The Orphan of Zhao and Other Yuan Plays: The Earliest Known Versions

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This is the first anthology of Yuan-dynasty zaju (miscellaneous comedies) to introduce the genre to English-speaking readers exclusively through translations of the plays' fourteenth-century editions. Almost all previous translations of Yuan-dynasty zaju are based on late-Ming regularized editions that were heavily adapted for performance at the Ming imperial court and then extensively revised in the seventeenth century for the reading pleasure of Jiangnan literati. These early editions are based on leading actor scripts and contain arias, prose dialogue, and cue lines. They encompass a fascinating range of subject matter, from high political intrigue to commoner life and religious conversion. Crackling with raw emotion, violent imagery, and colorful language and wit, the zaju in this volume explore the consequences of loyalty and betrayal, ambition and enlightenment, and piety and drunkenness. The collection features seven of the twenty-six available untranslated zaju published in the fourteenth century, with a substantial introduction preceding each play and extensive annotations throughout. The editors also include translations of the Ming versions of four of the included plays and an essay that synthesizes recent Chinese and Japanese scholarship on the subject.