Romance of The Western Bower by Wang Shipu(Library of Chinese Classics)(Hardcover), English Chinese
Author Wang Shipu Translator:Xu Yuanchong
Press Hunan People Press
Publication Date January, 2009
Edition First Edition
Romance of the West Chamber (simplified Chinese: 西厢记; traditional Chinese: 西廂記; pinyin: xīxiāngjě; Record of the Western Chamber) is one of the most famous Chinese dramatic works. It was written by the Yuan Dynasty playwright Wang Shifu 王實甫(ca 1260-1336), and set during the Tang Dynasty. It is a story of young lovers consummating their love without parental approval, and has been called "China's most popular love comedy" and a "lover's bible". At the same time, some have called it potentially dangerous, as there are stories of readers pining away under its influence.
The play is composed of twenty-one acts in five parts. It tells the story of a secret love affair between Zhang Sheng, a young scholar, and Cui Yingying, the daughter of a chief minister of the Tang court. The two first meet in a Buddhist monastery. Yingying and her mother have stopped there to rest while escorting the coffin of Yingying's father to their native town. Zhang Sheng falls in love with her immediately, but is prevented from expressing his feelings while Yingying is under her mother's watchful eye. The most he can do is express his love in a poem read aloud behind the wall of the courtyard in which Yingying is lodging.
However, word of Yingying's beauty soon reaches Sun the Flying Tiger, a local bandit. He dispatches ruffians to surround the monastery, in the hopes of taking her as his consort. Yingying's mother agrees that whoever drives the bandits away can have Yingying's hand in marriage, so Zhang Sheng contacts his childhood friend General Du, who is stationed not far away. The general subdues the bandits, and it seems that Zhang Sheng and Cui Yingying are set to be married. However, Yingying's mother begins to regret her rash promise to Zhang Sheng, and takes back her word, with the excuse that Yingying is already betrothed to the son of another high official of the court. The two young lovers are greatly disappointed, and begin to pine away with their unfulfilled love. Fortunately, Yingying's maid, Hong Niang, takes pity on them, and ingeniously arranges to bring them together in a secret union. When Yingying's mother discovers what her daughter has done, she reluctantly consents to a formal marriage on one condition: Zhang must travel to the capital and pass the civil service examination. To the joy of the young lovers, Zhang Sheng proves to be a brilliant scholar, and is appointed to high office. The story thus ends on a happy note, as the two are finally married.
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