The Misadventures of Master Mugwort: A Joke Book Trilogy from Imperial China (Hardcover)
The Hsu-Tang Library presents authoritative and eminently readable translations of classical Chinese literature, in bilingual editions, ranging across three millennia and the entire Sinitic world. The Misadventures of Master Mugwort: A Joke Book Trilogy from Imperial China is a translation of three collections of humorous episodes revolving around the beloved fictional character of Master Mugwort (Aizi). Set in the ancient Warring States period, Master Mugwort counsels kings in the art of statecraft, takes on other masters in mock philosophical debates, and wisecracks his way through this age of opportunity and intrigue, disciples in tow. The explosive popularity of the original collection from the late 1000s, attributed to literatus-extraordinaire Su Shi, inspired sequels centuries later: in 1516 by precocious teenager Lu Cai; and in 1608 by whimsical retiree Tu Benjun. Together, these three books represent a time-honored tradition of Chinese humor as well as a light-hearted interpretation of a bygone age that remained of enduring importance to the writers' own day and age. Translated in full for the first time by Elizabeth Smithrosser, with an introduction and explanatory notes, this volume introduces a once bestselling, if today much overlooked, tradition of Chinese literature to new audiences.
About the Author
Elizabeth Smithrosser is an historian of late imperial China, currently based at the Leiden Institute for Area Studies, Leiden University. Su Shi (1037-1101), to whom Miscellaneous Stories of Master Mugwort has traditionally been attributed, was a scholar-official during the Northern Song period and is one of the most prominent figures in the history of Chinese literature. Lu Cai (1497-1537) was a traveling playwright and diarist active across the vibrant cities of the Yangtze River Delta during the mid-Ming period. Tu Benjun (1542-1622) was an encyclopedia compiler and humorist from the modern-day Ningbo region during the late Ming period.