In The Mind and Its Stories (2003) Patrick C. Hogan called into question the marginal role attributed to literature and especially literary narrative in studies on the nature of emotions and emotions concepts. He conversely pointed out how much central are emotions in literature both as object of representation and in eliciting responses from reader. This article advocates the fundamental contribution of literary texts in the reconstruction of how emotions are imagined and understood in a given culture at a given time, and it offers a preliminary analysis of the issue of emotion language in the Yuan dynasty novella Jiao Hong ji (or Jiao Hong zhuan, The Story of Jiaoniang and Feihong), reportedly written by Song Meidong, which narrates the tragic love stories between Shen Chun and his cousin Wang Jiaoniang. Through a close examination of the language used to portray emotions and states of mind and its overall meaning in the structural framework of the novella, this article offers a contribution to the broader project of reconstructing the history of emotions in Chinese culture. A final comparison of the text of the novella with the version collected in the late Ming anthology on qing, the Qingshi, attributed to Feng Menglong, provides further data for setting the investigation in diachronic perspective.
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