GOLDEN LOTUS, or Chin P’ing Mei, the first great realistic Chinese novel, first published in 1610. The author of the work is unknown. The book traces the fortunes of Hsi-men Ch’ing, who comes to an untimely death as a result of his debauches.
Although set in the early 12th century, the Golden Lotus actually portrays late 16th century China in its descriptions of people from ali levels of society and their physical and psychological milieus. The work is Buddhist in outlook, teaching the need for eompassion and showing the vanity of men’s efforts, but it has been considered pornographic because of its highly erotic passages.