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Mao, Xiang / Yu, Huai

Plum Shadows and Plank Bridge

Two Memoirs About Courtesans

Transl. by Li, Wai-yee

Series:Translations from the Asian Classics


    17,95 € / $19.99 / £16.00*

    eBook (PDF)
    Publication Date:
    Copyright year:
    To be published:
    January 2020
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    Aims and Scope

    This volume presents two memoirs by famous men of letters, Reminiscences of the Plum Shadows Convent by Mao Xiang (1611–93) and Miscellaneous Records of Plank Bridge by Yu Huai (1616–96), that recall times spent with courtesans. They evoke the courtesan world in the final decades of the Ming dynasty and the aftermath of its collapse.


    Professional and scholarly;

    More ...

    Wai-yee Li is professor of Chinese literature at Harvard University. Her publications include Women and National Trauma in Late Imperial Chinese Literature (2014) and The Columbia Anthology of Yuan Drama (Columbia, 2014).


    Tobie Meyer-Fong, Johns Hopkins University:
    An elegant and erudite translation of iconic texts introducing the men and women of the Ming-Qing transition period, this volume evokes the richly imagined world of the Jiangnan courtesan through the words of her male admirers. Plum Shadows and Plank Bridge provides essential reading for courses on China's seventeenth century.

    Keith McMahon, Kansas University:
    These memoirs are unique in world literature. The courtesans at the center of these pieces were masters of literati culture, and around them gathered some of the most famous literati in a time of impending doom. Wai-yee Li’s translations are accurate, well-annotated, and read smoothly. Few scholars can match her understanding of the language of these texts, which deserve to be read by a wide audience.

    Andrew Schoenbaum, University of Maryland:
    The translation is masterful. Wai-yee Li is most assuredly one of the world’s foremost experts on this subject and does an exemplary job of maintaining each text’s distinctive voices and overall tone. These works are good reads, hugely influential and valuable, and contrasting examples of an important genre heretofore scantly represented and poorly understood in the English-speaking world.

    Judith Zeitlin, University of Chicago:
    Wai-yee Li’s translations of these famous Chinese memoirs of romantic brio and pathos from the seventeenth century are a marvel of precision, elegance, and wit—a perfect match for the book’s sensual, tragic contents. Her brilliant annotations and supplemental translations help unlock a whole lost historical world of incomparable richness.

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