点铁成金 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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diǎntiě-chéngjīn 点铁成金

Golden Touch

指高明的作者用平常词句或化用前人的词句创造性地表达出神奇精妙的意蕴。亦指高手修改文章,善于从平凡文字中提炼出闪光点。北宋黄庭坚沿袭刘勰的“宗经”思想,强调学习、揣摩经典作品的表达技巧,巧妙化用前人的词句,化平常、腐朽为神奇,使自己的文章主旨鲜明而又富有文采。此说推动了宋代及后世关于诗文创作手法的讨论。

The term “golden touch” means creatively expressing novel and exquisite meaning through the use of simple language or by transforming old phrases from past masters. The expression also can be used to describe the way that an accomplished man of letters edits writings. By minor adjustment, he can bring out the splendor in an otherwise ordinary piece. Huang Tingjian, a poet and scholar of the Northern Song Dynasty, valued and promoted literary critic Liu Xie’s idea that classics offer excellent examples from which to learn, but he stressed the need to study and employ the expressive techniques found in classic masterpieces by cleverly transforming the words found there, altering common and hackneyed forms of “novelty” so as to impart to one’s own writing freshness and literary style. In the Song Dynasty and later, this theory gave rise to many debates about methods of creative writing in poetry.

Huang Tingjian – 黄庭坚

 

引例 Citations:

◎古之能为文章者,真能陶冶万物,虽取古人之陈言入于翰墨,如灵丹一粒,点铁成金也。(黄庭坚《答洪驹父书》)

(古代那些擅长写作的大家,确实能够将各种文字和物象融为一体,即使是采用前人的陈旧辞句,也像用一颗灵丹就能点铁成金那样[表达出神奇精妙的意蕴]。)

In ancient times the most capable writers could render excellent images of virtually anything mentioned in their writing. Even if old expressions or sentences from former masters entered into their writing, they could transform them like an alchemist who, with a single touch, could turn lead into gold.(Huang Tingjian: Letter in Reply to Hong Jufu)

◎“椎床破面枨触人,作无义语怒四邻。尊中欢伯见尔笑:我本和气如三春。”前两句本粗恶语,能煅炼成诗,真造化手,所谓点铁成金矣。(吴可《藏海诗话》)

(“[有人醉酒后]敲打坐床撕破脸面触犯他人,满嘴说些无情无义的话激怒四周的人。杯中的酒见到你们的丑态觉得可笑:‘我’本是性情温和有如三春的饮品。”前两句本是很粗俗的话,能够锤炼成诗句,真是创意点化的高手,可以说是点铁成金了。)

“When drunk, you strike the bed to offend others, and vex your neighbors with vulgar language, the liquor in the cup laughs at you saying: I am a drink as gentle and warm as the spring weather.” The first two sentences were crude, yet for you to transmute such material into a fine poem is true mastery. This is what is called a golden touch! (Wu Ke: Canghai’s Remarks on Poetry)

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