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The Plum in the Golden Vase, or Chin P'ing…
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The Plum in the Golden Vase, or Chin P'ing Mei: Volume Two: The Rivals.

by David Tod Roy, Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng (pseudonym), Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng (pseudonym) (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The second volume in this work deals with Hsi-Men Ch'ing's household after he has added his two latest wives P'an Chin-lien and Li P'ing-erh. The main thread going through this part of the novel is P'an Chin-lien's maleficent influence on the household and especially her growing envy of Li P'ing-erh, who quickly becomes pregnant with Hsi-Men Ch'ings only son. Li P'ing-erh herself fades into the background somewhat in this volume, compliantly fitting in to the household. There are also all sorts of corrupt business and official dealings and more sexual hanky-panky from Hsi-me Ch'ing, who is seemingly never satisfied with his bevy of wives. There are beatings, suicides, underhand business dealings, corrupt justice, obsequious bribes and gift-giving aplenty. Hsi-Men Ch'ing is a bit like a classical Chinese Tony Soprano, a sexually voracious bully at the height of his power.

One of the distinctive things about this book are the couplets, poems and quotes from popular songs (of the day) which intersperse the prose. These have been rendered well by David Tod Roy, with erudite notes. Although the sourcing is meticulous, as a non-Chinese scholar I would have preferred a bit more discussion in the notes. It is however a tiny quibble. Another very useful adjunct is an annotated glossary of characters in the book -- there are very many and the names can be unfamiliar. This book took me a while to read, though the chapters are not too long. The ending of the book is a bit inconclusive, but then it is chapters 21-40 of a hundred chapters so it is not surprising. ( )
  questbird | Sep 6, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Tod Royprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng (pseudonym)main authorall editionsconfirmed
Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng (pseudonym)Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Lanling Xiaoxiao Shengsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691070776, Hardcover)

In this second of a planned five-volume series, David Roy provides a complete and annotated translation of the famous Chin P'ing Mei, an anonymous sixteenth-century Chinese novel that focuses on the domestic life of His-men Ch'ing, a corrupt, upwardly mobile merchant in a provincial town, who maintains a harem of six wives and concubines. This work, known primarily for its erotic realism, is also a landmark in the development of narrative art--not only from a specifically Chinese perspective but in a world-historical context.

With the possible exception of The Tale of Genji (1010) and Don Quixote (1615), there is no earlier work of prose fiction of equal sophistication in world literature. Although its importance in the history of Chinese narrative has long been recognized, the technical virtuosity of the author, which is more reminiscent of the Dickens of Bleak House, the Joyce of Ulysses, or the Nabokov of Lolita than anything in the earlier Chinese fiction tradition, has not yet received adequate recognition. This is partly because all of the existing European translations are either abridged or based on an inferior recension of the text. This translation and its annotation aim to faithfully represent and elucidate all the rhetorical features of the original in its most authentic form and thereby enable the Western reader to appreciate this Chinese masterpiece at its true worth.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:30 -0400)

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