传神写照 – Chinese philosophy and culture

chuán shén xiě zhào 传神写照

Convey the Spirit and Capture the Person

指文学艺术作品中所描绘或刻画的人物生动逼真、形神兼备。“传神”是将人物内在的精神世界完全表现出来,使人物栩栩如生;“写照”就是画像,所绘人物形象逼真,如在目前。初为画论术语,后引入文学领域,是画家、文学家在塑造人物形象及一切艺术形象时所追求的艺术境界。

This term refers to literary descriptions of characters which are accurate both in form and in spirit. Chuan shen (传神), to “convey the spirit,” is to fully express the spiritual world within the character, so that he comes to life; xie zhao (写照), to “capture the person,” is to create a vivid physical depiction of him. These expressions were originally used in discussions of art but were later introduced into literature. They represent an artistic state which artists and writers try to achieve as they create images of people as well as all artistic images.

引例 Citations:

◎四体妍蚩(chī),本无关于妙处,传神写照,正在阿堵中。(刘义庆《世说新语·巧艺》)

(人物形象的美丑,本来显现不出画作的高妙之处;真正能够让人物形神兼备、生动鲜活起来的地方,就是那个眼睛。)

The heights of artistry do not lie in whether or not someone’s physical shape is well portrayed. Rather, it is the eyes which convey the spirit and capture the person. (Liu Yiqing: A New Account of the Tales of the World)

◎空中荡漾最是词家妙诀。上意本可接入下意,却偏不入。而于其间传神写照,乃愈使下意,栩栩欲动。(刘熙载《艺概·词概》)

(在本应接着抒情表意的地方故意转写他事从而留出意义上的空白,是填词高手的妙诀。抒情表意本可前后相接,但作者偏偏没有接写反而转向其他的描写或叙事,通过空白愈发将人物的内心活动鲜活地传达出来,使得接下来的抒情表意更为鲜明灵动、栩栩如生。)

It is a subtle trick of great writers to deliberately change the subject or to leave something unsaid. Where one thought can give rise to another, the author deliberately refrains from doing so, and instead turns to other descriptions or narratives, thus creating a void which conveys the spirit and captures the person. By doing so, lyrical expression becomes even more vivid and lifelike. (Liu Xizai: Overview of Literary Theories)

◎描画鲁智深,千古若活,真是传神写照妙手。(李贽《李卓吾先生批评忠义水浒传》)

(作者所刻画的鲁智深,即使千年以后也还活在人们眼前,真是善于传神写照的高手啊!)

The image of Lu Zhishen portrayed by the author remains lifelike even after a thousand years. He is truly a master who can convey the spirit and capture the person! (Li Zhi’s Annotations on Outlaws of the Marsh)

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