Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Carnal Prayer Mat” as Want to Read:
The Carnal Prayer Mat
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Carnal Prayer Mat

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  250 ratings  ·  27 reviews
In the 300 years since its initial publication, Li Yu's book has been widely read in China, where it is recognized as a benchmark of erotic literature and currently enjoys the distinction of being a banned-in-Beijing classic.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 1st 1996 by University of Hawaii Press (first published 1634)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Carnal Prayer Mat, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Carnal Prayer Mat

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  250 ratings  ·  27 reviews

Sort order
Timeless lessons to be learnt from this seventeenth century chinese erotic novel operating within a Buddhist framework featuring a scholar whose desire for a more fabulous sex life leads him to have a dog's penis spliced into his own, numerous women of various social classes, aggrieved husbands, angry fathers and a travelling penis enlargement specialist include:-

*Those who abandon their spouse and bound like the Hare for the capital in search of sexual adventure invariably find that Tortoise li
Rowland Pasaribu
Jul 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the great classics of Chinese erotica, The Carnal Prayer Mat certainly gets pretty raunchy in places. It stands out not for this, however, but for its brilliant comedy and satire; it could be read as a sparklingly witty light novel even by those without an interest in erotica.

Li Yu begins with a chapter explaining that he's actually arguing puritan values, "making use of lechery in putting a stop to lechery"... He then introduces the Zen priest Lone Peak, who doesn't ask for alms, explica
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
Spring Break in China
Bevor er Mönch wird, will es ein junger Scholar nochmal so richtig krachen lassen: Bevor er sein Haupt auf die Gebetsmatte aus Bast senkt, soll noch die Gebetsmatte aus Fleisch ausgereizt werden. Und so begibt sich Vesperus auf diesen Weg; ein gefährlicher, wie man weiß, wenn man die konfuzianische Moral der alten Chinesen kennt...

Erotische Romane waren ein beliebter Zeitvertreib der Ming-Chinesen, und man ist heute oft bass erstaunt ob der Freizügigkeit, Offenheit und völl
Pear Pettes
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
this is one of the erotic novels that has lasted, after all these years, from the 17th century until it falls into my hand. what is so special about it? The steamy, unbelievably hot sex scenes? No. Actually, those sex scenes are quite funny. but I persevered. it refers to a penis as 'the jade elephant trunk' (as it has been translated in Thai). the erotic euphemisms can versus those of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure aka. Fanny Hill.

the story is told from the POV of the lustful protagonist, Wei
Nov 02, 2012 added it
Qui c'è un piccolo problema. So di aver letto questo libro ma di lui non ricordo assolutamente nulla..questo dovrebbe essere piuttosto indicativo su quanto mi sia piaciuto,vero?
sabisteb aka callisto
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Ein buddhistischer Mönch sagt einem junge Mann, der sich selber Vormitternachtsscholar nennt, voraus, dass er das Potential zu einem weisen Mann hat. Der Vormitternachtsscholar hat aber andere Pläne als nach geistiger Vervollkommnung zu suchen geschweige denn diese auch nur anzustreben, er sucht nach der schönsten der Schönen, um diese zu heiraten und sehr viel Spaß im Bett zu haben. Schon bald jedoch, geht ihm sein Schwiegervater gehörig auf die Nerven, auch seine Frau ist ihm nicht mehr genug, ...more
Жить нужно так, чтобы получать удовольствие. Вроде нет в этом высказывании противоречия. Вкусно ешь, борешься с красавицами и рассказываешь о свершениях другим. А ежели взглянуть с вершины прожитого опыта, то замечаешь несоответствие достигнутого результата конечным целям. Да, жизнь удалась — мечты сбылись, но о подводном течении мало кто вспомнит. Тишь на поверхности ничего не говорит о внутренних процессах. Буря сменяет бурю, трагедия расцветает на трагедии, будучи порождёнными желаниями одног ...more
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: east, sex-and-body
Sowing the seeds of a spiritual path?

A humoristic, erotic story from ancient China. A young man wants to become a student of a Buddhist teacher. But not quite yet, first he wants to have lots of sex.

The book is a moral lesson that shows how his plan only leads to a lot of misfortune, as the teacher predicted. Of course it's possible that the religious morality is only there to give an excuse to write a few hundred pages of sex scenes.

