This anthology features translations of ten seminal plays written during the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), a period considered the golden age of Chinese theater. By turns lyrical and earthy, sentimental and ironic, Yuan drama spans a broad emotional, linguistic, and stylistic range. Combining sung arias with declaimed verses and doggerels, dialogues and mime, and jokes and acrobatic feats, Yuan drama formed a vital part of China's culture of performance and entertainment in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
To date, few Yuan-dynasty plays have been translated into English. Well-known translators and scholars have supervised the making of this collection and add a short description to each play. A general introduction situates all selections within their cultural and historical contexts.
About the Author
C. T. Hsia (1921–2013) is professor emeritus of Chinese at Columbia University. His books include The Classic Chinese Novel and A History of Modern Chinese Fiction. He is also the coeditor, with Joseph S. M. Lau and Leo O. Lee, of Modern Chinese Stories and Novellas, 1919–1949.
Wai-Yee Li is professor of Chinese literature at Harvard University. She is the author of Enchantment and Disenchantment: Love and Illusion in Chinese Literature; The Readability of the Past in Early Chinese Historiography; and Women and National Trauma in Late Imperial Chinese Literature. She is also the translator, with Stephen Durgarant and David Schaberg, of Zuozhuan.
George Kao (1912–2008) was a Chinese American author, translator, and journalist who served as director of the West Coast office of China's Government Information Office and as editor in chief of the Chinese Press.
Table of Contents
Part 1. Historical Plays
1. Ji Junxiang, The Zhao Orphan, translated by Pi-twan Huang and Wai-yee Li
The Zhao Orphan in Yuan Editions, by Wai-yee Li
2. Anonymous, Tricking Kuai Tong, translated by Wai-yee Li
Part 2. Crime and Punishment
3. Anonymous, Selling Rice in Chenzhou, translated by Richard C. Hessney
4. Meng Hanqing, The Moheluo Doll, translated by Jonathan Chaves
Part 3. Folly and Consequences
5. Qin Jianfu, The Eastern Hall Elder, translated by Robert E. Hegel and Wai-yee Li
6. Li Zhifu, The Tiger Head Plaque, translated by Yoram Szekely, C.T. Hsia, Wai-yee Li, and George Kao
Part 4. Female Agency
7. Guan Hanqing, Rescuing a Sister, translated by George Kao and Wai-yee Li
8. Shi Junbao, Qiu Hu Tries to Seduce His Wife, translated by John Coleman, James M. Hargett, Kuan-fook Lai, Gloria Shen, and Wang Ming
Part 5. Romantic Love
9. Bai Pu, On Horseback and Over the Garden Wall, translated by Jerome Cavanaugh and Wai-yee Li
10. Li Haogu, Scholar Zhang Boils the Sea, translated by Allen A. Zimmerman