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Falling in Love: Stories from Ming China by…
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Falling in Love: Stories from Ming China

by Patrick Hanan

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0824829956, Paperback)

Falling in love, with all its accompanying problems, was a subject of obsessive interest among writers and readers in the Ming Dynasty, when society held strictly to arranged marriages. The stories in this engaging collection all deal with this theme in very different ways, sometimes comically, sometimes tragically. They portray young people choosing their own lovers, resorting to ingenious stratagems and risky escapades in defiance of contemporary mores. Chosen to represent the best works from the great age of the vernacular story, they offer an admirable introduction to the world of Chinese fiction in this era.

Part of the pleasure of reading these stories comes from the romantic adventure itself. A humble merchant finally wins the hand of a peerless courtesan, an unlikely outcome attributed to his superior tact and solicitude. A reckless scholar risks his life for sex but finds that romance can lead to karmic retribution. The tragic love story of two students suggests ambivalence about homosexuality: the reader’s if not the author’s. In every case the remarkable events of the romance are set against a background of painstakingly realistic detail. Although the authors’ sympathies are clearly with the lovers, they are well aware that these characters are contravening the prevailing morality.

All of the stories in Falling in Love have been translated especially for this volume, and most appear here in translation for the first time. They are taken from two works, Constant Words to Awaken the World (Xing shi heng yan), published in 1627, and a related collection, The Rocks Nod Their Heads (Shi dian tou), of approximately the same date.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:16 -0400)

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