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.
©1993 Princeton University Press (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
George Backman is a terrific narrator for this. He can handle the Chinese names effortlessly and he catches the spirit of the soap opera characters, bed scenes, insults and general conniving.
Yes, it is in one sense a seemingly endless portrayal of a superficial, wealthy, randy young Chinese businessman and his wives/concubines, drinking parties, etc in 1100s China. But it is also a discerning portrayal of human psychology and a picture of Chinese life across most classes during the 1600s, when it was actually written. If you think of it as like a multi-year television program, well written and weaving together the threads of several plot lines while beguling you with descriptions of suculent feasts and beautiful clothes, you’ll get into the spirit of the thing and commit to multiple volumes. Again, Backman is flawless and makes the book.
Do note that it is frankly written in occasional bed scenes, so you wouldn’t want to listen in a car with children.
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