(Library of Chinese Classics)Romance of the Western Bower

西厢记

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Author: Wang Shifu
Language: Chinese and English bilingual
ISBN/ISSN: 754382535x
2000; Hardcover;240*160mm;441pages

The Romance of the Western Bower, by Wang Shifu of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), is a gem of Chinese classical drama and a masterpiece of Chinese literature. The main theme of this play is the love between a young scholar named Zhang Gong and Cui Yingying (or Oriole), nineteen-year-old daughter of former Prime Minister Cui. This play is divided into five acts and twenty scenes. Act I describes the first meeting in the temple between the two lovers. Act 11 relates how Zhang Gong saves the temple from attack by bandits and Madame Cui promises her daughter can marry Zhang, but soon she goes back on her words. Act III describes the lovers' longing for each other. Act IV depicts their tryst in Scene One; in Scene Two, Madame Cui will not approve their marriage unless Zhang wins honor in the civil service examinations; Scene Three depicts the lovers' parting when Zhang leaves Oriole to attend the examinations in the capital; Scene Four ends with a dream in which the lovers meet again. The last act describes their reunion. In short, this play deals with the conflict between love and family honor, and ends by a reconciliation between them, that is the hero should win honor in the examinations so that both love and honor can be preserved.
The Romance of the Western Bower is the most important lyrical drama in the history of Chinese literature. It is as well-known in China as Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet in the West, yet it was written about three hundred years earlier than Shakespear's tragedy. The play has given rise to innumerable sequels, parodies, and rewritings; it has influenced countless later plays, short stories, and novels and has played a crucial role in the development of drama criticism.

 


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