In Chinese drama, there are few stories of revenge. But in Japanese kabuki, there are so many that, together with stories about domestic squabbles, they form a genre. This article examines the societal background giving rise to this difference.
An incident of vengeance in Ming-period Zhejiang was soon turned into drama. First recorded as “Zouzhixian Xianghuji” 鄒知県湘湖記 (“An Account of What Happened in Xianghu concerning Governor Zou”), it appeared in the Ming-dynasty section of the Nanci xulu 南詞叙録 (A Description of Southern Drama) compiled by Xu Wei 徐渭 (1521–93). This “Xianghuji” has not survived intact. But three acts from the play selected for the Fengyue jinnang 風月錦嚢 (A Brocade Bag of Romantic Stories) survive in a 1553 edition of the latter preserved in the Escorial in Spain. (View PDF for the rest of the abstract.)