Jin Ping Mei 金瓶梅: The Aphrodisiac, The Climax, and The Dissolution

Literature Courses
Bodhidharma (Daruma) holding his shoes, by Suio Genro (Japanese, 1716–1789). Ink on paper. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Gift from The Collection of George Gund III, 2016.195. Photograph © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Jin Ping Mei 金瓶梅: The Aphrodisiac, The Climax, and The Dissolution

Instructor: 
Stephen Roddy
When: 
Repeats every 2 weeks every Monday until Mon Nov 14 2022.
October 17, 2022
Time: 
Mon., Oct. 17, Oct. 31 & Nov. 14, 2022, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Place: 
Koret Education Center, Asian Art Museum & Zoom Webinars
Fee: 
$105 per person Society members; $130 per person non-members for the course. Advance registration must be received by the SAA by Oct. 10, 2022. All in-person fees are after Museum admission.


Society for Asian Art and Asian Art Museum are separate non-profit organizations with separate memberships. Please use the appropriate registration buttons to register for Society programs.

This course has been rescheduled! The new class dates are Oct. 17, Oct. 31 and Nov. 14, 2022. In addition, we will now hold these classes both in-person and on Zoom.

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.

Registration Policies

The Society for Asian Art's cancellation policy requires at least one week's advance written notice in order to receive a refund of registration fees. This excludes our Travel programs, which have separate cancellation policies, as well as any programs where a specific refund policy is stated on the event page. Your fees will be returned to you through a check in the mail. To cancel, please contact us.

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