The Peach Bloosom Fan
Publication Year: 1998
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
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This story concerns a young scholar and a courtesan who loved and lived in the last days of the Ming Dynasty when their world fell apart. The final collapse of the Ming is a kaleidoscope through which one perceives honour and corruption, patriotism and disloyalty,...
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A Dynastic Table
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It is said that the poem was written by a renowned music teacher, Su Kunsheng of Nanjing, during the reign of Ming Dynasty's last Emperor, Chongzhen (1628— 1644)- After Nanjing was lost to the invading Manchus, Teacher Su spent his days as a hermit in the Mountain of Misty...
1. In Cai Yisuo's Bookshop
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It was a sunny afternoon in the third month of the sixteenth year of Emperor Chongzhen's Reign. An old man of over fifty years of age, and of slightly less than medium height, arrived at a large bookshop in the Three Hills Street of Nanjing City. He stretched his neck and looked into the shop a few times, stroked his short, grey beard and hesitated. Raising his head he...
2. Pockmarked Liu's Storytelling
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The young apprentice was Little Dian, a distant nephew of Proprietor Cai. Panting and scared to death, he stumbled in and cried, 'Unc-cle! The lords . . . the soldiers .. . are beating . . . beating people!' Licentiate Wu leapt up and said, 'What? Beating people in broad daylight? I'll reason with them!' Proprietor Cai hastened to stop...
3. The Perfumed Lady and Hou Fangyu
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The gossip about Yang Longyou's scheme to bring together Hou Fangyu and Purity's foster daughter, the Perfumed Lady, was already known to Chen Dingsheng yesterday. He could not understand why Yang wished to cultivate Hou's friendship, and thought there must be something very extraordinary in the whole affair. So, in the same evening he wrote a confidential...
4. A Disturbance at the Imperial Academy
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In the following morning, he arrived at the Home of Enchanting Fragrance to find the black gates tightly shut. Nothing seemed to indicate that people inside were expecting his arrival. Feeling a little timid, and fearing that Yang Longyou was setting a trap for him to be chided by the Perfumed...
5. Huang Taichong's Debate with Qian Muzhai
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After the disturbance at the Confucius' Temple, Hou and his friends picked a quiet place and held a discussion. Knitting his brow Hou said, 'Though the incident today is most satisfying, we were a bit rash. If the authorities should take the matter seriously, even Libationer Wang would be...
6. Hou Fangyu Took a Temporary Concubine
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The man who tripped over the ropes was none other than Jingang Number Seven. Covered in dust and mud, he quickly picked himself up and made his escape through the bushes without daring to take the main road. Behind him were the monks and cooks all searching for him with lighted...
7. The Scholar's Party at the Peach Leaves River Houses
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On the next day, Ruan Dacheng invited Ma Shiying, the Governor-General of Fengyang, to be his guest. Ruan's Chief Steward Lai Fu had already been busy for a whole morning. He was an old man with a slight built, a pair of eyes like rat's, and a silver white beard. He was...
8. A Banquet in the Stone Nest Garden
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The visitor was none other than Yang Longyou. During the day he had heard from Su that some very damaging criticisms against him had been voiced in the Cai Yisuo Bookshop. He was unnerved by what he was told and, therefore, came in haste to see Chen Dingsheng,...
9. The Enthronement of a New Emperor
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On the first day of the Fifth Moon, in the seventeenth year of Emperor Chongzhen's Reign, the hubbub in the City of Nanjing was indescribable. Whether it was a major thoroughfare or a narrow lane, crowds gathered everywhere. Calling for their fathers or mothers, they all...
10. A Number of Self-Seeking Gentlemen
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The man who emerged from the sedan chair was none other than the cashiered magistrate Yang Longyou. He alighted and gave a salute, holding his fists in front of him. 'I am on the way to pay you a visit. I did not expect to run into you in the street. What a coincidence!' he said....
