何为贤妻 To Be A Virtuous Wife

Cover of TBVW

Author’s summary of “A Virtuous Wife”:


As a virtuous wife, does it include tolerating his cousin, enduring his concubines, bearing his mother?


If you will not let me live freely, why would I let you live in satisfaction?


Did fate let women time-travel so she could learn the three morals and four virtues? [1]


Rather than act like a coward and live, it would be better to live in satisfaction and die.

[1] 三从四德: Three morals: obey the father in childhood, obey the husband in marriage and obey the son in widowhood. Four virtues: be moral, be proper in speech, have physical charm and skill in needlework.

Translator Warnings: Mentions of physical punishment and violence. Some non-explicit sex scenes.

Author Info: 月下蝶影 (Yue Xia Die Ying). The author’s name is very poetic – the shadow of the butterfly under the moon. She has actually physically published one novel, 妃嫔这职业.(A loose meaning of the title would be “This Profession – A Consort”. )

The Title: This novel is 何为贤妻 and this title can be very subject to interpretation. 何 is what/how/why/which. 为 is for or to. 贤妻 is virtuous wife. So the title could mean “What is a virtuous wife?”, “Why be a virtuous wife?”, or “How to be a virtuous wife?”. And really, the title describes this novel very well. From the summary, “Why be a virtuous wife?” may be the most appropriate translation but all the questions are examined in some way so the title is “To Be A Virtuous Wife”.

Glossary (Definitions for the entire translation)
Historical Information (culture and background for this book)
Table of Contents
My Review

40 thoughts on “何为贤妻 To Be A Virtuous Wife”

  1. Hello! Thank you so much for translating “Just One Smile”; the book was so much fun! The H was a perfect mix of black belly and devoted boyfriend, and hurray for a h that wasn’t completely ditzy! Gu Man’s book are love.
    Regarding your next project… Would you consider helping with the translation of Gu Man’s “Blazing Sunshine”? The translator, Peanuts, is great, but she’s very busy and she can only do a chapter or so every month. The wait is killing me… 🙁 I’m sorry of it’s a bad idea; I only thought of it because you seem to like Gu Man, too. Obviously. 🙂
    Or if not, would you consider translating a popular Ding Mo book? From what I’ve read on shusheng bar, she seems to be a well-loved writer, and unfortunately, no one is translating her anymore.
    Thank you, again.

    1. Blazing Sunshine … … I think only part one is complete so I haven’t read it yet. The wait apparently is agonizing for online GuMan fans.

      Since Peanuts is already translating BS, I won’t take it over. One chapter a month isn’t very bad, it’s actually a good way to moderate so you don’t burn yourself out (I read fanfiction and I’ve seen many authors burn themselves out writing ~100,000 a week for a few months and then never writing again). I’m not sure about Peanut’s schedule. I only appear to be translating fast, WWYXHQC took me a year, this new translation is seven months in the making and I’m not close to being done.

      Ding MO… … she did the mystery novels. I didn’t read the snail one (如果蜗牛有爱情) but I read one of her other ones with a translator (他来了,请闭眼,–> He has come, please close your eyes) and I have to admit that the crime scenes freaked me out. I love the sedate calm tone when she writes about their interactions but just the sheer amount of horror/fear I feel (because she’s a really good writer) when I read about the crimes in her novels makes her novels a really hard one for me to translate. Her novels are thrilling to read, but it will just be so hard for me to translate at this point with my skills (I’m unable to divide myself from the text sometimes. Happy things happen in the novel and I’m cheerful, then I get in a bad mood if conflict happens)

      1. Ooh, so you haven’t read Blazing Sunlight yet… I admire your restraint; wish I had resisted the temptation as well until book 2 is published. :(( Peanuts is honestly doing a great job with the translation; I’m just such a greedy fangirl who’d like to gobble the entire novel right up. 🙂 I’ll just have to exercise patience…
        Re: Ding Mo. Thank you for explaining; I completely understand. Good thing, there’s plenty of other authors with cheerful novels that you can pick and choose from, and now that I’ve found your site, I’ll support whatever you decide to translate. 🙂
        I have one huge favor to ask (and I apologize if I’m being too bold)… but could you please help me out with some links where I can find Ding Mo’s books online to read with a translator? I’m Chinese illiterate, and shusheng bar links to forum posts with no clear chapter separation are too hard for me to navigate. If you could shoot me an email (by clicking on my name above and using the contact form on my wordpress blog), I’d be so, so grateful. Thank you.

