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Paper becomes expensive in Luoyang—good writings make people copy them

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
kid.His father often got 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 loverly 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.

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。

2016-06-23

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