11. No True Friends among Rogues
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The person dragging Yang Longyou along was a beauty about thirty years in age. She was tall and slim, and wore a rose-red embroidered gauze jacket, matched by a rose-red imported crepe skirt. With her naughty, flirty eyes, she rebuked Yang touchily, 'Why have you not paid a visit for so long! No one has broken your legs, has one? Unfortunately for...
12. President Shi, Board of War
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Even as Governor-General Ma was holding a conference in his official residence with his confidants, the other great officials in Nanjing were having their own meeting concerning great affairs of state with Shi Kefa and others in the residence of Gao, the President of Population and Revenue. It was not until the first watch that...
13. Taking a Concubine by Force
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Ruan paced the floor in his study and thought things over for a long time. Then, he suddenly raised his thick eyebrows and rolled his eyeballs as if he had found an answer. He half smiled to himself and then burst out laughing loudly, heaving his fat body so much that he fell into his...
14. Driving President Shi out of Nanjing
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That night the Perfumed Lady slept in the home of old man Su's landlady. The next morning he hired a small sedan chair and accompanied her to Cai Yisuo's Bookstore. There, the monkey-faced Hu the Second perceived a young woman inside the sedan chair and mistook her to be Chen Dingsheng's wife. Quickly limping in to announce her...
15. The Hesitant President of the Board of Rites
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After Prince Fu had become Regent, Zuo Maodi was promoted from the Board of War to the Censorate on the recommendation of Ma Shiying. He was, however, not overexcited by his good fortune. He was highly respected both at court and among the general public for his courage and integrity. It was...
16. Prime Minister Ma in Deep Trouble
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Seeing that Yang was so frightened he did not know what to do, Ma too became alarmed. Upon being asked what the matter was, Yang answered, 'I have just been to the Board of War and received a top secret urgent message. It was despatched by Commander Xu Dingguo who is...
17. The Indictment against Ma Shiying
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Ma Shiying entered the study unsteadily. Yang went forward and asked him, 'Brother, what does Minister Han want?' Ma said indignantly, 'You will never change the foul characteristics of a scholar. There are serious problems which...
18. Ruan Dacheng's Evil Schemes
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The Emperor had been pressing Ma Shiying to take military actions. Before too long, Ma issued from the Board of War an urgent command for Shi Kefa to depart for the north on an appointed day at the head of the troops of the four garrisons with the object of recovering the lost territories. At the same time, he also sent a top secret despatch to the four...
19. Licentiate Wu as a Fugitive
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Proprietor Cai had told Chen that on the day before some people were stealthily keeping a watch on the bookshop. When it was beginning to get dark a number of Imperial Guards were seen patrolling in the vicinity, paying particular attention to the shop. For this reason Proprietor...
20. The Bloodstained Fan
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Emergency breeds cleverness. Huang escorted Master Liu into a restaurant and told him about the suspicious conduct of the two big men. Then he and Master Liu quickly slipped out through the backdoor. Taking a detour, they returned to their boat. The boat set sail and travelled for over...
21. Perfumed Lady in Solitude
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Lady Purity said irritably, 'Here I am vexed to death, and you are smiling! If you continue to smile, see if I won't pull off your yellow beard!' It was only then that Yang became serious, 'You can only blame yourself for what has happened today. You have always spoilt Perfumed Lady despite my warnings. Instead, you argued, "I have neither family nor relations, so I depend on her entirely to take care of me in my old age and...
22. Looking for Master Hou
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As it happened, during the day Ruan was giving a banquet for Ma at the Stone Nest Garden when fantasy took hold of him. He thus sent his men to force Perfumed Lady to come and entertain his guests. The result was that she gave him a piece of her mind, with sarcasm hidden or undisguised, right in front of the current Prime Minister. This impertinence enraged...
23. Old Man Su's Contact with Master Hou
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The man standing at the bow of the boat was indeed Hou Fangyu, who also recognized old man Su. 'Old Su! Old Su! Why are you here?' Hou exclaimed. Though Su had a thousand things to say, he was quite unable to express his thoughts coherently. Without a word, he followed Hou into the cabin. 'Master Hou, why are you here?' he asked instead. Hou removed his cap and...
