The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei: Volume Three: The Aphrodisiac

Overview

In this third volume 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 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 ...

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The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei: Volume Three: The Aphrodisiac

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Overview

In this third volume 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 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 also in a world-historical context.

Written during the second half of the sixteenth century and first published in 1618, The Plum in the Golden Vase is noted for its surprisingly modern technique. With the possible exception of The Tale of Genji (ca. 1010) and Don Quixote (1605, 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 earlier Chinese fiction, 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.

Replete with convincing portrayals of the darker side of human nature, it should appeal to anyone interested in a compelling story, compellingly told.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Review of Books
Roy has made a major contribution to our overall understanding of the novel by so structuring every page of his translation that the numerous levles of narration are clearly differentiated. . . . In addition, [he] has annotated the text with a precision, thoroughness, and passion for detail that makes even a veteran reader of monographs smile with a kind of quiet disbelief.
— Jonathan Spence
Literary Review
Racy, colloquial, and robustly scatalogical, [this translation] could only have been done now, when our literary language has finally shed its Victorian values. David Tod Roy enters with zest into the spirit and the letter of the original, quite surpassing . . . earlier versions.
— Paul St. John Mackintosh
Chicago Tribune Review of Books
Reading Roy's translation is a remarkable experience.
— Robert Chatain
New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies
[B]y virtue of both Roy's decision to translate the cihua version of the novel, and his manner of doing so, we have here an invaluable insight into the material and popular literary world of the late-Ming that will serve as a wonderful resource for students of the various aspects of this fascinating and rapidly changing period of late imperial Chinese history for many years to come.
— Duncan Campbell
New York Review of Books - Jonathan Spence
Roy has made a major contribution to our overall understanding of the novel by so structuring every page of his translation that the numerous levles of narration are clearly differentiated. . . . In addition, [he] has annotated the text with a precision, thoroughness, and passion for detail that makes even a veteran reader of monographs smile with a kind of quiet disbelief.
Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, and Reviews - Shuhui Yang
Clearly David Roy is the greatest scholar-translator in the field of premodern vernacular Chinese fiction. . . . The puns and various other kinds of word plays that abound in the Chin P'ing Mei are so difficult to translate that I can't help 'slapping the table in amazement' each time I see evidence of Roy's masterful rendition of them. . . . I recommend this book, in the strongest possible terms, to anyone interested in the novel form in general, in Chinese literature in particular, or in the translation of Chinese literature.
Literary Review - Paul St. John Mackintosh
Racy, colloquial, and robustly scatalogical, [this translation] could only have been done now, when our literary language has finally shed its Victorian values. David Tod Roy enters with zest into the spirit and the letter of the original, quite surpassing . . . earlier versions.
Chicago Tribune Review of Books - Robert Chatain
Reading Roy's translation is a remarkable experience.
New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies - Duncan Campbell
[B]y virtue of both Roy's decision to translate the cihua version of the novel, and his manner of doing so, we have here an invaluable insight into the material and popular literary world of the late-Ming that will serve as a wonderful resource for students of the various aspects of this fascinating and rapidly changing period of late imperial Chinese history for many years to come.
From the Publisher
"Roy has made a major contribution to our overall understanding of the novel by so structuring every page of his translation that the numerous levles of narration are clearly differentiated. . . . In addition, [he] has annotated the text with a precision, thoroughness, and passion for detail that makes even a veteran reader of monographs smile with a kind of quiet disbelief."—Jonathan Spence, New York Review of Books

"Clearly David Roy is the greatest scholar-translator in the field of premodern vernacular Chinese fiction. . . . The puns and various other kinds of word plays that abound in the Chin P'ing Mei are so difficult to translate that I can't help 'slapping the table in amazement' each time I see evidence of Roy's masterful rendition of them. . . . I recommend this book, in the strongest possible terms, to anyone interested in the novel form in general, in Chinese literature in particular, or in the translation of Chinese literature."—Shuhui Yang, Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, and Reviews

"Racy, colloquial, and robustly scatalogical, [this translation] could only have been done now, when our literary language has finally shed its Victorian values. David Tod Roy enters with zest into the spirit and the letter of the original, quite surpassing . . . earlier versions."—Paul St. John Mackintosh, Literary Review

"Reading Roy's translation is a remarkable experience."—Robert Chatain, Chicago Tribune Review of Books

"[B]y virtue of both Roy's decision to translate the cihua version of the novel, and his manner of doing so, we have here an invaluable insight into the material and popular literary world of the late-Ming that will serve as a wonderful resource for students of the various aspects of this fascinating and rapidly changing period of late imperial Chinese history for many years to come."—Duncan Campbell, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies

From the Publisher
"[A] book of manners for the debauched. Its readers in the late Ming period likely hid it under their bedcovers."—Amy Tan, New York Times Book Review

Praise for the previous edition: [I]t is time to remind ourselves that The Plum in the Golden Vase is not just about sex, whether the numerous descriptions of sexual acts throughout the novel be viewed as titillating, harshly realistic, or, in Mr. Roy's words, intended 'to express in the most powerful metaphor available to him the author's contempt for the sort of persons who indulge in them.' The novel is a sprawling panorama of life and times in urban China, allegedly set safely in the Sung dynasty, but transparently contemporary to the author's late sixteenth-century world, as scores of internal references demonstrate. The eight hundred or so men, women, and children who appear in the book cover a breath-taking variety of human types, and encompass pretty much every imaginable mood and genre—from sadism to tenderness, from light humor to philosophical musings, from acute social commentary to outrageous satire."—Jonathan Spence, New York Review of Books

