Friday, December 16, 2016

Book Review - "The Peach Blossom Fan" by Kong Shangren (桃花扇 - 孔尚任)

I read the English version of this famous classical Chinese play set in the late Ming/early Qing dynasty. The translators did a superb job, considering the difficult classical Chinese language and the numerous historical allusions, which are not easy to grasp even for the average Chinese person.

The story is about a late Ming courtesan's struggles to stay loyal to her true love despite villainous attempts by self serving power mongers to tear the lovers apart. It reflects on the stark contrast between the courtesan's strong-willed patriotism and the traitorous deeds of an avaricious and corrupt clique at the Southern Ming court, whose total lack of morals and internecine feud ultimately led to the demise of the Southern Ming Pretender's reign.

I loved the historical background of the play, as well as the poetic renderings of much of the dialogues, which add to the poignancy of the story. I kept referring to the original Chinese edition to check out the beautiful poetry.

Overall, it was a 5 star read.

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