Jin Ping Mei (Chinese: 金瓶梅; pinyin: Jīn Píng Méi), translated as The Plum in the Golden Vase or The Golden Lotus, is a Chinese naturalistic novel composed in vernacular Chinese during the late Ming Dynasty. The anonymous author took the pseudonym Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng (蘭陵笑笑生), "The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling," and his identity is otherwise unknown (the only clue is that he hailed from Lanling in present-day Shandong).
The identity of the author has not yet been established, but the coherence of the style and the subtle symmetry of the narrative point to a single author. The British orientalist Arthur Waley, writing before recent research, in his Introduction to the 1942 translation suggested that the strongest candidate as author was Xu Wei, a renowned painter and member of the "realistic" Gong'an school of letters, urging that a comparison could be made of the poems in the Jin Ping Mei to the poetic production of Xu Wei, but left this task to future scholars. The "morphing" of the author from Xu Wei to Wang Shizhen would be explained by the practice of attributing "a popular work of literature to some well-known writer of the period".
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