The Emperor of China in a House of Ill Repute: Songs of the Imperial Visit to Datong

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The Hsu-Tang Library presents authoritative and eminently readable translations of classical Chinese literature, in bilingual editions, ranging across three millennia and the entire Sinitic world.

The Emperor of China in a House of Ill Repute by one of China's most famous authors builds on earlier dramatic works that had been inspired by the antics and travels of the Zhengde emperor (posthumous title Wuzong; r. 1506-1521) of the Ming dynasty. The Zhengde emperor was, despite his reign title ("Right Virtue"), a dismal failure as emperor. His life was given over to the pursuit of pleasure. When in Beijing he often left the palace in disguise and roamed the city incognito. He also made several long and elaborate trips to other parts of the empire, for instance one to Nanjing and Yangzhou, and one to the cities of Datong and Taiyuan in Shanxi. While these historical trips might have had a certain military purpose, the popular imagination saw them as informed by a search for beautiful women. In alternating prose and song, The Emperor of China in a House of Ill Repute tells the tale of the emperor setting out for Datong in the disguise of a common soldier after his evil genius Jiang
Bin has told him about the beauty of the three thousand courtesans in the red-light district of this garrison town.

This volume presents a fully annotated translation of all twenty-eight chapters of the work, preceded by an Introduction that provides context to the life and works of Pu Songling, the genre of "rustic songs" to which the work belongs, and the specific characteristics of the translated text.

  • 240 pages
  • hardcover
  • by Pu Songling (Author), Wilt L. Idema (Translator)
Item Number: 23333