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Tales of the New Era  (5th century) 
by Liu Yiqing, translated from Chinese by Wikisource
Tales of the New Era (世说新语, Shi Shuo Xin Yu) is a historical story book which reflects the life and thoughts of the upper-class citizen in 5th century southern China. People at that time tended to write down what happened in stories, and the stories described in this book are regarded as adaptions of real events from the late Han Dynasty to the Jin Dynasty.

This article attempts to provide a modern English translation of the traditional work. However, the whole translation is NOT expected to be finished in a short time. In the article, each paragraph with a marking number is a separate story. The mentioned people are referred to by their signatures or surnames, while GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES are presented in capital letters, if possible.


Section I: Virtue and ConductEdit

  1. Zhong-Jyu was a learned man. His words and actions were regarded as a criterion for the knowledgeable and a model for the public. Riding in his new official limousine, Zhong-Jyu dreamt of bringing transparent politics to the world. He was made governor of YUZHANG. Once he arrived, he asked where Sir Xu-Roo lived, intending to pay a visit to him at once. The chief secretary said, "Our people will be expecting the governor to settle down in the mansion prior to this." But Zhong-Jyu replied, "When Lord Woo had just defeated Emperor Zhou of Shang, he commended Shang-Rong, minister of the Shang, immediately; at that time he had not had a chance to rest for warmth. Compared to that, with my courtesy towards this virtuous person, is there anything wrong?
  2. Zi-Jyu often said, "Once in a while I cannot meet with Sir Shu-Doo, my humbleness and avarice in mind would be breeding again."
  3. Lin-Zong once went to RUNAN and visited Feng-Gao, but he went on a trip again before his vehicle had even stopped completely. Later he visited Shu-Doo, while days and nights passed by. When asked about the reason, he said, "Shu-Doo is broad like millions of acres of lake, which can be neither filtered transparent, nor adulterated dirty. His magnitude is deep and wide, hard to measure."

Section II: Language and ConversationEdit

  1. Wen-Lee visited the newly appointed governor Feng-Gao, feeling embarrassing. Feng-Gao said, "Once Hsu-You was employed by the reputed Emirate Yao, he did not appear to be embarrassed. Why do you behave as if your garments are upside-down, Sir?" Wen-Lee answered, "As governor, you have just arrived; your Emirate Yao-like virtue has not been displayed yet, which was the reason I looked as if my garments were upside-down."
  2. When Hsu-Roo was nine years old, he once played in the moonlight. Somebody asked him, "If there was nothing inside the white moon, it would be extremely bright, wouldn't it?" Hsu said, "Not exactly; as an analogy, there are pupils in one's eyes. Without them, eyes would not look so bright."

Section III: Policy and AffairsEdit

  1. When Zhong-Gong was chair of TAI-TSIU, there was an officer who asked for a leave by lying about his mother being ill. The affair was found out. Zhong-Gong captured him, and sentenced him to death.
    The chief secretary requested that this case be sent to the inspection department for review of the details. But Zhong-Gong argued, "Deceiving the monarch was not loyal, and sickening his parent was not pious; because it was neither loyal nor pious, his felony could not have been worse. Could any detail that's inspected be of more importance?"

Section IV: Literature and LearningEdit

Section V: Attitude and IntegrityEdit

Section VI: Grace and VolumnEdit

Section VII: Recognition and AssessmentEdit

Section VIII: Appreciation and PraiseEdit

Section IX: Savor and ComparisonEdit

Section X: Persuasion and AdmonitionEdit

Section XI: Swift ComprehensionEdit

Section XII: Early EminenceEdit

Section XIII: Boldness and DirectnessEdit

Section XIV: Appearance and MannerEdit

Section XV: Self-RenewalEdit

Section XVI: Looking-up and AdmirationEdit

Section XVII: Grief and the DepartedEdit

Section XVIII: Hidden and EscapingEdit

Section XIX: Virtuous FemaleEdit

Section XX: Techniques and InstrumentsEdit

Section XXI: Delicates and ArtsEdit

Section XXII: Favoring and TreatmentEdit

Section XXIII: Liberty and EclecticEdit

Section XXIV: PretentiousnessEdit

Section XXV: Satire and TeasingEdit

Section XXVI: ContemptEdit

Section XXVII: Deception and SchemeEdit

Section XXVIII: RevocationEdit

Section XXIX: MeanEdit

Section XXX: LuxuryEdit

Section XXXI: Irritation and AngerEdit

Section XXXII: InsigniousnessEdit

Section XXXIII: RegretEdit

Section XXXIV: Error and WarningEdit

Section XXXV: Stubbernness and AddictionEdit

Section XXXVI: ResentmentEdit

    This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, which allows free use, distribution, and creation of derivatives, so long as the license is unchanged and clearly noted, and the original author is attributed.


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The Terms of use of the Wikimedia Foundation require that GFDL-licensed text imported after November 2008 must also be dual-licensed with another compatible license. "Content available only under GFDL is not permissible" (§7.4). This does not apply to non-text media.