Qinglou (brothel) literature and Guige (women’s chamber) literature are the mainstreams of female literature at the end of Ming Dynasty and the beginning of Qing Dynasty. In terms of cultural connection, they play the role of artists that transcend the system. The transformation of the female talent culture is especially worth our attention. In this study, I intend to start from the cultural atmosphere at that time, “Men are superior; women are inferior” and “Qinglou and Guige” to discuss about the connection between the imbalanced viewpoints and further make a contrast between the two major female talents at the same period of time to interpret their complementary relations.
The famous prostitute, Liu Ru-shi (1618-1664), and the chamber lady, Xu Can (1617-1698) transcend the pride and humiliation in the high and low social status and step out of the limitation in life through culture and art. Their individual cultural and artistic cultivation develops differently in diverse styles. Liu represents an ideal image, staying in the sex industry without being corrupt. She socializes with the upper-class males and refined scholars and cultivates the highly cultural and artistic temperament naturally. The poetic literature she composes with the male scholars is classic and romantic. It is fashionable with both ancient heritage and new meanings. Nevertheless, she is still subordinate to the male power, making the literary fame conflicting. The Qinglou literature is aimed to cater to the male, so it should be categorized into the male literature. On the other hand, Xu Can, with the noble and superior social status, belongs to the female writers’ group and a political family. Her virtue supports her talents, making her literary achievement further out of the limitation of family and area. She is a typical female writer with both fame and real ability. In their life, the two talented women experience the twists and turns of love and marriage and create their own philosophy of life. Their literary works reflect their personal experience and mental breakthrough.
Qinglou enjoys the title equivalent to art and culture. After the famous scholars retreat from Qinglou, Qinglou literature and its artistic value fades as well, and it is replaced by Guige literature. The transformation of the cross-category literature brings about the phenomenon that female writers’ works thrive. I have made a compare and contrast between the two types of literary works to interpret the horizontal and vertical cross-category mission of the talented women of Guige literature. In this way, I will prove that the female gender consciousness has risen, which breaks the traditional concept of “Men are superior; women are inferior.” The period of female literature becoming an independence language has come.
Keyword: Qinglou(brothel), Guige(women’s chamber), cross-category literature, Liu Ru-shi, Xu Can