The Peony Pavilion: Mudan ting, Second Edition
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The celebrated English translation of this classic work of Chinese literature is now available in an updated paperback edition. Written in 1598 by Tang Xianzu, The Peony Pavilion is one of literature’s most memorable love stories and a masterpiece of Ming drama. Cyril Birch has captured all the elegance, lyricism, and subtle, earthy humor of this panoramic tale of romance and Chinese society. When Indiana University Press first published the text in 1981, it seemed doubtful that the work would ever be performed in its entirety again, but several spectacular and controversial productions have toured the world in recent years. For this second edition, which contains a fully revised text of the translation, Cyril Birch and Catherine Swatek reflect on contemporary performances of the play in light of its history.
found faery love by following a “peach-blossom spring” into the Tiantai (“Terrace of Heaven”) Mountains. Even more celebrated is the Peach Blossom Spring of an allegory by Tao Qian describing, at the stream’s source, a secluded Shangri-la upon which a mortal stumbled. at In the Buddhist doctrine of karma, every effect is the result of some prior cause in either the present or a previous incarnation. au See note 6 av Quotation from Li Shangyin (7812-858), the first word only changed
wife of an official of the fifth grade held the title of Lady of the County. (Sighs) It was my sorrow to be orphaned at an early age and left with the most meager livelihood. But I rejoice that I am now a grown man, past my twentieth year, talented and of high purpose, and have acquitted myself well in the secondary examinations. Still I have not “met my time” to be placed in office, and so I remain in hunger and cold. My ancestor the Prefect Liu had in his service a certain “Camel” Guo who
FRAGRANCE:Easy to sketch freshness of youth, hard to portray the pain at heart. The silk and the colored inks are ready for your use. BRIDAL (weeping): How can it be that Bridal Du must sketch with her own hand the grace of her sixteen years! Ah, that time should have etchedIV these peach-bloom cheeks of youth so swiftly with lines of care! Surely a happy lot is beyond my deserving —or why must “fairest face be first to age”? Many the beauty has been praised as peerless only for
grieving owner absent far fills this place with sorrowful memories; try as you may to forget, each turn of path by mound or pool captures your thought again. Here is a fine mound of rocks. (He looks closely) Ha, a little box there among the boulders. If I brace myself against this rockface I can see what it is. (Mimes the act of dodging as the rock rolls aside) Yes, a rosewood box. (Opens the box, revealing the portrait scroll within) So, it is a portrait of the blessed bodhisattva
permitting me to enter the city. MILITARY OFFICERS, CIVIL OFFICIALS: It will be no more than saps beneath the walls or “cloud ladders” to scale them. We shall be on our guard against these things. DU: What I fear is the tactic of the locked city. SECOND MILITARY OFFICER: Beg to inquire: what is this “tactic of the locked city”? Do they lock up the inside or the outside? If it’s the outside, then they lock the Prince-errant out. But if it’s the inside, then they lock me in! DU: We’ll leave