信言不美,美言不信 – Chinese philosophy and culture

xìn yán bù měi, měi yán bù xìn 信言不美,美言不信

Trustworthy Words May Not Be Fine-sounding; Fine-sounding Words May Not Be Trustworthy.

可信的话并不漂亮,漂亮的话多不可信。老子鉴于当时社会风气与文风的浮华不实,倡导返朴归真与自然平淡的生活方式和文学风格。魏晋时代,文人崇尚自然素朴,反对虚浮华丽的创作风气,出现了像陶渊明这样伟大的诗人,文艺创作也倡导真实自然的思想与风格。自此之后,中国古代文艺以素朴自然为最高的审美境界。

To address the extravagance in social mores and in the style of writing of his time, Laozi advocated simple and natural lifestyles and literary presentations. During the Wei and Jin dynasties, men of letters valued natural and simple literary styles and were opposed to extravagant and superficial styles. This line of thought led to the emergence of great poets like Tao Yuanming, and shaped literary writings to reflect direct thoughts and natural expressions. Subsequently, ancient Chinese literature and art took simplicity and naturalness as the highest aesthetic standards.

引例 Citations:

◎信言不美,美言不信。善者不辩,辩者不善。(《老子·八十一章》)

(可信的话并不漂亮,漂亮的话多不可信。善良的人往往不能能言善辩,能言善辩的人往往不善良。)

Trustworthy words may not be fine-sounding; fine-sounding words may not be trustworthy. A kind-hearted person may not be an eloquent speaker; a glib person is often not kind. (Laozi)

◎老子疾伪,故称“美言不信”,而五千精妙,则非弃美矣。(刘勰《文心雕龙·情采》)

(老子憎恶虚伪矫饰,所以他认为“漂亮的话多不可信”。但他自己写的《道德经》五千言,思想深刻而文笔优美,可见他并没有摒弃文章之美。)

Laozi detested pretense, so he said, “Flowery rhetoric words may not be trustworthy.” However, the 5,000-word Dao De Jing (another name of Laozi) he wrote is not only profound in ideas but reads beautifully. That means he was not opposed to writings using fine words. (Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)

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