THE YUAN DYNASTY PLAYWRIGHT MA CHIH-YUAN AND HIS DRAMATIC WORKS (CHINA).
AuthorJACKSON, BARBARA KWAN.
AdvisorWest, Stephen H.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe birth, flourishing, and decline of Yuan tsa-chu, a form of Chinese musical poetic drama, occurred in the Mongol dynasty of Yuan (1206-1367). Many factors contributed to this phenomenon, not the least of which was the creative genius of the scholar-playwrights, natives of North China and active during the early years of that dynasty. Among the great masters of Yuan drama who contributed to the perfection of this new literary form is Ma Chih-yuan (1250-1322?). His contributions went beyond merely the pioneering of form. He also expanded its thematic scope and exerted a profound influence on later dramatists and poets who cultivated the dramatic and san-ch'u (non-dramatic lyrics) verse types. Unlike the great poets of previous dynasties who were respected and studied, the playwrights of Yuan times were largely ignored by native literary historians until this century because of the traditional contempt for such "frivolous" skills as the writing of plays. We therefore know very little about their personal or creative lives. Fortunately, in the case of Ma Chih-yuan, over one hundred san-ch'u and seven of his plays have survived. Chapter I contains a chronology of his life based on the scanty data available. Some of his non-dramatic songs are also translated and interpreted to provide additional insight into his sentiments, ambitions, and general philosophical outlook. The main body of my dissertation examines and evaluates the extant plays, concentrating on the poetic passages which represent the essence of Yuan drama. Plot, plot origins, and the themes of each play are also explored to supplement the discussions of the language. In Chapter II, Ma's most critically acclaimed work, The Autumnal Palace of Han, is examined in detail. In Chapter III, I discuss Tears on the Blue Gown, the only surviving play which has a female protagonist. In Chapter IV, the similarities and dissimilarities of the three Taoist conversion plays--The Yellow Millet Dream, The Yueh-yang Tower, and Jen Feng Tzu--and their relationship to the Ch'uan-chen sect of Taoism are explored. Chapter V deals with Lightning Smashes the Tablet of Chien-fu, a play about the misfortunes of a scholar and his complaints against an unsympathetic government. In the last chapter, the structurally flawed play Ch'en T'uan Stays Aloof, depicting the life of a Taoist recluse, is examined.
Degree ProgramOriental Studies