At Last, ‘The Plum in the Golden Vase’ in English

At Last, ‘The Plum in the Golden Vase’ in English

At The Los Angeles Review of Books, Stephen Marche celebrates the completion of David Tod Roy’s 3,000-page translation of the “notorious” erotic novel, The Plum in the Golden Vase.

[… T]he Chin Ping Mei is a mean-spirited page-turner, built for cruel speed. The plot concerns Hsi-men Ch’ing, a corrupt merchant in a rural district who, through a series of sexual and political intrigues, develops and indulges stranger and stranger tastes until he dies of “sexual excess” at the age of 33. The book is most famous for being pornographic, and the word most often attached to it is notorious. But the sex, while it is what makes the book original, is by no means the most interesting part of the novel, at least to a contemporary reader. The Chin Ping Mei’s true subject is everything. It inhabits the local whorehouse as intimately as dinners with Imperial officials and is wonderfully fleshly in many ways, not just the erotic. The author is just as good writing about a man warming his hands at a brazier as he is at extreme sexual acts.

[…] I’ve been reading about Hsi-Men Ch’ing for years. His name has been Zhang Shugang and Jiang Jiemin and Bo Xilai. Just today it was revealed that one of the major causes of the condo boom in Beijing is the need to house so many mistresses [see here] — a fact that could have come straight from the Chin Ping Mei. The book is 400 years old, but its moment is right now. [Source]


Subscribe to CDT


Browsers Unbounded by Lantern

Now, you can combat internet censorship in a new way: by toggling the switch below while browsing China Digital Times, you can provide a secure "bridge" for people who want to freely access information. This open-source project is powered by Lantern, know more about this project.

Google Ads 1

Giving Assistant

Google Ads 2

Anti-censorship Tools

Life Without Walls

Click on the image to download Firefly for circumvention

Open popup

Welcome back!

CDT is a non-profit media site, and we need your support. Your contribution will help us provide more translations, breaking news, and other content you love.