In ancient times, under the rule of the feudal dynasty, literati were often the focus of oppression. There are well-known scholars who burned books and pitched Confucians in Qin Shihuang and literary prisons in Ming and Qing Dynasties. The reason why literati were suppressed made the emperor unhappy, mainly because they could use books to disseminate ideas. What the emperor feared was reactionary ideas that were not conducive to rule. The banned books in history are those that spread ideas, not the kind of banned books that people now understand. Like Jin Ping Mei, Water Margin and Journey to the West, which everyone knows well, were banned at that time. However, it is not these that have been listed as the first prohibited book in history, but “New Talks on Scissoring Lanterns”.。
When it comes to “New Talks about the Lamp Cutting”, we have to mention his author, You. Chu You’s character Zongji is a novelist from the late Yuan Dynasty to the early Ming Dynasty. It is said that “young poetry is appreciated by Yang Weizhen.” His works are brilliant, with the legendary novel “New Talks on Scissoring Lanterns”. He knows allusions well, can write poems when he is young, and has a good reputation for poetry. He is very talented.
As the first forbidden novel in Chinese history, New Tales of Scissoring Lanterns is about the love between ghosts and human beings. Apart from the bizarre and secret aberration of men and women, the love between ghosts and human beings and “the thing of intercourse is just like the world” are one of the main reasons why it is forbidden. Even you said frankly that the book was “close to prostitution, hiding books and not wanting to be published”. You felt that the book had been written and did not want to be disseminated.
But the more strange people are, the more curious they are. The description in the book has also won the affection and resonance of many people in the society at that time, down to prostitutes and civilians, up to Confucians in the Imperial College. This was all due to the social conditions at that time. At the end of Yuan Dynasty and the beginning of Ming Dynasty, the society was in turmoil and the bottom society was in chaos. This kind of serious distortion has destroyed the erotic life of middle and lower class men and women, and the bizarre and abnormal stories about “love” in the novel have attracted the desire of the oppressed lower class people for a better love.
During the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty, You’s “New Talk of Cutting Lanterns” was somehow translated into the language of other countries, popular in the Korean region, and later spread to Vietnam and Japan. The most surprising thing is that the Japanese people have a fantastic love for “New Talks on Scissoring Lanterns”, which is regarded as the highest model of novel creation.
The reason why it was welcomed by the Japanese was that Japan was also in the midst of war and the underclass peasants were persecuted. They believed that the ideas in “New Talks on Lamp Cutting” inspired them and liberated them, so they have been widely circulated in Japan.
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