, eternal, sensitive and sensuous. She imag­ ines the artifice of the male city to be encroaching on the organic female countryside, symbolised by the rape of the countryside by the city: Though filled with deafening noise this city becomes more vacuous each day. It perpetually stretches its arms in every direction, to the outlying suburbs and countryside, turning gentle black wheat fields and vegetable groves into hard paved roads, claiming them as its own. We rarely see rural scenery near this city or smell the rich fragrance from food fresh from the soil on our tables. We can only take refuge in the gardens on our balconies, symbolically “developing agriculture” to

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replicate the farming sensibility. This city is constantly expanding and brutally callous. (264)

Despite her professed disdain for the city, Niuniu nonetheless re­ mains vitally connected and oddly drawn to the streets. Like Huiquan, Niuniu sometimes goes out in public to mitigate her lone­ liness, only to find that her sense of repulsion is reinforced by the crowd. Here again Private Life highlights gendered aspects of the relation between public and private space in the city. Niuniu’s re­ treat to the streets almost always occurs after upsetting encounters with men in the enclosed space of an office or a house. It is pre­ cisely when her private life is invaded that the meaning of public and private become inverted, and the city streets become her jiayuan, her ‘haven’ (118). But the city streets can only be one’s ‘home’ in a limited sense. As de Certeau points out, “to walk is to lack a place … it is the indefinite process of being absent … the moving about that the city multiplies and concentrates makes the city itself an immense social experience of lacking a place.”12 Niuniu’s ‘haven’ is further qualified as she consciously resists the dominant, male as­ pects of the city. Instead of laying claim to the city by walking through its main thoroughfares, she confines herself to the smaller, border­ ing streets. She chooses to traverse the streets in the ‘feminine’ hues of early morning or rose-coloured dusk, disliking the feel of Beijing’s strong, functional, ordered streets in broad daylight (47). The nar­ rative consistently privileges colours, images and motifs associated with the female yin while disparaging anything reminiscent of male yang. For Niuniu, privacy functions in a way that is primarily pro­ tective, by separating aspects of her life from others’ access, rather than proactively by controlling intimate aspects of her life in the presence of others. Thus the value afforded privacy is qualified in the narrative. The private home and rooms within it, viewed prin­ cipally as defensive fortresses rather than restorative realms, are encroached upon by the chaotic intrusion of the city and the males that represent it. Public streets serve to rejuvenate Niuniu prima­ rily when her intimate relations in the private sphere go awry.13 12 Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendell (Ber­ keley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 103. 13 Niuniu’s relationship to the city is similar to that of other fictional female characters, such as Clarissa Dalloway in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925) or Rosemary in Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (1967), whose relationship to the city is described as “one of oscillation and ambivalence. Rosemary oscillates between

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Privacy is important to Niuniu, above all, as a strategy for main­ taining her autonomy in the perpetually modernising metropolis of Beijing. In addition to the rapid construction of international ho­ tels, corporate headquarters, shopping plazas, sports complexes, cultural theme parks and new urban residences, by the mid-1990s Beijing had swollen to include an estimated 3.2 million migrants from the countryside, making up about one quarter of the population.14 If Li Huiquan felt estranged from the new apartment complexes of the 1980s, the city scenery and makeup of its masses in the 1990s were all the more alien to Niuniu. Like Huiquan, Niuniu demon­ strates a mode of urban socialisation where outward reserve and reticence merely serve as a cover for her sense of repulsion toward the city and its masses.15 Her separation from the crowd derives from at least three sources: her perception of the crowd as alien, her resistance to herd mentality, and a fear that she is nonetheless so­ cially embedded in these subhuman masses. Niuniu’s understanding of the crowd becomes clear when her boyfriend Yin Nan mysteriously disappears into what she visualises as “a faraway place, in the midst of that busy crowd” (216). Fur­ ther, Niuniu’s visions of the crowd dehumanise it. On one occasion, while strolling the streets, she imagines the people morphing into grey, man-like wolves: “I was terrified, because I realised I couldn’t survive by myself, but neither could I become a she-wolf” (46). Like Lu Xun’s madman, who feared being devoured by those around him as well his own implication in the man-eating practices of his can­ nibalistic society, Niuniu becomes overwhelmed by her lack of au­ tonomy in the animalistic crowd. Desiring to rise above the crowd, she is nevertheless wedded to it. As Benjamin says of Baudelaire’s uneasy relationship to the crowd, “as a flaneur [he] was made one of them, [yet] unable to rid himself of a sense of their essentially inhuman makeup … he becomes their accomplice, even as he dis­ sociates himself from them.”16 For Niuniu, the crowd is an alien, enjoyment and mistrust of the city and alternates physically between its public and private spaces. Her story expresses ambivalence towards the very possibility of women having a relationship with the city that does not threaten their autonomy and their privacy.” Sharon Marcus, “Placing Rosemary’s Baby”, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 5.3 (1993), p. 122. 14 South China Morning Post (November 1996). 15 This condition is described in Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life.” 16 Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), p. 171.

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animalistic realm in which she is implicated; her aversion stems from her dread of being swallowed by the nameless multitude. Thus, aside from the rare occasions when she feels compelled to take refuge in the streets, she prefers to remain cloistered in her house to protect her autonomy. In addition to valuing privacy as a means of resisting the confor­ mity and anonymity of the crowd, Niuniu values individuality to such a degree that she actively resists association with groups. She com­ pares herself to the sparrow that so loves its freedom that it pro­ tests unto death by refusing to eat when caged (11). As a college student she quotes Kierkegaard’s theories on individuality, telling Yin Nan she cannot join his poetry society because “the individual has more strength than the group” (170). Unlike Li Huiquan, whose alienation from the crowd seems inevitable, Niuniu repeatedly emphasises that this is her choice. However, this decision is a reac­ tive one, derivative of more basic controlling fears: “My separation is an active, chosen isolation. I have this fear of exteriority—call it a defect if you will—I have this unwillingness to brave exploration of the outside world and make real contact with my fellows. I’ve always had this fear. I am stubbornly unwilling to dilute or sacri­ fice my individuality” (77-78). Thus, while aspects of the novel’s discourse on privacy cast it as an active, chosen condition, and one that is highly valued, the de­ tails of the narrative exhibit fissures in this logic. The modern city remains a space that alienates individuals, especially female individu­ als. The privileging of interiority over exteriority and of withdrawal into the self over social engagement speaks more to a disenfranchise­ ment and loss of agency than the seeming rational autonomy afforded by privacy. It is here that the narrative’s intense preoccupation with privacy functions as social critique. After suffering a breakdown provoked by the departure of her boyfriend and the successive deaths of her mother and Widow He, Niuniu is institutionalised for many months before the doctors declare she has recovered, and release her. Reflecting on her illness, Niuniu views her neurosis as anything but private: I slowly walked from the Third Ring Road to the Fourth Ring Road. I gazed around at the huge, crowded city of P while quietly reflecting on my life over these past years. Perhaps I really am sick, but it defi­ nitely isn’t the kind of sickness diagnosed by the doctors, “agorapho­ bia” or “mental obsession.” I’ve always been completely clear-headed.

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robin visser I know myself. All I’ve contracted is “premature senility.” And I be­ lieve that many others have also contracted this disease, and it will only get worse, and soon it will become the fin-de-siècle epidemic (264, bold in the original).

Niuniu assesses her condition from the vantage point of Beijing’s ring roads, where the Fourth Ring Road was recently completed to provide yet another high-speed motorway around the ever-expanding city which was once confined by ancient walls. Her self-assessment is inextricably linked to the burgeoning city and the crowds among which she walks. Although she is diagnosed by psychologists as being an “isolationist” who suffers from self-confinement [ziwo fengbi], Niuniu repeatedly justifies her alienation as a favoured state to which she must adhere in order to maintain any form of viable subjectiv­ ity. Chen Ran resists the easy prognosis of Niuniu’s ills as female agoraphobia. Niuniu’s self-diagnosis of “premature senility” speaks to the impossibility of maintaining autonomy in the metropolis of the late twentieth century, a shared human concern rather than a gender-specific phenomenon.17 As in Black Snow, the issues faced by Chinese urbanites relative to rational autonomy are further complicated by the hybrid state of China’s post-socialist economy. While the ideals of socialism are ostensibly still operative in political discourse, the logic of the mar­ ket prevails. Niuniu’s tongue-in-cheek letter to the doctors after leaving the hospital demonstrates that she locates a key source of her ills in forced identification with the masses, an effect of both the political and spatial environments she has inhabited. Niuniu thanks the doctors for enlightening her about humankind’s excellence. As evidence of her full recovery she assures them she has rectified her former error of alienating herself from the masses and now embraces all women as nurturing ‘mother types’ and all men as heroic ‘Lei Feng types’ (265-67). Niuniu’s letter is a transparent mockery of 17 In medical literature agoraphobia was first diagnosed as a generic metro­ politan ailment, but by the twentieth century it was primarily descriptive of women, resulting in its designation as a “housewife’s disease”. Anthony Vidler indicates that as metropolitan psychopathology eventually became gendered as feminine, its associated spatial characteristics became those “of necessary interiority, either mental or physical, or both; hence the ascription agora- or claustro-phobia. Its forms are those of stream of consciousness, of entrapment, of intolerable closure, of space without exit, of, finally, breakdown and often suicide.” Vidler, “Bodies in Space/Subjects in the City: Psychopathologies of Modern Urbanism”, differ­ ences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 5.3 (1993), p. 45.

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outdated official discourse on China’s utopian socialist state in the entrepreneurial environment of the 1990s. Niuniu further defies socialist collective values by devoting all of her energies to decorating the most private of spaces, her bathroom, “creating a completely different world” (269). The obsession with interior design, especially of the bathroom, was a widespread phe­ nomenon in Chinese cities in the mid-1990s. For example, Shang­ hai residents spent an average of 10,000 yuan ($1,230) modernising their bathrooms in 1996. As an article in Shanghai huabao [Shanghai pictorial] explains, “being the most private space in everyday life, bathrooms are where people can relax, examine and refresh them­ selves. We should create an elegant and pleasing atmosphere in a place from which a good mood begins.”18 Chen Ran extends the positive effects associated with interior design and relaxation to narcissistic extremes, as Niuniu eventually opts to sleep naked in her bathtub, surrounding herself with mirrors, her body itself becom­ ing one of many decorations. The private space she constructs in her bathroom is explicitly contrasted to the crowded metropolitan streets. “The scenery inside the bathroom is extremely stylish, or­ dered and safe, whereas the outside scenery has already deteriorated to a state lacking order, form, and regulation, everything in perpetual motion, constant clamour and turmoil. This world makes me un­ clear as to which is the dream—the interior, or the exterior” (270). The protagonist counters the obfuscation of spaces by drawing sharp lines of demarcation between her private life and the outside world in an attempt to gain individual coherence. Her paranoia stems from the difficulty she has in distinguishing between interior and exte­ rior worlds, a necessary differentiation in ego formation. Thus, she pours her energies into constructing her own private utopia in or­ der to offset the exterior chaos of the metropolis and regain a sense of self. As estranged from self as she is from others, Niuniu claims to live in a perpetual state of mosheng de shuren [i.e. a familiar person who seems like a stranger]. She is plagued by an uncanny feeling of unheim­ lich or “unhomeliness”, concluding, “a stranger becomes so because one feels estranged from oneself” (63). Niuniu’s lack of cohesive 18 Quoted in Xiaobing Tang, “Decorating Culture: Notes on Interior Design, Interiority, and Interiorization”, Public Culture 10.3 (December, 1998), p. 543, and Tang, Chinese Modern: The Heroic and the Quotidian (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), p. 309.

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presence, which ultimately manifests itself in a stage where she dubs herself “Ms Zero”, is closely tied to her inability to integrate herself into what she perceives to be the equally disjointed social space of the city. She perceives the city as an expanse without proper bound­ aries, one that threatens to invade both the internal domain of the individual and that of the outlying countryside: This is a city that lacks a sense of confinement [queshao fengbigan de chengshi]. I discovered the city’s broad, long streets by no means separate the people scattered throughout it, allowing them space and psychologi­ cal distance. Modern transportation allows people to travel long dis­ tances as quickly as making a phone call. In an instant an uninvited guest who wants to talk to you is at your door. With the spiderweblike telephone lines throughout the city, the noise and chaos of a dis­ tant world, no matter how you protest, will force its way into your innocent ears. The postmen … bring news from faraway places be­ fore your eyes. You become news to others just as they become news to you. Myriad types of information perpetually explode like nuclear bombs, invading your space. Row upon row of new buildings crowd together. Windows like endless rows of eyes stare inquisitively into each other from every angle. Walls as thin as an insect’s wings … whether on the streets or at home, your breath, your mutterings, and your in­ nermost thoughts become common knowledge among the crowds. (263­ 4)

Ultimately, Niuniu’s reclusion is a direct result of the city’s encroach­ ment upon her private space. The wide and ever-expanding streets of Beijing invade previously enclosed spaces just as Haussman’s Paris boulevards of the nineteenth century broke down the closed world of the old medieval enclaves. Beijing’s old quarters are overrun with major roadways as commercial and residential developments destroy the secluded back alley communities and their self-confined siheyuan [courtyard houses]. Beijing’s modern roads break down traditional barriers between public and private, and with the advent of latecapitalist technology, the spatial relations which order everyday life have undergone an even more extreme historical mutation, giving the impression that geographical space has shrunk. Beijing’s rapid modernisation leaves Niuniu feeling all the more compelled to re­ define her boundaries in an attempt to maintain a sense of coher­ ence and guard against an implosion of private space. In this sense, Niuniu’s redecoration of her bathroom can be understood as her response to the fragmentation she experiences within herself and outside in the city. Chen Ran’s act of writing a private life for public consumption

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confounds the terms traditionally associated with women’s writing. Wendy Larson says of contemporary female writers such as Chen Ran, “what was once seen as women’s marginalization here allows them to accurately represent the historical gutting of Chinese na­ tional modern culture, or revolutionary ideology, that globalism now accomplishes.”19 Wang Der-wei agrees that Chen Ran speaks to a larger audience, and that her novel “actually isn’t private, but rather reflects upon public (including male) desire.”20 With her prediction that many others will contract this disease, Niuniu’s breakdown is indicative of a protest that moves beyond the private into the pub­ lic sphere. The melancholic urban subject is one who is in revolt against the rapid passage of time inherent in modernity, angered at the transformation of the city into forms which subsume the indi­ vidual and threatened by the blurring of boundaries between pub­ lic and private. Isolated in the attempt to preserve autonomy, the urban subject protests against a lack of agency in the face of loss, worn out by the social-technological mechanisms operative in the twentieth-century metropolis. Further instances of privacy In the novel Yingyan [Fly eyes] by Qiu Huadong (b. 1969), Yuan Jing­ song, a fashion magazine photographer in his twenties, is featured in the first of five loosely related stories on the lives of professional youth in Beijing.21 His daily routines are particularly poignant dem­ onstrations of the urban voyeurist. His habits include spying on his newlywed neighbours through the zoom lens of his Nikon camera from his high-rise apartment on the Third Ring Road, obsessively watching Sharon Stone films, and stalking women along Beijing’s thoroughfares. In short, he perpetrates the violation of privacy so feared by the protagonist of Private Life. At the same time, his ob­ sessions arise from his own sense of isolation from the crowd, as dem­ onstrated during a ride on the Beijing subway: 19

Wendy Larson, “Women and the Discourse of Desire in Postrevolutionary China: The Awkward Postmodernism of Chen Ran”, boundary 2 24:3 (1997), p. 215. 20 Wang Der-wei, “‘Gudu de ren shi wuchi de’: Chen Ran de Siren shenghuo” [“Lonely people have no shame”: Chen Ran’s Private Life], preface to the Taiwan edition of Siren shenghuo (Taipei: Maitian chubanshe, 1998), v. 21 Qiu Huadong, Yingyan [Fly eyes] (Changchun: Changchun chubanshe, 1998). Subsequent parenthetical page references are to this edition.

