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Opera and the CityThe Politics of Culture in Beijing, 1770–1900$
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Andrea Goldman

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804778312

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804778312.001.0001

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Opera Aficionados and Guides to Boy Actresses

Opera Aficionados and Guides to Boy Actresses

(p.17) One Opera Aficionados and Guides to Boy Actresses
Opera and the City
Stanford University Press

This chapter presents a literary analysis of a subgenre of writings known as “flower registers” (huapu). It describes how allusions to pain enabled Qing theater enthusiasts to position themselves in debates about taste and distinction. The Qing-dynasty huapu in the tradition of evaluative biographies of entertainers that dates from Sun Qi's late ninth-century Chronicles of the Northern Quarter is also reviewed. The huapu was a relative latecomer to a long tradition of connoisseurship texts that claimed to rank and evaluate things and people. It always offered the lao dou as a figure against which the connoisseur-author constantly measured himself. The exclusivity of the connoisseur's aesthetic and social vision could only be fully articulated against a backdrop of vulgarity—whether the taste of the lao dou, the taste of merchants, or, more broadly, the “taste of the times”.

Keywords:   flower registers, huapu, pain, Qing theater, Qing-dynasty, Chronicles of the Northern Quarter, connoisseurship, lao dou, connoisseur

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