Six Records of a Floating Life

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Trent Thompson
Dr. Bisson
Book Essay 1
Six Records of a Floating Life
Shen Fu was a Chinese writer and art dealer who lived during the Qing Dynasty. He had a very strong love for his wife Chen Yun and she is the inspiration for his book “Six Records of a Floating Life”, which vividly describes their life and love together. Shen Fu discusses the happiness that he found in marriage to his cousin Yun, in his first chapter, “Joys of the Wedding Chamber”. He then goes into detail, and is even reminiscent, about enjoying the little things and his experiences with them in the second part of his book, “Pleasure of Leisure”. Next Shen Fu talks about the adversities that he and Yun have to experience, in their sometimes-trying relationship together, with his chapter “The Sorrow of Misfortune”. This is a chapter about his financial burdens and depression that he started to incur from his stress during that time. The final chapter that Shen Fu writes about in his book, is much different than his last one because his spirits are lifted and he describes his love for traveling and taking in the sights of the world with “The Delights of Roaming Afar”. These are the reasons as to why he wrote this book, to share with the world his story of love, adversity, and prosperity all while expressing his deeply rooted admiration and sentiment for his wife, Chen Yun.

When it comes to the issue of marriage, Chinese culture was immensly different than what we “westerners” commonly associate with the term today in our culture. During the time of the Qing Dynasty, however, it was not only acceptable, but common to marry within your family. When it was decided that Shen Fu was to marry his cousin Chen Yun, his mother was so excited that that she gave Yun “a gold ring off of her own finger”. In my consideration of it being acceptable or not, I do find it somewhat awkward that he refers to his wife as “elder sister” and she refers to him as “younger brother”. This is not a...
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