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The Courtesan's Jewel Box

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This is a selection of popular Chinese stories from the 10th to 17th centuries. These stories were written in the spoken language that developed as a literary medium after the emergence of an urban commercial economy in the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). Originally the manuscripts of ordinary street storytellers, this genre of fiction -- deriving its material from the life This is a selection of popular Chinese stories from the 10th to 17th centuries. These stories were written in the spoken language that developed as a literary medium after the emergence of an urban commercial economy in the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). Originally the manuscripts of ordinary street storytellers, this genre of fiction -- deriving its material from the life and times of the period, with vivid writing and intricate plots, descriptions that are natural and vivacious -- has now attained a lofty place in literature. The twenty stories in this book are selected from over two hundred in several collections published at the beginning of the 17th century. The illustrations included in this volume are taken from contemporary editions.


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This is a selection of popular Chinese stories from the 10th to 17th centuries. These stories were written in the spoken language that developed as a literary medium after the emergence of an urban commercial economy in the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). Originally the manuscripts of ordinary street storytellers, this genre of fiction -- deriving its material from the life This is a selection of popular Chinese stories from the 10th to 17th centuries. These stories were written in the spoken language that developed as a literary medium after the emergence of an urban commercial economy in the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). Originally the manuscripts of ordinary street storytellers, this genre of fiction -- deriving its material from the life and times of the period, with vivid writing and intricate plots, descriptions that are natural and vivacious -- has now attained a lofty place in literature. The twenty stories in this book are selected from over two hundred in several collections published at the beginning of the 17th century. The illustrations included in this volume are taken from contemporary editions.

32 review for The Courtesan's Jewel Box

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dolina

    The book has a nice collection of short stories dealing with Chinese culture, Confucian thought, officials, concubines, courtesans, and thieves. One of the best stories deals with the trickster thief Lazy Dragon and his exploits. Money is at the heart of many of the stories as is the desire for official position so one can make money. Corrupt officials play a major role in many tales. The poetry and copies of woodblock prints illustrating some stories add to the book's appeal. The book has a nice collection of short stories dealing with Chinese culture, Confucian thought, officials, concubines, courtesans, and thieves. One of the best stories deals with the trickster thief Lazy Dragon and his exploits. Money is at the heart of many of the stories as is the desire for official position so one can make money. Corrupt officials play a major role in many tales. The poetry and copies of woodblock prints illustrating some stories add to the book's appeal.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    My favourite stories of the bunch are "The Courtesan's Jewel Box" and "The Oil Peddler and the Plum Flower Girl." I read this while browsing through the collection in my university library (so sometime between 2000 and 2004?) My favourite stories of the bunch are "The Courtesan's Jewel Box" and "The Oil Peddler and the Plum Flower Girl." I read this while browsing through the collection in my university library (so sometime between 2000 and 2004?)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Fidler

    This book is a collection of Song Dynasty oral narratives, which were collected by scholars during the Ming Dynasty. While I doubt that the narratives were 'preserved' in their original form, the stories in this book are nonetheless interesting. It would be a bit time consuming to summarize each of the 20 stories in this collection. Overall, the collection is strong study of gender and gendered expectations, including beauty and betrayal. The stories also illustrate just how common torture was This book is a collection of Song Dynasty oral narratives, which were collected by scholars during the Ming Dynasty. While I doubt that the narratives were 'preserved' in their original form, the stories in this book are nonetheless interesting. It would be a bit time consuming to summarize each of the 20 stories in this collection. Overall, the collection is strong study of gender and gendered expectations, including beauty and betrayal. The stories also illustrate just how common torture was during any authorized interrogation (it is noteworthy that some so-called 'modern democracies' have not progressed beyond the interrogation techniques of China in the 10th century, but I digress). Within the book I had five favorite narratives: "The Foxes' Revenge" (because I like trickster narratives), "The Hidden Will" (depicting the complexities of inheritance and good will with the inclusion of a Concubine and her son in a family), "The Two Brothers" (about altruistic acts and adoption, and "The Tangerines and the Tortoise Shell" (which I like primarily because it introduces a new kind of dragon I had not yet heard of). Finally, and my favorite, was "The Old Gardener." Here the devotion and energy created by an old man's careful attention to his flowers gives him access to a greater spiritual realm, serving both as protection in life and transcendence in death. I rather like this line of thought.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Zeezeebell

    don`t get lust.be inlove. don`t get lust.be inlove.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mujin

  6. 5 out of 5

    Oborozukyo

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aida

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alina

  10. 4 out of 5

    Louise

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emmeline

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tracyene

  14. 4 out of 5

    Albert

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  16. 5 out of 5

    James Nyarko

  17. 4 out of 5

    梦安 韩

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chenxuanyu

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dakota Couey

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samridhi

  21. 5 out of 5

    Haley

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nayusha

  23. 5 out of 5

    Netania

  24. 5 out of 5

    sarapraga

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shukran

  26. 4 out of 5

    Siouxsie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Ann

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jackson Fernandez

  29. 4 out of 5

    Honey

  30. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

  31. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Carpenter

  32. 5 out of 5

    Louise

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