Jin Ping Mei 金瓶梅: The Aphrodisiac, The Climax, and The Dissolution
By consensus, the two remaining classes on October 31 and November 14 will be held as Zoom webinars. Please do not go to the museum to attend these classes.
Here is the course syllabus.
Class #1 Ch. 41 - 50 Presentation
Class #2 Ch. 51 - 60
Class #3 Ch. 61 - 70
Traditional Chinese novels tend to be epic in scope, and Chin P’ing Mei is no exception. The last twenty chapters of this book cover not only the destruction of the Ximen household and the dispersal of its surviving members, but the fall of the Northern Song Dynasty at the hands of the Jurchen (Jin) invaders as they overrun the North China plain. But before that happens, the author gradually brings all of the physical and moral excesses of the first 40 chapters to a crescendo in the momentous events of the four “decades” of chapters 40-80. Variations on the family and societal dynamics that we have witnessed earlier–infidelity, jealousy, financial entanglements, political corruption, etc.–become ever more convoluted, revealing ever greater complexity in Pan Chinlian, Li Ping’er, Wu Yueniang, their servants and others in or outside the household. To what extent can we feel empathy or at least pity for characters who have sinned so egregiously? Should we take some comfort in the ways in which nearly all of them receive their just deserts? We will ponder these questions as we make our way through the material splendor that only begins to fade as the family enters its final, terminal decline. Vol. 3-5 of the David Roy translation are all available as e-books.
Stephen Roddy, a professor at the University of San Francisco, received his PhD in East Asian Studies from Princeton University, and specializes in the fiction and other prose genres of 18th and 19th century China and Japan. He teaches courses in Japanese and Chinese literature, culture, and language.
For attendees who choose to attend via Zoom, this course is organized as 3 separate Zoom webinars. A Zoom webinar confirmation email with information on how to join each week's webinar will be sent to all registered attendees 2 or 3 days before each class. Even though it is not required by Zoom, we recommend that you download and install Zoom on your computer or mobile device in advance, and set yourself up with a free account. Zoom attendees will have a chance to participate in the Q&A.
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