辞尚体要 – Chinese philosophy and culture

cí shàng tǐ yào 辞尚体要

Succinctness Is Valued in Writing.

文辞要切实简要地传达文章所要表达的主要意思或主要内容。“体要”,体现精要。源于《尚书》,原指政令、法规的文辞应体现精要或切实简要,刘勰(465?—520?)将它引入文学批评,强调文辞须切实精当,体现文章的要义。这一术语体现了中国文化推崇的“尚简”传统,即以简练精当的文辞传达出充实、概括性的内容,不能为了追求文辞上的标新立异而忽略文章本来要表达的主要内容。这一要求,后来成为古文写作的基本要求,对文学创作起着重要的指导作用。

Writing should be substantive and succinct in expressing main ideas or key content. “Succinctness” means to capture the essence. The idea comes from The Book of History, originally referring to the requirement that government edicts and regulations should be terse and to the point. Liu Xie (465?-520?) applied this into literary criticism, emphasizing that writing should be both substantive and pithy, striving to capture the essence. This term reflects the traditional pursuit for “succinctness” in Chinese culture, which prefers to convey a rich message in a concise way rather than seek novel expressions that may overshadow the essence of the writing. Later on, this became a fundamental requirement for the classical style of writing and provided important guidance for literary creation.

引例 Citations:

◎政贵有恒,辞尚体要,不惟好异。(《尚书·毕命》)

(国家的大政贵在稳定持久,国家的话语贵在切实简要,不能一味追求标新立异。)

What is most valuable for governance lies in its sustained stability, advocating substantial and straightforward wording, not seeking novelty. (The Book of History)

◎盖《周书》论辞,贵乎体要;尼父陈训,恶乎异端。(刘勰《文心雕龙·序志》)

(《周书》里讲到文辞,认为重在体现要义;孔子陈述教训,憎恨异端邪说。)

When discussing writing, The Book of Zhou (of The Book of History) believes that succinctness matters most. When recounting past lessons, Confucius detested unorthodox beliefs. (Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)

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