The Peach Blossom Fan is a poetic drama about national cataclysm. More than 300 years ago, the last native Chinese imperial house fell before rebel onslaughts, made a short-lived attempt at restoration in the south, then yielded finally to the invading Manchus. Writing in the 1690s, K'ung Shang-jen gathered the recollections of survivors. Out of these and a multitude of documentary accounts, he constructed a great historical play in the elegant Southern Chinese style. With compelling vividness he recreates confrontations between loyalists and those who would sell out to the newest master; nostalgic scenes of dalliance in riverside pavilions, with wine and poetry and beautiful girls; desperate stands on battlements of beleaguered cities; and more. Prefatory materials and notes provide both historical and dramaturgical background for the reader's full enjoyment of this masterpiece.