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Chinese Idiom - 洛阳纸贵

Posted by vann0000 February 12, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: idiom, , , , , paper, book

洛阳纸贵 (Overwhelming Popularity of a New Work Causes Shortage of Printing Paper) luò yáng zhǐ guì
 
Overwhelming Popularity of a New Work Causes Shortage of Printing Paper

In the Jin Dynasty (265-420) there was a famous writer whose name was Zuo Si who, however, was very naughty and did not like to study when he was a small child.  His father often became angry, and yet young Zuo Si was as naughty as ever and would not study hard.

One day, Zuo Si's father was chatting with his friends. His friends envied him his clever and lovely son. Hearing this, Zuo si's father sighed, "Please do not mention him. My son Zuo si does not study as well as I did when I was young, although I did not study well enough myself. It appears that he is actually a good-for-nothing." So saying, he looked disappointed.

All this was witnessed by young Zuo Si. He felt very sad, feeling intensely that he would not be able to have a bright future if he did not study hard. So he was determined to study assiduously from then on.

Day after day and year after year, Zuo Si gradually grew up. Because of his unremitting afforts in hard study, he became an erudite scholar and wrote very excellent essays.

The "Ode to the Capital of the State of Qi", which took him one year to write, showed his brilliant literary talent and laid the foundation for his becoming an outstanding writer. then he planned to write an "Ode to the Capitals of the Three Kingdoms of Wei, Shu Han and Wu" with the local conditions and customs as well as the produce of the three capitals as its content. 

In order to achieve the desired effect in content, structure and language, he applied himself to research work with great concentration, and was so absorbed in creative writing as to forget food and sleep. It took him ten whole years to finish the writing of "Ode to the Capitals of the Three Kingdoms of Wei, Shu Han and Wu", a literary masterpiece.

The "Ode to the Capitals of the Three Kingdoms of Wei, Shu Han and Wu" was well received by the broad masses of readers after it made its appearance to the public, and people considered it as superbly written as the "Ode to the Western Capital (Changan) and to the Eastern Capital (Luoyang)" written by Ban Gu (32-92) and the "Ode to the Western Capital and to the Eastern Capital" written by Zhang Heng of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D.220).

As the art of printing had not been invented at that time, people who were fond of this "Ode" had to make handwritten copies of it themselves. As there were so many people who vied with each other in making handwritten copies, the supply of writing paper fell short of the demand in Luoyang went up greatly.

This story comes from "The life of Zuo Si" in the book "Literary Field" of The History of the Jin Dynasty. Based on this story, people have coined the set phrase "the price of writing paper went up greatly", meaning the overwhelming popularity of a new work causes shortage of printing paper, to show how popular an outstanding piece of literary work is.

Luo4     yang2     zhi3     gui4
洛     阳     纸     贵

晋代文学家左思,小时候是个非常顽皮、不爱读书的孩子.父亲经常为这事发脾气,可是小左思仍然淘气得很,不肯好好学习.

有一天,左思的父亲与朋友们聊天,朋友们羡慕他有个聪明可爱的儿子.左思的父亲叹口气说:"快别提他了,小儿左思的学习,还不如我小时候,看来没有多大的出息了."说着,脸上流露出失望的神色.这一切都被小左思看到听到了,他非常难过,觉得自己不好好念书确实很没出息.于是,暗暗下定决心,一定要刻苦学习.

日复一日,年复一年,左思渐渐长大了,由于他坚持不懈地发奋读书,终于成为一位学识渊博的人,文章也写得非常好.他用一年的时间写成了《齐都赋》,显示出他在文学方面的才华,为他成为杰出的文学家奠定了基础.这以后他又计划以三国时魏、蜀、吴首都的风土、人情、物产为内容,撰写《三都赋》.为了在内容、结构、语言诸方面都达到一定水平,他潜心研究,精心撰写,废寝忘食,用了整整十年,文学巨著《三都赋》终于写成了.

《三都赋》受到谅也评,人们把它和汉代文学杰作《两都赋》相比.由于当时还没有发明印刷术,喜爱《三都赋》的人只能争相抄阅,因为抄写的人太多,京城洛阳的纸张供不应求,一时间全城纸价大幅度上升.

故事出自《晋书·文苑·左思传》.成语"洛阳纸贵",称颂杰出的作品风行一进.

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