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Chinese Literature
Mudanting 牧丹停 "The Peony Pavilion"


"The Peony Pavilion" by Tang Xianzu 湯顯祖 (d. 1616), also called "The Return of the Soul" Huanhun ji 還魂記, is now probably the Chinese theatre play most famous in the west. The young girl Du Liniang 柳夢梅 is learning her first love poems, when she dreams of a young scholar whom she meets in a Peony Pavillion. Deeply moved by this dream, she makes a stroll in the garden and suddenly falls ill. She paints her portraits, write a poem and tells her maid to hide these below a stone. Shortly after, Du Liniang dies and is buried in the garden near. Years later, a scholar named Liu Mengmei 柳夢梅 comes into the town to participate in the state examinations. When he falls ill and looks for curement in a small shrine, he finds the painting of a beautiful girl - the picture of Du Liniang. In the night, he dreams of her. Liniang asks him to revive her. Opening her coffin, Liu Mengmei is able to revive Du Liniang. Afraid of being seen by anyone else, the two lovers decide to go to the capital Lin'an (Hangzhou). After passing the examination, Liu Mengmei takes the painting with him and visits Liniang's father. The father accuses Mengmei to be a grave robber. Even when Liniang herself appears, her father does not believe that she is revived. The emperor himself finally frees Mengmei and allows the lovers to marry.
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July 18, 2010 © · Ulrich Theobald · Mail