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San Yan 三言 – Top 100 Books in China

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The outstanding representative of Chinese vernacular short stories

Overview

Chinese Name: 三言

English Name: San Yan

AuthorFeng Menglong 冯梦龙

Originally Published: In 1368-1644(Ming Dynasty 明朝)

Genre: Short story

Brief Introduction of San Yan

San Yan 三言 is the outstanding representative of Chinese vernacular short stories written by Feng Menglong 冯梦龙 in Ming Dynasty 明朝. San Yan is the collective name of Stories to Enlighten the World 喻世明言Stories to Caution the World 警世通言, and Stories to Awaken the World 醒世恒言. It and Er Pai 二拍 written by Ling Mengchu 凌濛初 together called “San Yan Er Pai 三言二拍”.

Its appearance marks the arrival of the climax of the collation and creation of ancient vernacular short stories. San Yan reflects Feng Menglong’s extremely complicated thoughts. While deconstructing the traditional cultural thoughts with the newly emerging humanistic thoughts in ancient times, it also absorbed the Confucian thoughts of Taoism 释道的儒家思想.

Stories to Enlighten the World was originally called Stories Old and New 古今小说. It consists of 40 volumes, one in each volume, altogether 40 chapters.

Most of the works in The book are based on real life, and those about love and marriage are in a prominent position. Some of them directly reflect the real life of the society at that time, exposing the darkness of the society. Some of them reflect the life of the lower and middle classes of the city and praise the loyal friendship between friends. Works such as Jiang Xingge Zhonghui Pearl Shirt 蒋兴哥重会珍珠衫 reflect the developed situation of the commercial society and the spiritual outlook of small and medium-sized merchants in the Ming Dynasty. There are also many works with feudal preaching and negative thoughts of karma.

It is one of the important anthologies of the script and pseudo-script in Ming Dynasty, and also an important reference material for later generations to study script novels.

San Yan 三言(喻世明言)
Stories to Enlighten the World 喻世明言

There are 40 chapters in the Stories to Caution the World. It is rich in content, reflecting civic life, women’s life and love life. There are also works that promote loyalty, criticize ingratitude, reflect the moral values of the civic class, and highlight selflessness in helping others. However, there are also many works advocating feudal morality and religious superstition. This book shows the persecution they suffered under the feudal dark forces and their resistance struggle.

San Yan 三言(警世通言)
Stories to Caution the World 警世通言

Stories to Awaken the World consists of 40 chapters. There are fewer old works from the Song and Yuan dynasties than Stories to Enlighten the World and Stories to Caution the World, and most of them are from the Ming Dynasty. It is the most widely spread, most influential and most talked about work in the San Yan. It shows some new characteristics in content and subject matter, and is more mature and vivid in art. Its structure is full and complete, its description is exquisite, and it reflects the social outlook and citizens’ thoughts and feelings at that time to varying degrees. But some of the works have feudal sermons, karma propaganda and pornography.

San Yan 三言(醒世恒言)
Stories to Awaken the World 醒世恒言

The names of San Yan are different, but the ideological content they want to express and inherit is actually the same. Its artistic form is Feng Menglong in the late Ming Dynasty to the literary world at that time a kind of correction and innovation, for the development of popular world novels into new vitality. It walked out of the simple ethical preaching or pornographic description, and became a masterpiece of elegance and sentiment, art and life. It shines with eternal glory in the history of Chinese fiction.

Author of San Yan

Feng Menglong (1574-1646), a native of Suzhou 苏州, Jiangsu Province 江苏省, was an ancient Chinese writer, thinker and opera master.

Feng Menglong 冯梦龙
Feng Menglong 冯梦龙

 

Feng Menglong was born into a famous family, good reading since childhood, talented. In 1634, he was promoted to magistrate of Shouning County寿宁县, Fujian Province 福建省. Four years later he returned to his hometown to write.

In the turbulent situation of the world, he actively carried out propaganda against the Qing Dynasty 清朝. At the age of 70, he also ran against the Qing dynasty. Feng Menglong is a patriot. When he served as county magistrate, he expounded on the causes of the country’s decline.

Feng Menglong made a unique contribution to Chinese literature.

Excerpts From San Yan

 理胜者为强。

It is powerful to have justice over others.

天下无有不散筵席。

All good things come to an end. Even if again lively, again grand banquet. There is an end at last.

经一失,长一智。

After a loss, a little wisdom. Seriously sum up experience, draw lessons, draw useful knot from it, make failure become the mother of success.

Evaluation of San Yan

Feng Menglong’s anti – feudalism democratic new ideas in his three words deserve praise.

Wang Ling 王凌

Feng Menglong is an outstanding writer and opera artist with the characteristics of The Times.

Lu Shulun 陆树仑

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