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robin visser He entered the subway car and sat down. Looking all around him he suddenly realised how strange it was. Everyone sitting there was thinking their own thoughts, some even using the newspaper to hide their faces as they read, and others still wearing their sunglasses. In a word, not one person was willing to make eye contact with anyone else (2).

As Jingsong observes, the metropolis is governed by a need to dis­ tance oneself from other individuals in the crowd. Simmel spoke of the “fear of contact, a pathological symptom which spread endemi­ cally” in turn-of-the-century Berlin, a spatial fear stemming from the too rapid oscillation between closeness and distance in modern life.22 Zhang Ailing described the same tendency in cosmopolitan Shanghai some fifty years later in her short story “Fengsuo” [Block­ ade, 1943], where the passengers in a stopped tram furiously read anything they can lay their eyes on to avoid making eye contact with others.23 Such mental distancing becomes essential to maintaining one’s identity in the crowd. Whoever encroaches on another’s space may well be threatened, as happens to Jingsong when he inadvert­ ently makes eye contact with a young tough who clamours, “Why you looking at me? You wanna make something of it?” Jingsong’s desire to reverse the isolationist aspects of privacy in the modern metropolis motivates him to such a degree that he quits his job and attempts to live as a “natural man” within the city. Camping out by the foul moat which had surrounded the former city wall, growing his hair long and imagining himself to be a tree, Jingsong’s organic form of contact with the crowd dispels his lone­ liness, and he regains a sense of social connection and intimacy by sending hand-written letters to his friends instead of using comput­ ers or fax machines. However, in all of his attempts to mitigate the ill effects of isolation, Jingsong manifests signs of the paranoiac who fears his own insignificance. His idyllic life is disrupted when he happens to photograph a robbery and murder. Suddenly critical of his current state of social irresponsibility, he becomes obsessed with a new goal for his life: to crack this case. When he finally appre­ hends the murderers, however, he is helpless to defend himself and they easily dispose of him. Having been tipped off, the cops arrive in time to arrest the murderers, but find an “anonymous bystander” 22 Georg Simmel, The Philosophy of Money, trans. by T. Bottomore and D. Frisby (London: Routledge, 1978), p. 474. 23 Zhang Ailing, “Fengsuo”, Zhang Ailing wenji, Vol. I (Hefei: Anhui wenyi chubanshe, 1992), p. 99-111.

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shot to death at the scene. The story concludes bluntly with the evening paper’s account of Jingsong’s death: “At the scene there was also an anonymous man who got caught in crossfire while crossing the road. The police are investigating his identity.” (69) The attempts of this would-be hero to counter the alienating effects of the city and infuse his modern life with meaning are quixotic. Yuan Jingsong dies an inconsequential, unknown entity, the demise so feared by the pro­ tagonist of Black Snow. In this story, Jingsong consistently violates other people’s privacy. At times his voyeurism demonstrates desire, as when he spies on his neighbours. Elsewhere, when he photographs his boss raping a woman to whom he is attracted, his intrusion is intended to win her affection, but it backfires when she uses the film negatives to black­ mail him. Finally, his prying enables him to witness a crime and engage in social heroics. Not only does he fail to respect the pri­ vacy of others, his attempts to break down barriers between public and private altogether (making eye contact in the subway, living his private life in public), indicate that the protagonist assigns little value to controlling access to intimate information. If the novel assigns a positive value to privacy, it has to do with control over personal de­ cisions. In the end, however, Yuan Jingsong’s ability to choose his own way of life fails to ameliorate his situation, and his successive failures to mind his own business directly contribute to his demise. Thus, any content assigned to privacy ultimately seems to be de­ valued. Privacy is portrayed in a similarly negative light in Shenme shi laji, shenme shi ai [What’s trash, what’s love?], by Zhu Wen (b. 1967).24 It recounts a year in the life of Xiao Ding, who, like Zhu Wen, is a thirty-year-old independent writer in Nanjing. As one of a grow­ ing number of freelance artists, there is no official work unit to monitor his comings and goings. Yet the angst and confusion plagu­ ing Xiao Ding are not easily remedied by engaging in free love, drugs or even volunteer service. Although he initially maintains a modi­ cum of social interactions, he becomes increasingly cranky and withdrawn, especially after contracting a venereal disease. Toward the end of the novel he rarely makes contacts with others, prefer­ ring to isolate himself within his apartment. Like most characters in new urban fiction, Xiao Ding appears to be governed strictly by 24 Zhu Wen, Shenme shi laji, shenme shi ai [What’s trash, what’s love?] (Nanjing: Jiangsu wenyi chubanshe, 1998).

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selfish desires for sex, nourishment, sleep and privacy. Hardly the Enlightenment ideal of an autonomous, rational agent, he seems subject to rather than the subject of his desires. On the one hand, Xiao Ding ostensibly values his privacy and prevents others from encroach­ ing upon it, apparently so that they will respect his autonomy. For example, he is willing to help others, but only on his own terms, and views any attempt to force his hand as a violation of his agency. However, as the novel progresses, it slowly dawns on him that some­ thing is amiss in such an autonomous lifestyle, and he begins a fruit­ less search to make real contact with others. Once again, the self-induced privacy operative in the city appears to promote dep­ rivation and estrangement rather than promoting self-respect, free­ dom from outside scrutiny and more intimate relations. The novel ends as it opens, with the protagonist alone in a crowded bar, his mouth gaping wide in a ludicrous silent scream, an appropriate coda for a work that depicts modern urban life as cyclical and meaning­ less. The image calls to mind classic motifs of alienation such as Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893), where the subject’s angst is in­ extricably tied to the presence of nameless ‘others’ who heighten his sense of aloneness. The portrayal of privacy in both of these novels highlights both global and local aspects of China’s modernisation. In the absence of the regulation provided by the state-owned work unit, the indi­ vidual is afforded so much autonomy he is almost at a loss. Not only must he regulate his daily routines and coordinate his social activ­ ity, but with the deterioration of the ethical norms inherent to so­ cialism, it becomes incumbent upon him to develop an entirely new value system. Meanwhile, the individual embraces his new freedom and values his ability to regulate his intimate decisions. The ques­ tion becomes one of striking a balance. China’s current society is governed by fewer collectively accepted cultural imperatives and norms than ever before in its history. When does one allow an external value system to govern one’s actions? In what instances is it in fact preferable to relinquish one’s rights to legislate individual decisions? Two 1990s novels set in Shanghai express similarly ambivalent attitudes toward privacy, its embrace once again resulting in psy­ chopathic symptoms. Huxi [Breathing], by the Shanghai novelist Sun Ganlu (b. 1957), details a year in the life of Luo Ke, a playboy in

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his thirties.25 Shanghai’s spatial configuration in the early 1990s, especially its deficient housing and transportation, contribute to the sense that Luo Ke is stagnant and immobilised in the city. Cramped conditions that hamper privacy in Shanghai are foregrounded in the novel’s opening scene. His father is away on a business trip, so it is one of the few occasions where Luo Ke can invite one of his girl­ friends over to his home for sex. Luo Ke’s tiny room is sparsely furnished with a desk and a narrow, uncomfortable bed. We later find that the girl not only lives with her parents but even sleeps in the same room. Another girlfriend, worried about his health, ad­ vises him to get out more, but the polluted public squares and parks hardly provide an attractive alternative. That stifling interior space and crowded public spaces could lead to an altered psychological state is a common trope in literature. For example, it is implied in Crime and Punishment that Raskolnikov’s impulse to murder may have arisen while living in a tiny, cramped room that he rarely left, feel­ ing equally suffocated in the chaotic street conditions of nineteenthcentury St Petersburg.26 Eventually, Luo Ke’s self-isolation and abhorrence of public ur­ ban space results in a sense of paranoia and, like Niuniu in Private Life, a retreat into narcissism. Although he envisions himself as a playboy, Luo Ke’s sexual identity is repeatedly assaulted by homo­ sexual advances, both real and imagined. One such advance on a crowded bus leaves him feeling soiled and victimised, yet the feel­ ing is oddly familiar, as it permeates his everyday understanding of life in the city.27 His boundaries are also shown to be permeable in relation to his older lover, Liu Yazhi. He figures her as a “maze” in which he loses himself, a “womb” into which he is metaphori­ cally drawn in a reversal of the birth process, and a “siren” with whom he is unable to control his actions. As a result he fears pen­ etration, and his doubts about his sexual identity are heightened. After his true love leaves him, he recoils at the fact he misses her so tremendously, “the way a woman misses her man.” Given his nu­ merous passive responses to his environment, Luo Ke suspects he 25

Sun Ganlu, Huxi [Breathing] (Guangzhou: Huacheng chubanshe, 1993). Raskolnikov’s family believe that his “coffin-like” room affected his thinking. His mother remarks, “I’m sure it’s half from your room that you’ve become such a melancholic”, and his sister observes that “one’s surroundings have a great deal to do with crime, I can assure you.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment, trans. David McDuff (New York: Viking, 1991), pp. 282, 309. 27 Sun Ganlu, Huxi, pp. 33-34. 26

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is a latent homosexual, yet because he is incapable of loving men and equally unable to commit in heterosexual relationships, he concludes that only narcissistic love is possible. Like Niuniu, Luo Ke is unable to resist the assault on individual autonomy by the modern city, and he fails to make the distinctions between internal and external necessary for ego formation. He embraces privacy as a means of protecting a frail sense of self, preventing him from truly connecting with anyone other than himself. My final example, Yuwang de qizhi [Banner of desire] by Ge Fei (b. 1964), is another semi-autobiographical novel.28 Set in the early 1990s on the campus of East China Normal University in Shang­ hai, where Ge Fei is an instructor in the Chinese department, the novel recounts the events leading to the suicide of a respected pro­ fessor. One of the young instructors on campus is doubly burdened, trying to come to terms with his mentor’s demise as well as the pressures of modern urban life. The novel is noteworthy as one of the first instances detailing the therapeutic relationship with a psy­ choanalyst in the process of intense self-examination. I see in this novel, as well as in Lin Bai’s (b. 1958) Yi ge ren de zhanzheng [At war with oneself], an attempt by writers who have emigrated to large urban centres from more rural settings (Ge Fei from the Jiangsu countryside, Lin Bai from Guangxi to Beijing) to deal with the as­ sault on the individual in the modern city by creating private space.29 Ge Fei, in particular, indicated that the hardest aspect of moving to Shanghai was lack of privacy. “In the countryside we had a large, spacious house, but in college I had to share a dorm room with seven others, and I’d never had to live with so many people in such close quarters before. Nothing you did was private; everything was pub­ lic knowledge. There wasn’t space to think. There was no such thing as private secrets.”30 He also remarked on the tendency of urban­ ites to compete for superiority, the difficulty of forming close rela­ tions, and the utility basis of relationships in the city. In their novels, Ge Fei validates the psychoanalytic process as one means of pro­ viding space for examining interiority, and Lin Bai illustrates such a process by reflecting on intimate details of coming of age. 28 Ge Fei, Yuwang de qizhi [Banner of desire] (Yuxing: Jiangsu wenyi chubanshe, 1996). 29 Lin Bai, Yi ge ren de zhanzheng [At war with oneself] (Hohhot: Nei Menggu renmin chubanshe, 1996). 30 Author’s interview with Ge Fei, 17 April 1997, Shanghai.

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privacy and its ill effects Conclusion

I began this essay by promising an inquiry into the content and values assigned privacy as it is portrayed in contemporary Chinese urban fiction. In the seven novels under consideration, published between 1988 and 1998 and depicting the lives of young urban residents of Nanjing, Beijing and Shanghai, the meaning and effects of privacy are demonstrated with a remarkable coherence. In each novel, privacy is valued as a means of recuperating losses inherent in the urban transformations of contemporary China: loss of meaning, intimacy, self-respect, individuality, boundaries, space and ethical norms. While many of the works give credence to the value of pri­ vacy as an end in itself (i.e., the respect afforded to rational, autono­ mous individuals), in practice, the consequent autonomy results in forms of psychological rupture. Whether manifested as melancholy, narcissism or paranoia, each narrative details a form of metropoli­ tan psychopathy. I have demonstrated how, in each instance, pre­ occupation with subjectivity in relation to space speaks to issues inherent in modern urbanisation. I have also elucidated particularities of China’s cultural context. First, the defensive posture maintained by protagonists in contem­ porary fiction who recount their individual experiences may be due in part to the after-effects of Maoist prohibitions against subjectiv­ ity from the 1940s to the end of the 1970s.31 Second, although largescale demolition is a regular feature of any metropolis in the world, China’s urban modernisation in the late twentieth century is his­ torically unparalleled in terms of its scale and rapidity, and the cultural response to modernisation is complicated due to global flows of information. The privileging of privacy and interiority for these fictional characters is necessarily set in sharp relief against urban landscapes perpetually in flux. Finally, the melancholy in contem­ porary accounts of privacy addresses the discontinuity between socialist norms and utilitarian market realities.32 For many of the 31

In fact, some scholars consider the rejection of metaphors of the nationstate, the main literary strategy from the May Fourth period until the 1980s, to be one of the key distinctions of post-Mao urban fiction. See Zhang Yiwu, “Hou xin shiqi wenxue: Xin de wenhua kongjian” [Post-New Era literature: A new cultural space] Wenyi lilun [Literary theory] 1 (1993), p. 184. 32 In his introduction to a collection of essays on melancholy in China, Wolfgang Kubin indicates that a collective Chinese sense of melancholy [youhuan yishi]

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protagonists in these novels, the rapid dissipation of idealistic pas­ sion in a modern post-revolutionary world devoid of collective ethical standards marks a traumatic instance of confusion and loss. In the dystopian 1990s the urban space has become a topology for exam­ ining individual identity subsequent to the loss of collective, utopian, rural-based ideals.

that implied a “concern for the imperilment” of the emperor, the government, and the state can be traced back to the Song. Symbols of Anguish: In Search of Mel­ ancholy in China, ed. Wolfgang Kubin (Bern: Peter Lang, 2001), pp. 14-15. The infusion of Western existential ideas in the early twentieth century compounded this sense, resulting in central images of China as a “wasteland” and creating a sense of desolation and emptiness. He concludes that under socialism “up until 1989 a ban on melancholy was implemented with the goal of remedying this mood.” Kubin, p. 10. Wang Xiaoming carries this line of reasoning further, indicating that such a “ban on melancholy” was furthered in 1992 after Deng Xiaoping’s southern tour, when he issued renewed calls for economic modernisation and dis­ missed the collective grief over June 4. “Even after that horrible, bloody event in June of 1989, as soon as the top leaders proclaimed that economic reform should continue, people quickly recovered from their shock and depression as if nothing had happened, as if it was merely a slight detour. The tune of ‘modernisation’ started playing once again, and the rhythm of ‘reform’ was even stronger, as if China had more hope than ever.” Such rhetoric further illuminates the disjunc­ tion between socialist norms and modern urban realities. See Wang Xiaoming, “China, On the Verge of a ‘Momentous Era,’” translated by Robin Visser, forth­ coming in positions: east asia cultures critique.

