"The greatest novel of physical love which China has produced." --Pearl S. Buck
A saga of ruthless ambition, murder, and lust, The Golden Lotus (Jin Ping Mei) has been called the fifth Great Classical Novel in Chinese literature, joining the Four Great Classics: Journey to the West, The Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Dream of the Red Chamber (also known as The Story of the Stone), and is recognized as one of the Four Masterworks of the Ming novel.
Golden Lotus tells the story of Ximen Qing, a wealthy, unscrupulous merchant who takes the beautiful and ambitious widow Pan Jinlian as his fifth wife. Jinlian is not content to accept her position and schemes to dominate her husband and improve her standing in society by using sex as her weapon.
As the story unfolds, Ximen Qing embarks on a series sexual conquests and Pan Jinlian exploits her husband's lust, ultimately causing the downfall of the entire family. The story's dramatic climax vividly portrays the lengths to which ambitious people will go to gain influence. It also lays bare the rivalries within wealthy families of privilege while chronicling their rise and fall.
Iconic in China, Golden Lotus has been alternately banned and lauded for centuries, all the while still avidly read as a popular page-turner. This new Tuttle edition, now available in a single unabridged volume, includes a superb introduction by Robert Hegel of Washington University, who explains the book's importance as the first novel in the Chinese tradition attributable to a single author.
About the Author: Clement Egerton was at various times a senior officer in the British army, an Anglican bishop, and a writer, editor, and photographer, but he is best known for his enduring translation of Golden Lotus.
Shu Qingchun became famous as the Beijing novelist and dramatist Lao She whose best-known work may be Rickshaw Boy. He was killed, or committed suicide, during the Cultural Revolution in Mao's China.
Robert Hegel is a specialist in Chinese literature and is the former Liselotte Dieckmann Professor of Comparative Literature and professor of Chinese in East Asian Languages at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.