Jin Shengtan

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Jin Shengtan (simplified Chinese: 金圣叹; traditional Chinese: 金聖歎; Wade–Giles: Chin Shêng-t'an) (1610?-7 August 1661), former name Jin Renrui (金人瑞), also known as Jin Kui (金喟), was a Chinese editor, writer and critic, who has been called the champion of Vernacular Chinese literature.


Thirty-three Happy Moments[edit]

From Lin Yutang's ‎The Importance of Living (1937), pp. 130–136:
"Chin Shengt'an, that great impressionistic critic of the seventeenth century, has given us, between his commentaries on the play Western Chamber, an enumeration of the happy moments which he once counted together with his friend, when they were shut up in a temple for ten days on account of rainy weather. These then are what he considers the truly happy moments of human life, moments in which the spirit is inextricably tied up with the senses:"
To cut with a sharp knife a bright green watermelon on a big scarlet plate of a summer afternoon. Ah, is this not happiness?
  • I wake up in the morning and seem to hear some one in the house sighing and saying that last night some one died. I immediately ask to find out who it is, and learn that it is the sharpest, most calculating fellow in town. Ah, is this not happiness?
  • It has been raining for a whole month and I lie in bed in the morning like one drunk or ill, refusing to get up. Suddenly I hear a chorus of birds announcing a clear day. Quickly I pull aside the curtain, push open the window and see the beautiful sun shining and glistening and the forest looks like having a bath. Ah, is this not happiness?
  • To cut with a sharp knife a bright green watermelon on a big scarlet plate of a summer afternoon. Ah, is this not happiness?
  • To find accidently a handwritten letter of some old friend in a trunk. Ah, is this not happiness?
  • A traveller returns home after a long journey, and he sees the old city gate and hears the women and children on both banks of the river talking his own dialect. Ah, is this not happiness?
  • To open the window and let a wasp out of the room. Ah, is this not happiness?
  • To have just finished repaying all one's debts. Ah, is this not happiness?

Quotes about Jin[edit]

  • Chin Shengt'an regards reading a banned book behind closed doors on a snowy night as one of the greatest pleasures of life.
    • Lin Yutang, ‎The Importance of Living (1937), Ch. 12: 'The Enjoyment of Culture', III. 'The Art of Reading', p. 383
  • In Chin Sheng-t'an's commentaries his personality looms large and at times commands more attention than the text itself. To some extent, his commentaries are dialogues with the reader in which the literary work is but a pretext.
    • David L. Rolston (ed.), How to Read the Chinese Novel (1990), Ch. 2: 'Chin Sheng-t'an on How to Read the Shui-hu chuan (The Water Margin)', Introduction, p. 126

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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