The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei: Vol. One: The Gathering by Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng
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Even aside from the stunning achievement of the translation itself, the book represents a lifetime of meticulous scholarship on an enormous number of Sinological subjects. This work is the culmination of David Roy's entire scholarly career and a compendium of his vast learning in all phases of traditional Chinese civilization. In this first of a planned five-volume set, 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 Hsi-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 the narrative art form--not only from a specifically Chinese perspective but in a world-historical context.
The most widely read recension , edited and published with commentaries by Zhang Zhupo in , deleted or rewrote passages important in understanding the author's intentions. The explicit depiction of sexuality garnered the novel a notoriety akin to Fanny Hill and Lolita in English literature, but critics such as the translator David Tod Roy see a firm moral structure which exacts retribution for the sexual libertinism of the central characters. Princeton University Press , in describing the Roy translation, calls the novel "a landmark in the development of the narrative art form—not only from a specifically Chinese perspective but in a world-historical context Jin Ping Mei is framed as a spin-off from Water Margin.