Jin Ping Mei : "The Golden Lotus" : "Fleur en Fiole d'Or"

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Jin Ping Mei : "The Golden Lotus" : "Fleur en Fiole d'Or"

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aug 18, 2009, 6:00 am

I am currently in France which means that I spend the majority of my time in bookstores looking at the greater selection of translated literature than in the States.

I stumbled upon Jin Ping Mei which seems to be like Japan's Tale of Genji but more erotic.

Has anybody read this? Any thoughts?
I've already looked at it's corresponding Wikipedia article.

aug 28, 2009, 11:44 pm

I wish I could I say I've read all of it--I did take two classes with the English translator of the novel--but I don't think I got past chapter 10. (I've heard in Japanese there's a verb that means to "turn back at 12" and refers to those readers of Genji who never make past the 12th chapter; I turned back at 10).

I know David Roy has many original ideas of how the book should be interpreted and that it shouldn't be consigned to the erotica shelves in either China or America.

Let me know how you like the French translation. Its by André Levy, right?

sep 1, 2009, 2:51 am

I'm not familiar with that Japanese verb but I'd be very interested in knowing what it is! I was able to read all of Genji but I actually really enjoyed it. I'm a little hesitant on this Chinese "version" so I won't be starting it anytime soon.

My grandfather had purchased it, stopped before finishing chapter 1 and then I found it in his home in France and brought it back to the States. It is however in Texas while I live in Colorado.

sep 1, 2009, 10:27 am

Years ago, I read the Egerton translation (an early edition with, yes, the especially naughty bits rendered in Latin), but that wasn't my first encounter with the story of Hsi-Men and his wives--at sixteen I had bought the graphic version by Magnus, Les 110 pillules d'or in French translation. (Touchstones seem to be off...)

Anyway, I found the novel highly readable and enjoyable (the Latin making it somehow comic, as if I were reading along with a prudish old uncle), but it doesn't hold a candle to Genji, if I may voice such an opinion on the basis merely of translated versions. I think there is much more depth and sheer beauty to Genji, although the contrast may be due in part to the overtly sexual nature of Chin P'ing Mei (no one has ever called The tale of Genji "pornographic"!) Genji is a sophisticated psychological novel, CPM is more of a romp... Both deal mainly with their protagonists' amorous lives, but that's where the resemblance ends, imo.

I have another English one-volume edition, translated "from Chinese and German" by Franz Kuhn and Bernard Miall (introduced by Arthur Waley), that I haven't read yet.

I also bought the first volume of David Roy's translation, but haven't got to that either.

jul 11, 2010, 3:49 pm

All I have is a somewhat sensationalized "naughty bits" version called, so help me, The Love Pagoda, with introduction by Albert Ellis. (Brandon House, 1965) I agree that the Genji is a far greater novel as literature, but I gather from some secondary comments that Jin Ping Mei is taken much more seriously than it used to be --it is even mentioned in the world history text I teach from nowadays. I will say that (unlike most early erotica in my experience) it actually is erotic in translation.