William Dolby

Classical Chinese Translations and Research

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17. Yüan Dynasty Variety Play dramas: 100 stories


Book Details

"Yüan Dynasty Variety Play dramas: 100 stories" by William Dolby was first translated in the early 1960's. This edition, self-published in 2003, presents the stories in a more polished format, and now includes an introduction and index in order to assist the reader to locate individual roles in the drama much more easily. This work represents the 17th of 33 of the Chinese Culture Series.

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Here are the stories constituting the plots of over 100 Variety Plays stemming from the Yüan dynasty (1280-1368), China's first Golden Age of mature theatre. Included among them are dramas which fascinated Europeans as early as the first decades of the 18th century, including Voltair, and which continued to have a deep influence on Western drama into the present century: Brecht was inspired by one, and in May of 2007 was performed in London.

Titles corresponding to these plays are listed in the Ghost register (Lu-kui pu) a work written in 1330 and constituting the earliest systematic account of Yüan playwrights and their works, and, for this present collection of synopsis, the list in the Ghost register has been chosen as the main limit.

Most of these dramas are still not available in any, or any vaguely representative translations, this book providing the first ready access to the outlines and much of the detail of a body of dramas occupying a vital and vivid part in the history of world theater and literature.