From translator Lenny Hu, who brought the acclaimed erotic Chinese novel The Embroidered Couch back into print, is this collection of five erotic stories, also from Ming dynasty China.
Ling Mengchu (1580-1644) was a prolific writer, producing more than thirty works in various genres during his lifetime. A Confucian scholar, described as having been an "ethical hedonist," he was a product of his times. The late Ming period was characterized by increasing industrialization and urbanization, which led to a more material society, and to a desire in the population to pursue luxury and pleasure.
Although few of Ling's works have survived, the two volumes of erotic stories known collectively as Two Slaps have been preserved. Each volume contained forty stories; five of the eighty are included here.
The stories are all preoccupied with sexuality and include a host of characters, including bold, aggressive, cunning, and seductive men, and highly passionate, sensual, and sexually insatiable women.
Ling explores the sensual pleasure unbounded by matrimony. Covertness, deceitfulness, and voyeurism feature prominently, as do carnal orgies, partner swapping, and menage à trois, between all possible gender configurations.
While erotic fiction in the West didn't reach its culmination until the twentieth century, Chinese erotica since the Ming period has undergone a process of rise, decline, and extinction. But the publication of In the Inner Quarters, for the first time ever in English, gives new life to the sensual pleasures of that era.
Winner, Independent Publisher Award, Best Erotica