The Fountainhead of Chinese Erotica: The Lord of Perfect Satisfaction (Ruyijun zhuan) With a Translation and Critical Edition

Charles R. Stone

271 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 0824824121


Language: English

Publish: 1041408000000

The Lord of Perfect Satisfaction (Ruyijun zhuan), a short work of fiction from the early sixteenth century, tells the story of the Tang Dynasty’s notorious Wu Zetian, the only woman to rule as emperor of China. It is famous not for the history it relates, but for its graphic sexual descriptions–the first ever in a Chinese novel–purportedly given from a woman’s point of view. For the next century, most works that include explicit sexual descriptions refer to the Ruyijun zhuan or employ some of its vocabulary. Despite its renown and unmistakable influence on later writing, the origins and significance of the Ruyijun zhuan have never been explored, in any language, and until now it has never been translated. Its date of composition is unknown, its author unidentified. One of its earliest appraisals, written by a contemporary scholar known for his conservatism, maintains that the Ruyijun zhuan is a moral work notwithstanding its sexual content. Combining a complete translation with a detailed and far-ranging study of the text, The Fountainhead of Chinese Erotica places this important cultural document into historical context and offers possibilities on its possible meaning. Charles Stone’s meticulous work reveals the Ruyijun zhuan’s author to be a scholar of Tang history who employed a wide range of historical and classical allusions that serve as a surprisingly subtle commentary on the actions of central characters. The Fountainhead of Chinese Erotica is a scrupulously researched, critically sophisticated, and urbane work of scholarship that illuminates an important primary text and Chinese erotic writings in general.

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