Ravaging Times

July 29, 2011

Fan Commentary on Spring And Autumn Annals recitation by Lü Meng

Filed under: Ravages of Time — Tags: — merc @ 12:58 pm

original thread, page 5

Ok someone on KiShodar’s site asked whether there is any deeper meaning to why LM was reciting “Spring And Autumn Annals” in chapter 316, “For How Many Springs and Autumns.” I couldn’t answer because I’m not well read.

Reader 小屋住不下 in the above linked thread started a collective citation check of Ravages (pretty impressive), and he made a comment on post #135 & #136 about the said topic. I will not translate it entirely, so the gist is:

#135… LM recited from the beginning of “Spring and Autumn Annals”, around the first two years of Duke Ying (“hidden”) of the Lu state. Then when the scene switches back from Yu Ji, LM is sleepily murmuring the passage of the sixth year of Duke Wen (“scholarly”) of the Lu state… With “Spring&Autumn” being about 12 Dukes of the Lu state, and Duke Wen being the sixth, by his sixth year it is just about halfway through that text.

#136… Is there any deliberateness to Chen Mou’s choice?
Possibility One:
Chen Mou is only letting LM recite it in order. Skipping to Duke Wen’s sixth year is only to demonstrate a passage of time in the story. This is very likely, because LM started reciting from the beginning.
Possibility Two:
Duke Ying wasn’t meant to be the successor (because he was born of either a mistress or even more illegitimately), whereas his younger (step) brother (born of a more legitimate status) was supposed to according to the rites. Duke Ying knew that and often mentioned that he wanted to return the throne to his brother. So reciting this passage may be to subtly conclude Sun Ce’s life.
But the problem with this conjecture is that Duke Ying cannot compare to Sun Ce. He did want to give the throne to his younger brother, but he could do so he was assassinated by his subordinate, who then asked the brother for a reward (granted the position of prime minister). In comparison to the Sun brothers he failed miserably. And Duke Wen had nothing worthy to relate to in context. So personally I’d rather choose the first possibility.
So I think Chen Mou had no other implication other than showing how LM is eager to prove to Sun Ce that he’s obedient, and that he’s studying. As to why the choice of “Spring&Autumn”? I think it is just to relate to the chapter title…
“Spring&Autumn”… became a major political philosophy literature for Confucianism. This type of book is only useful during peace times. Otherwise who would read that?
Supposedly Sun Quan had suggested that LM read “Art of War”, “Six Secret Teachings“, “Zuo Commentary (of Spring&Autumn)”, “Guoyu“, and the three histories (Records of the Grand Historian, Book of Han, and Book of Later Han)… They are fundamentally different from “Spring&Autumns” (of moral judgments)…

As for the rest of that thread, it is making me going back to edit some translation notes because I had made a few wrong assumptions! ^^;



  1. There is also a tale from the Book of Han Fei Zi.

    A sage from the capital of Chu (Shouchun) wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of the state of Yan. Because his room is too dark, he ask his servant to raise the candle higher.

    “Raise the candle” he said, and the servant did so.
    But unknowingly to the sage, he accidently wrote “raise the candle” in his letter.

    Later, the sage’s letter was delivered, and upon reading it the Prime Minister became confused upon gazing the advice which wrote “Raise the candle.”
    The Prime Minister, after thinking it for a while later intepreted it as… “Maybe the master advise me to honor the capable and place talents in positions.” And then the Prime Minister of Yan requested to his sovereign to bid him the sage’s teaching. The sovereign agreed.

    After some time, the state of Yan have enlisted the capable, establishing a wealthy and stabilize the moral in the state of Yan.

    The Prime Ministe sent his servant to paid his gratitude for his great advice od “raising the candle” which left the sage pondering…


    the moral is…. we always try to interpret words from the sage, which only resulted in guessing and sophistry, which differ from the original intention of the sage or the author.


    Comment by Por — August 4, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

    • I do agree with all what you just said apart from what is supposed to be the moral of the story.
      Surely, if this was the intended moral should not the interpretation lead the interpreter to doom and destruction. It is hardly a
      cautionary tale if the interpreting renders such a good outcome for the interpreter.
      Or did i missunderstand you? Did the four dots after “the moral is” mean that this was not what you meant you thought the moral was but actually the direct opposite of what you thought it was!
      Atleast this is what I thought you meant….or maybe not :D

      Jokes aside, I think this sort of activity should be encouraged, many interpretations will miss the writers intended meaning but some will surely hit the mark.
      And I must say I find the ones that are farfetched interesting in their own right and enjoyable to read as well :P
      (Although i don’t find “Chen Mou is only letting LM recite it in order. Skipping to Duke Wen’s sixth year is only to demonstrate a passage of time in the story.” to be a particulary farfetched interpetation)

      I tried to run the rest of the tread through google translate, and i must say i found the other interpertations harder to follow, almost as if they were gibberish :D
      The moral of the story? While fans of flesh and blood might miss the mark, interpreters Les automate isn’t even in the ballpark


      Comment by HerrK — August 5, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

      • Most of the other comments by original poster are not interpretations but citing the sources of where he/she found the line. You’ll just have to rely on translators to put it in the notes where they appear in the chapters. ;)
        A lot of the lines are classic/ancient Chinese, “tainting” every word around them with their terseness. If a machine translation is that good, I’ll be the first to use it to do the hard work! :D


        Comment by merc — August 5, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

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