Kung Shang-Jen

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

K’ung Shang-Jen


Born 1648, near Ch’ü-fou; died there, 1718. Chinese playwright and poet.

Until 1685, K’ung Shang-jen led a solitary life, studying history, literature, and music. He was later patronized by the emperor. With Ku Tien-shih, he wrote the drama The Little Lute (staged 1694), about a ninth-century girl lute player in the court orchestra of the T’ang emperors and the warring political factions that attempt to exploit her for self-serving ends.

During his travels throughout the country, K’ung collected material about the Manchu conquest of Ming China. This material served as the basis for his historical drama The Peach-Blossom Fan (1699). Its skillful combination of lyrical and heroic scenes, elegant style, and musical verse made it one of the best examples of Chinese classical drama. The play aroused the indignation of the Manchu court, and in 1700, the author fell into disfavor. He died in poverty in his native region. K’ung Shang-jen also wrote a book of memoirs and the collection of poems Seas and Lakes.


T’ao-hua-shan, vols. 1–2. Peking, 1957.
Hu-hai chi. Shanghai, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.