"Clearly David Roy is the greatest scholar-translator in the field of premodern vernacular Chinese fiction. . . . The puns and various other kinds of word plays that abound in the Chin P'ing Mei are so difficult to translate that I can't help 'slapping the table in amazement' each time I see evidence of Roy's masterful rendition of them. . . . I recommend this book, in the strongest possible terms, to anyone interested in the novel form in general, in Chinese literature in particular, or in the translation of Chinese literature."—Shuhui Yang, Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, and Reviews

"Racy, colloquial, and robustly scatalogical, [this translation] could only have been done now, when our literary language has finally shed its Victorian values. David Tod Roy enters with zest into the spirit and the letter of the original, quite surpassing . . . earlier versions."—Paul St. John Mackintosh, Literary Review

"Reading Roy's translation is a remarkable experience."—Robert Chatain, Chicago Tribune Review of Books

"[B]y virtue of both Roy's decision to translate the cihua version of the novel, and his manner of doing so, we have here an invaluable insight into the material and popular literary world of the late-Ming that will serve as a wonderful resource for students of the various aspects of this fascinating and rapidly changing period of late imperial Chinese history for many years to come."—Duncan Campbell, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies

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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Tod Roy is Professor Emeritus of Chinese Literature at the University of Chicago, where he has studied the "Chin P'ing Mei" and taught it in his classes since 1967.

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Table of Contents

LIST OF I LLUSTRATIONS ix

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi

CAST OF CHARACTERS xiii

CHAPTER 41: Hsi-men Ch'ing Forms a Marriage Alliance with Ch'iao Hung; P'an Chin-lien Engages in a Quarrel with Li P'ing-erh 1

CHAPTER 42: APowerful Family Blocks Its Gate in Order to Enjoy Fireworks; Distinguished Guests in a High Chamber Appreciate the Lanterns 19

CHAPTER 43: Because of the Missing Gold Hsi-men Ch'ing Curses Chin-lien; As a Result of the Betrothal Yüeh-niang Meets Madame Ch'iao 40

CHAPTER 44: Wu Yüeh-niang Detains Li Kuei-chieh Overnight; Hsi-men Ch'ing Drunkenly Interrogates Hsia-hua 65

CHAPTER 45: Li Kuei-chieh Requests the Retention of Hsia-hua; Wu Yüeh-niang in a Fit of Anger Curses at Tai-an 81

CHAPTER 46: Rain and Snow Interrupt a Walk during the Lantern Festival; Wife and Concubines Laughingly Consult the Tortoise Oracle 97

CHAPTER 47: Wang Liu-erh Peddles Influence in Pursuit of Profit; Hsi-men Ch'ing Accepts a Bribe and Subverts the Law 129

CHAPTER 48: Investigating Censor Tseng Impeaches the Judicial Commissioners; Grand Preceptor Ts'ai Submits a Memorial Regarding Seven Matters 147

CHAPTER 49: Hsi-men Ch'ing Welcomes Investigating Censor Sung Ch'iao-nien; In the Temple of Eternal Felicity He Encounters an Indian Monk 171

CHAPTER 50: Ch'in-t'ung Eavesdrops on the Joys of Lovemaking; Tai-an Enjoys a Pleasing Ramble in Butterfly Lane 203

CHAPTER 51: Yüeh-niang Listens to the Exposition Of The Diamond Sutra ; Li Kuei-chieh Seeks Refuge in the Hsi-men Ch'ing Household 221

CHAPTER 52: Ying Po-chüeh Intrudes on a Spring Beauty in the Grotto; P'an Chin-lien Inspects a Mushroom in the Flower Garden 255

CHAPTER 53: Wu Yüeh-niang Engages in Coition in Quest of Male Progeny; Li P'ing-erh Fulfills a Vow in Order to Safeguard Her Son 289

CHAPTER 54: Ying Po-chueh Convenes His Friends in a Suburban Garden; Jen Hou-ch'i Diagnoses an Illness for a Powerful Family 320

CHAPTER 55: Hsi-men Ch'ing Observes a Birthday in the Eastern Capital; Squire Miao from Yang-chou Sends a Present of Singing Boys 346

CHAPTER 56: Hsi-men Ch'ing Assists Ch'ang Shih-chieh; Ying Po-chüeh Recommends Licentiate Shui 374

CHAPTER 57: Abbot Tao Solicits Funds to Repair the Temple of Eternal Felicity; Nun Hsüeh Enjoins Paying for the Distribution of the Dharan Sutra 394

CHAPTER 58: Inspired by a Fit of Jealousy Chin-lien Beats Ch'iu-chü; Begging Cured Pork the Mirror Polisher Tells a Sob Story 420

CHAPTER 59: Hsi-men Ch'ing Dashes "Snow Lion" to Death; Li P'ing-erh Cries Out in Pain for Kuan-ko 453

CHAPTER 60: Li P'ing-erh Becomes Ill Because of Suppressed Anger; Hsi-men Ch'ing's Silk Goods Store Opens for Business 489

NOTES 507

BIBLIOGRAPHY 639

INDEX 673

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