Li Yu (Li Yü) 1611-1680

He born into a literary family in Zhejiang in the last decades of the Ming dynasty (1368”V1644). Li obtained a modest post in the civil service in 1635 but the political instability of the times prevented him from having a stable career and he was often on the move. In 1657 he moved to Nanjing, where he lived for twenty years, establishing the famous Mustard Seed Bookstore, and writing prolifically for a general audience. Playwright, essayist, critic, fiction writer (and garden designer), he is noted particularly for his comic genius. Although always short of money, he was well-connected and lived in considerable luxury, keeping his own troupe of female actors. His writing is mostly concerned with the breaking of social taboos, especially those related to sex (he was apparently the author of Rou putuan ¦×»Z¹Ī [The prayer-mat of flesh]) and with promoting the ”„art of living”¦.

Works available in English:

  • A Tower for the Summer Heat (Patrick Hanan). New York: Columbia University
       Press, 1998.
  • Silent Operas (ed. by Patrick Hanan). Hong Kong: Renditions Paperbacks, 1990.
  • The Before Midnight Scholar (Richard Martin). London: Corgi, 1967.
  • The Carnal Prayer Mat (Patrick Hanan). New York: Ballantine Books, 1990.
  • The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (ed. by Mai-Mai Sze). Princeton,
       N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1956.
  • The Prayer Mat of Flesh (Richard Martin) New York: Grove Press, 1967.
  • Twelve Towers: short stories (Nathan Mao). Hong Kong: Chinese University of
       Hong Kong, 1975.