Towers in the Void: Li Yu and Early Modern Chinese Media
By S.E. Kile
Columbia University Press, forthcoming July 2023
Towers in the Void analyzes the contents, format, and circulation of books in the late Ming and early Qing and explores how they functioned to connect readers to one another and to the material world. Kile uses the analytic of media to consider writing and materiality together, thereby elucidating issues as varied as spatial ideology, performance practices, gender roles, and the genre of short vernacular fiction. Kile argues that Li Yu’s idiosyncratic magnum opus, Xianqing ouji (Leisure Notes) was a unique literary form that he forged by combining his expertise in a variety of fields with his interest in generic and stylistic experimentation. Although Leisure Notes has often used by historians as a core source on many topics, no one has considered this pivotal text as a composite whole.