Autobiography of Huai Su Note V - Vincent's Calligraphy

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"稽山賀老粗知名,吳郡張顛曾不" or "稽山賀老粗知名,吳郡張顛曾不" ?
KS Vincent Poon Jan. 2017

There are considerable debate on whether the last character of the phrase "吳郡張顛曾不(易/面)" written in the Autobiography is "易" or "面".  Here, I have concluded that it should be "易" based on the following two reasons:

1. The Su version carries the script that can be interpreted as "易" or "面":



However the Shu version certainly carries the script that can only be interpreted as "易":



Below is an entry in the calligraphy dictionary "行草大字典", which clearly indicates the script in the Shu version is "易":


Source: 蕭勞,《行草大字典》,北京:中國書店,1981年

2. "吳郡張顛曾不面" makes little sense and is unreasonable in the context of the Autobiography. Some contends that "吳郡張顛曾不面" means "吳郡張顛也從不曾見過" ("Wu Prefecture's Zhang Xu had not met Huai Su before"), but this is quite unreasonable given this part of the Autobiography is about praising Huai Su's calligraphic skills; how is "Wu Prefecture's Zhang Xu had not met Huai Su before" a sentence praising Huai Su?

Therefore the correct sentence should be "吳郡張顛曾不易".  Taken together with the preceding sentence, the entire phrase is "稽山賀老粗知名,吳郡張顛曾不易" which means "稽山賀知章名(懷素), 吳郡張顛替代他(懷素)風格" and is translated here as "Even the respected elder He (Zhizhang) of the Mount Kuaiji had heard of his (Huai Su’s) name, and certainly Wu Prefecture’s Zhang the Madman (Zhang Xu) cannot replace (Huai Su’s styles)”.

Note:
中央研究院 搜詞尋字:

粗: 略微。如:粗知一二;粗具規模。《文選‧張衡〈東京賦〉》:“值余有犬馬之疾,不能究其精詳,故粗為賓言其梗既熷木如此。”李𠻘注引薛綜曰:“粗猶略也。”《晉書‧忠義傳‧嵇紹》:“華歷位內外,雖粗有𠻘事,然闔棺之責,著于遠近,兆禍始亂,華實為之。”宋沈括《夢溪筆談‧辯證一》:“今酒之至醨者,每秫一斛,不過成酒一斛五斗。若如漢法,則粗有酒氣而已。”

曾: 副詞。表示相承,相當於“則”、“是”、“就”。《廣雅‧釋言》:“曾,是也。”《廣韻‧登韻》:“曾,則也。”《淮南子‧脩務》:“三代與我同行,五伯與我齊智,彼獨有聖智之實,我曾無有閭里之聞,窮巷之知者何﹖”高誘注:“曾,則也。”

易: 替代。《左傳‧僖公三十年》:“因人之力而敝之,不仁;失其所與,不知;以亂易整,不武。”《漢書‧趙堯傳》:“(高祖)孰視堯曰:‘無以易堯。’遂拜堯為御史大夫。”顏師古注:“言堯可為之,餘人不能勝也。易,代也。”《新唐書‧魏徵傳》:“以暴易暴,與亂同道。”

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