Scenes for Mandarins: The Elite Theater of the Ming

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Columbia University Press, 1995 - Drama - 262 pages
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Ming drama represents the classical Chinese theater at its most mature and exquisite. Between 1368 and 1644, more than four hundred playwrights produced over l,500 plays, ranging from one-act skits to massive, operatic works with fifty scenes or more. As a performing art, Ming theater - with its polished singing, enchanting music, fantastic plotting, and intricate choreography - has never been surpassed.
In China, well-known Ming plays are common cultural reference points to this day, and favorite scenes still form staples of the classical repertoire. But although a handful of plays have been translated in their entirety, until now there has been no general critical introduction to the subject available to readers in English.
Scenes for Mandarins fills this need, surrounding translated highlights from six of the best-loved plays of the Ming period with lively, entertaining commentary on each play. The narrative of pioneer Ming scholar Cyril Birch provides the context necessary to help Western readers grasp the scope of a genre that spanned the great diversity of Chinese society - from the popular to the elite; from the poor, arid northern regions to the lush gentility of the south.
  

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User Review  - antiquary - LibraryThing

Interesting as it discusses drama by an evil courtier who is a villain in Peach Blossom Fan, wasting Ming resources on drama as the Manchus conquered China. Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
To the Reader as Fellow Mandarin i
14
THE WHITE RABBIT AND THE NEGLECTED WIFE
21
The White Rabbit Plays 2 i
47
SHI AS EXPERIENCE
107
THE PLIGHT OF THE AMOROUS GHOST
141
A QUIZ FORLOVE
183
BIGAMY UNABASHED
219
Notes
249
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About the author (1995)

Edward D. berkowitz is professor of history and public policy and public administration at George Washington University. He is the author of eight books and the editor of three collections. During the seventies he served as a staff member of the President's Commission for a National Agenda, helping President Carter plan for a second term that never came to be.

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