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Shen Fu's reflections in his life as a magistrate's secretary, a loving husband,a painter and an unsuccessful tradesman were written in 1809 and have been a Chinese favorite ever since. Many themes explored in the memoirs give today's reader new insights into Chinese society: the powerful role of the courtesan,the unrecognized status of the government clerk, the arrogance of the untrained officials and the formal and often strained family relationships and arranged marriages. Shen Fu himself had a difficult life and was ill-equipped to cope with it. Many of the problems he encountered have their parallels in contemporary society and,as the translator points out in their Introduction,'Shen Fu has left us a lively portrait of his era that in places strikes chords remarkably resonant with our own.'
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.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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.