Titel: Tang Xianzu: The Peony Pavilion (zweisprachig Chinesisch-Englisch) - 汤显祖: 牡丹亭 (汉英对照)
Author / Editor: (明 Ming-Dynastie) 汤显祖 Tang Xianzu
ISBN: 978-7-04-029664-8, 9787040296648
Series: 青春绣像版中国古代四大名剧 The Famous Chinese Classical Plays
Publisher: Higher Education Press - 高等教育出版社
Language: bilingual Chinese-English
Date of Publication: 2010.07
Number of pages: 153
Dimensions: 21 x 14.5 cm
This edition is bilingual Chinese-English, the story of the classic play is rewritten in modern language and illustrated with colored paintings as well as black-and-white drawings.
The Peony Pavilion, or The Return of the Soul at the Peony Pavilion in full written by Tang Xianzu, a famous playwright of the Ming Oynasty, is another love story that enjoys worldwide popularity after Romance of the Western Chamber. Tang Xianzu (1550--1616) was a native of Linchuan, Jiangxi. As a man of integrity, he resolutely refused to become an appendage to the bigwigs and resigned from office and returned home at the age of forty*nine in 1598. In the fall of the same year he wrote The Peony Pavilion.
The Peony Pavilion describes a young girl by the name of Du Liniang who starts to have a longing for love at the arousal of the love song from The Book of Songs, and sees Liu Mengmei in her dream after visiting a garden in spring and since then becomes lovesick and dies of lovesickness.
Three years later, while Liu Mengmei is passing by Du Liniang's tomb on his way to Lin'an to sit for the government examination, the soul of Du Liniang shows up and the two have a secret rendezvous. With the heIp of Liu Mengmei, Du Liniang revives from death and they get married without permission. After Du Liniang comes back to life, her father Du Bao sees his daughter as an evil spirit and accuses Liu Mengmei of robbing his daughter's tomb. Du Liniang goes to the imperial court to make an appeal. Liu Mengmei succeeds in the government examination. At the imperial decree, Du Bao gives approval to his daughter's marriage and the whole family gets reunited.
Tang Xianzu believes pure-hearted love can go beyond life and death. The love story of Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei is no longer limited to the narrow meaning of fighting against the dictates of parents and words of matchmakers. Instead the story shows love can be so powerful that it can conquer all and go beyond life and death. The author considers the pursuit of free love as "emotion" and the feudal code of ethics as "principle".
The Peony Pavilion reveals the conflict between "emotion" and "principle" and the final victory of
"emotion" over "principle". Du Liniang, the heroine of the story, is the embodiment of true love and sincere emotion. She is a young girl who loves life. pursues freedom, and has the courage to revolt against conventions. The most significant trait that features her character is the firmness and obsession she evolves in the course of her seeking true love. She dies of love and gets reborn because of love. She never pulls back and continues to fight until she gets ultimate victory regardless of the eeriness and terror of the nether world, the peremptoriness and indifference of her father or the forbidding nature of the imperial court. This has been a great leap forward in comparison with Cui Yingying from Romance of the Western Chamber who has to count on Hongniang's assistance at many points.
The other characters in the play also have clear-cut personalities. The hero Liu Mengmei is both enthusiastic about pursuing an official position and faithful to love which is shown in that he is whole-headedly devoted to Du Liniang. The peremptoriness and obstinacy of Du Bao, the pedantry of Chen Zui]iang, and the mischievousness of Chunxiang are also vividly portrayed.
The artistic merit of The Peony Pavillon is outstanding too. First, this play is permeated with a strong tint of romanticism. Tang Xianzu employs romantic techniques in his writing, By creating a series of intense fantastic plots like falling in love in a dream, returning to life after death, getting married to a ghost and etc., he warmly eulogizes the young couple's strong desire for pursuing free love and an ideal world. Secondly, in characterization, he attaches a lot more importance to revealing what’s inside his characters’ hearts and exploring the subtle and elaborate sentiments of the characters so as to create characters through describing their mental activities.