chapter  5
18 Pages

CHIN P’ING MEI (THE GOLDEN LOTUS)

Liveliest of controversies over the four Ming masterpieces of the novel is that surrounding CHIN P’ING MEI (GOLDEN VASE PLUM or THE GOLDEN LOTUS), named for three of protagonist Hsi-men Ch’ing’s six wives. The earliest known reference to this novel is 1592, its earliest known publication 1617. Judgments swing wildly between extreme praise and extreme condemnation of the work’s content and form, between pre-1912 political interdiction for subversiveness, and mid-twentieth-century Communist commendation of it as an expose of upper-class and imperial corruption.