n.p. [Republican era]. Eight lithographed volumes or ce, bound with thread in traditional format, paper toned and fragile. Title page gives alternate title of "You bi sheng hua." Plain covers are made of darker toned paper, which has chipped and in some cases fallen apart. Thread is coming loose on some volumes. The third ce has some wormholing at the edges; the sixth ce is missing the last page. Text is otherwise complete, despite the tattered outer covers of several of the volumes. The first ce has several illustrations of characters from the novel, captioned with their names. As of February 2019, OCLC lists one holding of this anonymously published edition, in Guangzhou, China.
This novel, originally appearing in the 1840s, is a celebration of young male partners, featuring relationships between actors and their older patrons. It is one of the most important windows on the social characteristics of homosexuality in the Qing dynasty. It was published under several titles, the most common being Pin hua bao jian (Precious Mirror of Ranking Flowers, also translated as A Mirror of Theatrical Life). It is believed to have been inspired by the real eighteenth century romance between a scholar-official, Bi Yuan (1730–1797) and an actor from Suzhou, Li Guiguan, who pledged an oath of loyalty to one another and were recognized by acquaintances as a married couple. See Bret Hinsch, “Passions of the Cut Sleeve,” p. 154- 155.