In the chapter "Ideals of Life" of My Country and My People, Lin Yutang briefly discusses the novel Yehsao Paoyen,

an out-and-out Confucianist novel, which takes special delight in exposing the libertinism of the monks, and whose hero, a Confucian superman, goes about persuading his bachelor bandits and bandit girls to marry and bear children for the glory of their ancestors. Unlike Chinp'inmei, which is devoted to libertinism, the men and women in Yehsao Paoyen are decent people, who make ideal husbands and wives. The only reason why this novel is considered obscene is that the author makes its men and women go through extremely compromising situations.

Chinp'inmei is obviously Jin Ping Mei / The Plum in the Golden Vase, one of the great classic Chinese novels, but I have not been able to figure out what Yehsao Paoyen is in pinyin or in Chinese characters, when it was written and by whom (if it was not published anonymously). In fact, even Chinese readers don't seem to know, as one can see from this question on Baidu: Yehsao Paoyen 是什么意思? 这是好像是根据托马斯 韦德的拼音来的 但是还是看不懂,求解释? ("What does Yehsao Paoyen mean? This looks like it's based on Thomas Wade pinyin but I still don't understand ...). The question has no answer there.

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    Not knowing how to read or reproduce the characters, I’ll not try to make this an answer as I can’t tell you what the title means, but I think this google books result is referencing the work you are asking about. books.google.co.uk/…
    – Spagirl
    Mar 1, 2020 at 9:08

1 Answer 1


Li Ju-chen is comparable to Hsia Ching-ch’ü (夏敬渠, 1705–1787). Hsia’s mammoth novel, Yeh-sou p’u-yen (野叟曝言, An Old Rustic’s Idle Talk), is a grand fantasy of wish fulfillment in which the male protagonist, Wen Su-ch’en, parades his accomplishments and adventures as scholar, knight-errant, moralist, lover, minister, and military commander in interminable discourses on miscellaneous subjects. However, while Li Ju-chen continues the tradition of [Cao Xueqin’s The Story of the] Stone in valorizing the feminine, Hsia mythologizes the yang (masculine) qualities embodied by Wen Su-ch’en. Roughly contemporaneous with Stone, An Old Rustic’s Idle Talk in some ways represents its opposite—the naive self-aggrandizement and apotheosis of certain wonted moral precepts (sometimes fulfilled through perverse, puerile means) cannot be more different from the ironic self-reflexivity and profound questioning of the values upheld by Chinese civilization in Stone.

Wai-yee Li (2001). ‘Full Length Vernacular Fiction’. In Victor H. Mair (ed.), The Columbia History of Chinese Literature, Columbia University Press, p. 656.

  • So in Hanyu Pinyin, the author's name is Xià Jìngqú and the novel's title is Yěsǒu Pùyán. And even the Chinese Wikipedia has scanty information about him ("accomplished poet", list of other works etc.).
    – Tsundoku
    Mar 5, 2020 at 10:48

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