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The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei

The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei: Volume Two: The Rivals

Translated by David Tod Roy
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 720
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jc965
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  • Book Info
    The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei
    Book Description:

    In this second of a planned five-volume series, David Roy provides a complete and annotated translation of the famousChin 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 in a provincial town, 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 in a world-historical context.

    With the possible exception ofThe Tale of Genji(1010) andDon Quixote(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 ofBleak House, the Joyce ofUlysses, or the Nabokov ofLolitathan anything in the earlier Chinese fiction tradition, 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4762-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. CAST OF CHARACTERS
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Chapter 21 WU YÜEH-NIANG SWEEPS SNOW IN ORDER TO BREW TEA; YING PO-CHÜEH RUNS ERRANDS ON BEHALF OF FLOWERS
    (pp. 3-29)

    The story goes that by the time Hsi-men Ch’ing returned home from the quarter it was already the second watch. When the page boys had succeeded in getting someone to open the front door he dismounted and:

    Trampling the scattered fragments of alabaster and jade,

    made his way as far as the inner gate which led into the rear compound. He found the gate standing half open though there was:

    Not a human sound to be heard,⁵

    from the courtyard within.

    From his mouth no word was uttered, but

    In his heart he thought to himself,

    “There’s something strange about...

  7. Chapter 22 HSI-MEN CH’ING SECRETLY SEDUCES LAI-WANG’S WIFE; CH’UN-MEI SELF-RIGHTEOUSLY DENOUNCES LI MING
    (pp. 30-42)

    The story goes that the next day Yüeh-niang’s sister-in-law, the wife of Wu K’ai, Aunt Yang, Old Mrs. P’an, and other female guests had all assembled to celebrate Meng Yü-lou’s birthday. Yüeh-niang presided over the party, which took place in the reception room in the rear compound. This would all have been well enough had it not given rise to a certain incident.

    Because Lai-wang’s wife had finally died of consumption, Yüeh-niang had recently found a new wife for him. Her maiden name was Sung and she was the daughter of the coffin seller, Sung Jen. She had originally been...

  8. Chapter 23 YÜ-HSIAO ACTS AS LOOKOUT BY YÜEH-NIANG’S CHAMBER; CHIN-LIEN EAVESDROPS OUTSIDE HIDDEN SPRING GROTTO
    (pp. 43-61)

    There is a lyric to the tune “Moon on the West River” that goes:

    In conduct, heedless of Heaven’s principles;

    His actions disregard established norms.

    Doing just as he pleases, he is ever ready to deceive;

    Relying on clout, he scorns others and reveres himself.

    He goes out in embroidered robes on a fine steed;

    He returns to enjoy the damsels of Wu and Yüeh.

    But gold and jade do not furnish a secure foundation;

    Even they are not immune to the vicissitudes of fortune.

    The story goes that:

    The twelfth month ended and spring began,

    It was the festival...

  9. Chapter 24 CHING-CHI FLIRTS WITH A BEAUTY ON THE LANTERN FESTIVAL; HUI-HSIANG ANGRILY HURLS ABUSE AT LAI-WANG’S WIFE
    (pp. 62-79)

    The story goes that:

    The first full moon of the new year in Heaven,

    Is the evening of the Lantern Festival on earth.

    Hsi-men Ch’ing had the reception hall in his home prepared for the occasion by:

    Suspending decorated lanterns, and

    Spreading out silken tablecloths.

    It was the sixteenth day of the first month and a feast was laid on for the:

    Jollification of the entire family.

    In front they were protected by:

    Standing screens and brocaded windbreaks like Shih

    Ch’ung’s.

    The scene was illuminated by:

    Three hanging lanterns suspended on ropes of pearls.

    To either side there were arrayed:...

  10. Chapter 25 HSÜEH-O SECRETLY DIVULGES THE LOVE AFFAIR; LAI-WANG DRUNKENLY VILIFIES HSI-MEN CH’ING
    (pp. 80-99)

    The story goes that:

    The Lantern Festival having passed,

    The Ch’ing-rning Festiva¹ was at hand.

    Ying Po-chüeh called on Hsi-men Ch’ing that morning to extend an invitation and found him already entertaining Ch’ang Shih-chieh at breakfast in the summerhouse in the garden. They looked on as a considerable number of silversmiths who had been called in for the purpose plied their trade in front of them. Sun Kua-tsui had offered to stand treat and had invited them all to join him in a festive excursion to the suburbs.

    Before this Wu Yüeh-niang had already had the frame for a swing...

  11. Chapter 26 LAI-WANG IS SENT UNDER PENAL ESCORT TO HSÜ-CHOU; SUNG HUI-LIEN IS SHAMED INTO COMMITTING SUICIDE
    (pp. 100-126)

    The story goes that on hearing Chin-lien’s argument, Hsi-men Ch’ing changed his mind.

    The next day Lai-wang got his gear together and stood ready to start packing the saddlebags and set off on his journey to the Eastern Capital. He waited around until noon but saw no sign of any activity.

    What should he see at this juncture but Hsi-men Ch’ing, who came out to the front compound, summoned Lai-wang into his presence, and said, “I was thinking it over last night and concluded that since you’ve hardly been back any time at all from your trip to Hang-chou, if...

  12. Chapter 27 LIP’ING-ERH COMMUNICATES A SECRET IN THE KINGFISHER PAVILION; P’AN CHIN-LIEN ENGAGES IN A DRUNKEN ORGY UNDER THE GRAPE ARBOR
    (pp. 127-149)

    The story goes that Lai-pao, on returning from his trip to the Eastern Capital, dismounted and went to the summerhouse to report to Hsi-men Ch’ing.

    “On arriving in the Eastern Capital,” he said, “I first went to see the major-domo, Chai Ch’ien, who reports directly to the grand preceptor, and gave him your letter. Afterwards he took me to see the grand preceptor himself, who glanced at your communication and then had your presents taken inside. When this transaction was completed, he gave instructions that a letter should be written within a few days and dispatched posthaste to the grand...

  13. Chapter 28 CH’EN CHING-CHI TEASES CHIN-LIEN ABOUT A SHOE; HSI-MEN CH’ING ANGRILY BEATS LITTLE IRON ROD
    (pp. 150-165)

    The story goes that after Hsi-men Ch’ing had helped the woman into her room he took off his own clothes, above and below, wearing nothing but a short undershirt of thin floss silk and leaving the rest of his body stark naked. The woman wore nothing but a bodice of thin red silk. The two of them sat down:

    Shoulder to shoulder and thigh over thigh;

    Refilled their empty cups, and

    Resumed drinking the fragrant wine.

    Putting an arm around her powdered neck, Hsi-men Ch’ing proceeded to drink with her, passing the same cup back and forth between them.

    They...

  14. Chapter 29 IMMORTAL WU PHYSIOGNOMIZES THE EXALTED AND THE HUMBLE; P’AN CHIN-LIEN ENJOYS A MIDDAY BATILE IN THE BATHTUB
    (pp. 166-193)

    The story goes that the next morning P’an Chin-lien got up early and sent Hsi-men Ch’ing on his way. Remembering that she wanted to make a new pair of red shoes for herself, she took her sewing box into the garden with her and sat down on the stylobate of the Kingfisher Pavilion, where she began to sketch the design to be embroidered on the vamps of her new shoes. She sent Ch’un-mei to invite Li P’ing-erh to join her.

    When Li P’ing-erh arrived, she asked, “What’s that you’re sketching, Sister?”

    “I want to make a pair of shoes,” said...

  15. Chapter 30 LAI-PAO ESCORTS THE SHIPMENT OF BIRTHDAY GIFTS; HSI-MEN CH’ING BEGETS A SON AND GAINS AN OFFICE
    (pp. 194-213)

    The story goes that when Hsi-men Ch’ing and P’an Chin-lien had finished bathing, they went to sleep together in her room. Ch’un-mei was sitting on a cool chair outside in the corridor, stitching the sole of a shoe, when what should she see but Ch’in-t’ung:

    Sticking out his head and craning his neck,

    around the postern gate.

    “What have you got to say,” Ch’un-mei asked.

    Ch’in-t’ung also noticed that Ch’iu-chü was kneeling in the courtyard with a stone balanced on her head and proceeded to prance around and point at her.

    “You crazy jailbird!” Ch’un-mei railed at him. “If you...

  16. Chapter 31 CH’IN-T’UNG CONCEALS A FLAGON AFTER SPYING ON YÜ-HSIAO; HSI-MEN CH’ING HOLDS A FEAST AND DRINKS CELEBRATORY WINE
    (pp. 214-241)

    To the tune “Moon on the West River”:

    If his family be rich, the person will be distinguished;

    When others meet him they are sure to yield him precedence.

    Poor officials presume on the indulgence of their superiors;

    Each of them acknowledging the deference due to money.

    In marriage alliances he looks only for social prestige;

    In business transactions he seeks merely to gain influence.

    Not knowing that success and failure reside in the heart,

    He relies only on what he can see before his eyes.

    The story goes that the next day Hsi-men Ch’ing sent Lai-pao to the local...

  17. Chapter 32 LI KUEI-CHIEH ADOPTS A MOTHER AND IS ACCEPTED AS A DAUGHTER; YING PO-CHÜEH CRACKS JOKES AND DANCES ATTENDANCE ON SUCCESS
    (pp. 242-260)

    The story goes that when the party for the group of officials broke up that day, Hsi-men Ch’ing urged his elder brother-in-law, Wu K’ai, Wu the Second, Ying Po-chüeh, and Hsieh Hsi-ta to stay a little longer.

    He arranged for the musicians and other performers to be provided with wine and food and, when they had finished, instructed them, “You must come back again and do another stint tomorrow. I have invited the four principal officers from the district yamen to a party, so be sure that you are properly attired for the occasion. When it’s all over, I’ll compensate...

  18. Chapter 33 CH’EN CHING-CHI LOSES HIS KEYS AND IS DISTRAINED TO SING; HAN TAO-KUO LIBERATES HIS WIFE TO COMPETE FOR ADMIRATION
    (pp. 261-281)

    The story goes that when Hsi-men Ch’ing returned home from the yamen, he had no sooner come in the door than he asked Wu Yüeh-niang, “Is the child any better? Have you sent a page boy after the doctor?”

    “I’ve already had Dame Liu here,” replied Yüeh-niang, “and he’s been taking the medication she prescribed. The child is no longer rejecting his milk and has been sleeping soundly for some time. He seems to be somewhat better.”

    “How can you trust that old whore, with her:

    Bogus acupuncture and quack moxabustion?”

    said Hsi-men Ch’ing. “The right thing to do would...

  19. Chapter 34 SHU-T’UNG RELIES UPON HIS FAVOR TO BROKER AFFAIRS; P’ING-AN HARBORS RESENTMENT AND WAGS HIS TONGUE
    (pp. 282-308)

    The story goes that when Han Tao-kuo arrived home and found that his wife and his brother, Han the Second, had been trussed up and taken to the subprecinct station, he hastened back to the shop on Lion Street to consult with Lai-pao.

    “You’d better go directly to Uncle Ying the Second,” said Lai-pao, “and ask him to intercede with your master. If he sends a note about it to Magistrate Li in the district yamen, no matter how important a matter it might be, that ought to take care of it.”

    Han Tao-kuo went straight to Ying Po-chüeh’s house,...

  20. Chapter 35 HARBORING RESENTMENT HSI-MEN CH’ING PUNISHES P’ING-AN; PLAYING A FEMALE ROLE SHU-T’UNG ENTERTAINS HANGERS-ON
    (pp. 309-344)

    The burden of the above eight lines of regulated verse is simply that fathers and mothers must train their sons and grandsons from infancy to:

    Study their lessons and learn propriety,³

    so they will know how to be:

    Filial and obedient to their parents,⁴

    Respectful to their elders and superiors,

    Harmonious with their neighbors, and

    Content with their various occupations.⁵

    On no account should they permit their young offspring to:

    Become arrogant, indolent, or unruly,

    Congregate in groups of three or five,

    Tum into dedicated idlers, devoted to their leisure,

    Sport bows and flaunt arrows,⁶

    Make a hobby of raising...

  21. Chapter 36 CHAI CH’IEN SENDS A LEITER ASKING FOR A YOUNG GIRL; HSI-MEN CH’ING PATRONIZES PRINCIPAL GRADUATE TS’AI
    (pp. 345-359)

    The story goes that the next day Hsi-men Ch’ing and Judicial Commissioner Hsia Yen-ling went out to the suburbs to welcome the new regional investigating censor. He also took the occasion to visit his country estate and reward the construction workers for their services.

    That evening, when he arrived home, he had no sooner come in the gate than P’ing-an reported, “Today a courier on his way from Tung-ch’ang prefecture to deliver documents to the capital stopped by to drop off a letter. He said that it was a letter addressed to you from His Honor Chai Ch’ien of the...

  22. Chapter 37 OLD MOTHER FENG URGES THE MARRIAGE OF HAN AI-CHIEH; HSI-MEN CH’ING ESPOUSES WANG LIU-ERH AS A MISTRESS
    (pp. 360-381)

    The story goes that Hsi-men Ch’ing saw off Principal Graduate Ts’ai and Metropolitan Graduate An as they made their departure.

    One day, as he was riding on horseback, wearing his eye shades and preceded by an escort who shouted to clear the way, he ran into Old Mother Feng.

    He sent a page boy to call her to a halt and question her, saying, “Father says to ask you how things are going with that girl you were commissioned to look for. Why haven’t you come to the house to report on it?”

    The old woman promptly stepped up to...

  23. Chapter 38 HSI-MEN CH’ING SUBJECTS TRICKSTER HAN TO THE THIRD DEGREE; P’AN CHIN-LIEN ON A SNOWY EVENING TOYS WITH HER P’I-P’A
    (pp. 382-403)

    The story goes that when Old Mother Feng had proceeded as far as the postern gate leading to the front reception hall, she saw Tai-an standing in attendance outside the latticework doors to the hall with tea tray in hand.

    Tai-an made a meaningful moue in her direction, saying, “You go on over there . Father and Master Ying the Second are talking together. As soon as they’re done, and he’s seen him off, he’ll start out himself. He’s already sent Ch’i-t’ung ahead to deliver the wine.”

    As soon as the old woman heard these words, she hastened on her...

  24. Chapter 39 HSI-MEN CH’ING HOLDS CHIAO RITES AT THE TEMPLE OF THE JADE EMPEROR; WU YÜEH-NIANG LISTENS TO BUDDHIST NUNS RECITING THEIR SACRED TEXTS
    (pp. 404-437)

    The story goes that on that occasion Hsi-men Ch’ing spent the night in P’an Chin-lien’s quarters. The woman’s only regret was that she couldn’t:

    Bore her way into his belly.⁴

    Beside the pillow she:

    Played up to him a thousand ways,

    Ensnared him with a myriad wiles;⁵

    Wiping away her tears with mermaid silk,

    Responding to him with warm compliance;

    hoping thereby that she could engross her lover’s heart. How could she have known that Hsi-men Ch’ing had already initiated an affair on the outside with Han Tao-kuo’s wife, Wang Liu-erh?

    For this woman he had laid out a hundred...

  25. Chapter 40 HOLDING HER BOY IN HER ARMS LI P’ING-ERH CURRIES FAVOR; DRESSING UP AS A MAIDSERVANT CHIN-LIEN COURTS AFFECTION
    (pp. 438-452)

    The story goes that Yüeh-niang slept on the same k’ang with Nun Wang that night.

    “Why is it,” Nun Wang took the occasion to ask, “that you haven’t thus far shown any indication of a happy event?”

    “Now that you bring up the subject of a happy event,” said Yüeh-niang, “in the eighth month last year, because we had bought the house of Mr. Ch’iao across the street, for no good reason, we all went over to take a look at it. While I was climbing the stairs over there, my foot slipped, and the wrench I suffered resulted in...

  26. Appendix TRANSLATIONS OF SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL
    (pp. 453-472)
  27. NOTES
    (pp. 473-576)
  28. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 577-604)
  29. INDEX
    (pp. 605-646)