  2. Are you looking for suggestions? If so, how about Alluring Poisonous Consort: Overwhelms the Demonic King? Or are ancient romance novels not an interest!

    1. The page is up to prepare for when I start posting the new project. Do you have the Chinese name of the book? I like ancient romance (and that’s what I’m translating for the new project).

      1. I’m not sure. It was part of the one chapter series that flowerbridgetoo does- won’t be translating past that one chapter. It’s a time traveling ancient romance. I left a note on he/her blog

      2. 倾城毒妃:压倒妖魅陛下 Qing Cheng Du Fei: Ya Dao Yao Mei Bi Xia

      3. I hope u enjoy it. It seems like it might be a fun read

  3. I used to read previous novel of this author:“This Profession – A Consort”. (Some generous Thai translator have post it.)
    I am so sure want to read this too!! Thanks in advance for translating this!!!

  4. Could I maybe suggest a novel too? It’s A mistaken marriage match: Record of washed grievances by Qian Lu. 😀 pretty great novel and very interesting story! It’s a HE too xD clover nook was translating it but it’s on a hiatus due to personal reasons. 😮 she said that if anyone was willing to take over it she would welcome them. XD

  5. Thank you very much for your hard work..it’s a very beautiful story..can’t wait for your next project…if you don’t mind, how about “The Bastard Daughter Is Poisonius” aka “Princess Weiyoung”…

  6. Hello, I love this story and want to thank you for spending your time translating it for us! I do have a question that I puzzle over while reading To Be A Virtuous Wife (not limited to just this story but it is mentioned a lot within it) and that is: why do the noble ladies always have a maid supporting them when they walk? My friend thinks it’s a reference to bound feet but I was wondering if it was to show a noble woman’s status – to always have a retainer nearby. Did noble ladies just have terrible shoes? Having a woman retainer holding the hand of noble females while out walking is also mentioned in Chu Wang Fei. Do you know why?

    1. There’s no bound feet at this story so that’s not the case here, but it might be in other novels. It’s a matter of status and also for personal comfort. For example, the servants are usually mentioned when their mistress is climbing into a carriage or stepping over a doorway. Those are places easy to trip up, especially if they are wearing finery.

  7. Wtf?
    Look, i understand that translating is hard work but there are 36 chinese words in the first chapter. I couldnt understand any of them, sure, you explained what the mean but do you expect me to learn and remember what they mean? Translations are supossed to translate something to make it understandable in a different language but i cant understand this!!!
    This looked like an interesting novel but how am i supossed to read it with all those chinese words? I would need to spend at least an hour to memorize all these words and that was only the first chapter!!!!
    I hope the other novels that youve translated arent like this… i can understand there being 1-3 chinese words per chapter because they sound good or just to give the chapter a better feel but 36 is to much.

  8. Thank you for the hard work as it is not easy to translate Chinese novel. Love the some information in chinese character as It has helped me a lot as a newbie who just started to learn about Chinese language and wish one day I can read Chinese novel as raw .. Thank you

  9. “Did fate let women time-travel so she could learn the three morals and four virtues?”

    The usage of the word women here confused me a little, because it denotes women as a group of people not a singular woman, I had to reread to make sure that it wasn’t talking about fate allowing all women to travel through time, not sure if you find this nitpicky but just thought I’d let you know.

    1. It’s a sarcastic reference to the common cliche of time-travelling for women in Chinese novels. In those cases, most women end up being “perfect” by making money, supporting their husbands and their families.

