Six Records of a Floating Life is poet Shen Fu's autobiographical telling of his life during the Great Qing Dynasty in eighteenth-century China. The memoir is divided into six records, four of which are presently available, with two records missing from the memoir.
Interestingly, the memoir is not laid out chronologically but thematically. In the first record, "The Joys of the Wedding Chamber," Fu describes the beautiful love he shares with his wife, Chen Yun. Shen Fu details how he and Yun married at seventeen years old and the fondness they have had for each other since childhood.
In the second record, "The Pleasures of Leisure," Shen Fu reveals his sense and love for natural beauty and his skill as an artistic gardener and landscaper. He also describes his enjoyment of attending small poetry gatherings.
In the third record, "The Sorrows of Misfortune," Shen Fu uses haunting imagery to describe mourning the death of Chen Yun after she dies of her illness. He also describes the bitter reality of losing his father while they were estranged from one another. In this record, Fu also describes his money struggles as a man who desired to live the life of a high-earning administrator.
In the fourth record, "The Delights of Roaming Afar," Shen Fu's memoir takes on a happier tone as he recalls the many journeys he has taken throughout his life. This part of the memoir gives readers insight into the stunning terrain and historical architecture of Southern China and Fu's admiration for the natural world.