Chinese Idiom: "Pan's Writing and Yue's Ideas Made a Perfect Article"

Li Demin, Ed.

PureInsight | November 10, 2003

[] The Chinese idiom, "Pan's writing and Yue's ideas made a perfect article" originated from "The Biography of Yue Guang" in The History of the Jin Dynasty. It is a story about Yue Guang, a famous litterateur from the Western Jin Dynasty, who was a very eloquent orator, but was not good at writing. Yue Guang wanted to resign from the position of Governor of Henan Province, but he did not know how to write the letter of resignation in such a way so that it could persuade the emperor to grant his request.

Pan Yue was Yue Guang's contemporary, a great writer. Zhong Rong of the Liang Dynasty collected Pan Yue's works in his book, The Collections of Poems and ranked them as the best in the book. Pan's writing even won him such praise as, "Pan's talent flows naturally like a running river." Eventually, Yue Guang asked Pan Yue to write the resignation letter for him. Pan Yue obliged but said, "I would only be able to write this letter after I know your thoughts and ideas." Yue Guang then eloquently described for Pan Yue his ideas within two hundred sentences, and Pan Yue did his best to describe Yue Guang's ideas in the letter of resignation. The letter was so well written that Pan Yue gained fame as a writer.

At that time people all said, "It took both Yue Guang's ideas and Pan Yue's talent in writing to make such a perfect letter."

Later on, Chinese people started to use the idiom "Pan's writing and Yue's ideas" to praise an article with elegant prose as well as great ideas. This idiom also means that people of different skills can cooperate with each other to complete a joint task successfully.

Translated from

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