By Greenbaum, M.D.
Focussing on Chen Jiru's writings, this examine explores some of the ways in which Chen marketed himself to potential readers, and how that advertisement and political pursuits used his personae for his or her personal ends, from the 17th century to the current.
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Extra info for Chen Jiru (1558-1639) (Sinica Leidensia)
This can be seen in the composition of the two groups that dominated the literary scene from the beginning of sixteenth century, the essayists known as the Earlier Seven Masters and the Later Seven Masters. The former included a number of northerners, but the latter were mostly from the Jiangnan area. The Àve central members of the Gongan 公安派 and Jingling 景陵派 schools of literature, the most prominent during the late Ming, were all from Jiangnan. Despite spending some early years in Beijing, the foremost Ming dynasty philosopher, Wang Yangming 王陽明 (1472–1529), was originally from, developed his philosophy in exile in, and then mostly worked in the south.
19 Chen Jiru, “Shou Lu Bosheng xiansheng liushi xu” 壽陸伯生先生六十序 “Foreword to Birthday Greetings for Mr. Lu Bosheng” in QJ, 16:27a–28b. Zhou also introduced Chen to other colourful Àgures such as the ‘semi-sequestered’ scion of a well-lettered family who rode around on a donkey for Àfteen years, being too ill to walk unaided. Despite his apparent inÀrmity, this Old Man of Yanzhou [Yanzhou weng 雁洲 翁], as Chen refers to him, managed a vigorous fraternisation with the local gentry. Years later Chen recorded this when he wrote an acclamatory composition for the Old Man’s seventieth birthday.
This area was the locus of an economic and cultural environment that facilitated Chen’s development as a commercially successful writer. I will make some general comments about the Jiangnan world here, detailed comments of particular aspects relevant to Chen, such as the printing industry, or Buddhism, appear in the corresponding sections of the study. First to ‘things’, Timothy Brook has written of the late-Ming economy that: 14 Huang Zongxi, Si jiu lu 思舊錄 [A Record of Considering the Past] 1b, in Lizhou yizhu huikan 梨洲遺著彙刊 [Collection of Neglected Writings of Huang Zongxi ] (Shanghai: Shizhong shuju, 1909).