Flower Shadows behind the Curtain: Ko Lien Hua Ying, a Sequel to Chin P'ing Mei

Flower Shadows behind the Curtain: Ko Lien Hua Ying, a Sequel to Chin P'ing Mei

Flower Shadows behind the Curtain: Ko Lien Hua Ying, a Sequel to Chin P'ing Mei

Flower Shadows behind the Curtain: Ko Lien Hua Ying, a Sequel to Chin P'ing Mei

Excerpt

The textual sources of our novel resemble those sheer walls of the Grand Canyon where succeeding phases in the earth's history are graphically portrayed in the superimposed strata of rock. No fewer than five separate sources, distinct as to material and period, have to be taken into account in our consideration of the origins of 'Flower Shadows'. We must do as the tourist does when, from the El Tovar Hotel, on the rim of the Canyon, he sets out, generally on a donkey, to scramble down the steep, narrow Bright Angel Trail into the Canyon's depths: starting with the most recent phase we must work our way down into the depths of the book's five hundred years' development.

[A] The latest text, which I obtained in January 1956, from my Chinese bookseller in Hong Kong, while I was engaged in the two years' labour of translation, bears the title

KO LIEN HUA YING--Flower Shadows behind the Curtain.

It is in two volumes, contains forty-eight chapters, and was issued in December 1948, by the Central Press in Shanghai. It is the third printing, the first having appeared in 1929. The publisher's imprint is Yü Shan Tchen.

The title has a double significance. The word 'flower' refers to the fair ladies, more especially Silver Vase, who, only in the distance of the evening and by lamplight, showed themselves as shadows behind their window-curtains to the guests in the flower-garden of Grand Mistress Li. But the curtain of death may also be intended, behind which appear three ladies who died in the course of the Chin P'ing Mei story and are now reincarnated: Lady Ping as Silver Vase, Gold Lotus as Cinnabar-Cinnamon and Spring Plum as Fragrant Jewel. It may be surmised that both meanings were intended by the author.

[B] My German rendering has been based throughout on an earlier edition, also entitled Ko Lien Hua Ying and also containing forty-eight chapters, in twelve volumes of large format. I am unable to give details as to the publisher, or the year and place of publication, because . . .

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