Witty and funny!
Eileen Phillips
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of chinese literature, or sex, or buddhism, i guess
Another Chinese favorite. The sexual (mis)adventures of one hypersexual young man before he gets sick of it all & chops off his willy to remove temptation and be a buddhist monk. I think it's still banned in Beijing for being so graphically obscene, at least it was still banned there up until recently.
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish it. It was a library book and I sent it back. Or wait, did I finish it? I don't think I did. It just wasn't that good and I didn't want to finish it.
Mar 07, 2009 rated it liked it
OK, I'm ordering this to add to all of your book club list. It's an erotic book from 17th Century China, with some crazy things that will blow your minds!
So raunchy and funny.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lovely, erotic, exciting and thought-provoking. A saga of altruist sex.
Feb 22, 2009 added it
jiangsu 1610 – 80
New York: Ballantine Books, 1990
Patrick Hanan, trans.
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not really crazy about the book and wouldn't recommend it, but was very impressed with the translator's choices and that made me keep reading.
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
hm, i thought it was pretty funny. pass the nyquil...
Reese Forbes
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
A morality tale and how to book in one ancient novel. While not highly erotic in today's terms the stylization of sex is very interesting.
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Best 17th century Chinese erotic novel I've ever read.
Daniel Burton-Rose
Adept rendering of celebrated 17th century Chinese pornographic novel.
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
a very strange book
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the weirdest books ever written! ridicilous and totaly original mixture of sadness, irony, perversion, insanity and moral truths, wich are transported in a obscure and really brutal way!
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Hoang Nguyen
Mình nghe tới tên cuốn sách này từ những năm 200x, khi còn đang học trung học. Lũ trẻ mới lớn, tò mò về những câu chuyện sinh lý cứ rỉ tai nhau, về Kim Bình Mai, Nhục Bồ Đoàn hay Cô giáo Thảo,... nên dần dần, những câu chuyện đó cứ ăn sâu vào não. Mình chưa từng đọc, nhưng tên truyện thì nhớ như in.

Thành thật mà nói, mình cảm giác Nhục Bồ Đoàn có phần overrated (được đánh giá quá cao so với nội dung của nó). Có thể do cảm quan mỗi thời một khác, hoặc một lý do nào đó mà mình chưa tìm ra.

Xét trê
Rian Nejar
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
In a second reading, two decades after my first, it has been hard to arrive at a clear feeling about this centuries-old classic work. Easy to read, inventive in its writing style and its involvement of the reader into the story, its male-centric story development perhaps reflects the culture prevalent in its period of prominence. Complex in its imaginative story, exhaustive in its coverage of period knowledge of sexual adventures and pleasures, the many threads of the narrative are speedily but ...more
Wayne Sun
erotic novel from early Qing dynasty
rated it really liked it
Apr 23, 2014
Aliya Mack
rated it it was amazing
Aug 07, 2013
Brandie Kelly
rated it really liked it
Jun 28, 2013
Ma Ri
rated it really liked it
Sep 23, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Plum in the Golden Vase Or, Chin P'Ing Mei: Volume Two: The Rivals
  • The Debt of Tears (The Story of the Stone #4)
  • Poems of the Masters: China's Classic Anthology of T'ang and Sung Dynasty Verse
  • The Peach Blossom Fan
  • The She-Devils
  • The Peony Pavilion: Mudan ting
  • Wild Grass
  • The King of Trees: Three Novellas: The King of Trees, The King of Chess, The King of Children
  • Teahouse
  • The Book of Songs: The Ancient Chinese Classic of Poetry
  • Fortress Besieged
  • The Chan's Great Continent: China in Western Minds
  • The Scholars
  • China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties
  • The Past and the Punishments
  • The Rice Sprout Song
  • The Life of an Amorous Man
Li Yu (Chinese: 李漁; pinyin: Lǐ Yú, given name: 仙侣 Xiānlǚ; style name: 笠翁 Lìwēng) (1610—1680 AD), also known as Li Liweng was a Chinese playwright, novelist and publisher. Born in Rugao, in present day Jiangsu province, he lived in the late-Ming and early-Qing dynasties. Although he passed the first stage of the imperial examination, he did not succeed in passing the higher levels before the politi ...more
“If officials wish to apprehend adulterers, all they need to do is lie in wait for them at the sex aids shop. For the man has not been born who buys sex tonics and studies the bedroom art for the sole purpose of pleasing his wife.” 0 likes
“Beauty while enjoying herself should allow her lover some rest to spare a thought for the morrow's sport - mightn't that be lust at its best?” 0 likes
More quotes…