The Peony Pavilion Backstory

Peony PavilionWhile reading Lisa See’s Peony in Love this weekend, I began to wonder about The Peony Pavilion.  The play means a lot to the main character, Peony, and figures largely (at least so far) into the plot. In fact, it’s so vital to the story that I began to wonder if it was a real play after all.

I must not be up on my Chinese theater because in fact it is a real play. And researching it gave Lisa See the idea for the whole book. In a Q&A on her website, Lisa writes:

“I first heard about the lovesick maidens when I was researching a piece for Vogue on the Lincoln Center production of the Chinese opera “The Peony Pavilion.”  In the past, women and girls in China weren’t allowed to see the opera, but they could read it. When girls read it, they caught cases of lovesickness, wasted away, and died, just like the main character in the opera. That stuck with me long after I’d finished the article. “

These are the things you learn after a long weekend of doing nothing but watching TV and reading, and when you have nothing else to blog about!

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