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THE EXTRICATION OF MEMORY IN TIE NING’S WOMAN SHOWERING: PRIVACY AND THE TRAP OF HISTORY

Chen Xiaoming

Tie Ning’s Woman Showering1 represents a new stage in her fiction, reflecting the mature experiences of Chinese writers who, like her, endured the Cultural Revolution. More importantly, it deals with the complexities they are confronted with in contemporary Chinese life. The private events described in this novel are transformed by the author into issues of public morality and history. From this arises a paradox: the private narratives now emerging in contemporary Chinese fiction are still affected by public morality and imbued with historical significance. The study of this process gives an insight into the profound changes now taking place in Chinese fiction. Motive and false imagination: the rhetorical meaning of sin and privacy Woman Showering is a multi-voiced, third-person narrative of a woman’s memories of her childhood and love affairs. Her memo­ ries of these events is closely related to the setbacks in love and self-transcendence she subsequently experiences. From the very beginning, the author sets up an autobiographical relationship with her protagonist, Yin Xiaotiao, most obviously by giving her a so­ cial identity as a literary editor in a major publishing house, and, more significantly, by attributing to Yin Xiaotiao a recollection from her own life. Tie Ning is not interested in the superficial phenomena of life, nor is her primary interest in autobiography or the nature of priva­ cy. Although the narrative explores the private lives of individuals, revealing, for example, the sense of guilt harboured since childhood by the protagonist, the author does not stop at analysing what is going 1 Tie Ning, Da yu nü [Woman showering] (Changchun: Chun feng wenyi chubanshe, 2000).

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on in the human mind but moves further towards history. Human sin is redeemed through rational speculation on history, and in this process private memories of human emotions are sublimated. Through its emphasis on morality, the author’s focus on the inner life of individuals based on authentic private experiences is under­ mined by her failure to free herself from an habitual tendency to­ wards historical reflection. The recollection which begins the novel relates how Yin Xiao­ tiao as a young girl witnessed her younger sister, Yin Xiaoquan, fall into an uncovered manhole and die. Xiaotiao resented her sister, probably because she was jealous of her or suspicious of her being the child of an affair between their mother, Zhang Wu, and Dr Tang. At the time, Yin Xiaotiao believed she could have prevented the tragedy but took no action. Her jealousy and resentment at that crucial moment are fused into her memory of the event, causing her long afterwards to be conscious of a deep-seated sense of guilt. The death of her sister makes her preoccupied with an anti-essentialist questioning of the ultimate meaning of life and the limitations of human beings. Thus, the function of this recollection is not pure storytelling but to reveal the sin deeply buried in the protagonist’s past. By placing it at the beginning of the narrative, the author emphasises her preoccupation with introspection into human psy­ chology and the exploration of the private life of individuals. From the start, the novel also presents a vision of human life in extremity and is direct in its approach to the dark side of human nature. Yin Xiaotiao lives in the shadow of an uneraseable memo­ ry. The event itself is always present within the dominant system of narration. However, the narrative does not follow the trajectory of this original recollection but uses it as a trigger for the protagonist to reflect on the question whether her sin should be attributed to an individual, to history or to human nature. The author does not offer a direct answer to this question but generalises it in the narrative, as Yin Xiaotiao is gradually relieved of the burden of her sin through self-examination and moral eleva­ tion. Sensual pleasure replaces introspection about her sin, and reflection on human error replaces repentance for her sin. Her examination of her sin is not actually a confession but a dissection of the secrets of the human mind. It is both honest exposure and concealment. When she expresses her sense of guilt at failing to come to her sister’s rescue, there is no longer anything else to be hidden.

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Yin Xiaotiao’s exploration of her sense of guilt lays a foundation for the other main element in the novel, her experiences in love. If the memory from childhood triggers an exploration of ‘original sin’, the protagonist’s love affairs are the means by which the narrator examines contemporary private life. Taken together, these two as­ pects of private experience allow the novel to explore the human mind at different levels. Private life, in this context, is not connect­ ed with private property or possessions, nor is it restricted to life within the family setting. The central relationships in the novel have little to do with class or social relations but are based on events hidden from the outside world. The relationships between Yin Xiaotiao and her lovers Fang Jing and Chen Zai, between Zhang Wu and her lover Dr Tang, between Zhang Wu and her husband Yin Yixun, and between Tang Fei (Dr Tang’s niece) and Yu Dasheng are all conducted in secre­ cy. Central to these relationships is the deceased Yin Xiaoquan. Yin Xiaotiao hides her memory of her sister’s death as well as her love affairs; Zhang Wu and Dr Tang both hide the illegitimacy of their daughter, and Zhang Wu’s husband, Yin Yixun, also joins the con­ spiracy of silence. Yin Xiaoquan’s death frees her parents and bi­ ological father from their sense of sin, but it becomes a burden of guilt for Yin Xiaotiao. In so far as it serves as a point of departure for introspection into an individual’s mind, this novel may be regarded as one of the few works of contemporary Chinese fiction which truly explore psycho­ logical experience and show a clear consciousness of repentance. However, the exploration of the human spirit is cut short as the individual’s life story is subjected to evaluation in the light of histo­ ry, and the main theme gradually emerges as an elegy for defeat in love. Through retrospection, the narrator-protagonist faces the entire history of humanity instead of some tight knot in her own life. In her representation of history, people are not sinful: they experience ups and downs in their lives, make their own choices and find their own solutions. The sense of sin and atonement which originally appeared to be decisive in the protagonist’s life is completely over­ shadowed by a series of fresh and vigorous events. She stops repenting and finds fulfilment instead in her ability to appreciate and praise. As a work of fiction, Woman Showering presents the reader with a rich store of personal experience and first-hand description imbued

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with an unparalleled sense of history. Experiencing hardship is like taking a long shower (as hinted in the cover blurb): women who have braved the storm will blossom like lotus above the water. What does this imply? What kind of reasoning is this? The narrator (or the author herself) is also misled by the implications of this reasoning. She abandons the original recollection, her point of departure for dissecting human consciousness. Freed from that heavy burden, she falls in love in turn with Fang Jing, Chen Zai and finally Mike, a foreigner with whom she flirts but does not have an affair. Realis­ ing finally her need to challenge herself, she reaches maturity. In this way, the author turns away from self-exploration to think about history as a whole. Just as her sense of sin is relegated to the past, her love story is also transformed into reflections on history. Years later, it is her turn to cast a sympathetic gaze on Fang Jing, the man with whom she was once madly in love. A former victim of the Cultural Revolution who afterwards achieved celebrity for his writings on sexual dysfunction and indulgence, Fang Jing is now an old man, condemned to abstinence and suffering from a loss of confidence: “All she could give him was politeness and sympathy.”2 Tie Ning’s portrait of Fang Jing signifies her reflections on the re­ cent past: “It was a time of celebrity and genius-worship, so that all the capriciousness, intemperance and exaggerated self-absorption of a spoiled child could be rationalised ignorantly by Yin Xiaotiao. That is truly an ignorance, a kind of ignorance which derives from the pursuit of civilisation, progress and openness and which allows the masses to pleasantly spoil those celebrities who once suffered greatly.”3 Times have changed, and intellectuals now seem to have more insight into the nature of history. However, not all history can endure close scrutiny. From the exaggerated desires of this cultural hero of the 1980s, there is nothing left but impotence. Is the author also signifying the exaggerated hero-worship of that period? Fang Jing’s decline is not only due to physiological ageing but, more importantly, represents the decline of the period whose identity he helped to create. This symbolic description displays the author’s acute under­ standing of recent Chinese history. Along with turning away from private history to reflections on 2 3

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Ibid., p. 352.

Ibid., p. 168.

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history, Yin Xiaotiao’s frustration in love turns into the triumph of reason. The faults of individuals are just a small projection of the mistakes of the era, as people at that time blindly worshipped cul­ tural heroes. Understanding the historical nature of this phenome­ non, Tie Ning transforms autobiographical writing into a critique of history. Similarly, through attributing human mistakes to histo­ ry, she transfigures adulterous love affairs into the pursuit of true love. As the good gives way to the true, the true ultimately turns back into the good, and Yin Xiaotiao achieves moral sublimation. Deepening and rewriting: the historical and moral trap Woman Showering interweaves authentic memory and historical re­ flection: the former foreshadows the latter, while the latter is the modification and concealment of the former. In the same way, sex­ ual indulgence changes places with moral sublimation. In the end, history and moral sublimation emerge as dominant. Yin Xiaotiao’s error in having an adulterous affair with Fang Jing is cancelled out by her surrender of Chen Zai to his wife, Wan Meichen, in which she achieves her salvation. The entire process is manifested, the externally tangible description is fully experienced, and the moral is redefined in the conclusion. In terms of morality, Yin Xiaotiao is depicted as a pure virgin and also an evil spirit. None of her love affairs is morally accept­ able, but at no time does she stop pursuing true love. What is true love? Is it absolute love? Absolute love is the free expression of the soul, without limits or boundaries. Yin Xiaotiao does not take the initiative in her affairs with Fang Jing and Chen Zai or in her flir­ tation with Mike: men are irresistibly attracted to her because she is so bewitching. But she is also natural and innocent. When does the moral question surface all of a sudden? At the moment when human dignity is sublimated? Although Yin Xiaotiao ignores morality in her own affairs, she freely judges others (Zhang Wu, Dr Tang, Tang Fei and Fang Jing) by high moral standards. In Tang Fei, Dr Tang’s orphaned niece, the author contrives a figure of such depravity that Yin Xiaotiao’s transgressions are reduced to insignificance. Is there anybody who is more defiant of morality than Tang Fei? In some respects Tang Fei resembles the typical prostitute of traditional Chinese fiction, but it is only when she appears in a modern context that she assumes

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the double image of virgin mother and evil demon. For this reason, Tang Fei is the most successfully depicted figure in this novel. Oth­ er examples of this kind include Ma Yinghua in Lühua shu [Mimo­ sa; 1984] and Huang Xiangjiu in Nanren de yiban shi nüren [Half of man is woman; 1985] by Zhang Xianliang, Jiur in Hong gaoliang [Red sorghum; 1986] by Mo Yan, and Xiao’e in Bai lu yuan [White deer plain; 1993] by Chen Zhongshi; Tang Wanr in Jia Pingwa’s Fei du [Ruined capital; 1993] is an extreme example, while Song Lian in Su Tong’s Qiqie cheng qun [Red lantern; 1989] is a slightly revised version. The sex goddess of male fantasies always has a double nature of debauchery and purity, and it is no wonder that she appears in Tie Ning’s novel. However, the main reason for her appearance is to justify Yin Xiaotiao’s affairs and endow them with a romantic flavour. Of course, in certain ways, Tang Fei is like another side of Yin Xiaotiao, the other half of herself, the alienated Other both suppressed and desired. One detail is especially significant in this respect. After attending Tang Fei’s funeral, Yin Xiaotiao and Chen Zai return home and make love passionately. It is a strange scene. Why does Yin Xiaotiao express her sexual desire at such a moment and in such a way? It is implied that the other half of Yin Xiaotiao’s character comes to life with Tang Fei’s death, just as she subsequently completes her moral sublimation by surrendering Chen Zai to his wife. As is common for such figures, Tang Fei performs in Woman Showering a function of interchange and replacement. The original motifs of personal repentance and private experi­ ence do not form a consistent theme in the novel. Instead they function as a narrative strategy and means of rhetoric. The tension between plot and introspection imbues this seemingly ordinary novel with an extraordinary artistic power. As novels of ordinary life became dominant in the 1990s, the problem of how to achieve narrative and descriptive power remained a major concern of con­ temporary Chinese writers. In my opinion, the introspective passages which Tie Ning interposes in her narrative raise the art of narra­ tion to a new level. Nevertheless, this introspective narration does not lead to a deeper investigation of the human mind but is replaced by an examination of the outside world, as it turns from individual lives towards histo­ ry. As far as the narrative strategy is concerned, the key engine of introspection comes from the contrived motif of atonement; although, as shown above, the motif is concealed and diverted, it still offers

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chances of introspection. It seems that at the start the narrator wants to go back to the protagonist’s innermost being and memory, and a desire for soliloquy predominates. However, as the narrative progresses, the presentation of the plot predominates. Even so, the novel still differs from other critically acclaimed novels in its unique interchange of presentation and introspection through which the essential nature of life (and self-consciousness) is fully expressed. The narrator is always pondering over the decisive role some unknown power plays when the protagonist suffers hardship. The connection of the controllable reason of history with coincidence in life creates various chances for reflection by the narrator. These introspective passages widen the psychological world of the protag­ onist but do not establish a main thread, according to the principle of internalisation, to gain insight into the most essential part of selfconsciousness. Desspite the author’s technical proficiency and acute wisdom, these passages do not investigate human sins but instead dilute the evil of history. These reflections are nonetheless very powerful, as the narrator gazes through individuals and sees the history behind them. The introspective narration does not get tangled in self-consciousness with the piercing spiritual pain alleviated, nor does the inner tension disappear, but the historical background is widened. Moving from innermost memories to general reflections on a particular histori­ cal period, the novel undergoes subtle changes in tone. From ex­ ternal experience to human relationships and to the times as well, the presentation and introspection move towards the outside world. The narrator achieves a level of enlightenment, declining to sup­ press her inner feelings but still concerned with the predicaments of others. How does she change from a narrator sunk into self-denunciation into the master of her own fate? After her seduction by Fang Jing, Yin Xiaotiao’s passionate re­ sponse began to fade when she started examining their affair and Fang Jing himself. Fang Jing’s affair with Yin Xiaotiao to a large extent was about proving his sexual potency: he saw Yin Xiaotiao as the only woman who could make him a real man. Yin Xiaotiao became disillusioned as she came to suspect that his love was a cover for therapeutic strategy. A similar case is found in Half of Man is Woman. The protagonist, Zhang Yonglin, becomes a man again thanks to Huang Xiangjiu, but it happens when he throws himself into rescuing collective property from the flood. He becomes a

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communist first and then a man in the arms of a woman; regaining his manhood is a supplementary means to restoring his political identity. In the case of Fang Jing, however, the noble goal of his­ torical reason is erased, and the cultural hero is entrapped in a human body. His love is performed with the aim of curing his body. This is a graceful deconstruction and a fatal introspection as well. The narrator uncovers the nature of this delusional romance and shows how spiritual love is manipulated by material needs. Idealis­ tic love disintegrates in the process of Fang Jing’s therapy and is destroyed. On a symbolic level, this questioning can also be used to interpret the cultural ideals of China in the 1980s. As a work on recovered memory, this novel draws out the histo­ ry of a country through that of individuals. In the novel, inner experience is built on historical repression, which presents human predicaments in depth. The starting point is an attempt to question human history. According to this insistent questioning, almost all of the main characters are guilty: Yin Xiaotiao believes she mur­ dered her sister; her mother has an affair with Dr Tang; Red Guards persecute Tang Fei’s mother, Tang Jinjin, who leads a dissolute life, and so on. It seems that the author believes that evil is pervasive in peoples’ lives. She wants to make a close examination of human nature but at the same time she is anxious to find a way out through history. Placed in their historical context, these evils are transformed into mere mistakes. They are the fault of history and not of human nature. The affair between Zhang Wu and Dr Tang assumes the meaning of resisting historical repression (escaping from revolution and vio­ lence), so that the libido assumes the function of resisting political alienation. Zhang Wu’s reluctance, for the sake of her daughters, to go to the countryside leads her to ask permission for sick leave from Dr Tang. Her dislike of revolution and violence is the true motive for the events in her life. Here adultery is not just adultery, and her sexual betrayal is a political betrayal. Similarly, the sexual persecution Tang Jinjin suffers is also a kind of political persecu­ tion. Human nature and history simultaneously supplement and eliminate each other. If human nature is an empty matrix which is filled with history, there is no content left for human nature. Con­ versely, human nature is anti-historical once its absolute originality is affirmed. To Tie Ning, reflecting on history will eliminate historical

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experience. All the puzzles about human nature and all the fears about oneself basically are about history. The tight knot in the protagonist’s memory is not truly a start­ ing point for atonement but only a textual strategy which makes the narration possible, or more profound and powerful. Once this strat­ egy is established, the original function of denotation is shelved. The initial challenge to human nature in Woman Showering gives way to reflections on history. The design of this motif might have been a gesture: the protagonist might have been hesitant about her atone­ ment from the very beginning. The memory “might be true” but might also “have been revised”. Moreover, the memory itself might be distorted. Considering this, there is no wonder she does not insist in her exploration of the penumbra of the human mind. To question or confront the innermost part of human nature is a much more painful process than to question history, since history is enormous but external, silent and objective. To examine history demonstrates the wisdom of human beings and escapes the torture of examining oneself. A talented and profound writer, Tie Ning came near to delivering a massive shock to readers, but why did she hold back? Was it the orthodox aesthetics of neo-realism (i.e., the school of realism which became popular in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution) that distracted her? Or was she driven forward by the lure of the market-place? More important factors are that Chinese culture lacks a consciousness of sin, and that an exhaustive exam­ ination of one’s inner self is not common in Chinese fiction. Tie Ning tentatively delved into this subject but did not persist. Subconsciously, the revelation of human nature shifted to history; the clarification of personal memory had to be burdened with the presentation of collective history. In the end, what remained for the protagonist? When she surrendered Chen Zai to Wan Meichen, she achieved sublimation. But she was left with nothing, not even guilt. To sum up, this is a story which starts by approaching the inner world of human beings but ends with a series of externalised rep­ resentations, perspectives and spiritual transcendence. Tie Ning fails to be engrossed in her own story and to explore inner life in suffi­ cient depth. As a result, she ultimately resorts to historical and moral sublimation. The potential readership market, the aesthetics of neo­ realism, and the importance of history in the literature of develop­ ing countries are all factors which play a part in Tie Ning’s narra­ tion about intimacy and individuals.

