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An odorous anecdote from the Qing dynasty


Wang Shaoxiang used to practise poetic composition. As [he] lived in an outlying place, [he] boasted about his poems before even mastering the tonal rules, flattering himself to be a poet. One year, [he] visited the capital and gifted others with his poems at every opportunity. Li Jiuxi came across his poem and wrote the words “dog fart” on it. Someone said, “Why do you knock him like that?” Li replied, “That was already a first-grade comment. [I’ve got] other words for the second and third grades – then we are talking about serious knocking.” Someone [else] asked for further explanation. [Li] then said, “‘Dog fart’ means that a person lets out a dog’s fart: in his poems, there are still decent passages, just with occasional dog farts. The second grade is ‘farting dog’: a dog doesn’t fart all day long, so the farts are not excessive in the end. The third grade is ‘fart dog’: the dog is named after farting, and it’s full of dog farts.”

* An anecdote from Xu Ke 徐珂 (1869-1928) ed., Qing bai leichao 清稗類鈔 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2010), vol. 4, 1676-77.

Original painting: "Liequan tu" 獵犬圖 (Hunting dog) by Li Di 李迪 (fl. 12th century) from the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (


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