In the long history of China, the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) is special in that it was an empire ruled by the Mongolian conquerorsdescendants of Genghis Khan. It was a period when Chinese classical learning was swept aside and ignored, together with the pride and status of the Confucian scholars. It was most likely in this ideological vacuum--and the freedom from traditional literary tropesthat gave rise to a new type of vernacular art: the form of drama known as zaju. During the Yuan Dynasty, theaters spread across the country in both rural and urban areas, and became the major source of entertainment--as well as education--for millions of ordinary people. Their wishes and worries were most vividly reflected on the stage. This unique volume contains eight plays, many of which have been translated from Chinese into English and published for the first time. Each play contains an introduction and full annotation, enabling reader to appreciate these ancient masterpieces, which are the forerunners of present-day Peking opera.
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