Grannies, geishas, warriors, mystics, recluses, and predators_these are the dangerous women of traditional China. Through her exploration of the myth and history of the Ming, Victoria B. Cass brings their world brilliantly to life. In a culture that is resoundingly patriarchal, these women are a vivid counterpoint. Violating state-sponsored orthodoxies, the granny mocks and mimics, the geisha charms with her intellect, the warrior rules in icy superiority. Using new and freshly interpreted sources, the author leads us confidently into this surprising world, bolstering her erudite and engaging text with stunning color and black and white art of the period.
The narrative is fast paced, the stories gripping, the accompanying illustrations quite lavish. Most strikingly, the language of the book itself pulsates with life, rendering history immediate and figures of bygone times almost tangible. Locating the portraitures of Ming women within patterns of myth and culture, the book provides a taxonomy of feminine types (or antifeminine types, as the case may be). This is a very useful book to students of Chinese history, especially for those interested in the representation of the feminine in late imperial China. Journal of Asian Studies A fascinating read. This book makes Ming history come alive. Vicky Cass shows these extraordinary women full of energy and complexity. -- Dorothy Ko, Rutgers University Who could have imagined such a world of powerful women-read this book! -- Lynn Freed The Mirror Anyone who is interested in learning more about the history of women should read these colorful portraits. Booklist An important, original work. The scholarship is meticulous and thorough, the translations are both accurate and beautiful. The author has a wonderful way of connecting primary sources and ideas as she weaves a spellbinding tale out of literature, historical documents, art, popular culture, and religious texts. Dangerous Women provides a rare combination of academic excellence and a compelling narrative voice. -- Suzanne Cahill, University of California, San Diego The gems of insight Cass extracts from her radical rereading of the language and the imagery of Chinese women's lives in the Ming period, bolstered by her authoritative mastery of classical Chinese prose, make her book essential reading for anyone seeking ispiration for a feminist rewriting of Chinese history. Pacific Affairs This book will be indispensable to serious students of the region and should be made available in college, university, and major public libraries. American Historical Review The findings of Dangerous Women are convincing and informative, providing us with a more fine-tuned picture of women in the late imperial period. The argument is substantiated by elucidative and engaging translations of primary sources and is illustrated with contemporary prints making it an easy and enjoyable read, suitable for both scholars and students. Voices from a wide range of sources, such as literature, art, gazetteers, journals, and religious texts, are interwoven skillfully by Cass to restate old concepts and reveal new perceptions of "troublesome" women. Nan; Brill, Leiden An excellent introductory text for undergraduates. Journal Of Asian and African Studies