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This memoir of a life in the Qing dynasty reveals a sensitive and artistic man, who failed at the civil service examinations that were the gateway to official employment and had to settle for becoming an itinerant private secretary, dabbling unsuccessfully in making a living as an artist and a merchant. Aided by his intelligent and devoted wife, Yun, Shen Fu struggles to maintain the illusion that he is a scholarly man of leisure. Underlying Shen Fu's account are vivid examples of domestic life, rites and rituals, the workings of government, and the role of the courtesan in nineteenth-century China. Graham Sander's translation -- the first in nearly 30 years -- is a model of accuracy and fluency, bringing the subtleties of the original to light in English for the first time. His general introduction discusses themes in the work, the character of Shen Fu and Yun, Suzhou and the surrounding area, levels of society in the Qing, and the role of concubines. Annotation, a chronology of events, a glossary and maps are also included.