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The author of Woman Showering reveals a strong desire to return to the inner world of human beings and makes great efforts to explore personal memory and experience. In the end, however, her novel is dominated by a more powerful historical consciousness. Writers typically start from personal experience but aspire to expand this sphere to the experience of human beings in general. This is espe­ cially the case in Chinese culture, where individuals, society and history are so closely related that personal stories are subsumed in grand narratives of the nation-state. Of course, there have been and will continue to be changes in this general situation. In principle, privacy plays an equivocal but indispensable role in fiction. The history of the Chinese novel in the twentieth century can be seen in part as the transformation of pri­ vate stories into the public narration of national history, where all events and figures can be read allegorically; in other words, mod­ ern Chinese fiction is both private and public. Fiction heightens our understanding of modern life in that it raises personal life to a socio-historical level, but, more importantly, it enables readers to imagine and project themselves into the intimacy of others. Read­ ing fiction brings people together in an imaginary realm, forming a harmonious community through intimate communication with imagined characters and actual readers. In the act of writing, pri­ vacy appears in the form of fiction; in the act of reading, fiction has the characteristic of privacy. The significance of fiction was upheld from the very beginnings of modern Chinese history, when Liang Qichao advocated reforms in fiction as a means of delivering social reform to China. Fiction flourished in the late Qing, advancing modern civilisation and form­ ing a bridge between traditional Chinese culture and modern West­ ern culture. The May Fourth movement (1919-1925) and the na­ tional crises of the 1930s also promoted fiction, especially realist fiction, as a means to national salvation. The military victory of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949 established the cultural hegemony of realism from the 1950s to the late 1970s, with only limited and occasional deviations. Western modernism was re-introduced into China in the late 1970s and 1980s as the integrating function of the dominant ideol­ ogy went into decline. Intellectual activity of many kinds, including

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artistic expression, began to distance itself from the dominant ide­ ology. This was especially so in regard to literature. The economic reforms of the 1990s made cultural production dependent on com­ mercial markets instead of state-owned cultural institutions. As writers freed themselves from state control, they began to experi­ ment with personal writing; feminist writing by women was one manifestation of this process. The novelists writing at this time about the personal lives of individuals were not necessarily primarily con­ cerned with private or intimate experiences, but they detached fic­ tion from its social and historical background and began using in­ timate experiences as a literary source. To a large extent, this kind of personal writing no longer functioned as national allegory but explored their own or their contemporaries’ personal experiences and inner lives. The novels written by Hai Nan, Chen Ran, Lin Bai and Hong Ying in the mid-1990s are especially noteworthy in this respect. As these novels typically adopted first-person narration and featured protagonists resembling the authors, readers were encouraged to believe that the novels depicted their authors’ private lives. Hai Nan, for example, incorporated her love affairs into her avant-garde experimental novels, and her Wo yu qi ge nanren de gushi [The story of me with seven men; 1991] aroused passionate responses from readers. Rumours about the identity of the seven men became wide­ spread in the mass media, attracting even larger numbers of read­ ers. The mass media similarly played up the autobiographical na­ ture of Hong Ying’s Beipan de xia [Summer of betrayal; 1992] and He de nü’er [Daughter of the river; 1999]. Chen Ran’s Yu wangshi ganbei [Drink a toast to memory; 1992] tells of a young woman’s affair with a man twenty years older, where the loss of her virginity becomes an insurmountable psychological hurdle for the protagonist. The seduction took place during the Cultural Revolution, but the background is almost incidental as Chen Ran focusses on the woman’s inner world. In the context of con­ temporary Chinese fiction, which still attributes allegorical mean­ ings to the relation between individuals and history, this novel is ground-breaking. Her violation is used not to condemn the Cultur­ al Revolution but to explore her private memories. Remarkably for its time, it concentrates on the beauty of trauma instead of the pain. The protagonist’s claustrophobic loneliness and her childish impulses are appealingly described. The first-person narration and authenti­

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cally presented time and location accentuate the autobiographical elements to the point where we feel it is not a personal story in history to which we are exposed, but a private experience abandoned by history. Similarly worthy of mention is Yi ge ren de zhanzheng [At war with oneself; 1994] by Lin Bai, which relates a story of a young woman who retains her belief in life and moves on after having survived the frustrations of growing up. As stories about strong women were still rare at the time of the novel’s publication, it made a great impact in the Chinese literary world, leaving critics startled and puzzled. Lin Bai’s other recent works, Tongxin aizhe bu neng fenshou [Lovers with one heart can’t break up; 1989], Zidan chuanguo pingguo [Bullets pierc­ ing an apple; 1990] and Ping zhong zhi shui [Water in the bottle; 1993] explore aspects of women’s experiences previously untouched in Chinese fiction. At War with Oneself is especially audacious. Lin Bai buries herself so deeply in her protagonist’s private life that the novel transcends morality, rejecting the taboos imposed by a patriarchal society. Even more remarkably, the narrator keeps hinting at the parallel between the protagonist’s life and the author herself. The dreams and mistakes of her childhood, her education, her career, and her frustration in love and marriage are all strikingly similar to the author’s. At the end of this novel, the protagonist marries a man much older than herself. Since Lin Bai’s husband is also much old­ er than she is, it is hard not to assume that this novel has autobio­ graphical traits. Why are these authors so willing to reveal intimate details of their lives? One reason is the commercial profitability of such revelations. Fiction, once deemed to be a discourse about the nation-state, has now become market-oriented. The more closely women writers mine their private life, the more marketable their novels will be. Another reason is resistance to the dominant ideology. Contemporary Chi­ nese writers have been looking for ways to escape manipulation by the dominant ideology since the beginning of the 1990s. Women writers appear to be more inclined than men to retreat from insti­ tutionalised discourse and turn to narrating their personal feelings. Thus, the more they immerse themselves in their inner worlds, the more they deviate from the mainstream and rebel against the dom­ inant ideology. Evasive writing against the background of sub-communication assumes a rebellious meaning. This rebellion is subconsciously

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manifested in writing about the self. Writing about the private ex­ periences of women is new to Chinese fiction, even in the context of revised concepts of realism. Up until very recently, realism (or neo-realism) implied writing elevated to the level of historical gen­ erality; in the works of Chen Ran and Lin Bai, on the other hand, realism implies the representation of intimate experiences and pri­ vacy issues in general. The current worship of realism and the re­ definition of artistic realism has been influenced by the mass media’s concern with recording actual events. In an age when the mass media flourish as never before, literary fiction is so severely chal­ lenged by the emphasis on recording facts that some women writ­ ers believe only those facts which are personal to the author herself are legitimate. Many women write in great detail about women’s bodies in their novels, taking realism to an even greater degree. Writing about the body from an accentuated first-person perspec­ tive and incorporating autobiographical detail into realistic narra­ tives have the double meaning of appealing to the commercial market and rebelling against authoritative discourse. The worship of privacy has already assumed a dominant position in today’s fiction writing. Publishers, young women writers and critics share the belief that the inclusion of authentic private experience is the main criterion for evaluating fiction and ignore its imaginative content. Mian Mian, for example, based her novels on her person­ al experiences of taking drugs, being sentenced to a drug rehabili­ tation clinic and gaol, having sexual relations with foreigners, tak­ ing part in homosexual acts and so on. Knowing this, the critics praised her novels for their authenticity. Wei Hui’s Shanghai baobei [Shanghai babe; 2000], on the other hand, came under criticism because it was thought that its author had not personally undergone the experiences she describes and was therefore not entitled to write this kind of story. Mian Mian, an authentic “Shanghai babe”, even accused her of plagiarism. Lacking support from reviewers, Shang­ hai Babe was subsequently banned. Since the Chinese government launched a programme for radi­ cal economic reform in the 1990s, younger writers have distanced themselves from the past and detached themselves from state-controlled institutions. They embrace commercial trends and base their identity on the reforms. Those who were born in the 1970s are only familiar with commercial and carnivalistic writing. They have no memory of the past but draw on simple and direct experiences of

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personal life. They lack a clear and sustained intention to resist the dominant ideology but act according to personal preference and popular taste. Most Chinese writers, however, especially those like Tie Ning who were sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, are not able to distance themselves completely from the past and are still haunted by the relation between private life and historical and national parables. They are deeply aware of the paradox confront­ ing them: on one hand, they look forward to returning to private life and writing about personal and even private feelings; on the other hand, they fail to extricate themselves from the connection between history and the individual. Personal experience, taken as a starting point for reflections on history, is then rewritten by history and channeled into the course designated by history.

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PART VI

CONCLUSION

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REFLECTIONS ON PRIVACY IN CHINA

Stephan Feuchtwang

In May 2001 as I read the papers that have since become the chapters of this book, I knew it would be my responsibility as an anthropologist to add a comparative dimension. This meant that whatever shape the protean idea of privacy took (intimacy, shame, seclusion, secrecy) and projected as complementary opposites (polite formality, respectability or honour or face, crowds, public life—both lists could be much longer), I would think about its universality. At the same time, of course, I wondered whether there were any features peculiar to Chinese privacy. I also realised that all the papers were text-based and with considerable urgency I felt that I must supply some reflections based on fieldwork by anthropologists in contem­ porary China. Then, as I heard the papers presented, I was foolishly but vividly induced to speculate on the long history of transformations of privacy in China. Now, in writing these concluding reflections I will be even more foolhardy, and try to remain true to all of these impulses which thus become responsibilities. Of course I will carry none of them out in full. But I think I can at least open out some of the greater prospects that the chapters have themselves suggested from within their own properly imposed empirical constraints. ‘Privacy’ is of course a tease. What we have in these chapters is, rather, ‘disclosure’. They are about texts that are themselves disclo­ sures or tell stories about breaches of privacy. Some of the texts are letters between friends. But even with the greatest rapport and trust, a close friend arrives at a point where still more is left undisclosed. Diaries and autobiographies equally leave much undisclosed. We must imagine two further points, those of unwillingness and of in­ ability to articulate. Beyond them are in one case what is too dan­ gerous to disclose and in the other the inchoate, the dream or the trauma that are undisclosed to the inner voice of the speaking or writing subject. They are the contents of silence. My point is not to express frustration in the pursuit of the chimera of final and full

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disclosure. It is only to state that we are looking at the crossing of thresholds of disclosure. Secrecy and transmission, a relation of knowledge and its disclosure Take secrecy, for instance. Secrecy is a threshold to knowledge. Knowledge is both disclosed and guarded. Guarded knowledge, valued as esoteric, is disclosed in ritual, which is to say it is at once guarded and transmitted rhetorically. Or it is valued as a magical or craft secret, transmitted through a system of apprenticeship, often confined to a family or to relations of pseudo-kinship. Or it is a commercial secret, a patent, but as science its discovery or discov­ erability is taught to anyone who through their education has ac­ quired the knowledge base to understand it. These are honourable forms of knowledge. Their opposite is shameful or dark knowledge, even more obviously both secret and known-about. A curse or a suspicion of witchcraft is divulged by misfortune and sickness and disclosed by accusation and trial. Or it is disreputable and damag­ ing knowledge transmitted as gossip. Or it is conspiratorial and terrifying, and transmitted as rumour. These reflections are prompted by the medical and alchemical knowledge referred to by Charlotte Furth in her chapter. Traditional Chinese doctors’ and Daoists’ knowledge is published as cases that are exemplary stories of practice and the acquisition of knowledge through apprenticeship. Of course the everyday, or lay personal relationship is not the same as the renowned, respected or feared relation of master to disciple or client. But the latter’s esoteric or secret knowledge could stand as one model for lay aspirations and ideas of inner personality. Fredrik Barth has proposed two models or types of the disclosure of esoteric knowledge disclosure: the guru’s and the initiator’s.1 In Chinese doctors and Daoists we can, I think, find a variant of the guru that amounts to a third type: the master [shifu] who transmits knowledge through practice and discipline enhanced by uncanny intelligence [ling]. This does not mean that any of these three types are culture-bound. Nor does it mean that they are paradigms of all 1 Fredrik Barth, “The guru and the conjurer: transactions in knowledge and the shaping of culture in southeast Asia and Melanesia”, Man: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 25, no. 4 (1990), pp. 640-653.

