David Tod Roy on his recently completed translation of The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P’ing Mei 金瓶梅:
I came to believe that in order to study the Chin P’ing Mei accurately, I would need to have some means of control over the text, so I spent about two years making a card index of every line of poetry, parallel prose, and proverbial sayings in the entire novel. I ended up with tens of thousands of file cards. People said, “Why didn’t you hire a graduate student to do that?” But I knew that wouldn’t have worked. With this information at my fingertips, I could read through earlier Chinese drama and poetry, and whenever I saw something that seemed familiar, I could check the index cards within seconds to see whether or not that phrase occurred in the Chin P’ing Mei. That’s how I wrote the notes of my translation. Without having compiled this index, I never could have done it.I tried to read every extant work of Chinese fiction and drama in circulation before the Chin P’ing Mei was published. That’s a huge project, but I kept discovering more and more sources.
Click the image above for his complete comments.