The Story of the Western Wing

literary work

愿天下有情的都成了眷属!

May all lovers under heaven
be united in marriage!

The Story of the Western Wing (Chinese: 西廂記), also translated as Romance of the Western Chamber, is one of the most famous Chinese dramatic works. It was written by the Yuan dynasty playwright Wang Shifu (王實甫), and set during the Tang dynasty. Known as "China's most popular love comedy," it is the story of a young couple consummating their love without parental approval, and has been seen both as a "lover's bible" and "potentially lethal," as readers were in danger of pining away under its influence.

QuotesEdit

  • 花落水流红,闲愁万种。
  • 月色溶溶夜,花阴寂寂春。
    如何临皓魂,不见月中人。
    • The moonlight dissolves the night,
      Spring's lonely in flowers' shade.
      I bask in the moonbeams bright
      Wondering, where is the lunar maid?
      • The Romance of the Western Bower, adapted by Zhang Xuejing (New World Press, 2000), p. 46; Zhang Junrui's poem to Cui Yingying in Act 1, Scene 3; quoted in Yao Dan et al.'s Chinese Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2012), p. 129
    • Variant translations:
      • A night bathed in moonlight,
        A spring desolated by flowers' shadows;
        Why, under the hoary sickle,
        Do I not see the lady in the moon?
        • The Story of the Western Wing, trans. Stephen H. West and Wilt L. Iderna (University of California Press, 1995), p. 140
      • All dissolve in moonlight,
        Spring's lonely in flowers' shade.
        I see the moon so bright.
        Where's her beautiful maid?
        • Romance of the Western Bower, trans. Yuanchong Xu (Hunan People's Publishing House and Foreign Languages Press, 2000), p. 61
  • 兰闺深寂寞,无计度芳春。
    料得高吟者,应怜长叹人。
    • Long has my orchid chamber been lonely,
      No way to pass the fragrant spring;
      I reckon that he who walks and chants
      Will take pity on the one who heaves a sigh.
      • The Story of the Western Wing, trans. Stephen H. West and Wilt L. Iderna (University of California Press, 1995), p. 140; Cui Yingying's response to Zhang Junrui's poem in Act 1, Scene 3.
    • Variant translation:
      • In a lonely room at night,
        In vain spring and youth fade.
        You who croon with delight,
        Pity the sighing maid!
        • Romance of the Western Bower, trans. Yuanchong Xu (Hunan People's Publishing House and Foreign Languages Press, 2000), p. 61
  • 我是个多愁多病身,怎当你倾国倾城貌。
    • How can I, full of sickness and of woe,
      Withstand that face which kingdoms could o'erthrow?
      • Zhang Junrui praising Cui Yingying's beauty in Act 1, Scene 4; quoted by Jia Baoyu in Cao Xueqin's Dream of the Red Chamber (c. 1760), Chapter 23, trans. David Hawkes (Penguin, 1973), p. 464
    • Variant translation:
      • Lovesick for her, can I refrain from heaving sighs
        For such a beauty with such a captivating face?
        • Romance of the Western Bower, trans. Yuanchong Xu (Hunan People's Publishing House and Foreign Languages Press, 2000), p. 75
  • 好句有情怜皓月,落花无语怨东风。
    • The moon which shines so bright
      Pities my lonely night;
      Blooms fallen from the trees
      Resent the eastern breeze.
      • Romance of the Western Bower, trans. Yuanchong Xu (Hunan People's Publishing House and Foreign Languages Press, 2000), p. 85; Act 2, Scene 1.
  • 落红成阵。
    • The red flowers in their hosts are falling.
      • Act 2, Scene 1; quoted in Cao Xueqin's Dream of the Red Chamber (c. 1760), Chapter 23, trans. David Hawkes (Penguin, 1973), p. 463
  • 愿天下有情的都成了眷属。
    • May lovers 'neath the skies
      Be united for ever and ever!
      • Romance of the Western Bower, trans. Yuanchong Xu (Hunan People's Publishing House and Foreign Languages Press, 2000), p. 437; Act 5, Scene 4.

Quotes about The Story of the Western WingEdit

 
Pao-yu sat reading Record of the Western Chamber in a peach grove by the brook that wound its way through the Takuanyuan. As he reached the passage containing the line "petals falling into patterns of red," a gust of wind seemed to respond to the words and scattered the peach blossoms all around him, covering his lap and the book. ~ Dream of the Red Chamber
  • Pao-yu began to feel restless and discontented. He did not know exactly what he wanted, but something was clamoring within him, undefined and yet insistent. Ming-yen sought to relieve his boredom, securing for his master some novels [...] and plays such as Record of the Western Chamber. To Pao-yu these were great discoveries. Ming-yen asked him not to take the books into the Takuanyuan, where they might be discovered and traced to him. But what use were the books if Pao-yu, who lived in the Takuanyuan, could not take them with him? So he selected a safe corner in his room and, when no one was around, he would take them out and pore over them.
    One day about the middle of the Third Moon, Pao-yu sat reading Record of the Western Chamber in a peach grove by the brook that wound its way through the Takuanyuan. As he reached the passage containing the line "petals falling into patterns of red," a gust of wind seemed to respond to the words and scattered the peach blossoms all around him, covering his lap and the book. He hesitated to shake them on the ground lest he trample on them. Instead, he carefully gathered them in the broad folds of his garment and shook them into the brook.
 
She felt the power of the words and their lingering fragrance. Long after she had finished reading, when she had laid down the book and was sitting there rapt and silent, the lines continued to ring on in her head.
~ Dream of the Red Chamber
  • '...if I do let you look, you must promise not to tell anyone. It's marvellous stuff. Once you start reading it, you'll even stop wanting to eat!'
    He handed the book to her, and Dai-yu put down her things and looked. The more she read, the more she liked it, and before very long she had read several acts. She felt the power of the words and their lingering fragrance. Long after she had finished reading, when she had laid down the book and was sitting there rapt and silent, the lines continued to ring on in her head.
    'Well,' said Bao-yu, 'is it good?'
    Dai-yu smiled and nodded.
  • [Yun] had not yet gone to bed. She was bending her beautiful white neck before the bright candles, quite absorbed reading a book. I patted her on the shoulder and said, "Sister, why are you still working so hard? You must be quite tired with the full days we've had."
    Quickly Yun turned her head and stood up saying, "I was going to bed when I opened the book-case and saw this book and have not been able to leave it since. Now my sleepiness is all gone. I have heard of the name of Western Chamber for a long time, but today I see it for the first time. It is really the work of a genius, only I feel that its style is a little bit too biting."
    "Only geniuses can write a biting style," I smiled and said.
  • A masterpiece of the first order in Chinese literature.
    • Lin Yutang, My Country and My People (1935), p. 264
  • The most important lyrical drama in the history of Chinese literature.
    • Xu Yuanchong, Romance of the Western Bower (Hunan People's Publishing House and Foreign Languages Press, 2000), Introduction

External linksEdit