Robert E. Hegel

‚ÄčProfessor of Chinese Language and Literature
Liselotte Dieckmann Professor of Comparative Literature
PhD, Columbia University
MA, Columbia University
research interests:
  • Narrative Forms and Conventions in Late Imperial China (1500-1900
  • Practices of Reading and Writing
  • Book Culture
  • Literature and Ethics
  • Legal Writing
  • Translation Studies

contact info:

mailing address:

  • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
  • CB 1111
  • ONE BROOKINGS DR.
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899

Professor Hegel is a specialist in Chinese narrative literature of the late imperial period. He regularly teaches surveys of literature and culture and advanced courses and seminars in late imperial period fiction and theater.

For more information, visit Robert Hegel's department profile.

Idle Talk Under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Collection

Idle Talk Under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Collection

Written around 1660, the unique Chinese short story collection Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor (Doupeng xianhua), by the author known only as Aina the Layman, uses the seemingly innocuous setting of neighbors swapping yarns on hot summer days under a shady arbor to create a series of stories that embody deep disillusionment with traditional values. The tales, ostensibly told by different narrators, parody heroic legends and explore issues that contributed to the fall of the Ming dynasty a couple of decades before this collection was written, including self-centeredness and social violence. These stories speak to all troubled times, demanding that readers confront the pretense that may lurk behind moralistic stances. Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor presents all twelve stories in English translation along with notes from the original commentator, as well as a helpful introduction and analysis of individual stories.