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The Old Man of the Moon

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  739 ratings  ·  95 reviews
'Our passion was so great. Will the Old Man understand and help us once again?'

The Old Man of the Moon is Shen Fu's intimate and moving account of his marriage - from early passion to the trials of poverty and separation - and his great, enduring love for his wife in eighteenth-century China.
Paperback, 57 pages
Published February 26th 2015 by Penguin Classics (first published 1809)
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Sean Barrs
Some men are just obsessed with their woman. Indeed, there is only one constant in Shen Fu’s life and that’s his wife Yun. Fate has brought them together and, according to them, will always keep them together. Their love knows no bounds and is immeasurable. Folk law suggests that is the old man in the moon that causes couples to meet, and they most ardently hope that he will keep them together forever.

People say that marriages are arranged by the old man in the moon…..”


However, despite their s
“I felt like a bird that had lost its flock. My world was shaken.”
― Shen Fu, The Old Man of the Moon


Vol N° 60 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. This volume contains selection taken from Six Records of a Floating Life translated by Leonard Pratt and Chiang Su-hui.

Many of the world's great love stories are also tragedies. There is something about love and death, love and melancholy that pair together well. Shen Fu's story 'The Old Man of the Moon' tells the story of a couple, in love,
Adela Cacovean
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
A very interesting tale about a man who loved his wife very deeply, too deeply in his opinion. He believes this was the cause of her early death and the two of them hope that "the old man of the moon", a spirit responsible for making marriages happen, will help them meet again in their future lives.

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Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is wonderfully written, although this is not my usual reading material it was warm. This little story comes across as one that needs to be read aloud and it works! Walking around the house reading this tale makes you feel that you are the narrator. A personal tale with added extras.
Not one to be read in silence, so all you nay sayers get up and read it again
Katie Lumsden
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this - lovely writing, though a slightly odd ending/message.
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Some nice passages, but overall didn't really hook me. ...more
Ying Ying
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, fiction
Is too deep a love really as dangerous as the protagonist tries to warn us? Or is the story highlighting the deliciousness of love even if it is short-lived? Moving and intense, this small black classic is a great short read.
A strange short story, as I understand it, taken from the book Six Records of a Floating Life, and published as a Penguin Little Black Classic.

It was easily enough to read, and followed a linear narrative. It was interesting and varied, and explained the authors relationship with his wife. The description "a Chinese official's all-consuming love for his wife", pretty much tells it all.

Not really my genre, and the closing paragraph was really not the moral-of-the-story that I was expecting, but a
Penguin describes this edition as a Chinese official's account of his all-consuming love for his wife, and that pretty much sums up the book. It is also an account of life in China in the 18th century of course, but it is the love story which is at the center of it. There were some touching moments, but overall I thought the style was a bit bleak - part of the essence might have been lost in translation, that is rather difficult for me to judge.

~Little Black Classics #60~

Find this and other re
Dec 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star
The relationship was really sweet but the morale was not what I was expecting
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I actually love the title. Story was beautifully written, a bit melancholic-- a memory of relationship since the day they both met and devoted to live together as soulmate. The love and care of a husband and such admiration and sincerity of both to each other, their hardship and struggle. Not much of a conflict, a bit of family story from both side. I love the writer's words and phrases, it was structured greatly, those scenery and vivid feelings. It ended well although a bit sad, but I quite li ...more
Smitha Murthy
A rather strange book. I am not sure I understood all of it. Shen Fu is more known for his memoir, ‘Six Records of a Floating Life.’ That’s kind of the title for my memoir, if ever I have anything to write about.

But I digress. Back to the book. The ‘The Old Man of the Moon’ is not arranged chronologically, which caused me confusion in the reading of it, but if you are curious to know how life in China in the 18th century was, then this book casts a gentle light over it. There are some beautiful
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
The story isn't gripping (it's about a man who loves his wife very much), but I enjoyed the writing. ...more
Elena Iulia
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
"Because you have loved me too much, I have had a short life" ...more
Dane Cobain
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was beautiful, but it was also super sad. It’s basically the lost and then rediscovered memoirs of the author and his relationship with his wife. But there’s no happy ending.

