By Lu Tiancheng
A book that is guaranteed to raise eyebrows, The Embroidered Couch is the first English translation of an erotic novel originally published in the early 17th century, attributed to Lu Tiancheng (b. 1580), a well-known playwright of the Ming dynasty.
Regarded as a notorious classic in Chinese literature, it has long been banned in China, and never been available in English until now; shockingly explicit even by today’s standards, it details the travails of a romantic scholar named Easterngate, who encourages and is aroused by a relationship that unfolds between his pretty and demure wife Jin and his compadre (and occasional sex partner) Dali.
The story that follows is one of betrayal, lust, and revenge, played out against the extraordinary backdrop of 17th century China.
The book includes an introduction by translator Lenny Hu, which provides revealing historical and cultural context.