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.
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.
"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
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by David Tod Roy: