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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 Four: The Climax

Translated by David Tod Roy
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 1016
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7rp90
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    The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei
    Book Description:

    This is the fourth and penultimate volume in David Roy's celebrated translation of one of the most famous and important novels in Chinese literature.The Plum in the Golden Vaseor,Chin P'ing Meiis 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.

    Written during the second half of the sixteenth century and first published in 1618, ThePlum in the Golden Vaseis noted for its surprisingly modern technique. With the possible exception ofThe Tale of Genji(ca. 1010) andDon 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 ofBleak House, the Joyce ofUlysses, or the Nabokov ofLolitathan 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 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3858-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. CAST OF CHARACTERS
    (pp. xiii-lxx)
  6. Chapter 61 HAN TAO-KUO PREPARES AN ENTERTAINMENT FOR HSI-MEN CH’ING; LI P’ING-ERH PAINFULLY OBSERVES THE DOUBLE YANG FESTIVAL
    (pp. 1-43)

    THE STORY GOES that one day in the evening, when Han Tao-kuo’s job in the silk goods store was over, he went home and slept until the middle of the night, when his wife, Wang Liu-erh, opened a discussion with him.

    “You and I have been patronized by him,” she said. “And, on this occasion, we have made so much money out of it. Don’t you think we should throw a party and invite him over for a visit? Not to mention the fact that he has just lost a child, and we ought to help him recover from his...

  7. Chapter 62 TAOIST MASTER P’AN PERFORMS AN EXORCISM ON THE LANTERN ALTAR; HSI-MEN CH’ING LAMENTS EGREGIOUSLY ON BEHALF OF LI P’ING-ERH
    (pp. 44-82)

    THE STORY GOES that when Hsi-men Ch’ing observed that the prescriptions Li P’ing-erh took, and the medical attention she received, were completely ineffectual; and that though:

    The gods were besought and diviners consulted, the results of these prognostications were all:

    Ominous and inauspicious, he was:

    At a loss for what to do next.

    Initially, Li P’ing-erh still endeavored as best she could to comb her hair and wash her face, and she was still able to get off the k’ang by herself in order to sit on the commode. But afterwards, gradually:

    Her intake of food and drink diminished,⁶

    Her...

  8. Chapter 63 FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OFFER FUNERAL OBLATIONS AT A MEMORIAL FEAST; HSI-MEN CH’ING IS REMINDED OF LI P’ING-ERH WHILE WATCHING A DRAMA
    (pp. 83-103)

    THE STORY GOES that on that day, as a result of Ying Po-chüeh’s persuasion, Hsi-men Ch’ing wiped away his tears, ceased his weeping, and ordered a page boy to go back to the rear compound and bring them some food.

    Before long, Wu K’aí and Wu the Second arrived, performed their obeisances before the spirit tablet of the deceased, saluted Hsi-men Ch’ing, and communicated their distress at his bereavement. They were invited into the anteroom, where they sat down with the others.

    Meanwhile, Tai-an went back to the rear compound and said to Yüeh-niang, “How come you ladies did not...

  9. Chapter 64 YÜ-HSIAO KNEELS IN MAKING AN APPEAL TO P’AN CHIN-LIEN; OFFICERS OF THE GUARD SACRIFICE TO A RICH MAN’S SPOUSE
    (pp. 104-120)

    THE STORY GOES that by the time the company had dispersed, the cocks were already crowing and Hsi-men Ch’ing retired to rest.

    Tai-an took a large jug of wine and several saucers of food out to the shop in the front compound, intending to share them with Manager Fu and Ch’en Ching-chi. Manager Fu was getting along in years and had stayed up all night, so he didn’t feel like sitting around any longer but proceeded to spread out a mat and lay down on the k’ang to go to sleep.

    “You and P’ing-an help yourselves,” he said to Tai-an....

  10. Chapter 65 ABBOT WU MEETS THE FUNERAL PROCESSION AND EULOGIZES THE PORTRAIT; CENSOR SUNG IMPOSES ON A LOCAL MAGNATE TO ENTERTAIN EUNUCH HUANG
    (pp. 121-152)

    THE STORY GOES that the twenty-eighth day of the ninth month was the time for the second of the seven weekly commemorations of Li P’ing-erh’s death. Abbot Wu of the Temple of the Jade Emperor, who had secured the job of presiding over the services on that day, brought sixteen Taoist priests to come to Hsi-men Ch’ing’s home to conduct the flag-raising ceremony inviting the presence of the gods, and erect the ritual altar for the performance of the “Litany Addressed to the Heavenly Savior from Distress Who Dwells in the Blue Heaven of the East”¹ for the second weekly...

  11. Chapter 66 MAJORDOMO CHAI SENDS A LETTER WITH A CONSOLATORY CONTRIBUTION; PERFECT MAN HUANG CONDUCTS A RITE FOR THE SALVATION OF THE DEAD
    (pp. 153-173)

    THE STORY GOES that on that day, as Hsi-men Ch’ing continued drinking with Wu K’ai, Ying Po-chüeh, and company, he asked Han Tao-kuo, “When is the convoy of merchant vessels with its armed escort scheduled to start out, so we can get things packed up in advance?”

    “Yesterday someone came to inform me about it,” said Han Tao-kuo. “The boats will start out on the twenty-fourth.”

    “In that case,” said Hsi-men Ch’ing, “we can wait until after the scripture service on the twentieth to pack up.”

    “Which two people are you sending on this expedition?” asked Ying Pochüeh.

    “I’m sending...

  12. Chapter 67 HSI-MEN CH’ING APPRECIATES THE SNOW WHILE IN HIS STUDIO; LI P’ING-ERH DESCRIBES HER INTIMATE FEELINGS IN A DREAM
    (pp. 174-210)

    THE STORY GOES that when Hsi-men Ch’ing returned to the rear compound he was so exhausted that he slept until the sun was high in the sky without getting up.

    Lai-hsing came in at this point and reported, “The carpenters are waiting outside and want to know if they are to dismantle the temporary structures that they put up for the funeral rites.”

    Hsi-men Ch’ing responded irritably to Lai-hsing, saying, “As for the dismantling, just go ahead and have them do it. What need is there to bother me about it?”

    The carpenters outside then proceeded, hugger-mugger, to take down...

  13. Chapter 68 CHENG AI-YÜEH FLAUNTS HER BEAUTY AND DISCLOSES A SECRET; TAI-AN PERSEVERES ASSIDUOUSLY IN SEEKING OUT AUNTIE WEN
    (pp. 211-243)

    THE STORY GOES that after Hsi-men Ch’ing had finished the ceremony of burning paper money on Li P’ing-erh’s behalf, he went to P’an Chin-lien’s quarters, where he spent the night.

    The next day, first, Ying Po-chüeh’s household sent over a box of noodles in celebration of their birth of a son, and then, Huang the Fourth, along with his young brother-in-law, Sun Wen-hsiang, came to kowtow to Hsi-men Ch’ing, bringing with them offerings of a newly slaughtered pig, a jug of wine, two roast geese, four roast chickens, and two boxes of fruit.

    Hsi-men Ch’ing repeatedly refused to accept these...

  14. Chapter 69 AUNTIE WEN COMMUNICATES HSI-MEN CH’ING’S WISHES TO LADY LIN; WANG TS’AI FALLS FOR A TRICK AND INVITES HIS OWN HUMILIATION
    (pp. 244-276)

    THE STORY GOES that when Auntie Wen arrived at the Hsi-men residence, P’ing-an told her, “Father is in the house across the street.”

    Tai-an went inside to announce her arrival and found Hsi-men Ch’ing sitting in the study with Licentiate Wen. Upon seeing Tai-an, he immediately came out and sat down in a small reception room, while Tai-an told him all about his vicissitudes in locating Auntie Wen.

    “I’ve succeeded in bringing her here,” he said, “and she’s waiting outside.”

    Hsi-men Ch’ing, thereupon, told him to call her inside; and Auntie Wen proceeded to cautiously lift aside the portiere that...

  15. Chapter 70 HSI-MEN CH’ING’S SUCCESSFUL EFFORTS PROCURE HIM A PROMOTION; ASSEMBLED OFFICIALS REPORT BEFORE DEFENDER-IN-CHIEF CHU MIEN
    (pp. 277-305)

    THE STORY GOES that, from this time on, Hsi-men Ch’ing broke off relations with Li Kuei-chieh. But no more of this.

    To resume our story, when the courier arrived at Judicial Commissioner Lin Ch’eng-hsün’s place in Huai-ch’ing prefecture to inquire about the news, the commissioner gave him a sealed copy of the announcement of official promotions in the government gazette and rewarded him with five taels of silver. The courier set out on his return journey that very night and, upon arriving home, turned over the sealed material to the two judicial commissioners.

    In the reception hall of the yamen,...

  16. Chapter 71 LI P’ING-ERH APPEARS IN A DREAM IN BATTALION COMMANDER HO’S HOUSE; THE JUDICIAL COMMISSIONERS PRESENT THEIR MEMORIALS AT THE AUDIENCE
    (pp. 306-341)

    THE STORY GOES that when Hsi-men Ch’ing and Ho Yung-shou arrived back on the main thoroughfare, Ho Yung-shou first sent someone to report to Eunuch Director Ho Hsin and then invited Hsi-men Ch’ing to come back to their home for a meal. Hsi-men Ch’ing repeatedly demurred, but Ho Yungshou had one of his attendants take hold of his horse’s bit with his hand, while he said to him, “Your pupil has another matter which he needs to discuss with you.”

    Thereupon, they proceeded to ride side by side until they dismounted in front of Ho Hsin’s house, while Pen the...

  17. Chapter 72 WANG THE THIRD KOWTOWS TO HSI-MEN CH’ING AS HIS ADOPTED FATHER; YING PO-CHÜEH INTERCEDES TO ALLEVIATE THE GRIEVANCE OF LI MING
    (pp. 342-383)

    THE STORY GOES that Hsi-men Ch’ing and Ho Yung-shou continued on their journey. But no more of this.

    We return instead to the story of Wu Yüeh-niang back at home. It happened that during Hsi-men Ch’ing’s former trip to the Eastern Capital, Ch’en Chingchi was spotted by the wet nurse Ju-i having a drink with P’an Chin-lien in her room, and when Hsi-men Ch’ing came home, Yüeh-niang had borne the brunt of his anger, and they had had a falling out about it.⁷ For that reason, on this occasion when Hsi-men Ch’ing was away from home, Yüeh-niang refrained from doing...

  18. Chapter 73 P’AN CHIN-LIEN IS IRKED BY THE SONG “I REMEMBER HER FLUTE-PLAYING”; BIG SISTER YÜ SINGS “GETTING THROUGH THE FIVE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT”
    (pp. 384-419)

    THE STORY GOES that, after Ying Po-chüeh went home, Hsi-men Ch’ing went to the Hidden Spring Grotto in his garden and sat down to watch the mason working on the two heated k’angs, with a firebox outside the retaining wall, so that the floor of the interior would be as warm as spring, and the fumes from the burning charcoal would not affect the plants that had been placed there.

    Who should suddenly appear at this point but P’ing-an, who brought in a calling card and reported, “His Honor Chou Hsiu of the Regional Military Command has sent a courier...

  19. Chapter 74 CENSOR SUNG CH’IAO-NIEN SOLICITS THE EIGHT IMMORTALS TRIPOD; WU YÜEH-NIANG LISTENS TO THE PRECIOUS SCROLL ON WOMAN HUANG
    (pp. 420-455)

    THE STORY GOES that Hsi-men Ch’ing embraced P’an Chin-lien and slept until the dawn of the following day.

    When the woman saw that his organ was still standing straight up as though it were a stick, she said, “Daddy, you’d better make the best of it by letting me off for now. I can’t handle any more. Let me suck you off instead.”

    “You crazy little whore!” responded Hsi-men Ch’ing. “You might as well give it a suck. If you succeed in sucking it off, it will be your good fortune.”

    The woman actually squatted down between his loins and,...

  20. Chapter 75 CH’UN-MEI VILELY ABUSES SECOND SISTER SHEN; YÜ-HSIAO SPILLS THE BEANS TO P’AN CHIN-LIEN
    (pp. 456-502)

    THESE EIGHT LINES of verse merely reiterate the message that:

    Good will be rewarded with good,

    Evil will be rewarded with evil;⁴

    Just as shadow follows shape,⁵

    Or as valleys return an echo.

    You may think that only those who:

    Assume the lotus position to practice meditation,⁶

    Will all be successful in reaping the true fruit.⁷

    But even:

    Simple men and simple women,⁸

    Who cultivate piety at home, are not precluded from achieving the Way.

    Those who worship the Buddha,

    Will benefit from his virtue;

    Those who recite Buddha’s name,

    Will benefit from his kindness;

    Those who consider the sutras,...

  21. Chapter 76 MENG YÜ-LOU ASSUAGES YÜEH-NIANG’S WRATH; HSI-MEN CH’ING REPUDIATES LICENTIATE WEN
    (pp. 503-543)

    THE STORY GOES that when Hsi-men Ch’ing saw that Yüeh-niang had not come out for what seemed like half a day, he went into her bedroom himself and urged her to do so. Upon seeing that she was in the process of getting dressed, he went back out and invited Dr. Jen Hou-ch’i to come in and take a seat in the parlor of the master suite. Once there, Dr. Jen observed that the upper end of the room was concealed by a gold-flecked hanging screen, beside which there were arrayed wide benches provided with cushions, while the floor was...

  22. Chapter 77 HSI-MEN CH’ING SLOGS THROUGH THE SNOW TO VISIT CHENG AI-YÜEH; PEN THE FOURTH’S WIFE SITS BY THE WINDOW WAITING FOR A TRYST
    (pp. 544-578)

    THE STORY GOES that when Licentiate Wen realized that Hsi-men Ch’ing would not grant him an interview, he felt ashamed at his own guilt and proceeded forthwith to move his dependents back to his old dwelling place. Hsi-men Ch’ing subsequently arranged to have the studio that he had occupied cleaned up and made into a guest room. But no more of this.

    One day, Provincial Graduate Shang Hsiao-t’ang came to take his leave before setting out for the capital in order to compete in thechin-shihexaminations and asked Hsi-men Ch’ing if he could borrow a leather trunk and a...

  23. Chapter 78 HSI-MEN CH’ING VENTURES UPON A SECOND ENGAGEMENT WITH LADY LIN; WU YÜEH-NIANG INVITES HO YUNG-SHOU’S WIFE TO VIEW THE LANTERNS
    (pp. 579-626)

    THE STORY GOES that on that day Hsi-men Ch’ing kept Brother-in-law Wu K’ai company as they drank together until he went home that evening.

    Early the next morning, Military Director-in-Chief Ching Chung came on horseback to thank him, saying, “When I read the rescript that you sent me yesterday, I was:

    Unable to contain my satisfaction.

    It is more than sufficient to show the extent of your generous regard. I will certainly:

    Carry rings and knot grass, and never forget it.

    Battalion Commander Fan Hsün is getting old, and Militia Commander Chang Kuan had hoped for a promotion, but they...

  24. Chapter 79 HSI-MEN CH’ING IN HIS SEXUAL INDULGENCE INCURS AN ILLNESS; WU YÜEH-NIANG BEARS A CHILD UPON THE DEATH OF HER HUSBAND
    (pp. 627-667)

    THESE EIGHT LINES of poetry are by Shao Yung. Their message is that:

    The Way of Heaven ensures fortune for the good;²

    Both ghosts and spirits are inimical to excess.

    Those whose conduct is good will be rewarded with a hundred blessings;

    Those whose conduct is evil will be rewarded with a hundred disasters.³

    Hsi-men Ch’ing only knew how to:

    Defile the wife and children of another,⁴ but remained:

    Unaware that his own death was imminent.

    That day, after encountering Lai-chüeh’s wife in the enclosed passageway and committing adultery with her, he went back to the summerhouse and continued drinking...

  25. Chapter 80 CH’EN CHING-CHI RESORTS TO PILFERING JADE AND PURLOINING PERFUME; LI CHIAO-ERH MAKES OFF WITH THE SILVER AND RETURNS TO THE BROTHEL
    (pp. 668-688)

    THERE IS A POEM that reads:

    When temples collapse the resident monks are few;

    When bridges fall down the crossers are not many.

    When households are poor their servants are lazy;

    When officials retire their inferiors scorn them.

    When waters are shallow the fish will not remain;

    When forests are scanty the birds will not roost.

    The way of the world responds to cold and warmth;

    Human prestige is thereby enhanced or diminished.²

    These eight lines of verse refer to the fact that:

    Warmth and coldness convey the way of the world;³

    Human sentiments respond to failure and success.

    This...

  26. NOTES
    (pp. 689-854)
  27. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 855-894)
  28. INDEX
    (pp. 895-959)