      1. Thanks, I was on that sentence for a good 5 minutes trying to figure it out. I guess it’s because I usually read male mc stories I didn’t get the connotation.

  10. Hello, I am wonder if you would allow me to post your translation on another site namely, Wattpad. I did not find any copyright information on your website so I have not done anything. If you were to allow me to post your translation, I would give all credits to you and the author of the original book and post a link to your website. If you don’t want me to just tell and I will drop the idea because it is your hard work and I respect that. Thank you for your time.

  11. I read it in one go! The novel was very interesting) you have a good taste! Thank you for your wonderful translation! The extra information on culture is very appreciated, helped to be more immersed in the story!

  12. What a Lucky FIND! Am so glad i ran into ur site for (Love O2O)”A smile is very Alluring”. The way you write the novel AND the explanation made me want continue reading your posts! Just started this one and already on chapter 4… am an avid reader… love books… but u just turned me into an avid reader reading your posts! xD

  13. I came here for an English novel… not a half translated one… many words are not properly translated… this is the notes for chapter 1…


    [1]端王府: 端王 is Duan Wang. Duan (端) means straight, upright; proper if it is used as an adjective. As a noun, it primarily means the beginning, end, or the limit. 王 can mean both a prince or a king. However, the highest power belongs to the emperor, not a 王. 府 is a compound, house or mansion. Fu (府) can only be labelled and called as such if it is bestowed as part of a position or inherited in the aristocracy. Families can be referred to using their actual surname or the name of their fu so it becomes the House of —–, similar to Western royalty. 端王府 is therefore the household and the mansion that was bestowed to Prince Duan when he received his title.

    [2]婆子: literally old woman. There are three primary meanings: baggage – a despicable/pitiful woman, a wife, or an old female servant. Only the last meaning is relevant in this case. Po zi are usually lower ranked servants, used for common-labor or other tasks.

    [3]内院: The “inner courtyard” where the women reside. It also refers to the interactions and social spaces of women. See more in the glossary on the fu.

    [4] 丫鬟: servant girl, can also be called yatou (丫头). Equivalent to maids.

    [5] 夹袄: lined jacket. Wide sleeves and a length to the waist. This style was common during the Ming and especially the Qing dynasties.

    [6] 正院: The main building or the primary building. The residence of the wife. See more in the glossary on the fu.

    [7] 王妃: the wife of a 王or prince. 妃, on its own, is one of the highest ranks of imperial concubine under the Empress.

    [8] 姑娘: young lady, or young girl.

    [9] 红帐子: the red canopy refers to both the decorations for the wedding, and also the bedroom canopy that covers the bed.

    [10] 王爷: the pronoun to refer to a wang in normal conversation.

    [11] 侧妃: ce(侧) means side. Ce fei refers to a “secondary wife”.

    [12] 鸡血玉镯: the literal translation would be chicken blood (鸡血) jade bracelet/bangle(玉镯)but phoenix blood is another name for the type of stone.

    [13] 罗裙: luo qun, silk dress.

    [14] 蜀绣: the style of embroidery originated from Sichuan so it is also called chuan-style. It is one of the four primary styles of embroidery in China.

    [15] 络子: laozi, it’s an ornament that’s usually made through knotting, such as the classic Chinese knot, to create various shapes.

    [16] 飞仙髻: flying(飞)immortal(仙) knot/braid(髻)

    [17]鸾鸟:mythical bird related to the phoenix

    [18] 步摇:dangling hair ornament or literally step shake

    [19] 请安: literally ask/request (请) safety/comfort(安). It is performed in the morning by all females of the family in the household to the eldest female, the mother of the highest ranking male member of the family, or in the absence of that, his wife. This includes daughters, concubines, sisters and if the family has not separated and the brothers live together, their wives would also go.

    [20] 后院: back(后) courtyard(院). Another way of referring to the neiyuan, the main difference is that houyuan is more commonly used to refer specifically to the women who were concubines of assorted rank and social status.