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other honourable knowledge and its possession in the regions where they flourished. I will simply offer them here for their comparative broadening of one of the many prospects entailed by the topic of privacy. The guru teaches. Words are both the objects of the guru’s knowl­ edge and the means of its transmission. On the one hand, the words of a guru’s teaching are decontextualised and enhanced by the clarity and consistency of their exposition. Indeed, the guru realises him­ self by teaching. The more extensive his sources and the more elab­ orate their exposition the more famous the guru. He exchanges words as gifts for the substances that can sustain him physically. Fame is the spread of a guru’s teachings and the realisation of his most devout aspirations. Thus far it seems to be the opposite of secrecy. But his teaching is graded into levels of learning. Their acquisition is itself a discipline, a formation and an initiation into a line of great teachers whose names are memorised along with their texts, such that the higher the level, the more numerous the remembered names, the more elaborate, encircled and esoteric the knowledge. Learning and climbing these levels transforms the pupil into a guru. The discipline of the other type of initiator is like that of a con­ jurer, hiding objects while revealing them, performing highly dra­ matic rituals that divulge often frightening mysteries. The objects and the means of transmitting this kind of initiator’s knowledge are not so much words as sacred things, such as masks, garments and instruments. They are used to create impressive and memorable experiences, including direct inscriptions on bodies, cutting, pierc­ ing and scarring. The initiator knows how to handle them and in­ troduce them at appropriate times. Unlike the lifelong guru-disciple relationship, this initiator-initiate relation is only for the occasion of initiation. The conjurer-cum-initiator forms no permanent rela­ tions with those to whom he transmits the mystery. But both initi­ ator and initiates are located in the population and the place in which they live. Their objects of knowledge are a local people’s sacred secrets. They are therefore far less mobile and decontextualisable than the texts and teachings of the guru. The Daoist and the Chinese doctor are gurus in the teacherapprentice transmission of their knowledge, but they do not engage in the generalised teaching—a combination of scholarship, moral guidance and judicial decision—of the Brahmin, the Buddhist or the Muslim guru. They are practice gurus. The Daoist’s knowledge is

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of effective ritual and meditative discipline, the medical doctor’s is of effective treatment of body-minds and their relationship to their surrounding environment. Both are more located, in places and in bodies. Their knowledge is transmitted textually, but the texts are guides to practice (cases of his art by the doctor, and, from the Daoist, guides to the movement and music of rites) as well as the revealed texts or scriptures similar to those of the other kinds of guru. In short, they add to texts what is not written, an embodied and hidden knowledge, revealed in the performance of treatment or of ritual that is mysteriously effective. The doctor’s is a knowledge of the interior places and processes between which there are exchanges of substanc­ es across bodily surfaces that are themselves clothed according to the status and protection of intimacy. Preservation of intimacy, such as the treasure of female dignity, is crossed without transgression in the doctor’s art of examination by looking, asking, listening, smell­ ing and pulse-taking. What the doctor’s art reveals is transmitted by means of a model of the body, the naked body of acupuncture points and meridians. It is a body, as Furth points out, often in the pose and with the iconography of the Daoist or Buddhist adept. This is the ascetic nakedness of seclusion, disclosed as an accomplishment, not as defilement or humiliation. The location of the Daoist’s effect is not just a body. It is also a place, the altar space for ascetic disciplines and the place that Daoists who are employed by communities create in the core of their ter­ ritories transforming them into a sacred landscape surrounding a fortunate spot [fudi]. At this spot the Daoist adjusts and harmonises the relation of that place, through his body, to the inner order of the universe.2 To reveal exactly the location of the head of the dragon of a territory is to risk malicious damage to it and therefore to all who dwell in it. Such is the treasure of the dwellings of the living. It is equally true, of course, that graves, the dwellings of the dead, are also treasures. Violation of a grave is dissolution of the descen­ dants’ prosperity or worse, the ending of their very reproduction. Stories abound of the disclosure of the auspiciousness of other people’s grave-sites and their being violated and usurped, sometimes as acts of revenge by wronged geomancers.3 2 Kristofer Schipper, The Daoist Body (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993). 3 For instance, the story that is one of the legends of the Sage God in Anxi county, Fujian, for which see Stephan Feuchtwang , “Historical metaphor: a study

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Like other kinds of treasure, honourably secret or esoteric knowl­ edge, its objects, its embodiment and its location, have to be dis­ closed, transmitted and known about, but are not open and revealed to all. To be so would be to put this kind of knowledge in danger of dilution and defilement. The content of what is hidden within the threshold of secrecy is not just the expertise of the inventor, the guru, the initiator, the Daoist, the doctor, or the geomancer, it is a relationship of transmission and effect. This is privacy as guarded but known treasure. The naked body suggests a pair of contrasting privacies of trea­ sured achievement. They are, on the one hand, the Daoist ascetic in his sexual discipline, and, on the other hand, marital copulation. In the one there is a withholding or returning of sperm as part of the discipline of attaining bodily transcendence, while in the other there is careful expenditure of sperm to achieve transcendence of a single life by the continuance of a family line. I will return to this privacy as treasure. But first let me indicate the scope of the notion of thresholds of domestic intimacy and their content. Spaces and times of intimacy The materials that convey permission to enter, permitting disclo­ sure, are a mixture of convention and physical matter. Consider for a moment the kang, a heated platform connected to the kitchen stove in northern Chinese houses. The bedrolls of all the members of the household are stacked on it because it is where they sleep. But it is also the space upon which guests are received. In the rituals of greeting and separation a paradox of differentiation is played out. Socially distant guests are greeted and seen off with declarations of closeness and friendship, while greeting and parting from the clos­ est siblings and the most intimate friends are without ceremony or declaration.4 When guests are entertained, bedding is not hidden from view. On the contrary, guests may lean against it. Bedding is thus a rolled-up space of intimacy. Otherwise, formality is marked out from intimacy not by any physical closure, like a door, but by of religious representation and the recognition of authority”, Man: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 28, no. 1 (March 1993), pp. 35-49. 4 Charles Stafford, Separation and Reunion in Modern China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), ch. 2.

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position on the kang, the kind of drink and food offered, the man­ ner of drinking and eating, and the placing of the members of the household. Different kinds of food involve different degrees of sep­ aration within the interior of a domestic space. Furthermore, what for men are the more intimate, more inward spaces, are for women their places of duty. In her introduction, Bonnie McDougall has made the point that what was a refuge from public life for men, was for women their main place of work. In Chinese rural households, feast food is shared by men; children are kept apart, and women are in another room cooking and feeding the fire that heats the stove and the kang. Ordinary food, however, is shared with greater intimacy. Separations of gender and gener­ ation are much more porous when there are no guests. Much of this has changed in recent years. As Yan Yunxiang has found, increased wealth and spreading notions of modernity have multiplied physical thresholds of intimacy.5 They have also changed family structures and relations of kinship. He has observed over the past two decades in the northern village of Xiajia what can be seen in most other Chinese villages, a diminution of the vertical bond between generations in favour of the lateral bond between couples. The physical manifestation of this change in kinship is a multipli­ cation of internal spaces, from wardrobes, to rooms, to the sepa­ rate houses of conjugal couples. The reasons villagers gave for these changes are that it is more satisfactory to manage your own domestic space (indicating the growing autonomy of married women) and that it is more convenient for conjugal intimacy. Even the parents sep­ arated from their married children and therefore left less secure in their hopes of being looked after, felt relieved (apart from that anxiety) from having to be strict and formal in their dress and from setting an example. They now also expect to be looked after by daughters as much as they do by daughters-in-law. So the thresh­ olds, the people and the composition of the most intimate and car­ ing relations have changed substantially. The privacy of domestic space has been made materially more thick, substantial and excluding. It has moreover become a space of consumer goods. Possessive privacy has been added to intimacy 5 Yan Yunxiang, Private Life under Socialism: Individuality and Family Change in a Chinese Village, 1949-99 (forthcoming), ch. 3. See also Yan Yunxiang, ‘The triumph of conjugality: structural transformation of family relations in a Chinese village’, Ethnology 36, no. 3 (1997), pp. 191-212.

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and the other conceptions of privacy. Fewer children are reproduced in it—usually a girl and a boy, and increasingly often just a girl or just a boy. But along with these possessions and separations a con­ verse movement has occurred: greater public display of affection between couples. By the same token, in the village as in the city, public knowledge or rumour of premarital sexual relations does not now exert sufficient pressure on the partners to marry. The time dimension of this change is equally important. With wage labour, as E.P. Thompson wrote long ago of England, hours dur­ ing the day and days in the week are marked off as ‘work’ and ‘lei­ sure’, producing two different kinds of privacy. One is that of own­ ership and employment by the paymaster, and the other is the free time of the employee. Similarly, years in a lifetime are divided between childhood, working and retirement. The freedom of eve­ nings, weekends, childhood and seniority is what might be called the privacy of self-possession, or autonomy. Yan Yunxiang argues with convincing evidence that these and other features of moderni­ ty, including conjugal autonomy, romantic disclosure of sexual in­ timacy and consumerism prevail in China as they do in Europe and North America. Let us admit that they are global. They have been carried into every culture by capitalist economies. But that does not imply that there is a singular history of whatever is connoted by ‘privacy’. Nor does it show that privacy is an effect of wealth and mode of pro­ duction. Obviously, wealth allows for more rooms in one’s home. But, for instance, Zafimaniry swidden agriculturalists in Madagas­ car show some features of the modern Chinese emphasis on the house of a new couple, in the absence of the other features of modernity, and at the same time an even greater opening of domestic space than the northern Chinese premodern kang. To be alone in a Zafimaniry village is to be non-kin and there­ fore to be under suspicion of being a witch. A stranger, including the anthropologist, is greeted by some construction of intimate kin­ ship with his or her hosts and is urged to share their food: ‘come and eat, my child’ or ‘my mother’ or ‘my young sibling’.6 To share food is to be close kin. But there is also a rule of generational inti­ macy: the older generation should not know about the sexual life 6

Maurice Bloch, “Commensality and poisoning”, Social Research 66, no. 1 (1999), p. 141.

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of the younger generation, and for that reason, until recently, an outhouse was built for a daughter when she became sexually active. Otherwise, couples made love in the afternoons when no one else was home, leaving the door closed—a sign that the house is empty. Here is another use of time as a threshold, along with the physical barrier of a door. As for property, it is considered wrong to look into a household’s grain store. So if they want to talk without being overheard, that is where the couple at the head of a household go to talk.7 The same generational separations exist as an inner ten­ sion within the obligation to eat together. When a couple is mar­ ried and can produce its own meals, their separation is what en­ ables them to produce and sustain their own offspring and build a house around them. That separation is endangered at the family meal. Eating together abolishes their separation. Hidden in its in­ timacy there is also sibling rivalry. Eating together therefore brings a danger of too close an intimacy that could be poisonous. “The Zafimaniry are as obsessed by the theme of poisoning as they are by the theme of domestic openness.”8 Privacy, then, is as much a function of senses of kinship as it is of wealth or of economy. The comparison with Zafimaniry also shows a universal theme: of the close relation of sexual intimacy with the sharing of food, of privacy as a separation of generations and from siblings—in short, of privacy as the taboo on incest. From this com­ mon theme we can derive a further observation. It is that different or changing notions of kinship and friendship, treated as layers of closeness, will give different thresholds of disclosure. The incest taboo is to do with creation as well as with reproduction, so we can also expect different cosmologies (i.e., different senses of Heaven and Earth) to carry different ideas of privacy. Maria Khayutina’s chapter exemplifies these ties of kinship with cosmology. It describes an object and an inscription that are ingre­ dients in the performance of an exclusive ritual possession, a trea­ sure. That possession is an ancestral line that is a pedigree of nobil­ ity. There seem to me to be two thresholds in this ritual. The inner threshold defines the ancestors on the one hand and the sons and grandsons on the other. They are the most intimate in the sense that they are the subjects of the exclusive possession itself. The outer 7 8

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Bloch, personal communication with the author.

Bloch, “Commensality and Poisoning”, p. 144.

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threshold defines access to the performance, summoning an audi­ ence to whom the exclusive possession is displayed. It is an audi­ ence of distant kin and relations through marriage into and out of the patriline, an endogamous class that possesses exclusive public authority (within which there was of course rivalry). Beyond the outer threshold is the excluded audience, forbidden to be present but knowing that the rite is a display of birthright and rank. In later dynasties, the most authoritative and most secret of rites was the imperial sacrifice to imperial ancestors and to Heaven as Father. The procession of the emperor to the outer altars of Heav­ en, Earth and the rest of the self-reproducing cosmos could not be seen by commoners. They had to close their doors. Aversion of eyes and deep prostration (the kowtow) made sight a threshold before lower orders of imperial authority. But magistrates in their turn had to give way to the sedan chair of a bride, profoundly hidden by curtains. Again reproduction of a line is the treasure. That which is most intimate is disclosed publicly as both a guarded treasure and a cosmological truth. It was guarded not only from without, but also to prevent disclosure of the danger of disunity within. That inner danger was memorably expressed by Maurice Freedman: Marriage is a “red” event, a joyful conjunction of Heaven and Earth, of male and female, a fulfilment of natural duty, a necessary stage in the continuation of descent. But it is also dangerous, attracting to its main participants the envy and spite of beings both human and super­ natural, threatening the bride’s family with losses even greater than that of a daughter, warning the groom’s family of the frightening consequences of admitting the necessary stranger.9

So here we have the other side of disclosure: intrusion. The intrud­ er is a stranger, and she goes into the most intimate quarter, bring­ ing into it the seeds of separation, but she is allowed there in order to secure continuity beyond death. So far I have introduced these as ahistorical themes of privacy. But the chapters of this book indicate something about their Chi­ nese transformation in the long duration, from Maria Khayutina’s eleventh to fifth centuries BC to the twentieth century AD.

9 Maurice Freedman in The Study of Chinese Society, selected and introduced by G.William Skinner (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1976), p. 266.

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stephan feuchtwang Disclosures of intimate feelings

Because they are about various forms of written work, the chapters focus attention upon mental spaces of intimate thoughts and feel­ ings, as well as suggesting the relationships and conventions of pri­ vacy to which they refer. So the transformation story will concern both inner space and relations of intimacy. On the way from the fifth century BC to the present day, David Pattinson finds early examples of published letters that disclose personal relationships. But he concludes about the Han and Six dynasties (206 BC-AD 598), “that letters were simply not the major arena for the expression of the intimate though they certainly were a vehicle for the expression of emotion and the maintenance of social relationships.” They kept out anything that might imperil their authors in dangerous political times, when it was prudent and proper to withdraw from public life and write letters. Beside such caution, there was also convention and concept. We must not assume an interiority that was left undisclosed when it was not yet even con­ ceived. Writing, including epistles, suited the expected audience and that seems to have meant a correspondence of sentiment with subjectmatter. In the closely-tied classical arts of poetry, calligraphy and painting, this idea of correspondence or resonance between the inner reality of the artist and the inner reality of the subject-matter that is conveyed through the material to the reader and audience con­ tinues until the present day. But it was transformed at various points in the cultural history of China. There seems to have been at the very least an elaboration of correspondence between inner and outer, personal feeling and social story, such that they became more re­ moved from each other. Craig Clunas, for instance, points out the emergence of painting as a physical trace of personal experience.10 The ideal was no long­ er a union of the calligraphic painter’s brush and movement with the dynamic energy within the form of the object—bamboo, rock, cloud. According to Valerie Hansen, the painter Ni Zan (1301-1374) is the exemplar of this break.11 He is remembered for having said 10 Craig Clunas, Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (London: Reaktion Books, 1997), pp. 81ff. 11 Valerie Hansen, The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600 (New York: Norton, 2000), p. 365.

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of a bamboo and tree painting he had completed, proudly but with a laugh, that a total lack of resemblance is not an easy thing to achieve. On the other hand, well-observed landscapes continued to be painted as souvenirs, to imagine or to recall personal experienc­ es of travelling through the painted views. Resonance between outside and inside became a disclosure of something inside, a personal depth, more for its own sake but still within the ideal of corresponding inner realities. McDougall’s introduction deals with a subsequent trans­ formation, the increasingly positive valuing and deepening of the interiority of feelings and desires. Citing Dorothy Ko, she notes a tendency in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to elevate intu­ ition, spontaneity and emotion in literature. Accompanying this tendency was a transformation of gentry domestic life. The treasure of the inner quarters where the repro­ duction of the ancestral line was to be secured had been severely divided between male and female quarters. In the Song it was pos­ sible for women to emerge from their quarters into public life by their writing and other cultural accomplishments. In the Ming dynasty, women were confined to their quarters again. On the other hand, a more companionate marriage among the gentry made the separation of gendered spheres more porous. Ming writing about feelings [qing] and an inner world of fantasy accompanied new habits of intimate family outings and of men relishing the painted souve­ nirs of familiar landscapes, and the seclusion of the domestic quar­ ters. Women’s seclusion, on the contrary, was in Buddhist retreats outside the home, an organised entrance into the non-domestic world, indeed a gendered element of what might be seen as a Chi­ nese civil society. Privacy and public life Peter Zarrow addresses the question of a Chinese civil society in his enquiry into the transformation of both gong [public] and si [private]. Promoting si at the expense of gong had been condemned as selfish, but from the fifteenth century and Wang Yangming onwards, si became a vital component of gong. The cultivation of personal morality beyond the élite and in the private sphere was for the first time promoted as the basis of public authority. Zarrow thinks that gong and si were redefined in a Chinese ver­ sion of the Enlightenment project: the emergence of a social and

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political life between the domestic and the state spheres. To explore this possibility he gives himself a fairly vague working definition of civil society: institutionalisation of voluntary associations between family and state reasonably free from state control. ‘Public sphere’ is similarly freed from too many European assumptions: a space for associational activities relating to public opinion and political and social commentary. He argues that, with dynastic rule in the eigh­ teenth and nineteenth centuries relying more and more on local gentry and hence the growth of statecraft among them, public spheres, if not civil society, opened up. Zarrow draws attention to Wang Yangming’s reworking of the “Great Learning” into a philosophy of universal self-examination and innate good as a source for a Chinese civil and revolutionary tradition. I would complement this by commenting on how it es­ tablishes a cosmological difference between Chinese and Christian humanism. It is the difference between two ideas of human good. The Christian doctrine of freedom of will locates the source of good outside in a Creator, internalised as faith and obedience and con­ trasted with original sin. Enlightenment philosophers continued but transposed the same contrast. They internalised the external source of good as humanity while externalising sin and evil as despotism and the previous history of humanity. It seems to me that Wang Yangming’s moral self-monitoring is instead based on the notion of a central and guiding essence of good, and on a cosmology of res­ onance that can decay into disharmony and disorder. The breadth and varieties of Chinese inward examination can be better appre­ ciated when the precious scrolls of lay Buddhism and syncretism that flourished in the Ming dynasty are added to the philosophical writ­ ings of Wang Yangming. They too opened out a world of inner feelings and moral metaphysics and professed a mission to bring order back to a disordered world. They were part of a much more widely spread literacy, and the organisation of their production, dissemination and exposition in meetings was already a public sphere between domestic life and imperial rule.12 Centring, as in the “Great Learning”, or a return to a cosmic origin, as in Buddhist sectarian­ ism or Daoist adjustment, is less rationalist and less split than ei­ 12 See the chapters by Overmyer and Berling in Popular Culture in Late Imperial China, ed. David Johnson, Andrew J. Nathan and Evelyn S. Rawski (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).

