Mistress and Maid: Jiaohongji

Mistress and Maid: Jiaohongji

Paperback Translations from the Asian Classics (Paperback)

By (author) Meng Chengshun, Translated by Cyril Birch

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  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 180mm x 228mm x 21mm | 635g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2001
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0231121695
  • ISBN 13: 9780231121699

Product description

Mistress & Maid, one of the greatest tragedies of Chinese drama, is here available for the first time in English. Acclaimed translator Cyril Birch presents the bittersweet tale of Bella, daughter of the Wang family, her maid Petal, and the young scholar Shen Chun. After her father reneges on her marital pact, Bella refuses to renounce her love for Shen, with whom she has vowed to share "in life one room, in death one tomb." The subversion of both conventional morality and the arranged marriage through vivid drama and witty comic scenes makes this seventeenth-century play particularly innovative. Chinese critics have hailed it as essentially revolutionary for its depiction of youthful resistance to latter-day Confucian values, but as Birch notes in the introduction, "the glory of Mistress & Maid is the tender delicacy of the lovers' interactions." This depth of feeling also distinguishes the play from others of the "talent-meets-beauty" genre so prevalent during the late-imperial age.

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Author information

Cyril Birch is Agassiz Professor Emeritus in the Department of East Asian Languages at the University of California, Berkeley, and is the author, editor, or translator of numerous books, including Scenes for Mandarins (Columbia) and The Peony Pavilion.

Review quote

"Birch has long been a leading translator of Chinese literature.... The present excellent translation includes... explanation of the metaphors and allusions found throughout the drama." -- "Choice"

Table of contents

IntroductionSignposts of RomanceCast of CharactersScene 1: LegendScene 2: Leaving HomeScene 3: Meeting with BellaScene 4: Evening EmbroideryScene 5: In Search of a BeautyScene 6: Flower PoemsScene 7: Response in RhymeScene 8: Trouble from TibetScene 9: Sharing the LampblackScene 10: Hugging the StoveScene 11: Frontier DefenseScene 12: Thwarted RendezvousScene 13: Dispatching the SummonsScene 14: Quiet DespairScene 15: Parting VowsScene 16: Defense of the CityScene 17: Seeking a CureScene 18: Secret PactScene 19: The Portraits DeliveredScene 20: Cutting the SleeveScene 21: Sending the MatchmakerScene 22: The Match OpposedScene 23: A Drink with CourtesansScene 24: The Matchmaker ReportsScene 25: ExorcismScene 26: Third VisitScene 27: The SlippersScene 28: Petal ScoldedScene 29: InterrogationScene 30: Viewing the PortraitsScene 31: Solemn PactScene 32: Petal TellsScene 33: Reluctant PartingScene 34: Envoys AppointedScene 35: The KeepsakeScene 36: The Road to the ExaminationsScene 37: CelebrationScene 38: Return in TriumphScene 39: BewitchedScene 40: A Haunting SuspectedScene 41: The Ghost ExposedScene 42: Master Shuai ProposesScene 43: Parting in LifeScene 44: Wedding RehearsalScene 45: Weeping on the BoatScene 46: Petal QuestionedScene 47: Maiden's PassingScene 48: Joined in DeathScene 49: United in the TombScene 50: Reunion with Immortals