Resh (The Book Satchel)
rating : 2.5
Joey Woolfardis
Rather curious one. It starts off fairly slowly and I did not really like it at first, but the melancholy of it all seeps through. There are beautiful moments and it is quite startling at times. I would say it was not written well, which is the main reason for not liking it as much as I think perhaps we should.

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Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Such a nice and sad story. It's the life of a very much in love couple, just a recount of how much a husband can love his wife, and how much they can enjoy their life together, even if they are poor and have nothing much but afternoon together discussing literature.
I love this little Penguin classics.
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
A tale of true love and companionship 'for rich or for poor' and definitely 'in sickness and in health'. For me though, I could connect with the story, it was sad but felt a bit bland. Perhaps some of the emotional nuance has been lost in translation.

Not my favourite from this series.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
An OK read, though cannot say that I'd ever read it again.

Will be checking out the others reads in this Penguin series. They are good sized short story books to read on journeys.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
In Chinese folklore, Yue Lao is the God of love and marriage. He is immortal and is said to live in the moon.
Narrator of our story is a widower who sadly recalls his wife and their happy life in the past. He loved his wife so deep that when reading his memories during his marriage years, you feel the “romance in the air” and his true feelings.

“Alas! Yun came to this work a woman, but she had the feelings and abilities of a man. After she entered my home in marriage, I had to rush about daily t
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
It's fitting to note when this story was published - the dynasty in which it was published is the one I know the most about, so no wonder I liked it so much. (I had to study this time period for Chinese History in my undergraduate years of study - it spanned 1644 to 1912 - the book was written in the early 1800s) - the opera is loads of fun if you get into that! But please, let's stay focused on the book.

The author names quite a number of things that made me happy to read that I didn't remember
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, classics
I got this book from the library after recognizing it as a book in Penguin's Little Black Classics series. I had never heard of Shen Fu before, so I thought - what the hell, I need a classic from a previously unknown author. Although I had some other books planned for that point in the challenge, I decided to give this one a try.

This book engulfed me from the first page and kept me in its power until the last sentence. It was simply beautiful, a story of love.
Samir Ahmed
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The short novel is all about the blossoming of the relationship and the endless love of a married couple. The story throws light on how vital and pure the bond of love and marriage is between two people. The message is clear that even in hard times, being together is what matters most. The author has also emphasized on importance of friendship between wife and husband.
"next life" Damn! This gave me goosebumps!!
This book is one of the all time Chinese literature classic. Quick to finish, yet it
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
really liked this story, it wasn't boring even one second. what i would've liked? to have a less tangled story. there are too many names, to many cities (all of them Chinese), and the events are not shown in their order. overall liked it:) ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
A short story written in 1809 by a Chinese scholar. Some parts are lyrical, some too descriptive and the ending message seems strange: “I would advise all the husbands and wives in the world not to hate one another, certainly, but also not to love too deeply. As it is said, ‘An affectionate couple cannot grow old together.’ My example should serve as a warning to others.”
A tragic love story – or at least, that's what it seems to be. I found the gender roles to be the most interesting subject in this book. The narrator keeps lamenting the fact that his wife was born a woman, when she'd have so many privileges as a man. ...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a cute little story about love and hardships and life.
Margot Meanders
It's a beautifully written, reflective tale about marriage and life in old China. The language, descriptions are all a delight. Ir depicts the joys, and the trials and expresses regret at its short-livedness. Whether he warns us or expresses delight at deep love, it is a lovely, and loving read. ...more
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
It’s fascinating that it’s a real account of a passionate love from hundreds of years ago.
A heartbreaking and beautiful story.
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Shěn Fù (simplified Chinese: 沈复; traditional Chinese: 沈復; 1763–1825?), courtesy name Sanbai (三白), was a Chinese writer of the Qing Dynasty, best known for the novel Six Records of a Floating Life.

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