Shi Naian Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Nothing is definitely known about Shi Naian (shee nah-ee-ahn), the man who has been generally accepted as the author of All Men Are Brothers ever since 1644, when Jin Shengtan wrote his seventy-chapter version of the novel with a preface of his own composition and forged Shi’s name to it; an equally good claim can, however, be made for Luo Guanzhong. Until the early 1930’s all that could be said of Shi was that he probably flourished in the middle decades of the fourteenth century and was perhaps an older contemporary of Luo. Then a researcher named Zha Yuting reported that he had found evidence to support the claim that Shi was a native of Huai’an in Jiangsu, that he was the teacher of Luo, and that Jiangyin was the place where he wrote the novel. A census taker reported that he had come upon two documents in the archives of a clan in the Dongtai district of Jiangsu. These give the information that Shi Naian’s real name was Er, that he was born in 1296 and died in 1370, that he passed his jinshi examinations in 1331, and that after serving two years as a magistrate of Qiantang in Zhejiang, he resigned because of disagreements with his superiors and devoted the rest of his life to writing. A list of his writings is given, which include not only the Shuihu zhuan (under a slightly different title) but also several additional historical romances generally attributed to Luo, with the remark that he was helped in his work by his pupil...

(The entire section is 450 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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