chapter  6
15 Pages


What the unknown author of CHIN P’ING MEI, that “encyclopedia of Ming times,” did for the sixteenth century, Wu Ching-Tzu (1701-1754) did for Ch’ing China two hundred years later. That is to say, the eighteenth-century novel JU-LIN WAI-SHIH (UNOFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE LITERATI, or THE SCHOLARS) goes far beyond the presentation of would-be and real scholars and officials. It presents, as well, peasants, shopkeepers, artisans, craftsmen, merchants, actors, bankers, prostitutes, bailiffs, pimps and imposters, saints, and confidence men-in fine, the real-life world, including “a gallery of Chinese womanhood.”