Several issues that have occupied us during the translation process should be
noted. First, because of the length of the book in Chinese and some of its
discursive tangents, we have trimmed and edited passages, sections, and dis-
cussions that seemed to us either too wordy or too specialized for the type of
book we hope this to be in English. The outside readers for Duke University
Press also urged us to trim passages cited from various literary texts. We have
done as much pruning as we thought we could without depriving Cai Xiang’s
book of its flavor and textual richness. Those capable of reading Chinese will
probably want to consult Cai’s original alongside our translation. In the inter-
est of readability and accessibility, we have not indicated in the text where we
edited. Cai gave us total freedom to make these choices, and we took him at
his word. No thematic material has been eliminated; what we have trimmed
are repetitions and discussions of intricate plotpoints in and/or digressions
about literary works that were not directly related to the discussion at hand.
Some of this material has been summarized so as to provide appropriate segues,
some has been paraphrased, and some simply has been eliminated.
Second, we have provided some assistance in the form of annotations for
readers who may not be familiar with Chinese history, literature, or the mul-
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