Books: China's Forbidden Classic

CHIN P'ING MEI—Putnam—(2 Vols.$5).

Chinese legend declares that Chin P'ing Mei (Metal Vase Plum-blossom) was written by a famed 16th-Century Confucian scholar as a satire on the private life of a corrupt official. The official received a presentation copy, fell dead as he finished the last of its 1,600 subtly poisoned pages. No believer in such legend, Arthur Waley, expert on Chinese literature, says the novel's authorship is doubtful, like that of China's other famed novels. He traces first mention of it to a book published around 1600, wherein Chin P'ing Mei is highly commended as an aid to companionable drinking. Banned...

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