I liked this book when I first read it many years back, and was even more impressed a rare occurrence when I re-read it recently. Of course, at first glance, I devoured immediately the directly erotic stories, but gradually the plot and storyline and the unusual narrative style also got to me. I am quite bowled over at the innovative narrative style of the novel - indeed, I would rate this novel as the best erotica of yore, certainly far superior to Fanny Hill and others written a few centuries afterwards. I am actually looking to read other books by Li Yu - well, some day The story is set in the culturally complex background of Yuan dynasty 14th c. China, although it was published in
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Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Patrick Hanan Translator. In the years since its initial publication, Li Yu's book has been widely read in China, where it is recognized as a benchmark of erotic literature and currently enjoys the distinction of being a banned-in-Beijing classic. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published March 1st by University of Hawaii Press first published More Details Original Title.
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Forgiveness and compassion is much less inconvenient all round. And it really ruins the Dog's day. That's not ethical conduct. View all 7 comments. The content and language is adult. Explicit references tend to be in a more poetic style than is typical in European erotica. For example, the male and female body parts tend to be engaged under the terms the yin rising up to the yang.
As such the most intense orgiastic scenes tend to have a less harsh effect on the reader. Over all I found The Carnal Prayer Mat to be a fascinating study in a particular style of Chinese non-classical writing but an equally fascinating contrast with almost anything of its like from the western world.
Not being anything of a scholar of anything Chinese I can only say of the translation, that it was clear and easy to read.
Hanan may have toned things down or given preference to scholarly language over whatever crudities Li Yu employed, but you will never doubt about what you are reading. It is elsewhere noted that the original was written in a very remote and hard to modernize language.
One can imagine many graduate papers written contrasting the two. The contrasts are more than interesting. China had a very evolved bureaucratic system of government. Initial placement and advancement were heavily decided by how well an applicant did on various examinations. The exams were almost entirely based on Confusion thinking. Possession of a high government job meant stable and large income. Something very few professions could promise.
Our hero, if such he may be called is just such a student. He has not yet passed the exam that would produce one of these jobs, but he has progressed to the point that he can gain entry into at least middle-class society on no more bases that his status as an advanced student. To say that he gains entry is a double entendre. Mostly but not exclusively with females.
Evidently people, male or female could take their pleasure where they could find a shared interest. No particular stigma about the particular genitals in contact.
Also atypical is that sexual jealousy seemed to be a mater of some subtilty. Jealous lovers and spouses existed. Husbands are extremely active to avoid, or punish cuckoldry. But there is an underworld of cooperation. A suiter, male or female could be made to audition, or practice or be tricked into the bed of another before the intended lovers are abed. The caution to the reader is that this was a period wherein a man could have both wives, plural and concubines.
But taking Li Yu at face value is to miss the fact that he was also being subversive. His Carnal Prayer Mat is not a historical document but can be read as social satire, a deliberate comedy or an effort to appeal to fantasy over the mundane reality. If you are here for more than the entertainment, read carefully and be prepared to be mis-directed. Not typical in European erotica, of the s or since is a lot of discussion of the importance of and details about attending to the sexual satisfaction of the female.
Men are judged by their stroke count. That count tending to be from a few to many thousands. The ladies will speak directly with each other about who is better and make their preferences clear to a lover. Overall there is a remarkable lack of restraint on a variety of matters sexual. Penis size counts, as does the ladies relative willingness to be active. Virginity is discounted as a thing to be preferred over experience.
Side note: There is a rather modern anticipation of turning to surgical techniques to enhance male size. There is a case made for the curvier female as one who has better strength to bare the weight of her lover and as have being in general more desirable than a thin weak woman. Again, one has to be careful as the author may be making fun rather than speaking to common prejudice.
Li Yu also had to deal with censors. It is likely that this translation is an instance of working form the best copy available rather than the original. As a sop to these censors, every chapter ends with something between a commercial and an appeal for the presumptive morality of an immoral book. It is not clear if these additions are original to Li YU. They can be amusing, or intrusive. There are several ways to read the Carnal Prayer Mat.
Comedy, social satire, subversive or erotica from a very different culture. All variations have their legitimacy and all their entertainment or educational value. For me it was a fun enlightenment. One of the great classics of Chinese erotica, The Carnal Prayer Mat certainly gets pretty raunchy in places.
It stands out not for this, however, but for its brilliant comedy and satire; it could be read as a sparklingly witty light novel even by those without an interest in erotica. Li Yu begins with a chapter explaining that he's actually arguing puritan values, "making use of lechery in putting a stop to lechery" He then introduces the Zen priest Lone Peak, who doesn't ask for alms, explica One of the great classics of Chinese erotica, The Carnal Prayer Mat certainly gets pretty raunchy in places.
He then introduces the Zen priest Lone Peak, who doesn't ask for alms, explicate the scriptures, or live on a mountain — and who fails to deter our hero, the Scholar Vesperus, from a life of lechery.
The Carnal Prayer Mat goes on to describe Vesperus' exploits. He marries, debauches his innocent wife, and then sets off seeking amorous adventure, leaving her in the care of his stern father-in-law. He befriends the Knave, an honorable thief, who agrees to help him find and seduce the most beautiful women. But first he has to remedy a serious deficiency, finding an adept to help him with a penis enlargement That problem solved, Vesperus devotes himself to six far from unwilling women.
But it is his relationships with them, their relationships with one another and the social setting which provide most of the entertainment, not the raw sex. There has to be retribution to preserve the moral balance, but in Li Yu's perverse vision this turns out to involve further debauchery. Vesperus eventually returns to Lone Pine, where Li Yu wraps up his novel with an appropriate conclusion — well, one that is appropriate given that, as he says: "This truly is a book that mocks everything!
Patrick Hanan offers a ten page introduction and unobtrusive footnotes which explain the literary references — mostly used for parody — and a few untranslatable puns, but The Carnal Prayer Mat really doesn't need explanation. Eigentlich bin ich ein Fan Li Yus.
The carnal prayer mat
LI YU. All rights reserved under international and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: ISBN: Courtesy of Sydney L.
The Carnal Prayer Mat
Numerous and frequently-updated resource results are available from this WorldCat. A 17th-century erotic Chinese classic in which a Zen student embarks on a career of licentiousness before taking his monastic vows. His adventures take both comic and calamitous turns as he gains "enlightenment on the carnal prayer mat". Read more
The carnal prayer mat = Rou putuan
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