Six Records of a Floating Life (1809) is an extraordinary blend of autobiography, love story and social document written by a man who was educated as a scholar but earned his living as a civil servant and art dealer. In this intimate memoir, Shen Fu recounts the domestic and romantic joys of his marriage to Yun, the beautiful and artistic girl he fell in love with as a child. He also describes other incidents of his life, including how his beloved wife obtained a courtesan for him and reflects on his travels through China. Shen Fu's exquisite memoir shows six parallel layers' of one man's life, loves and career, with revealing glimpses into Chinese society of the Ch'ing Dynasty.
A passionate and romantic story
By A Customer - August 6, 2002
"Six Records" (also known as "Six Chapters of a Floating Life"), c. 1805, is an extraordinarily frank autobiography that is totally unprecedented and unparalleled in the history of Chinese literature. It describes the life of the author Shen Fu and his beloved wife, Ch'en Yun (1763-1803), in extremely revealing detail. The intimacy and joy shared by the couple are as unusual by normal standards of Chinese married life as is the author's daringness in revealing them to others. Their close, playful relationship stands in defiant opposition to the staid decorum of married life expected by Confucian ideology.A thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring read. Ch'en Yun is a woman ahead of her time who admirably balances her love of learning and passion for life with her duties and obligations as a traditional Chinese wife.
The wonder of nothing special
By wiredweird "wiredweird" - November 7, 2005
There are so many contradictions within this quirky memoir that it could only possibly be true.
This is a memoir of life right around the start of the 19th century. It recounts the adult life of Shen Fu, a man who appears to have been ordinary in the extreme. Although educated, he did not pass the literary tests of the civil service. At best, his career could have been a secretary under one of the successful examinees, but his times weren't always the best. His positions never lasted, and his business attempts failed. Often, he sold his possessions and his wife's down to the clothes on their backs (or less). He fell out with his family, in a time when filial duty was enforced by law, and became outcast in almost every sense.
But his life never wholly failed, either. Perhaps it was the glow of nostalgia, but his twenty-three years of marriage were always a joy to him, even when his wife's health failed, and even when she may have been the source of some of his... read more
A charming and touching autobiography of a poor scholar
By A Customer - December 7, 1997
This is a most charming and touching story of a poor Chinese scholar-painter struggling to make a decent living under poverty and mounting debts. In his autobiography, Shen Fu shares with us his experiences, his love for a talented wife and other simple things in life, his family and friends, and travels throughout Manchu China. Despite mounting poverty, he has great passion for living and these records of his experiences and impressions are as relevant to us as it were to him 200 years ago. A highly recommended book and a definite "must-read" over the weekend.
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