The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei, Volume Five
The Dissolution
Translated by David Tod Roy


This is the fifth and final volume in David Roy's celebrated translation of one of the most famous and important novels in Chinese literature. The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P’ing Mei is an anonymous sixteenth-century work that focuses on the domestic life of Hsi-men Ch’ing, a corrupt, upwardly mobile merchant in a provincial town, who maintains a harem of six wives and concubines. The novel, known primarily for its erotic realism, is also a landmark in the development of the narrative art form—not only from a specifically Chinese perspective but in a world-historical context.

This complete and annotated translation aims 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.

First published in 2013.

David Tod Roy (1933–2016) was professor emeritus of Chinese literature at the University of Chicago. His monumental five-volume translation of the Chin P'ing Mei was completed in 2013.