On the Fringes of Storytelling – Joel Martinsen

pingshu.jpg From Danwei:

People tend to keep their distance from Jin Ping Mei(金瓶梅), at least in public. Its graphic sexual content has given the late-Ming classic a reputation as smut that it has been unable to shake off. Performers of pingshu(评书), the art of storytelling, have conquered great classical novels as well as more contemporary tales but have stayed away from the story of the Ximen Qing(西门庆) household.

But last year, unknown storyteller Liang Jun announced his intent to record a pingshu version. The media was incredulous at the time; unexpurgated, the novel would have no chance of airing on the radio or TV, and apart from the sex, it was thought that there’s not much in the novel to hold the interest of a listener who’s more used to the thrills of wuxia fiction. Liang was undaunted, pointing to the popularity of Korean soaps whose episodes don’t necessarily end in cliffhangers. The most sensible commentators urged patience and recommended listening to Liang’s version before passing judgment….[Full Text and More Chinese essays inside]

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