Read The Story of the Western Wing by Wang Shifu Online

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China's most important love comedy, Wang Shifu's Xixiangji, or The Story of the Western Wing, is a rollicking play that chronicles the adventures of the star-crossed lovers Oriole and Student Zhang. Since its appearance in the thirteenth century, it has enjoyed unparalleled popularity. The play has given rise to innumerable sequels, parodies, and rewritings; it has influenChina's most important love comedy, Wang Shifu's Xixiangji, or The Story of the Western Wing, is a rollicking play that chronicles the adventures of the star-crossed lovers Oriole and Student Zhang. Since its appearance in the thirteenth century, it has enjoyed unparalleled popularity. The play has given rise to innumerable sequels, parodies, and rewritings; it has influenced countless later plays, short stories, and novels and has played a crucial role in the development of drama criticism. This translation of the full and complete text of the earliest extant version is available in paperback for the first time. The editors' introduction will inform students of Chinese cultural and literary traditions....

Title : The Story of the Western Wing
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780520201842
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 300 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Story of the Western Wing Reviews

  • James Violand
    2018-09-29 01:42

    One of the four great dramas of classical China, this is more crude than I would have expected. Still, the talent of Wang Shifu is priceless and the characters have a wonderful depth to them, especially Crimson the maid to Oriole. When compared to European plays of the same period, it holds its own and shows an unplumbed depth of a history beyond that of the West.

  • Michael
    2018-10-01 19:49

    A fascinating look at what kinds of things can shock a culture. To my western eyes it's mildly racy at best (and even then only at points) but apparently to Chinese luminaries over the centuries it's a book that's evil to its core.It's difficult to get the full impact of this play without being steeped in Chinese lore. For example, in the preface it is opined that to fully appreciate Romance of the Western Bower you need to have read the 6th-century BC anthology Book of Poetry because of some parallels (and significant changes) between the two works. (Needless to say I have not read the anthology in question so these correlations and parallels are flying way over my head.)That being said, however, the story itself is gripping. It is often compared to Romeo and Juliet but … that comparison is lacking, at least to my eyes. First, this work is a comedy (in the proper sense of the term in dramatic presentation) where Shakespeare's is a tragedy. Second, this work has a far vaster scope and feels, at points, like an "action movie" version of Romeo and Juliet. (Dare I call it a saga?) Finally, and here I'll probably have real literary critics howling for my blood, I find the characters in this work to be far more believable than the whiny, proto-goth teens of Shakespeare's tragedy. I have never found the lead characters of Romeo and Juliet particularly sympathetic. I did find the characters in this work so.

  • Tom
    2018-10-01 01:45

    Seriously, if you want to call yourself a reader of Chinese lit, this is essential. No excuses.

  • Greg
    2018-09-29 22:31

    This 13th century Chinese opera is a classic comedy of Chinese literature. The story is a comedy of errors, in which a scholar traveling to become a civil servant stops for a room at a temple and becomes infatuated with a young woman who is there to perform funeral rites for her father. Her mother has promised her in marriage to another, and of course it is a better financial match for her. However, the man is entirely romantic, and lures her with his beautiful poetry. A great example is the following (I prefer the translation of Henry Wells, included below):Chang:Every step she takes moves my affections;All the motions of her body please;She has a thousand wiles and subtl charms,Like willows swaying in an evening breeze.She treads on fallen petals with noiseless step;Their rose-sweet, aromatic scents diffuseHeaven’s own perfume, while the dust itselfIs rich from the light pressure of her shoes.Even without the glances of her eyesHer gait reveals the secrets of her heart.Slowly she walks, reaches her door at lastAnd, smiling, seems reluctant to depart.She turns to look at me and with her eyesConfers on me a glimpse of Paradise.Now she is gone, the door behind her shut,Her silence richer to me than all words,I only see the willows blurred by mistAnd hear the muted chirping of the birds.Ultimately, the comedy and romantic comedy come down to the woman’s choice of partner. Will she give in to maternal demands and family commitments, or will she give in to passion?

  • Larry
    2018-09-30 18:45

    An excellent translation of one of the great classic Chinese operas, dating from the 13th Century: a tale of duplicity and unrequited love. It starts out like so many opera stories: a young scholar, on his way to take the civil service exams, begs a room at a temple, where he encounters the most lovely, delicate young woman in all of China, there with her mother to perform funeral rites for her father, a renowned official. A dangerous situation ensues, in which the mother promises her daughter in marriage to the man who can rescue them. Of course, when our scholar-hero lives up to the task, the mother reneges on her promise, and the young woman, torn between maternal loyalty and the powerful effect of the young man's poetry, turns into an unwitting femme fatale.This 1978 reprint of a 1936 translation includes a preface providing an overview of traditional Chinese drama: its history, conventions, the functions of actors, and so on. The translator starts by lamenting the lack of interest from the Chinese themselves in their own traditional drama, and the dearth of foreign literature on the subject.There are more literary English translations of other Chinese opera libretti, but this one is highly readable and poetic, generously footnoted without being overwhelming.

  • Jie Li
    2018-10-07 01:30

    Actually I didn’t read the English version of this book, I've just finished reading the Chinese version of it. And I don’t know if the English version can still be such a feast to the mind. Old Chinese classics can be notoriously difficult to translate because of the incorporation of colloquial and literary language and classic poetry like the wildly accepted greatest literature work in China “ the dreams of the old chamber”. This book is actually an officially banned book in old China. And prejudice about this book still prevails today because of ignorance. Most people know this is an forbidden book and it was considered immoral, indecent and licentious. As I read it, I reckon that this play is quite a pleasing to the eye and mind, the language is amazingly beautiful. Absolutely worth reading.