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ther Augustinian Christian discipline or Enlightenment revolution. But it is also true that this idea of self and reason did eventually become part of Chinese tradition in the twentieth century. Leading up to the twentieth century, according to Zarrow, si in the writings of Liang Qichao becomes an equivalent to the Greek notion of the ‘natural’ desire for reproduction. But here again I see a major difference. Chinese notions of reproduction neither match the Greek nor the post-Enlightenment interiority of the personal, the rational mind and the passions. Chinese human nature was a nature of lineal reproduction of names, connoted by ren [humani­ ty], and, as Zarrow has noted, of relationships connoted by renqing [responsive relations of trust]. There was indeed a later convergence, through translation into Chinese, when the rationality of the En­ lightenment had become the reason of collective self-interest in the sociology of Herbert Spencer and its version of natural selection. In late nineteenth-century China as in Europe and North America, Social Darwinism was a project of nation building in the struggle of races for survival. But it co-existed with ren and renqing. It has not replaced them. The two notions, of renqing on the one hand and of the nation-state and its sovereign sacred space on the other, sit together as uneasily as does a network and a monolith, a making of relations and a categorical collective. What seems to have happened is that the new patriotism of a nation-state and renqing replaced and replayed the imperial tension between loyalty to rulers and filial duty, in which the imperial takes the filial as analogous to loyalty but members of families and lines put the priority the other way around. The former is gong, the latter is si. And Social Darwinism is the incorporation of si into gong. The republican revolution of 1911 reinforced and territorialised the general notion of humanity as a people and of the nation as a race. Communism was a particularly strong reinforcement of gong and of people as a new humanity, a class race, restricting and at times attempting to abolish the si of human relations, but in fact stirring it as a survival technique. Disillusion with Cultural Revolu­ tion in the 1970s and then the radical effects of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms reversed the balance, inaugurating the constant battle against corruption, on the one hand by renqing and on the other hand by regulation. The making of relationships outward from the domes­ tic threshold creates a moral world of trust quite distinct from the generality of regulated, lawful and rational relationships. It is largely

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the responsibility and the work of women and it carries both men and women into the outer world to create a haven from and a base to embark upon the sea of ruthless instrumentality and the exploi­ tation of manipulated relations [guanxi]. ‘Privacy’ here is the creation of an ethics of trust in a disordered, anonymous and insecure econ­ omy and an unfair polity. Face as sincerity Another indication of Chinese notions of an inner world of good character is to compare notions of ‘face’. Even in the most man­ nered company of British and North American modern societies, a concern for maintaining reputation, or face, if judged to be lacking in spontaneity, is thought to be deficient. Making and maintaining social relationships are dubbed calculating and insincere. Good manners, consideration for others, have been learned but become natural. Spontaneously expressed grace is most highly valued. But grace is haunted by signs of impatience and anger that defile be­ cause they are understood as the giving away of a truer, inner, or backstage reality that should have been hidden in order to preserve the artifice of the front stage as natural. These give-away signs arouse accusations of hypocrisy and insincerity. The backstage/front stage scenario is part of Erving Goffman’s vision through well-observed vignettes of interactive social relations.13 In his theatre of face in modern Euro-America, what crosses from inner to outer is supposed to be both controlled and consistent. It was not always thus in Europe. Richard Sennett’s The Fall of Public Man describes the pub­ lic gardens and other places of display and debate in eighteenthcentury London and Paris as places where show was taken as state­ ment in its own right, without enquiry into its consistency.14 But the point is that in Europe and North America during the nineteenth century, from the Romantic cult of the inner and the natural, and of sincerity and originality, what prevail now are the politics of personality and the strategies of image management. The ‘face’ of making and maintaining relationships in modern China is quite different. Sincerity is the making of good relation­ 13 Like Bonnie McDougall, I will cite only his best-known publication, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (London: Penguin, 1969). 14 Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man (London: Faber, 1986, 1st ed. 1977).

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ships. The inner is outer. There is no shame in calculation. The art of making good relations is named and formulated with great en­ joyment in China, evident in the long quotations from conversations quoted in Mayfair Yang’s Gifts, Favors, and Banquets.15 Her book is confined to the more instrumental end of making connections, in the urban China of the late 1980s. But strategies of relationships include notions and calculations of reciprocity, face, human respon­ sibility and emotional responsiveness, going well beyond what she describes as the art of making relationships. They were elaborated in two, later rural studies.16 They show that Chinese formulations of making and maintaining personal relationships, as distinct from purely instrumental manipulations of relationships, are honourable and central. The person is ideally an agent of relatedness. Creativ­ ity and naturalness come together in the making of relationships, and their agents are the domestic strategists of gift-giving, usually women.17 The making, the keeping and the giving of face is part of that creativity and of the construction of havens of trustworthiness. Shame, breach and surveillance The opposite of face is shame. And the opposite of the ascetic’s exalted nakedness is the nakedness of the destitute and the degrad­ ed, the beggar and the prostitute. Between the extremes is the ser­ vant, who existed as a plot device for disclosures of intimacy in novels and in reality as an accessory to innermost intimacy in a great many pre- or proto-modern upper classes, Roman, Victorian and Chinese. What is still to be kept out of the story is whatever is most shameful to disclose. Cathy Silber selects instances of breaches of privacy from China’s most famous novel, Dream of the Red Chamber. In this way she detects what should not be disclosed, including shameful behaviour such as loud discord, sexual activity, bodily functions and bodily 15 Mayfair Mei-hui Yang, Gifts, Favors, and Banquets; The Art of Social Relation­ ships in China (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994). 16 Yan Yunxiang, The Flow of Gifts: Reciprocity and Social Networks in a Chinese Village (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), and Andrew B.Kipnis, Producing Guanxi: Sentiment, Self, and Subculture in a North China Village (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997). 17 Chang Xiangqun, “‘Fat pigs’ and women’s gifts; agnatic and non-agnatic social support arrangements in Kaixian’gong village (1979-1996)” in Socio-economic Transformation in China and Chinese Women, ed. M. Zhao, X. Chang, J. West (Lon­ don: Macmillan, 1997).

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maintenance. The most shameful discord to be heard is that which betrays family unity, particularly between the couple at its head. She also finds sleep as both a threshold and a content. Sleep is the tau­ tology of being left alone: solitude. Both contain their own defen­ sive devices. The sleeper, whether asleep or awake, asserts by the sleeping position that she does not know she has been seen and thereby keeps her solitude. Shameful disclosure is re-enclosed by making sure that the intruder, witting or unwitting, knows he knows what he should not know. On his part he has the grace to give face, keeping good relations. In a later and different disclosure, the famous published letters in the twentieth century of Lu Xun and his lover Xu Guangping indicate breaches of conduct that they sought to keep quiet: the secrecy of their relationship while she is a student, her pregnancy. She refers to her employer who might open her letters as “the enemy”. But these breaches are relatively genteel. More dangerous are the intrusions of coercive authority. What did not go into Han dynasty letters and what students in 2000 wanted most to be ruled private by right (personal file, diary and beliefs)18 bear witness to close political surveillance, whose intrusion is so much more dan­ gerous because the political authority is more righteous and less willing to give face. All this brings with it a reminder that the right to privacy is a political issue, and not just part of the economics of private prop­ erty. It entails the right to autonomy as a critic of public authority, which ideally reverses the relation of surveillance upwards. It seeks either an end to political secrecy or demands its justification. In Chinese terms, it is to establish a new si as gong, a powerful private public between domestic relations and state governance. Invasion and celebration of personal space At the opposite extreme to political activism, Robin Visser intro­ duces fiction depicting existential vacuity in the innermost sanctu­ ary of self. Extreme conditions of urban anomie invade and break 18 Bonnie McDougall conducted a survey of English-language students in 2000 through compositions on the topic of privacy. My thanks to her for letting me read a draft of her analysis, published China Information vol. 15, no. 2 (2001), pp. 140-52, under the title “Privacy in Contemporary China”.

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down the threshold that contains a sense of autonomy and person­ hood. In the story of a man who is an orphan, the ultimate single­ ton, this sense of personhood is emptied from within by the frag­ mentation and autonomy of desires for various objects and from without by instrumental relations and anonymity experienced as the heavy thud of footsteps in the night. In the story of a woman, the same anomie is evoked as invasion by the dirty fog of city breath. The last resort of autonomy, if it is a resort at all, is silence or perhaps emptiness itself. But for the woman it is also a space further inside, and her female author celebrates the universal individual whose autonomy can become strength in a devalued public life. What then are such writers disclosing in the voice of narration—a si that is a condemnation of the gong, the inner effects of a general condition of anonymity and anomie? What are the positions of the reader as addressed by this voice? Removed and appalled? ‘It could be me?’ Or confirmed in a vision of the way things are: a nihilist realism? There seems to be no commitment to any one of these possibilities, except to the vulnerability of the emptied protagonist. Maybe it is a literary desperation about what the writer Ivan Klima, speaking of Czech life now, calls “an avalanche of trash”.19 We have reached a point where an individualist but consciously cross-cultural si is a substitute for a devalued gong. It is the position of the estranged observer whose disclosure offers a vulnerability that could become a hope or could degenerate into either narcissism or a knot of self­ ish desires. A heightened version of narcissistic si is the breaking of taboos of privacy to create scandal that can be commercially exploited, a fiction of sexual life that is apparently also autobiography. There are four agencies of this process. Two of them reside in the writer. One is the narrator of the fiction, who is a sympathetic public com­ mentator on intimacy and narcissism. The other is the writer as selfexhibitionist and aspirant to celebrity. They collude with a third agent: the commercial publisher. The fourth is, of course, the pur­ chaser positioned as sympathiser, confirmed in the goodness of intimacy and narcissism, or as voyeur, admirer or sceptic, open to the claims of rivals to be more authentic exhibitionists of what is secret, painful and vulnerable. 19 Ivan Klima interviewed on “Nightwaves”, BBC Radio 3 London, 8 Octo­ ber 2001.

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From Chen Xiaoming’s other choices of fiction, we know that these are not the only fictional disclosures of privacy in contempo­ rary China. I count three or four more modes of the fictionalised breach of personal sensual experience in his account. One is a narration of personal memory that comments on collective history. A second is a narration that escapes from or is abandoned outside history, becoming something equivalent to cosmological or religious fate. On the other hand, like the cross-cultural individual, it reach­ es to the transcendent and trans-cultural reality of the human pre­ dicament. A third is moral commentary and judgement: the male who fails because he is seducible from public duty; the female who is pure though debauched. Frequently they carry traditional genres of Chinese fiction into a mass urban world, but all of them make observations, with or without direct reference, similar to those made about modern urban life in other continents. Individualist si is not confined to cities. But what studies of rural life in China show is that the core of si is more often a conjugal relationship. We are back to Yan Yunxiang’s observations about modernity in a north Chinese village. He found that going to the nearest city for an engagement photo to be taken was also an op­ portunity for premarital sex. This could be admitted even when the engagement was broken off, but the point to emphasise is that the aim is to marry and become an autonomous couple. Surely this is also true of most urban youth. It is also true that the expression, not just the admission, of sexual intimacy extends beyond the read­ ership of the admittedly more spectacular breach of sexual taboos by celebrity authors in urban fiction. Yan Yunxiang found that a much-desired quality of the ideal mate among the young in the 1990s was that they be fengliu.20 What had formerly been a term of con­ demnation, of untrustworthiness and promiscuity, had become a term of praise that Yan translates as “romantic”. To be eloquent with terms of endearment [fengliuhua] was now an attraction. One young man had become popular with young women for his emotional eloquence by using the lyrics of Hong Kong and Taiwanese popu­ lar songs, a new, public language of intimacy. Is not this another case of si as gong, a preoccupation with relationships, romance and commodities as a rejection of the former, collectivist virtues? Let me finally add another si as gong. Thresholds range in extent 20

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Yan Yunxiang, Private Life under Socialism, ch. 3.

228

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and in composition from the individual or couple to the largest social unit, and from personal senses of attachment to actual territorial boundaries. They are combined in the notion of shared national or ethnic or religious character not accessible to the stranger. For in­ stance, Serbian men carousing in a Belgrade gypsy bar insist on their ineffable identity, proclaiming that no outsider could possibly un­ derstand it and that they cannot or will not explain it.21 Something similar is evident in outbreaks of Chinese chauvinism, whether they profess an identification with a history of suffering and of pride in overcoming humiliation, or simply lay claim to Confucian values. Conclusion From this tour of the horizons of Chinese privacy, what can I con­ clude? I have compiled a catalogue of privacies and their thresh­ olds. Privacies are treasures of knowledge and of intimacy. Thresh­ olds are made out of convention, ritual, rhetoric and time as well as doors and windows. All of them are thresholds of disclosure, and what is disclosed is always a set of relations, even when it is the split self observing its obsessions. As often as not they have a transcen­ dent dimension, be it a noble pedigree, a union of Heaven and Earth, or the human condition. Breaches, the violent opposite of controlled disclosure, can be repaired by the giving of face. Otherwise they result in permanent damage of reputation, in extreme cases ending with the complete exposure of dishonourable nakedness or exposure to the permanent surveillance of a camp or a prison. By comparative, anthropological examples I have shown three things. Most protected, as the greatest intimacy, are sexual repro­ duction and the sharing of ordinary food. Their protection defines spaces and relations of immediate pleasure and sustenance and of the promise of survival beyond the present. Different compositions of domesticity and continuity of kinship, different cosmologies of the transcendence of life, and different ideas of the making of relation­ ships construct different kinds of privacy. There are a number of such privacies in Chinese history, just as there are a number of other orthodoxies around the so-called Confucian orthodoxy of gender, seniority and the male line. One of the most obvious counter-or21 Mattijs van de Port, “It takes a Serb to know a Serb”, Critique of Anthropology 19, no. 1 (1999), pp. 7-30.

