An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Qingloumeng 青樓夢

Jan 3, 2024 © Ulrich Theobald

Qingloumeng 青樓夢 "Dream of the Green Houses", also called Jihong xiaoshi 綺紅小史, is a late Qing-period romance. The author of the original edition from 1878 (Wenkuitang 文魁堂) is a certain Muzhen Shanren 慕真山人 from Lifeng 厘峰. This person might be identical with Zou Tao 鄒弢, courtesy name Hanfei 翰飛, style Xiaoxiangguan Shizhe 瀟湘館侍者, Sixiang Jiuwei 司香舊尉, Souhe Ciren 瘦鶴詞人 or Zou Jiugai 鄒酒丐, from Wuxi 吳鍚, Jiangsu. He also wrote the novel Haishang chentian ying 海上塵天影. Alternatively, Yu Da 俞達 (d. 1884), also called Zongjun 宗駿, courtesy name Yinxiang 吟香, from Changzhou 長洲, Jiangsu, is believed to have been the author of the Qingloumeng. The two persons were befriended. Yu also wrote the books Zuihongxuan bihua 醉紅軒筆話, Zuihongxuan shigao 醉紅軒詩稿, Wumen baiyan tu 吳門百豔圖, Huajianbang 花間棒, Wuzhong kaogu lu 吳中考古錄 and Xian'ouji 閒鷗集.

The book of 65 chapters belongs to the genre of red-light novels (xiaxie xiaoshuo 狹邪小說), or alternatively, to that of (sometimes erotic) romances (yanqing xiaoshuo 艷情小說). It was inspired by the famous novel Hongloumeng 紅樓夢, but transformed the girls of the noble household into courtesans, while the setting is shifted from the high-class mansion to the red-light district. Some more instances of influence can be found, e.g., the construction of Yiyixiang Garden 一挹香園 as an imitation of Daguan Garden 大觀園 in the Hongloumeng. As in the Hongloumeng, girls (in this case, courtesans) are seen as the veritable humans that have insight into who is a true hero even before making his acquaintance.

The novel tells of Jin Yixiang 金挹香, a young talented man from Wuzhong 吳中 (Suzhou 蘇州), who "was a skilled writer at an early age and grew up to be intelligent and honest". However, he did not want to get married and spent his days in the brothels (Qin and Chu courtyards 秦樓楚館). He was enamored with 36 courtesans and was especially loved by them. Later on, he married five of them, with a main spouse and four concubines. They delivered children to him. Jin made an outstanding career as prefect of Yuhang 余杭 (Hangzhou 杭州) and later circuit intendant (daoyuan 道員). He finally became the student of a Daoist master and won immortality, ascended to Heaven, but then decided to return and spend the rest of his life with his women. The rest of the courtesans he loved also transformed into immortals. This relation between the real world and that of immortals is also an aspect in which the Hongloumeng is imitated. Nonetheless, the literary quality of the Qingloumeng is far below that the the "Dream of the Red Mansion".

近代小說。亦名《綺紅小史》,64回。作者厘峰慕真山人,即俞達(?~1884),又名宗駿,字吟香,長洲(今江蘇蘇州)人。除小說《青樓夢》外,尚著有《醉紅軒筆話》、《花間棒》、《吳中考古錄》、《閑鷗集》等。 《青樓夢》成書于光緒四年(1878),屬“狹邪小說”。它以狎妓為題材,寫所謂“風流才子”的生活向往,如“游花國,護美人,采芹香,掇巍科,任政事,報親恩,全友誼,敦琴瑟,撫子女,睦親鄰,謝繁華,求道德”(第1回)。作者一生追求功名,認為“為須眉者必期顯親揚名”(第40回)。但他懷才不遇,感慨“公卿大夫無一識我之人”,“反不若青樓女子竟有慧眼識英雄于未遇時也”。他認為青樓不是官場的勢力場;妓女比官僚還有情有義,把她們理想化。書中寫吳中風流才子金挹香,與三十六美人(妓女)朝夕往來,感情纏綿繾綣,又不忘“努力詩書”,成就功名。中鄉舉后為養親而捐官仕余杭,遷知府;最后棄官修道,又歸家度其妻妾,皆白日升天,三十六美人乃仙女謫降,一一了卻空緣,同結風流案。它摹繪柔情,敷陳艷跡,但內容并非寫實,而是作者的理想;又描寫雷同,詩詞盈篇,頗乏生氣。 《青樓夢》現存較早的本子為光緒十四年(1888)文魁堂刊本。 侯忠義"青樓夢"《中國大百科全書 中國文學Ⅰ》 第629頁