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Jin Shengtan

Jin Shengtan (金聖歎 jin1 sheng4 tan4) (1608-1661) was a Chinese editor and critic, who has been called the champion of the bai hua (vernacular) Chinese literature. However, from 1940s to 1970s in Mainland China, Jin was regarded as a person who did not appreciate the peasant revolutions in the books he edited.

Birth family name: Zhang (張 zhang1)
Birth given name: Cai (采 cai3)
Changed family name: Jin (金 jin1)
Changed given name: Kui (喟 kui4)
: Shengtan (聖歎 sheng4 tan4)

Jin edited, commented on, and added introductions and interlinear notes to the popular novels: Shui hu zhuan (《水滸傳》 Water Margin), San guo yanyi (《三國演義》 Romance of the Three Kingdoms), and Xi xiang ji (《西廂記》 Record of the West Room).

Falsely accussed, Jin Shengtan was guillotined at the age of 54 with 18 of his friends. This incident is called "Weeping for the Temples" (哭廟案). His last words were:

"Beheading, an excruciating thing; drinking, an exhilarating thing. To drink before to be headed, very excruciatingly exhilarating. Very."
「割頭,痛事也;飲酒,快事也。割頭而先飲酒,痛快痛快。」

Note: to be "painfully happy" in Chinese does not have any pain-related connotation, it merely means "happy without restraint".

It is said that before his death, he asked a letter to be sent home. The official was, however, suspicious of Jin defaming him or the royalty, so he opened it after the Jin was guillotined, discovering two sentences:

"If you eat salty vegetable with yellow beans, somehow it tastes eerily like pepper. If this receipe is spread around, I have died without any regret."
「鹽菜與黃豆同吃,大有胡桃滋味。此法一傳,我無遺憾矣。」



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