"Special Talent in the Chest, Special Eyes under the Brows": Jīn Shèngtàn’s (1608-1661) Discursion on Travel in his Commentary to The Story of the Western Wing: “胸中別才、眉下別眼”:金聖嘆《西廂記》漫筆遊記與評點

Colloquium: Center for Chinese Studies | October 26 | 4-6 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Stephen H. West, Foundation Professor of Chinese; Head of East and Southeast Asian Section, Arizona State University

 Sophie Volpp, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature; EALC, UC Berkeley

 Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

An eccentric commentary to the famous drama The Story of the Western Wing (西廂記) may seem like strange place to begin a discussion about travel. But Jīn Shèngtàn's (金聖嘆) commentarial exegeses are in fact noted for their discursive nature. And the philosophical and subjective quality of his comments and asides in prefatory essays to specific acts of the drama often meander into interpretive fields well outside of, but always linked to, his explications. Connecting travel through text with travel through the world, he un-anchors the idea of authority residing in a writing or reading subject, and posits a true zero point, wú (無), as the potential state of the text, which is a material object formed by Heaven through the medium of an accomplished author, one that the virtuoso reader recreates under defined intellectual/emotional and material states of being.