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Classical Chinese

Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 8)

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 8

時余有表兄王藎臣一子名韞石,願得青君為媳婦。 At that time my cousin Wang Jinchen had a son named Yunshi, and wanted Qingjun to be his daughter-in-law.

_表兄 is binome meaning 'older male cousin'. 王藎臣 is a name: Wang Jinchen. 韞石 likewise: Yunshi. 媳婦 is a binome meaning 'daughter-in-law'. A more idiomatic translation might indicate more clearly that Wang Jinchen wants Qingjun to marry his son._

芸曰:「聞王郎懦弱無能,不過守成之子,而王又無成可守。 Yun said “I heard young Wang is timid, weak and incompetent; whilst he is a son who will preserve the accomplishments of previous generations, the Wangs do not have many accomplishments to preserve.

幸詩禮之家,且又獨子,許之可也。」 Fortunately they are a cultured family, and moreover have only one soon, so betrothing him would be fine.

_Literally, Yun describes them as "a family of the Book of Songs" (詩禮). The son is an only-child (獨子) so he will inherit everything. 許 here means 'betroth'._

余謂藎臣曰:「吾父與君有渭陽之誼,欲媳青君,諒無不允。 I said to Jinchen: “My father and you have the friendship of Weiyang, so if you want Qingjun as a daughter-in-law, I imagine it will be permitted.

_渭陽 refers to a story from ancient China about two very close friends, and could be translated as 'legendary friendship'. 諒 here is like 'suppose', for dealing with a delicate issue. 無不允 is literally 'not have no permission', so 'have permission'._

但待長而嫁,勢所不能。 But it’s necessary to wait until she has grown up and then marry her, and in the current circumstances that is not possible.

_勢 generally means 'force' or 'power', but here has the sense of 'force of circumstances'._

余夫婦往錫山後,君即稟知堂上,先為童媳,何如?」 After my wife and I have gone to Xishan, you would then notify my father that first she will be your child daughter-in-law; how about that?”

藎臣喜曰:「謹如命」。 Jinchen gladly said “I will respectfully abide by your instructions.”

_謹如命 is a set phrase for consenting to instructions._

逢森亦托友人夏揖山轉薦學貿易。 Fengsen was also entrusted to a friend, Xia Yishan, who would in turn introduce him to the study of trade.

_夏揖山 is a name: Xia Yishan._

安頓已定,華舟適至,時庚申之臘二十五日也。 As soon as this was settled, it happened that the Hua’s boat arrived. It was the 25th day of the 12th month of 1800.

_適 means "just at that moment" or "it so happened"._

芸曰:「孑然出門,不惟招鄰里笑,且西人之項無著,恐亦不放,必於明日五鼓悄然而去。」 Yun said “If we leave the house alone, not only will we provoke the laughter of the neighbours, but also there’s that issue of the Westerner not being repaid; I’m afraid that he won’t let us go. We must leave quietly tomorrow at 5 o’clock.”

余曰:「卿病中能冒曉寒耶?」 I said “My darling, in the middle of your illness can you stand the morning cold?”

芸曰:「死生有命,無多慮也。」 Yun said “Life and death are fated, I don’t have much concern.”

密稟吾父,亦以為然。 I secretly informed my father, and he agreed to it.

_The translation ought to include "informed my father [of the plan]" but this isn't actually included in the Chinese._

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)
  7. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 7)
  8. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 8) (this article)
  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)

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