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Shen Congwen’s The Husband — Miao Marriage and Christian Marriage Law in the Early Republic
Dalarna University, School of Language, Literatures and Learning, Chinese.
2022 (English)In: Universitas: monthly review of philosophy and culture, ISSN 1015-8383, Vol. 577, p. 95-114Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper aims to use Shen Congwen’s (沈從文, 1902-1988) short story The Husband (丈夫, published in 1930) to examine ideas of monogamy and marriage in Miao culture. Shen was a Chinese Miao who wrote about the Miao people (苗族), an ethnic group in China that contains within it several racial and cultural divisions. Shen’s story The Husband aims to show that Miao couples have a bond which corresponds in strength hand validity to the Western idea of monogamy as enshrined in Christian marriage law. Marriage law in the West has a long history. Marriage itself has its roots in early Christianity. The act of marriage is considered a sacrament, alongside baptism and communion. This holy act was soon protected by a large legal edifice which became the basis for Western marriage law. When Western marriage laws were introduced into China from the West and, at the end of the Qing dynasty in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, traditional Chinese laws were reformed, the principle of monogamy in Chinese marriage was also established. Since monogamy did not exist as a concept in Chinese society and contradicted traditional Chinese ideas about marriage, many Han people in the early Chinese Republic continued their practice of concubinage and ended up violating the idea of monogamy of new marriage laws. On the other hand, the Miao people, although their culture was more tolerant of informal romantic relationships, tended to display a greater degree of monogamy within them. Therefore, by considering marriage from a legal and religious point of view, the author aims to analyse The Husband to show that Shen not only criticised the dark side of society in the early Republic from his perspective as a Miao, but also used a story that resembles the account of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis as a way to praise the Miao concept of marriage and love. Since The Husband has been adapted for the screen as Mainland Prostitute (村妓, Cunji, 1994), the film will also be used to accentuate the author’s idea.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022. Vol. 577, p. 95-114
National Category
General Literature Studies Cultural Studies Law Religious Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-41586ISI: 000818202500006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-41586DiVA, id: diva2:1668968
Available from: 2022-06-13 Created: 2022-06-13 Last updated: 2023-03-17Bibliographically approved

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Hu, Lung-Lung

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CiteExportLink to record
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