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thodoxies is that of lay Buddhist sects in which women could seek seclusion in their own right more than they could in familial do­ mesticity. I have also plundered the chapters of this book to speculate on a Chinese history of disclosures of inner spaces and of intimacy. It ends with a number of different kinds of si as gong, of privacies that stand as the resource of, withdrawal from, or shield against the public condition of a polity and an economy. There is the ideological privacy, whose description must be suffixed by many ‘isms’: chau­ vinist essentialism, carrying on from anti-imperialist Social Darwin­ ism filtered through revolutionary populism. On the contrary there is also the disclosed privacy of the alienated and fragmented indi­ vidual of sporadic desires and self-observation, or there is that of the celebrity author, or that of the romantic couple. I am sure there are more. But the one I would single out as my own contribution to the catalogue is the extension from domestic interiors of relation­ ships of trust as a private public moral haven, or a port from which to negotiate the sea lanes of fortune, exploitation and privilege.

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glossary

GLOSSARY Ah Cheng “Ah Q zheng zhuan” An Dun an Bai Juyi Bai lu yuan bai yin Ban Gu ban zizhuan bao bao bei Beipan de xia Bimuyu Boying Cai Lun Cao Cao Cao Heng Cao Pi Chang Ruilin Chen Ran Chen Yun Chen Zhongshi Chen Zun Cheng Congzhou Cheng, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Chengdi chengshi daiye qingnian chenjing chi chidu Chu xue ji chuang zuo Chun’an ci

mcdoug2.p65

ci Cui Yuan cun da chuang Da xue Da yu nü daixia Dao yuan yi qi dique hao wu sixin Dongfang Shuo Dou Zhang du du Du Fu du li shou shen du wo “Du wo yin” du zhu dushenzhuyizhe dushuiwan Fannao jiu shi zhihui Fei du Feng Guifen Feng Mengzhen fengliu fengliuhua “Fengsuo” fou Fu Shan Fu sheng liu ji fu fudi fuke Furen ji Ge Fei

231

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glossary

geng yi geren getihu gong gong tianxia gongde gongli Gongsun Hong gu Gu Yanwu gua yu guan Guangwu, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Guangwudi guanxi Gui fan guixiu guo guan, san guan guomin

jia guo Jia Pingwa jia si Jia Sidao Jian’an Jiangxia jiayuan jiazi chuang jieyu Jing Fang Jing, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Jingdi jingzuo jinwen jue kongdong wu zhelan Juedui yinsi: dangdai Zhongguoren qinggan koushu shilu Juyan

Hai Nan Han Chengdi Han Guangwudi Han Jingdi Han shu Han Wendi Han Wudi Han Xuandi Han Yuandi He de nü’er Hei de xue Hong gaoliang Hong lou meng Hong Ying Hou Han shu Huang Zongxi Huang Zu Huangdi nei jing hungou Huxi ji jin ji wei qing you

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232

kang kaozheng Ke Kou Zongshi Ku li zhuan li li li Li Bai Li Jiefei Li Rihua Li Yu Li Zhongzi Liang di shu Liang Qichao Liang Song Liang Tong liangzhi Lin Bai Lin Zhao’en ling

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233

glossary Liu Heng Liu Xie Liu Xiu Lü Kun Lu Xun Lühua shu “Lun gongde” “Lun side”

Ping zhong zhi shui

Pipa ji

Ma Rong Mangyuan Mao Zedong Mengling mi Mi Heng mi qu mi lai, yan de zhi zhi

quanli queshao fengbigan de chengshi

Mian Mian mimi mimi shi mimi wo mimixing shide Mingyi daifanglu Mo Yan mosheng de shuren

qun

qun zhi de

nan yi jin shu Nanren de yiban shi nüren nei nei dan nei shi nei-wai neike neizhuan ni Ni Zan niming nüxing yinsi wenxue

ren

Ren An

renjia gezi shutou

renqing

renqing xiaoshuo

Rou pu tuan ru mian tan ru yi Ruan Ji ruo dui mian san gang san huan San Dai Sanguo zhi Shan Tao shanfu shang han Shanghai baobei Shanghai huabao Shangshu

Pei Songzhi pengyou Pengzu

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qi ti “Qi wang” qie kong qing qingjing zhi zhi “Qingming shang he tu” qingshu qinni Qiqie cheng qun Qiu Huadong Quan shanggu San Dai Qin Han San Guo Liu Chao wen

233

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glossary

Shen Fu shendu sheng sheng bu xi Shenme shi laji, shenme shi ai shenshi shi Shi ji Shi jing Shi Xian shi Yin shifu shiyin shou shu shu shuji shujian shuyi si si xing shenghuo si yi si zhe hanjian side siheyuan sijian Sima Guang Sima Qian Sima Xiangru siren Siren shenghuo siren zhushou sishu sixin sixin tete sixue siyou zhi dexing siyou zhi nian siyou Su Shi Su Tong Sun Fuyuan Sun Ganlu Sun Simiao

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234

Sun Yikui ta chuang Taiping yulan Tao Qian

ti

Tie Ning

Tongxin aizhe bu neng fenshou

waizhuan

Wang Anshi

Wang Der-wei

Wang Mang

Wang Tao

Wang Wei

Wang Xianzhi

Wang Xizhi

Wang Yangming

Wang Yunru

Wei Ao

Wei Hui

Wei shu Wei Wendi Wen xin diao long

Wen xuan

Wen Zhenheng Wen, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Wendi wen, wang, wen, qie Wen, Wei dynasty emperor: see Wei Wendi wenji wo chengle dajia de gongwu wo yao zou yi zou Wo yu qi ge nanren de gushi Wu Shouyang Wu Zhi Wu, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Wudi

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glossary Xi Fan Xi Kang Xi xiang ji Xian of Huaiyang, Prince (Liu Qin) xiao xiao ban ziran ye you xie sixin, dan da bufen que shi wei gong xiao han Xin min shuo xinmin xiushen Xu Guangping Xu Mian Xu Shouchang Xuan, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Xuandi xue Xuzi Yan Du Yan Kejun yang sheng Yang Zhu yanyi Ye Shaoyuan Yi ge ren de zhanzheng Yi wen lei ju yi zhi de Yin yin yin bu Yin Chun yin ji yin qi yin shi Yin-shi dashi Yingyan Yongan

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235

you you youjing youpi youqu youya youzhai yu yu Yu wangshi ganbei yu zhi si yi Yuan Mei Yuan, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Yuandi Yutian de shu Yuwang de qizhi Zhang Ailing Zhang Bo Zhang Huan Zhang Xianliang Zhao Feiyan Zhao Zhi Zheng Guanying Zhi Du Zhigao Zhou Jianren Zhou Lianggong Zhou Zuoren Zhu Wen Zhuo Wenjun Zi bu yu Zidan chuanguo pingguo zili zisi zisi fangmian ziwo fengbi zu zun fu zuoce

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index

INDEX

Abu-Lughod, Lila: 56 Ah Cheng: 166; “Qi wang”: 6 Ames, Roger T.: 8 An Dun: 167 Analects, The [Lun yu]: see under Confu­ cianism Arendt, Hannah: 134, 182 Aristotle: 8 Bai Juyi: 46 Ban Gu: 101; see also Han shu Barth, Fredrik: 212 Baudelaire, Charles: 182 Benjamin, Walter: 182 Bessmertny, Yuri L.: 81-83 Bok, Sissela: 151-52, 155 Bol, Peter K.: 9 Bray, Francesca: 27, 30, 38, 40 Buddhism: 14, 34, 41, 47, 213-14, 221, 222, 230 Cai Lun: 110 Cao Heng: 47-48, 48-49, 50, 51 Cao Pi [Emperor Wen of Wei]: 111, 112, 115 Chang Han-liang: 19-20 Chen Ran: 205-06; Siren shenghuo: 179­ 87, 207 Chen Yun: 162-65 Chen Xiaoming: 23, 172, 197-208 Chen Zhongshi: 200 Chen Zun: 103-05, 107, 108, 114-15 Cheng Congzhou: 29-30, 32, 35 Cheng, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Chengdi Christian beliefs and practice: 8, 222; 223 Clinton, Bill: 7 Clunas, Craig: 40, 220 Confucianism: 8-9, 24, 28, 29, 41, 52, 109, 135, 141, 229; The Analects: 8; Da xue [The great learning]: 135, 222; Mencius: 8, 36, 45; Neo-Confucianism: 36, 45, 47, 98, 118, 128, 130, 135 Creel, H. G.: 87

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237

Cui Yuan: 109 Daoism: 9, 32, 34, 35, 41, 46, 47, 48, 49, 212-15, 222 Deng Xiaoping: 194, 223 Dongfang Shuo: 100 Doestoyevsky, Fyodor: 191 Dou Zhang: 109 Dream of the Red Chamber: see under Hong lou meng Du Fu: 16, 155-56 Durrant, Stephen: 100 Ebrey, Patricia Buckley: The Inner Quar­ ters: 11-12, 14-15; “T’ang Guides to Verbal Etiquette”: 104, 107 Edwards, Louise: 17 Erasmus: 11 Falkenhausen, Lothar von: 89-90 feminist perspectives: 7, 36, 57; see also privacy and gender Feng Guifen: 138 Feng Mengzhen: 46 Feuchtwang, Stephan: 23-24, 27, 211­ 30 Foucault, Michel: 36, 56 Freedman, Maurice: 219 Freudianism: 177-78 Fu Shan: 48 Furen ji: 36-37, 101-02 Furth, Charlotte: 16, 21, 22, 27-53, 212­ 14; A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China’s Medical History, 960-1665: 30, 32, 33, 34, 46; The Limits of Change: Essays on Conservative Alternatives in Republican China: 9, 159 Ge Fei: 192 Goffman, Erving: 150, 155, 224 Gongsun Hong: 100 “Great Learning, The” [Da xue]: see under Confucianism Guangwu, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Guangwudi

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index

Hai Nan: 205 Hall, David L.: 8 Hall, Jonathan: 20 Han Chengdi [Emperor Cheng of the Han]: 101-02, 106 Han Guangwudi [Emperor Guangwu of the Han]: 104, 106 Han Jingdi [Emperor Jing of the Han]: 106 Han shu: 101, 103, 105, 106, 107, 108, 114; see also Ban Gu Han Wendi [Emperor Wen of the Han]: 108 Han Wudi [Emperor Wu of the Han]: 110 Han Xuandi [Emperor Xuan of the Han: 106 Han Yuandi [Emperor Yuan of the Han]: 101-02, 106 Hanan, Patrick: 17, 18 Habermas, Jürgen: 16, 82, 122-29 Hansen, Valerie: 220 Hong lou meng [Dream of the red cham­ ber]: 21, 55-78, 225-26 Hong Ying: 205 Hou Han shu: 104, 105, 106, 107, 114­ 15 Hsiung Ping-chen [Xiong Bingzhen]: VII, 27, 33, 45, 46, 130, 133, 136 Huang Kewu: 132, 138, 140, 143, 144 Huang Zongxi: 131, 133, 139, 146 Inness, Julie C.: 21, 55, 77, 97-98, 150, 155, 172-73 Jia Pingwa: 200 Jia Sidao: 45 Jing Fang: 106 Jing, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Jingdi Kangxi emperor [of the Qing]: 130, 136 Kao, Yu-kung: 108 Khayutina, Maria: 22, 81-97, 218-19 Kierkegaard, Søren: 183 Klima, Ivan: 227 Ko, Dorothy: 11, 12-13, 14, 46, 221 Kou Zongshi: 35 Kutcher, Norman: 136-37 Kryukov, Vassili: 86, 90-91 Larson, Wendy: 187

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Laslett, Barbara: 150-51 Li Bai: 16 Li Jiefei: 178 Li Rihua: 41 Li Yu: 38, 40; Rou pu tuan, 17; Bimuyu, 41 Li Zhongzi: 34 Liang Qichao: 10, 23, 121, 138-45, 204, 223 Liang Song: 106 Liang Tong: 106 Lin Bai: 192, 206, 207 Lin Zhao’en: 47 Liu Heng: 174-79, 180, 182, 183, 184, 189 Liu Qin [Prince Xian of Huaiyang]: 106 Liu Xie: Wen xin diao long: 109, 113-15 Liu Xiu: see Han Guangwudi Louie, Kam: 17 Lü Kun: 30, 31, 41, 42, 43 Lu Xun: 10, 23, 182; “Ah Q zheng zhuan”: 6; Liang di shu: 23; 146-62, 226 Ma Rong: 109-10 Mao Zedong: 129; Maoist prohibitions: 193; post-Mao period: 171-94 Mann, Susan: 13-14, 15-16, 22 McDougall, Bonnie S.: VII; “Briefing paper”: 7, 21; Love-Letters and Privacy in Modern China: 4, 147; “Particulars and Universals: Studies on Chinese Privacy”: 3-24, 55, 131; 158, 216, 221;“Functions and Values of Privacy in the Corrrespondence between Lu Xun and Xu Guangping”: 10, 23, 147-68; “Privacy in Contemporary China: A Survey”: 167, 226 McMullen, D. L.: 9, 10, 16 Mi Heng: 114-15 Mian Mian: 207 Mills, John Stuart: 145 Mizoguchi Yåzo: 130, 144, 145-46 Mo Yan: 200 Moore, Barrington: 135 Munch, Edvard: 190 Netherlands Institute for Advanced Stud­ ies: workshop on Chinese Concepts of Privacy: VII, 21, 27 Ni Zan: 220-21 Ouyang Xun: Yi wen lei ju: 109-11

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239

index Owen, Stephen: 20 Pattinson, David: 22, 23, 97-118, 220 Pipa ji: 41 Plaks, Andrew H.: 17-18, 19, 108 Poo, Mu-chou: 92 privacy: concepts of: 4, 7, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23-24, 28, 55, 56, 77, 113, 116­ 18, 121-23, 132-35, 144, 167, 168, 173, 217; contents of: 11-16, 55-78, 148, 173, 211; definitions of: 7, 52, 55, 77, 97-98; functions of: 7, 10, 13­ 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 147, 148, 161­ 62, 173, 176, 178, 181; locations of: 6, 10, 14, 92, 158; mechanisms of: 6-7, 16, 22, 55-78, 97, 173; rights to: 3-5; 7, 21, 24, 49, 121, 139, 144-45, 152, 166-67, 173, 226; terminology of: 4, 5-8, 9, 11, 21, 24, 27, 28, 55, 83-84, 107, 121, 129-30, 132, 155, 158, 161, 165, 167, 168, 176; unit of: 6, 21, 22, 228-29; values of: 7, 8, 10, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 27, 52, 84, 89, 93-94, 130-32, 132-35, 142, 144, 147, 148, 161-62, 172, 173-74, 176, 178, 180-81, 183, 189-90, 193, Western studies on: 7, 8, 15-16, 21, 23, 24, 55, 77, 149-52; see also pri­ vate life; public and private spheres of interest; women’s privacy fiction privacy in relation to: aesthetic enjoy­ ment: 19-20, 41, 46, 162, 164, 165; age: 4, 21, 29, 35, 45-47, 78, 151, 167, 174-93, 216, 217-18, 229; alien­ ation, isolation and estrangement: 6, 142, 173, 171-94, 227, 230; anonym­ ity: 175-76, 183, 224, 227; autobi­ ography and biographical writings: 6, 12, 16, 17, 18-20, 23, 30, 147, 174, 179, 192, 197-208, 211, 227; au­ tonomy, authenticity and selfhood: 5, 8, 10, 15, 27, 41, 47, 49-53, 143, 158, 171-94, 217, 226-29; bodies (including nakedness, bodily groom­ ing and maintenance): 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 21, 27-53, 58, 68-70, 73-74, 84, 148, 166, 177, 185, 190, 191, 213, 214-15, 225-26, 229; crying: 58, 63­ 66, 69, 70-71; correspondence (in­ cluding love-letters): 5, 22, 40, 85, 97­ 118, 147-62, 163, 165, 166-67, 176, 188, 211, 220, 226; crowds: 6, 32, 174-94, 211; discord and disorder:

