Jin Ping Mei

Jin Ping Mei —translated into English as The Plum in the Golden Vase or The Golden Lotus—is a Chinese novel of manners composed in vernacular Chinese during the late Ming dynasty. The author took the pseudonym Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng, "The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling," and his identity is otherwise unknown; the novel circulated in manuscript as early as 1596, may have undergone revision up to its first printed edition in 1610. The most read recension and published with commentaries by Zhang Zhupo in 1695, deleted or rewrote passages important in understanding the author's intentions; the explicit depiction of sexuality garnered the novel a notoriety akin to Fanny Hill and Lolita in English literature, but critics such as the translator David Tod Roy see a firm moral structure which exacts retribution for the sexual libertinism of the central characters. Jin Ping Mei takes its name from the three central female characters—Pan Jinlian. Chinese critics see each of the three Chinese characters in the title as symbolizing an aspect of human nature, such as mei, plum blossoms, being metaphoric for sexuality.

Princeton University Press, in describing the Roy translation, calls the novel "a landmark in the development of the narrative art form – not only from a Chinese perspective but in a world-historical context...noted for its modern technique" and "with the possible exception of The Tale of Genji and Don Quixote, there is no earlier work of prose fiction of equal sophistication in world literature." Jin Ping Mei is considered one of the six classics of Chinese literature. Jin Ping Mei is framed as a spin-off from Water Margin; the beginning chapter is based on an episode in which "Tiger Slayer" Wu Song avenges the murder of his older brother by brutally killing his brother's former wife and murderer, Pan Jinlian. The story, ostensibly set during the years 1111–27, centers on Ximen Qing, a corrupt social climber and lustful merchant, wealthy enough to marry six wives and concubines. After Pan Jinlian secretly murders her husband, Ximen Qing takes her as one of his wives; the story follows the domestic sexual struggles of the women within his household as they clamor for prestige and influence amidst the gradual decline of the Ximen clan.

In Water Margin, Ximen Qing was brutally killed in broad daylight by Wu Song. The intervening sections, differ in every way from Water Margin. In the course of the novel, Ximen has 19 sexual partners, including his six wives and mistresses, a male servant. There are 72 detailed sexual episodes. For centuries identified as pornographic and banned most of the time, the book has been read surreptitiously by many of the educated class; the early Qing dynasty critic Zhang Zhupo remarked that those who regard Jin Ping Mei as pornographic "read only the pornographic passages." The influential author Lu Xun, writing in the 1920s, called it "the most famous of the novels of manners" of the Ming dynasty, reported the opinion of the Ming dynasty critic, Yuan Hongdao, that it was "a classic second only to Shui Hu Zhuan." He added that the novel is "in effect a condemnation of the whole ruling class." The American scholar and literary critic Andrew H. Plaks ranks Jin Ping Mei as one of the "Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel" along with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, Journey to the West, which collectively constitute a technical breakthrough and reflect new cultural values and intellectual concerns.

It has been described as a “milestone” in Chinese fiction for its character development its complex treatment of female figures. Phillip S. Y. Sun argued that although in craftsmanship it is a lesser work than Dream of the Red Chamber, it surpasses the latter in “depth and vigour”; the story contains a surprising number of descriptions of sexual objects and coital techniques that would be considered fetish today, as well as a large amount of bawdy jokes and oblique but still titillating sexual euphemisms. Some critics have argued that the sexual descriptions are essential, have exerted what has been termed a "liberating" influence on other Chinese novels that deal with sexuality, most notably the Dream of the Red Chamber. David Roy, the novel's most recent translator, sees an "uncompromising moral vision," which he associates with the philosophy of Xunzi, who held that human nature is evil and can be redeemed only through moral transformation; the identity of the author has not yet been established, but the coherence of the style and the subtle symmetry of the narrative point to a single author.

The British orientalist Arthur Waley, writing before recent research, in his Introduction to the 1942 translation suggested that the strongest candidate as author was Xu Wei, a renowned painter and member of the "realistic" Gong'an school of letters, urging that a comparison could be made of the poems in the Jin Ping Mei to the poetic production of Xu Wei, but left this task to future scholars. The "morphing" of the author from Xu Wei to Wang Shizhen would be explained by the practice of attributing "a popular work of literature to some well-known writer of the period". Other proposed candidates include Tang Xianzu. In 2011, Zhejiang University scholar Xu Yongming argued that

Cultural depictions of Edward I of England

Edward I of England has been portrayed in popular culture a number of times. Edward's life was dramatised in the Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First, a Renaissance theatrical play by George Peele. Edward I was featured in historical fictions written in the Victorian and Edwardian Eras. Novels featuring Edward from this period include Truths and Fictions of the Middle Ages by Francis Palgrave, G. P. R. James's novel Forest Days. A story of the battle of Lewes by the Reverend Frederick Harrison The Prince and the Page: A Story of the Last Crusade by Charlotte Mary Yonge, is about Edward's involvement in the Ninth Crusade, depicts Edward as chivalrous and brave; the play The King's Jewery by Halcott Glover deals with Edward's relationship with England's Jewish community. The Baron's Hostage by Geoffrey Trease depicts Edward as a young man, features Edward taking part in the Battle of Evesham. Edward is unflatteringly depicted in several novels with a contemporary setting, including the Brothers of Gwynedd quartet by Edith Pargeter, where Edward is depicted as the antagonist of the novel's Welsh heroes.

Edward I appears in The Reckoning and Falls the Shadow by Sharon Penman, The Wallace and The Bruce Trilogy by Nigel Tranter, the Brethren trilogy by Robyn Young, a fictional account of Edward and his involvement with a secret organisation within the Knights Templar. In the Hugh Corbett historical mystery novels by Paul C. Doherty, the titular hero is employed by Edward I to solve crimes; the subjection of Wales and its people by Edward I and their resistance to it was commemorated in a poem, "The Bards of Wales", by the Hungarian poet János Arany in 1857 as a way of encoded resistance to the suppressive politics of Austria over Hungary after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Edward is portrayed by Patrick McGoohan as a cruel, hard-hearted tyrant in the 1995 film Braveheart, in which he is falsely proclaimed a'pagan', he was played, as an idealist seeking to unite Norman and Saxon in his kingdom, by Brian Blessed, in the 1996 film The Bruce. He has been portrayed by Michael Rennie in the 1950 film The Black Rose, based on the novel by Thomas B.

Costain, by Donald Sumpter in the 2008 BBC TV comedy-drama Heist. Most he was played by Stephen Dillane in the 2018 Netflix film ‘Outlaw King’. Edward is featured as the main antagonist in the cutscenes of the tutorial campaign of the 1999 video game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings