A Couple of Soles: A Comic Play from Seventeenth-Century China (Translations from the Asian Classics) (Hardcover)

A Couple of Soles: A Comic Play from Seventeenth-Century China (Translations from the Asian Classics) By Jing Shen (Translator), Li Yu, Robert E. Hegel (Translator) Cover Image

A Couple of Soles: A Comic Play from Seventeenth-Century China (Translations from the Asian Classics) (Hardcover)

By Jing Shen (Translator), Li Yu, Robert E. Hegel (Translator)

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A Couple of Soles is a classic comedic romance by the seventeenth-century playwright Li Yu. Tan Chuyu, a poor young scholar, falls in love with the beautiful actress Liu Miaogu. He joins her family's acting troupe, and, in plays within the play, romance ensues. After Liu's family attempts to marry her off to a local country squire, she performs a famous scene in which a heroine drowns herself--and then jumps off the stage into a river, followed by Tan. The local river deity rescues the lovers from death by transforming them into a pair of soles. Li balances their romance with the adventures of a retired upright official involving banditry, bribery, and mistaken identity--and who nets and shelters the two fish when they regain human form.

Written at a time when China was beginning to recover from the cataclysmic Ming-Qing dynastic transition, A Couple of Soles displays Li's biting wit as well as his reflections on the concerns of his age, including the dangers of administrative service and the role of theater in society. The play combines witty wordplay and caustic satire with a strong emphasis on traditional moral values. The first major comedy from late imperial China to appear in English translation, A Couple of Soles provides an unparalleled view of the theater in seventeenth-century China. A general introduction and a detailed appendix shed further light on the play and its context.

Li Yu (1610-1680) was a popular author and theatrical impresario with a reputation for tales that tested social limits. The writer of comic plays and short stories that mixed erudition and earthy topics, Li is the likely author of the erotic and parodic novel The Carnal Prayer Mat. Jing Shen is professor of Chinese language and literature at Eckerd College. Robert E. Hegel is professor emeritus of Chinese language and literature and Liselotte Dieckmann Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis.

Product Details ISBN: 9780231193542
ISBN-10: 0231193548
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication Date: December 3rd, 2019
Pages: 360
Language: English
Series: Translations from the Asian Classics