Scenes for Mandarins: The Elite Theater of the Ming

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Asian Thought and Society

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Editorial Reviews

Asian Thought and Society
Organized as a delightful mixture that is part anthology of plays, part history, part literary criticism, part textual exegesis, part bibliographical clarification [of the Chinese language and poetry in Ming drama]. . . . Of course what shines forth most brilliantly is Birch´s translation. It is a style pitched to the original text targeted to the poetically-minded mandarin.
Patrick Hanan
This book will be a godsend . . . an imaginative excursion into the world of the drama together with a generous sampling of translated scenes.
David D. W. Wang
Historically informative and stylistically compelling, the book represents an outstanding scholar and translator of Chinese literature at his best.
Describes the rise and development of Ming theater, the height of classical Chinese theater, developed between 1368 and 1644. Translated highlights from six representational plays of the period are set in historical and cultural context, and fictionalized reenactments show how the plays might have been staged. Includes b&w illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231102636
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/1999
  • Series: Translations from the Asian Classics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 262
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 8.91 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Cyril Birch is professor emeritus in the Department of East Asian Languages at the University of California at Berkeley. Among the many books he has written, translated, and edited are Stories from a Ming Collection (1968), Studies in Chinese Literary Genres, The Peony Pavilionand, with Donald Keene, Anthology of Chinese Literature (1987).

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: To the Reader as Fellow Mandarin 1
The White Rabbit and the Neglected Wife: The White Rabbit Plays 21
Xi Shi as Innocence: Liang Chenyu's The Girl Washing Silk 63
Xi Shi as Experience: Shan Ben's The Plantain Kerchief 107
The Plight of the Amorous Ghost: Tang Xianzu's The Peony Pavilion 141
A Quiz For Love: Wu Bing's The Green Peony 183
Bigamy Unabashed: Ruan Dacheng's The Swallow Letter 219
Notes 249
Suggested Readings 255
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