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239

58, 66-67, 70, 163, 224, 225, 226; excretion (including lavatories and bathrooms): 5, 21, 27, 32, 69-70, 73, 84, 177, 180, 185-86; food and drink (ingestion and preparation of) and hospitality: 27, 40, 48, 49, 86, 91, 93­ 94, 96, 177, 190, 215-18, 218, 229; gender: 4, 5, 9, 10-16, 16-17, 21, 23, 35-47, 47-52, 57, 68, 75, 78, 82, 92­ 93, 167, 179-80, 184, 216, 221, 229; globalisation and universality: 3, 6,7, 21-24, 37, 168, 171-94, 217-18, 228­ 29; intimacy: 5, 6, 10, 17, 19-20, 22, 23, 27-28, 35, 58, 69, 71, 72, 97, 98, 102, 104, 105, 109, 112-13, 114-16, 118, 148, 150-52, 154-56, 160, 161, 162, 173, 181, 189-90, 193, 215-19, 220-21, 227; history: 4-5, 121-46, 171-94; 195-208, 228, 229-30; litera­ ture (including poetry, fiction, essays and criticism): 9, 11, 12, 16-20, 21­ 22, 23, 32, 33, 40, 46, 48-49, 51-52, 53, 55-78, 99, 102, 103, 104, 108, 109, 111-12, 113, 114, 117, 118, 146, 147, 155-56, 166, 171-94, 183, 225­ 26, 226-29; marriage and marital relationships: 7, 11-14, 18-20, 37-47, 85, 102, 105, 154, 157, 162, 162-65, 167, 215, 216-17, 221, 228-29; medicine: 16, 28, 29-35, 35-37, 52, 212-15; meditation: 14, 22, 47-52, 53, 143, 214; melancholy: 113, 171­ 94; memory: 20, 195-208, 228; misbehaviour, wrongdoing and un­ conventional behaviour (including adultery): 7, 19-20, 23, 57, 58, 59, 61, 63, 67, 68, 82, 132, 142, 150­ 51, 155, 161, 162-64; modernisation and modernity: 171-94, 216, 217, 228-29; refuge, retreat, reclusion and escape: 6, 14, 16, 28, 34, 41, 48-52, 145, 157-58, 176, 180, 181, 185, 221, 224, 230; [public] morality: 121-46, 171-94; 195-208, 228-29; religion: 8, 14, 22, 41, 50, 90-96, 99, 228-30 (see also Buddhism; Daoism; meditation); retirement and exclusion from office: 5, 16, 107, 113; secrecy and conceal­ ment: 6, 14, 19-20, 28, 33, 36, 38, 52, 55, 56-58, 60, 63, 67, 70, 72, 76, 83, 105, 147, 149-55, 161-62, 163­ 64, 192, 197-99, 211, 212-15, 226,

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index

227; shame, modesty, embarrass­ ment, dishonour and disgust: 7, 27­ 28, 34, 36-38, 52-53, 68, 70, 149, 155, 156, 177, 179, 211, 221, 225­ 26, 229; sickness (physical and men­ tal): 21, 29-34, 52, 112, 151, 179-80, 183-84, 187, 188, 189, 191, 192, 212; sexual activity and desires: 6, 7, 12, 21, 23, 27, 28, 32, 37, 37-38, 40, 52, 58, 67-68, 70, 84, 131, 148, 152-55, 159, 161, 162-63, 166, 177-78, 187, 190, 191, 192, 215, 217-19, 225, 227, 228, 229; sleep, bedrooms, beds and bedding: 14, 21, 28, 37-47, 57, 60, 68-69, 70, 71-76, 78, 185, 190, 191, 192, 215-16, 221, 226; socio-economic class: 4, 8, 11, 13, 21, 33, 34­ 35, 37, 57, 68, 75, 78, 99, 100, 122, 151, 179, 221, 225; solitude and seclusion: 6, 10, 16, 27, 28, 41, 45­ 46, 47-49, 52, 53, 56, 147, 155-58, 161-62, 164-65, 176, 211, 214, 221, 226, 230; surveillance, spying and eavesdropping: 17, 21; 56, 58, 59­ 63, 71, 72, 73, 74, 176, 187, 189, 211, 225-26, 229; urban life: 5, 23, 165, 171-94, 226-29 private life: 6, 7, 10, 11-15, 16, 17, 18­ 20, 23, 37-52, 81-96, 103, 112, 117­ 18, 145, 150-51, 162-65, 177, 179­ 87, 192, 197-208 public and private spheres and interests: 6, 8-11, 12-13, 14-16; 16-20, 23, 28, 52, 55, 81-96, 107, 113-18, 121-46, 147, 158-62, 162, 165, 167, 176-77, 180-81, 186-87, 189, 197-208, 211, 220-21, 221-24, 226, 227, 229-30 Qianlong emperor (of the Qing): 136­ 37 Qiu Huadong: 174, 187-90 Rankin, Mary Backus: 122, 124, 128 Robertson, Maureen: 51-52 Ropp, Paul S.: 18-20, 162-63 Rowe, William: 122, 124, 127, 128, 132 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: 158 Ruan Ji: 113 Sennett, Richard: 224 Shan Tao: 115 Shangshu [The book of documents]: 94

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240

Shaughnessy, Edward: 89 Shen Fu: 18-20, 22, 162-65 Shi ji: see under Sima Qian Shi jing[The book of poetry]: 86, 94 Shi Xian: 106 Silber, Cathy: 21, 54-78, 225-26 Sima Guang: 9 Sima Qian: letter to Ren An: 100, 115; Shi ji: 100, 105 Sima Xiangru: 99 Simmel, Georg: 149-50, 172, 182, 188 Spencer, Herbert: 141, 223 Strand, David: 122, 124, 128 Su Shi: 103-04, 117 Su Tong: 200 Sun Ganlu: 190-92 Sun Simiao: 45, 46 Sun Yikui: 33, 36 Tao Qian: 16, 113 Taoism: see Daoism Tefft, Stanton: 151 Thompson, E. P.: 217 Tie Ning: 194-208 Tillman, Hoyt Cleveland: 9 Tsien Tsuen-hsuin: 110 Tsin, Michael: 123, 125-26 Visser, Robin: 23, 171-94, 226-27 Wakeman, Frederic, Jr: 122, 124-25, 126, 128 Wang Anshi: 9 Wang Der-wei: 187 Wang Hui: 125, 127, 145 Wang Mang: 103 Wang Tao: 138 Wang Wei: 16 Wang Xizhi: 103-04, 111-12, 116, 117 Wang Yangming: 129, 142, 143, 145, 221-22 Warren, Carol: 150-51 Wei Ao: 104 Wei Hui: 207 Wei Wendi: see Cao Pi Wen Zhenheng: 40 Wen, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Wendi Wen, Wei dynasty emperor: see Cao Pi Wen xin diao long: see under Liu Xie women’s privacy fiction: 23, 179, 206­ 07

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241

index Wu Shouyang: 48

Wu Zhi: 111, 115

Wu, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Wudi

Yü, Ying-shih [Yu Yingshi]: 107-08, 130

Yuan Mei: 17

Yuan, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Yuandi

Xi Fan: 115

Xi Kang: 113, 115

Xi xiang ji [Romance of the western

chamber]: 65, 73

Xian of Huaiyang, Prince: see under Liu Qin Xiong Bingzhen: see Hsiung Ping-chen Xu Guangping: 147-62, 226

Xuan, Han dynasty emperor: see Han Xuandi

Zarrow, Peter: 10, 23, 121-46, 221-23

Zeng Guofan: 143

Zhang Ailing: 188

Zhang Bo: 106

Zhang Huan: 110

Zhang Binglin: 145

Zhang Xianliang: 166; Lühua shu: 200;

Nanren de yiban shi nüren: 200, 201

Zhao Feiyan: 101-02

Zhao Zhi: 115

Zheng Guanying: 138

Zhi Du: 106-07

Zhou Jianren: 154

Zhou Lianggong: 116

Zhou Zuoren: 112

Zhu Wen: 189-90

Zhuangzi: 16

Zhuo Wenjun: 99

Zuo zhuan [Zuo annals]: 94-95

Yan Du: 110

Yan Fu: 139

Yan Kejun: 100, 102, 112

Yan Yunxiang: 3, 216, 228

Yang, Mayfair: 225

Yang Zhu: 16

Ye Shaoyuan: 45

Yi wen lei yu: see under Ouyang Xun

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sinica leidensia Edited by Wilt L.Idema et al.

11 Zürcher, E. The Buddhist Conquest of China. The Spread and Adaptation of Buddhism in Early Medieval China. 1. Text. 2. Notes, Bibliography, Indexes. Reprint of the 1st (1959) ed., with additions and corrections. 1972. isbn 90 04 03478 1 Out of print 12/2 Acker,W. R. B. (tr.). Some T’ang and Pre-T’ang Texts on Chinese Painting. With Annotations. Vol.ii. Chang Yen-Yüan. Li tai ming hua chi, Chapters iv-x. 1. Translation and Annotations. 2. Chinese text. 1974. isbn 90 04 03938 4 13 Idema,W. L. Chinese Vernacular Fiction. The Formative Period. 1974. isbn 90 04 03974 0 15 Idema,W. L. (ed.). Leyden Studies in Sinology. Papers Presented at the Conference Held in Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Sinological Institute of Leyden University, December 8-12, 1980. 1981. isbn 90 04 06529 6 16 Idema, W. L. The Dramatic Œuvre of Chu Yu-Tun (1379-1439). 1985. isbn 90 04 07291 8 17 Hulsewé, A.F. P. Remnants of Ch’in Law. An Annotated Translation of the Ch’in Legal and Administrative Rules of the 3rd Century bc Discovered in Yün-meng Prefecture, Hu-pei Province, in 1975. 1985. isbn 90 04 07103 2 18 Heer, Ph. de. The Care-Taker Emperor. Aspects of the Imperial Institution in Fifteenth-Century China As Reflected in the Political History of the Reign of Chu Chi’i-yü. 1986. isbn 90 04 07898 3 Out of print 19 Standaert, N.Yung Tingyun, Confucian and Christian in Late Ming China. His Life and Thought. 1987. isbn 90 04 08127 5 20 Zurndorfer, H.T. Change and Continuity in Chinese Local History. The Development of Hui-Chou Prefecture 800 to 1800. 1989. isbn 90 04 08842 3 21 Mansvelt Beck, B.J. The Treatises of Later Han. Their Author, Sources, Contents and Place in Chinese Historiography. 1990. isbn 90 04 08895 4 22 Vermeer, E. B. (ed.). Development and Decline of Fukien Province in the 17th and 18th Centuries. 1990. isbn 90 04 09171 8 23 Ruitenbeek, K. Carpentry and Building in Late Imperial China. A Study of


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the Fifteenth-Century Carpenter’s Manual Lu Ban jing. 1993. isbn 90 04 09258 7 24 Idema, W. L. and E. Zürcher (eds.). Thought and Law in Qin and Han China. Studies Dedicated to Anthony Hulsewé on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday. 1990. isbn 90 04 09269 2 Out of print 25 Meijer, M.J. Murder and Adultery in Late Imperial China. A Study of Law and Morality. isbn 90 04 09273 0 Out of print 26 Haar, B.J. ter. The White Lotus Teachings in Chinese Religious History. 1992. isbn 90 04 09414 8 27 Yoshida, T. Salt Production Techniques in Ancient China. The Aobo Tu. Translated and revised by H.U.Vogel. 1993. isbn 90 04 09657 4 28 Huang Chun-chieh and E. Zürcher (eds.). Norms and the State in China. 1993. isbn 90 04 09665 5 29 Blussé, L. and H.T. Zurndorfer (eds.). Conflict and Accommodation in Early Modern East Asia. Essays in Honour of Erik Zürcher. 1993. isbn 90 04 09775 9 30 Ming-Wood Liu. Madhyamaka Thought in China. 1994. isbn 90 04 09984 0 Out of print 31 Edwards, L. P. Men & Women in Qing China. Gender in The Red Chamber Dream. 1994. isbn 90 04 10123 3 32 Eifring, H. Clause Combination in Chinese. 1995. isbn 90 04 10146 2 33 Huang Chun-chieh and E. Zürcher (eds.). Time and Space in Chinese Culture. 1995. isbn 90 04 10287 6 34 Farmer, E. L. Zhu Yuanzhang and Early Ming Legislation. The Reordering of Chinese Society following the Era of Mongol Rule. 1995. isbn 90 04 10391 0 35 Ariel, Y. K’ung-ts’ung-tzu. A Study and Translation of Chapters 15-23 with a Reconstruction of the Hsiao Erh-ya Dictionary. 1996. isbn 90 04 09992 1 36 Kwong, L. S. K. T’an Ssu-t’ung, 1865-1898. Life and Thought of a Reformer. 1996. isbn 90 04 10471 2 37 Hansson, A. Chinese Outcasts. Discrimination and Emancipation in Late Imperial China. 1996. isbn 90 04 10596 4 38 Sun Xiaochun and J. Kistemaker. The Chinese Sky during the Han. Constellating Stars and Society. 1997. isbn 90 04 10737 1 39 Declercq, D. Writing against the State. 1998. isbn 90 04 10376 7 40 Engelfriet, P. M. Euclid in China. The Genesis of the First Chinese Translation of Euclid’s Elements, Books i-vi (Jihe yuanben; Beijing 1607) and its Reception up to 1723. 1998. isbn 90 04 10944 7 41 McLaren, A. E. Chinese Popular Culture and Ming Chantefables. 1998. isbn 90 04 10998 6 42 Svarverud, R. Methods of the Way. Early Chinese Ethical Thought. 1998. isbn 90 04 11010 0


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43 Haar, B.J. ter. Ritual and Mythology of the Chinese Triads. Creating an Identity. 1998. isbn 90 04 11063 1 44 Zurndorfer, H.T. (ed.). Chinese Women in the Imperial Past. New Perspectives. 1999. isbn 90 04 11065 8 45 Pohl, K.-H. (ed.). Chinese Thought in a Global Context. A Dialogue Between Chinese and Western Philosophical Approaches. 1999. isbn 90 04 11426 2 46 Meyer, J. A. M. de, and P.M. Engelfriet (eds.). Linked Faiths. Essays on Chinese Religions and Traditional Culture in Honour of Kristofer Schipper. 1999. isbn 90 04 11540 4 47 Ven, H. van de (ed.). Warfare in Chinese History. 2000. isbn 90 04 11774 1 48 Wright, D. Translating Science.The Transmission of Western Chemistry into Late Imperial China, 1840-1900. 2000. isbn 90 04 11776 8 49 Schottenhammer, A. (ed.). The Emporium of the World. Maritime Quanzhou, 1000-1400. 2000. isbn 90 04 11773 3 50 Jami, C., P. Engelfriet & G. Blue (eds.). Statecraft and Intellectual Renewal in Late Ming China. The Cross-cultural Synthesis of Xu Guangqi (15621633). 2001. isbn 90 04 12058 0 51 Tapp, N. The Hmong of China. Context, Agency, and the Imaginary. 2001. isbn 90 04 12127 7 52 Lackner, M., I. Amelung & J. Kurtz (eds.). New Terms for New Ideas. Western Knowledge and Lexical Change in Late Imperial China. 2001. isbn 90 04 12046 7 53 Jing, A. The Water God’s Temple of the Guangsheng Monastery. Cosmic Function of Art, Ritual, and Theater. 2001. isbn 90 04 11925 6 54 Zhou Mi’s Record of Clouds and Mist Passing Before One’s Eyes. An Annotated Translation by A.Weitz. 2002. isbn 90 04 12605 8 55 B. S. McDougall & A. Hansson (eds.). Chinese Concepts of Privacy. 2002. isbn 90 04 12766 6 issn 0169-9563

Bonnie s mcdougall, anders hansson chinese concepts of privacy (sinica leidensia) (sinica leidensia)  
Bonnie s mcdougall, anders hansson chinese concepts of privacy (sinica leidensia) (sinica leidensia)  
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