24. The Plight of the Crown Prince
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Breaking into a cold sweat with fear, Hou deeply regretted having set foot in Nanjing. Just as he was about to plead that he was only a small trader, the runners positioned at the entrance to the lane caught hold of him in the same way a falcon would seize a chick. They...
25. Nanjing in Danger
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Ruan spread out his hands and said, 'Hou is in the prison under the control of the Embroidered Guards. He is not in a military prison. It is not up to me to decide whether to release him or not. What is the use of pestering me?' Yang saw that he was being rejected out of hand and not being given any room for a graceful retreat. Greatly...
26. Appeasement towards the Manchus
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Without giving any response, Ma ordered his servant to hurriedly prepare a sedan chair and headed for the Board of War. Ruan simply ignored his guests and went out with Ma, followed by Yang and the duty officer. Four sedan chairs set off for the Board's yamen as if on wings. In the Stone Nest Garden, only Earl Zhao and President Qian remained. They were so shaken by the duty...
27. The Panic in Nanjing
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On the next morning, Ma Shiying petitioned the Emperor to order the transfer of the two Lius' forces to enter the capital for its defence. All arrangements to this end had been made. Moreover, the Embroidered Guards had spread out some rather terrifying rumours on the night before, saying, 'General Zuo Liangyu's trusted co-conspirators are at court and they plan to block the two Lius' troops from coming south. They are determined to topple the Prime Minister and advance the cause of the...
28. The Yangzhou Massacre
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Yang Longyou hesitated for fear of another tongue-lashing but he could not refuse to go. So he summoned up his courage to pay a call on his brother-in-law. Unexpectedly, Ma received him in a manner which was at total variance from the way he was ordinarily treated. Having talked amicably about some family matters, Ma finally came to...
29. The Exodus from Nanjing
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The one who hated Ma and Ruan most was Earl Zhao. In the beginning, he and Marquis Liu, more than any others, had given their support to these two men in putting Prince Fu on the Throne, getting rid of Shi Kefa, and in reinstating Ruan. However, once they had seized power, he was discarded and ignored. It was...
30. The Great Betrayal
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The familiar people they saw were Cai Yisuo and Lady Propriety. Cai was implicated because of his connections with several leading members of the Revival Club. After this, his bookshop was forced to close and the shop premises were sold to another for...
31. Perfumed Lady's Escape
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Let us now return in our narrative to Perfumed Lady's circumstances after her escape from Nanjing. Late in the night on the tenth day of the Fourth Moon, she slipped out of the palace and heard that the Manchurian troops had already reached the edge of the city. There was no time for her to even pay a short visit to the Old Quarters, so she just followed the crowds and left through the Tongji Gate in great panic. Not being able to walk properly...
32. The Meeting of Old Friends
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After about half a month, in the middle of the Twelfth Moon and on a snowy day, old man Su, who was sojourning in the monastery, took off his Taoist habit and walked the distance of ten li to deliver a set of Buddhist sutras to a benefactor on behalf of Jade Lady. It was snowing when...
33. The Final Parting
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Lu Jingting opened the door to look outside. Hou and Su had truly arrived! Before even brushing off the snowflakes on his clothes, Hou hurried into Perfumed Lady's room. Perfumed Lady wore a black silk padded bodice and an olive green crepeline skirt. She retained her petite figure. Though her face seemed a little thinner, but her eyes were just as bright and attractive. With the faintly smiling dimples on her cheeks, she was as beautiful as...
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The novel was started in the second half of 1946. It was serialized in the Southeast Daily of Shanghai for a year and a half. In 1948, the title of the novel was changed to The New Peach Blossom Fan, which the New Century Press of Shanghai published. In 1957, a revised edition was published. By now over six hundred and seventy thousand copies have been printed.....
Page Count: 362
Publication Year: 1998