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September 6, 2019
9780295746111
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Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor

A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection

Written around 1660, the unique Chinese short story collection Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor (Doupeng xianhua), by the author known only as Aina the Layman, uses the seemingly innocuous setting of neighbors swapping yarns on hot summer days under a shady arbor to create a series of stories that embody deep disillusionment with traditional values. The tales, ostensibly told by different narrators, parody heroic legends and explore issues that contributed to the fall of the Ming dynasty a couple of decades before this collection was written, including self-centeredness and social violence. These stories speak to all troubled times, demanding that readers confront the pretense that may lurk behind moralistic stances.

Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor presents all twelve stories in English translation along with notes from the original commentator, as well as a helpful introduction and analysis of individual stories.

About the Authors

Robert E. Hegel is Liselotte Dieckmann Professor of Comparative Literature and professor of Chinese at Washington University. The translators are Lane J. Harris, Robert Hegel, Li Fang-yu, Li Qiancheng, Mei Chun, Lindsey Waldrop, Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, Alexander C. Wille, Xu Yunjing, and Zhang Jing.

Reviews

"Editor Robert Hegel has assembled an erudite team of luminaries in late imperial translation and scholarship. . . . It is, in short, a valuable and comprehensive research tool for the original Doupeng xianhua in particular and for late imperial fiction in general. Being so many different things, the volume is accessible and useful to a number of audiences: casual readers looking to escape the heat of a summer afternoon reading; undergraduates familiarizing themselves with the breadth and depth of Chinese letters; and specialists in the field."—Nathaniel Isaacson, China Review International

"With ample paratextual material, a creative and skilled array of translators, and expert framing by the collection's key editor and translator, Robert Hegel, Idle Talk in its English translation conveys both the complex contents and the multilayered pleasures of its early Qing original."—Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

"Robert Hegel's rich and complex edition of Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor will be important not only for scholars of Chinese and comparative literature, but also for learning and teaching about Chinese culture at all levels."—Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR) - Modern

Endorsements

"Employment of separate translators was a brilliant move since the stories are all told in different voices."—Stephen West, co-translator of The Orphan of Zhao and Other Yuan Plays

"This use of a frame story has elicited frequent comparisons to the Decameron. . . . [And since the collection] was written shortly after the fall of the Ming, the stories offer a complex range of attitudes toward the values of dynastic loyalty and martyrdom."—Maram Epstein, author of Competing Discourses: Orthodoxy, Authenticity, and Engendered Meanings in Late Imperial Chinese Fiction

"A landmark collection of short stories from the early Qing, Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor brings sophisticated innovations to the vernacular storytelling tradition. Refreshingly shorn of the formulaic didacticism of its late Ming predecessors, these stories' pervasive irony, dark humor, subversive views of history and cynical exposure of moral bankruptcy are conveyed in a lively vernacular expertly rendered by the dedicated team of translators under Robert Hegel's seasoned editorship. Highly recommended. "—Grace S. Fong, author of Herself an Author: Gender, Agency, and Writing in Late Imperial China

University of Washington Press

9780295746111 : idle-talk-under-the-bean-arbor-aina-the-layman-the-eccentric-wanderer-hegel
Paperback / softback
320 Pages
$30.00 USD
9780295999975 : idle-talk-under-the-bean-arbor-aina-the-layman-the-eccentric-wanderer-hegel
Hardback
320 Pages
$50.00 USD

Other Titles by Robert E. Hegel

Further Adventures on the Journey to the West

Master of Silent Whistle Studio, translated by Qiancheng Li, Robert E. Hegel, introduction by Qiancheng Li
Oct 2020 - University of Washington Press
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Slapping the Table in Amazement

Mengchu Ling, translated by Shuhui Yang, Yunqin Yang, introduction by Robert E. Hegel
Jan 2018 - University of Washington Press
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Writing and Law in Late Imperial China

edited by Robert E. Hegel, Katherine N. Carlitz
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The Zuo Tradition / Zuozhuan Reader

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Chinese Funerary Biographies

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