The Chinese Love Story from the Tenth to the Fourteenth Century

By Alister D. Inglis

Subjects: Asian Studies, Chinese Studies, Asian Literature, Literary Criticism
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Hardcover : 9781438492544, 344 pages, April 2023
Paperback : 9781438492551, 344 pages, October 2023

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. The Mid- and Late Tang Dynasty

2. The Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127)

3. The Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279)

4. The Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368)

Chinese Character Glossary
Works Cited

Traces the development of the Chinese love story during the Song and Yuan dynasties.


Love stories formed a major part of the classical short story genre in China from as early as the eighth century, when men of letters began to write about romantic encounters. In later centuries, such stories provided inspiration for several new literary genres. While much scholarly attention has been focused on the short story of both the medieval and late imperial eras, comparatively little work has been attempted on the interim stage, the Song and Yuan dynasties, which spanned some five hundred years from the tenth to the fourteenth centuries. Yet this was a crucial developmental period for many forms of narrative literature—so much so that any understanding of late imperial narrative should be informed by the earlier tradition. The first study of its kind in English, The Chinese Love Story from the Tenth to the Fourteenth Century traces the development of the love story throughout this important yet overlooked era. Using Tang dynasty stories as a point of comparison, Alister D. Inglis examines and appraises key new themes, paying special attention to period hallmarks, gender portrayal, and textuality. Inglis demonstrates that, contrary to received scholarly wisdom, this was a highly innovative period during which writers and storytellers laid a fertile foundation for the literature of late imperial China.

Alister D. Inglis is Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Simmons University. He is the author of Hong Mai's Record of the Listener and Its Song Dynasty Context (also published by SUNY Press) and the translator of several books, including The Drunken Man's Talk: Tales from Medieval China, compiled by Luo Ye.


"This book represents a major contribution to the field of traditional (or premodern) Chinese narrative. More specifically, it is the first genre-based literary history of the love story from the Tang (618–907) through the Yuan (1279–1368) dynasties. Modern criticism of the love stories dating from these periods is seriously lacking in proper attention and substance, but Inglis demonstrates that they constitute a rich and fascinating literary genre that tell us much about human relations in general, and love relationships in particular." — James M. Hargett, author of Stairway to Heaven: A Journey to the Summit of Mount Emei