Passions of the Cut Sleeve: The Male Homosexual Tradition in China

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University of California Press, Aug 10, 1990 - History - 256 pages
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The first detailed treatment of the Chinese homosexual tradition in any Western language, Passions of the Cut Sleeve shatters preconceptions and stereotypes. Gone is the image of the sternly puritanical Confucian as sole representative of Chinese sexual practices—and with it the justification for the modern Chinese insistence that homosexuality is a recent import from the decadent West. Rediscovering the male homosexual tradition in China provides a startling new perspective on Chinese society and adds richly to our understanding of homosexuality.

Bret Hinsch's reconstruction of the Chinese homosexual past reveals unexpected scenes. An emperor on his deathbed turns over the seals of the empire to a male beloved; two men marry each other with elaborate wedding rituals; parents sell their son into prostitution. The tradition portrays men from all levels of society—emperors, transvestite actors, rapists, elegant scholars, licentious monks, and even the nameless poor.

Drawing from dynastic histories, erotic novels, popular Buddhist tracts, love poetry, legal cases, and joke books, Passions of the Cut Sleeve evokes the complex and fascinating male homosexual tradition in China from the Bronze Age until its decline in recent times.
 

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Passions of the cut sleeve: the male homosexual tradition in China

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Hinsch cites evidence of the homosexual tradition in China derived primarily from literature--novels, poetry, and (often very frank and graphic) humor--and secondarily from historical documents. This ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Peaches Pillows and Politics Zhou Dynasty 1122 to 256 BC
15
Cut Sleeves as the Height of Fashion Han Dynasty 206 BC to AD 220
34
Powdered Jade Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties 220 to 581
55
Men of the Misty Moon Tang and Song Dynasties 618 to 1279
77
Popular Indulgence and Bawdy Satire Homosexuality in Humor
98
Husbands Boys Servants Yuan and Ming Dynasties 1264 to 1644
118
Reflections at the End of a Tradition Qing Dynasty 1644 to 1912
139
Epilogue
162
Lesbianism in Imperial China
173
Notes
179
Glossary of Chinese Terms
203
Bibliography
205
Index
217
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About the author (1990)

Bret Hinsch is a Ph.D. candidate in history and East Asian languages at Harvard University. He is currently doing research in Taiwan.

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