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Six Records of a Floating Life (Classics) Paperback – 25 Aug 1983

5 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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£8.99 FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Re-issue edition (25 Aug. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444292
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 153,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Leonard Pratt is the bureau chief for NBC News in Hong Kong.

Chiang Su-Hui was born and educated in Taiwan. She has a degree in Chinese law and has worked as an educator, writer and broadcaster.


Leonard Pratt is the bureau chief for NBC News in Hong Kong.
Chiang Su-Hui was born and educated in Taiwan. She has a degree in Chinese law and has worked as an educator, writer and broadcaster.


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Format: Paperback
Of the "Six Records of a Floating Life", only four survive. These, entitled "The Joys of the Marriage Chamber", "The Pleasures of Leisure", "The Sorrows of Misfortune" and "The Delights of Roaming Afar", treat the author's life thematically - each chapter covers the same life, but from a different viewpoint, so that significant events are seen from several different angles. Shen Fu's love for his wife Chen Yün is a memorable part of the book, but their relationship is a complex one: she becomes obsessed with a young concubine Han-yüan, whom she engages as a concubine apparently for her husband's behalf but, Shen Fu hints, also so that the two women can be together. Chen Yün's death from a mysterious illness hangs over the four records, creating a sense of melancholy. But there is far more than just the story of Shen Fu and Chen Yün's love and marriage to delight the reader - Shen Fu's disgressions on flower arranging and interior decoration on a (sometimes very) limited budget in "The Pleasures of Leisure" were nothing short of life-enhancing! Likewise, the descriptions of his journeying with friends to spend the day in monastery gardens, only to have the day spoiled by fellow visitors' noisy insensitivity are a joy to read.

Shen Fu's life was not one of noticeable worldly success and he is modest and self-effacing in the telling of it, but his technique of writing his life story from different thematic viewpoints allows us to see a delicately nuanced humanity which makes rivetting reading.
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Format: Paperback
If you are interested either in different types of autobiography, in travel writing on old China, or on male/female relationships within different cultures, this may be of interest. It is the memoir, in the form of 4 chapters each dominated by a certain theme, of a not v. successful secretary in late 18th/early 19th century China. It is concise, very accessible, well translated, with unobtrusive footnotes, and easy to dip into a chapter at a time. Specially recommended if, like me, you have reached a certain age and wish to look back over especially intense moments of delight, of experiencing beauty, or of sorrow. I encountered this by chance, and loved it. The Buddhist sense of the transience of all human things gives a great poignancy to the husband/wife relationship, and to the beauty of the landscape the author describes.
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Format: Paperback
If you're interested in Chinese culture, this is a wonderful short work which introduces you to the details of daily life for a certain class of scholars in the qing period... But I would recommend it even to those with no special interest in China. It's touching, unpretentious and very human - a real window into a man's life, his loves, struggles, travels and leisure pursuits. His wife Yün is depicted with particular vividness - one gets a sense of what it was like to live with this intelligent, capable and tender young woman. A short work, but a real gem.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A uniquely beautiful love story.
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essential. Many faults, such as that he clearly has a slave of a wife and the first section outshines the other 3 and 2 are missing, 2 are fairly boring (the aesthetic life section is essential and gives a huge insight into China) and you still need to read this book. And it's so short. I rarely don't get rid of stuff, this stays. Hard to explain: the complete and intimate portrait of a relationship (from one side), the totally different mindset, oh..
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