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Shen Fu (1) (1763–1810)

Author of Six Records of a Floating Life

For other authors named Shen Fu, see the disambiguation page.

3 Works 642 Members 14 Reviews 2 Favorited

About the Author

As Lin Yutang has characterized it, Six Chapters of a Floating Life is "one of the tenderest accounts of wedded love . . . ever come across in literature." And it is also one of the most delightful examples of the genre of hsiao p'in ("little pieces") that flourished in the last years of the Ming show more and throughout the Ch'ing dynasties---a partly autobiographical little essay that mixes in observations and comments on the art of living, random sketches of scenic places visited, and impressionistic criticism of poems and paintings. Of the author Shen Fu we know little except what he tells us in the course of the story of his marriage to his cousin Yun---that he was born in November of 1763 near the Ts'ang-lang Pavilion in Soochow into a scholar's family. And we know from other sources that Shen at one time was secretary to a close friend of the brother-in-law of Kao E, the author or editor of the final chapters of Story of the Stone, or Dream of the Red Chamber (the earlier chapters were written by Ts'ao Chan). Although there were originally six chapters in Shen's account, we now have only four. These were discovered in 1877 in a secondhand bookshop and published by Yang Yinch'uan, whose brother-in-law remembered having seen the book in his childhood in Soochow. Three of the four extant chapters deal with Shen's betrothal and wedding, the couple's early married life of enjoyment together, their sorrows after Shen's mother became critical of her daughter-in-law, and of Yun's untimely death. The fourth chapter is about various scenic spots that Shen had visited. Apparently the two lost chapters dealt with a trip Shen made to the island of Formosa (Taiwan) and some general reflections on life. Ultimately, Shen's biography apart from what is revealed in the Six Chapters is unimportant, because we get such an intimate feel for his character from his incidental sketches of daily life. Much less studied and self-conscious than a structured autobiography, the hsiao p'in genre gives us more a feeling of having glimpsed into an open window of a neighboring house on various occasions, or having overheard someone absent-mindedly talking to himself or to a close friend. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Shen Fu

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Common Knowledge

Birthdate
1763
Date of death
1810
Gender
male
Nationality
China

Members

Reviews

Bittersweet history of a marriage in the 18th century China.
 
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TheCrow2 | 7 other reviews | Nov 3, 2023 |
...Our souls became smoke and mist ... it was as if my body ceased to exist...

I would advise all the husbands and wives in the world not to hate each other, certainly,but also not to love too deeply.


The narrator of Shen Fu’s "The Old Man of the Moon" is a widower who wistfully recounts the joys and trials of his marriage to his cousin Yun. Written in 1809 and rediscovered in the 1870s, this tale of a man who “loved his wife too deeply” is not far removed from the novels of lost or thwarted love which were a staple of the European Romantic movement. The prose is generally formal, simple and matter-of-fact and, frankly, rather at odds with the passion seething underneath. Although I suspect that this might be something of a culture-specific issue, the style might also be meant to reflect the character of the narrator whose “purpose is merely to record true feelings and actual events”. Newly published in the “Penguin Little Black Classics” series, this is a novella worth exploring.… (more)
 
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JosephCamilleri | 7 other reviews | Feb 21, 2023 |
...Our souls became smoke and mist ... it was as if my body ceased to exist...

I would advise all the husbands and wives in the world not to hate each other, certainly,but also not to love too deeply.


The narrator of Shen Fu’s "The Old Man of the Moon" is a widower who wistfully recounts the joys and trials of his marriage to his cousin Yun. Written in 1809 and rediscovered in the 1870s, this tale of a man who “loved his wife too deeply” is not far removed from the novels of lost or thwarted love which were a staple of the European Romantic movement. The prose is generally formal, simple and matter-of-fact and, frankly, rather at odds with the passion seething underneath. Although I suspect that this might be something of a culture-specific issue, the style might also be meant to reflect the character of the narrator whose “purpose is merely to record true feelings and actual events”. Newly published in the “Penguin Little Black Classics” series, this is a novella worth exploring.… (more)
 
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JosephCamilleri | 7 other reviews | Jan 1, 2022 |
It's a bittersweet tale of love and loss. Written as a memoir of the time husband Shen spent with his wife Yün before she passed away and set in China around 1770 and 1805(ish). Their love was tragic and romantic. Not my usual read, and dry in parts, but I quite enjoyed reading it. Not something I intend to read again though.
 
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TCLinrow | 7 other reviews | Mar 17, 2021 |

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Statistics

Works
3
Members
642
Popularity
#39,293
Rating
3.8
Reviews
14
ISBNs
34
Languages
7
Favorited
2

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