East Asia Student

Random Stuff Related to East Asia

Classical Chinese

Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 6)

A bamboo mesh with the characters '浮生六記 / 坎坷記愁' superimposed on itThis is a sentence-by-sentence translation from the chapter 坎坷記愁 in Shen Fu’s 浮生六記 (Six Records of a Floating Life).

(See the index of Fu Sheng Liu Ji translations)

浮生六記第六卷:坎坷記愁 → Section 6

因是芸誓不醫藥。 Due to this Yun bowed and would not take medicine.

_誓 here is in the sense of 'concede'._

偶能起牀,適余有友人周春煦,自福郡王幕中歸,倩人繡《心經》一部,芸念繡經可以消災降福,且利其繡價之豐,竟繡焉。 It so happened that when she could get out of bed, (at that time) I had a friend named Zhou Chunxu who had arrived from the entourage of the Prince of the Fu Prefecture, and was looking for someone to embroider the ‘Heart Sutra’ for him; Yun thought that by doing the embroidery she could reduce our misfortune and increase our blessings, and moreover profit from the generosity for the price of the work, so in the end she did it.

_念 is more than just 'think'; it also has the sense of 'bring to mind' and 'recall'. Reproducing Buddhist texts was seen as increasing one's merit, in a similar concept to indulgences in Europe - a merit in one's moral account book (which passes to descendants)._

而春煦行色匆匆,不能久待,十日告成,弱者驟勞,致增腰酸頭暈之疾。 Yet Chunxu’s visit was hurried and he couldn’t stay for long, needing the work done in ten days. Yun was weak and suddenly needing to work increased the pain in her waist and her dizziness.

豈知命薄者,佛亦不能發慈悲也! How could we know that fate would be so indifferent, and that Buddha likewise could not issue compassion?

繡經之後,芸病轉增,喚水索湯,上下厭之。 After embroidering the sutra, Yun’s illness took a turn for the worse; she would call out for water and then demand soup, and everyone in the family hated her.

有西人賃屋於余畫鋪之左,放利債為業,時倩余作畫,因識之。 There was a Westerner renting a room to the left of my picture shop, who lent money for profit as a profession; when he asked me to do paintings for him, I accordingly got to know him.

_西人 does not refer to a European as foreigners could not live in China at this time; it's probably someone from Western China  (e.g. 四川)._

友人某向渠借五十金,乞余作保,余以情有難卻,允焉,而某竟挾資遠遁。 I had a friend, Mr So-and-so, who borrowed fifty ounces of silver from him, and begged me to be the guarantor; due to personal feelings, it was hard for me to refuse so I gave my approval to it. Mr So-and-so then ended up disappearing far away, clutching the funds.

_渠 here means 'him'._

西人惟保是問,時來饒舌,初以筆墨為抵,漸至無物可償。 The Westerner only had the guarantor to ask about this, and often came round to have a rant. At first I used paintings as credit, but it gradually came to be that I had nothing that could pay off the debt.

歲底吾父家居,西人索債,咆哮於門。 At the end of the year, while my father as at home, the Westerner came to demand repayment, roaring and shouting at the gate.

_Here the Westerner is using a popular tactic of provoking someone into violence, thus making them lose face, as well as the argument._

吾父聞之,召余訶責曰: My father heard this, summoned me and reprimanded me, saying:

「我輩衣冠之家,何得負此小人之債!」 “We are an honourable family - how could we come to bear a debt to this scoundrel?”

_Literally, Shen Fu's father describes them as a family of  "robes and caps" (衣冠), i.e. scholar officials._

正剖訴間,適芸有自幼同盟姊錫山華氏,知其病,遣人問訊。 Just as I was explaining, it so happened that a messenger arrived from a girl with whom Yun had sworn sisterhood in childhood, and who was now married into the Hua family; the girl had heard of Yun’s illness, and sent someone to inquire of it.

堂上誤以為憨園之使,因愈怒曰: My father mistakenly believed it to be a messenger from Hanyuan; thus further enraged, he said:

「汝婦不守閨訓,結盟娼妓;汝亦不思習上,濫伍小人。 “Your wife does not obey the rules of the women’s quarter, and has formed a sisterhood with a prostitute; you likewise do not think to learn from your superiors, and associate with scoundrels.

若置汝死地,情有不忍。 If I put you to death, I could not bear it.

_置汝死地 is literally "place you in the Land of the Dead"._

姑寬三日限,速自為計,遲必首汝逆矣!」 So, I’ll be lenient and give you a three-day deadline; make your own plans quickly, and if  you’re late I will certainly report your perversity to the authorities.”

_逆 means to go against the 道 - the correct way._

Series: Six Records of a Floating Life

  1. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 1)
  2. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 2)
  3. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 3)
  4. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 4)
  5. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 5)
  6. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 6) (this article)
  7. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 7)
  8. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 8)
  9. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 9)
  10. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 10)
  11. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 11)
  12. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 12)
  13. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 13)
  14. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 14)

Tags