    [21] 妾侍 (qieshi): general term referring to all concubines

    [22] 本王妃: this(本) wangfei(王妃). Ben (本) is used by a speaker to refer to themselves in the third person (illeism). This form of speaking is used for more formal occasions, usually when the speaker is part of a conversation among equals or as the highest ranking person in the room.

    [23] 侍妾: shiqie. Lower in rank than ce fei but not the lowest in terms of rank among concubines.

    [24] 大丫鬟: da for big(大) or first-rank. These are the highest ranked yahuan who have the most experience and spent the most time with the female they serve. According, they receive better treatment than other yahuan.

    [25] 西园: literally the Western Park. It would be a set of rooms on the western side of the compound.

    [26] 妾: qie.Shortened and very general name for concubine

    [27] 宠爱: chong(宠) is to pamper/spoil/love. Ai(爱) is love. Chongai is a very different concept than love. It usually refers to the amount often a man has sexual congress with one of his concubines. The more nights they have, the more chong the concubines is said to have. Favor and affection are terms that are very similar to the concept of chongai.

    [28]氏: shi means clan name. Women, upon marriage, are identified by their surname and it is very rare that their personal name is recorded. This is the case even for princesses. They would then be referred to as ––shi, to identify the family they came from.

    [29] 昌德公府: Chang De(昌德) is the name associated with the title, meaning flourishing/prosperous (昌) virtue(德). Gong(公) means that it is a dukedom. 公府 is therefore the ducal compound.

    [30] 太监: eunuchs, who were men that were castrated, are not the same as taijian as taijian refers to specific positions in the Imperial palace and government which were occupied by men that were castrated.

    [31] 殿中省: department under the Chancellery, responsible for all aspects of the Emperor’s life.

    [32] 奴才: literally meaning slave. It’s the illeism used by servants to refer to themselves when talking to those in rank above them.

    [33] 嬷嬷: while it is pronounced mama, it refers to old female servants, and is used similarly to pozi.

    [34] 小高子: xiao(小) is small, gaozi(高子) means tall.

    [35] 太医 (taiyi): imperial physician. It is an official position.

    [36] 小白菜: it means little cabbage. There is a song lyric where it is “little cabbage, from childhood, there was no dad or mom”. It is also the nickname of a woman in one of the major murder cases in 1872, nicknamed so as she wore a white shirt and green pants. She was childhood friends with a man who grew up to participate in the government exams and became a government official. However, she was a childhood bride and therefore had to marry into another family. When the two grew up, the man was accused of adultery with Little Cabbage and murdering her husband due to machinations of another official in revenge. After various ordeals and torture, the truth was revealed. However, the man’s body was ruined by the torture and couldn’t return to his position. He quickly died after and Little Cabbage became a nun.


    I’m very bad with remembering the names of characters and often mistake the protagonist for a side character and side characters for the protagonist. And now I come to a story where the are several words/sounds that I need to memorize (I failed). I tried to keep two tabs open and just switch back and forth to understand but that made it hard to remember what was going on in the story. I could even make it through a quarter of the first chapter before it gave me a headache. I was looking forward to this story but I’m going to have to skip it.

    Could a kind soul maybe translate this to English and post the chapter links on novel updates?
    Of coarse I would like it to be translated into ENGLISH not ENGRISH…
    I don’t mind spelling mistakes or grammar mistakes at all.

    If someone could tell me a place where this was machine translated that would be fine too.
    I really would like to give this story a try after all.

    Thx to any people out there who help!

    … accidentally posted this in the table of contents instead of here…
    Is this the proper place to poste this? It should be… I think…

  14. Wow… why did you delete my comment?!
    All I did was comment on how it would be nice if all the words were in English and not just sound like English…

    Are you going around deleting all the comments you don’t like?

    1. You are caught in the wordpress spam because you commented double. Also, you are posting links to other websites which is usually a reason for getting categorized as spam.

  15. I dunno if my comment went through before or not but THANK YOU for translating this pearl and making it available for us all! This story has shaken my heart and I can’t stop thinking about it.

  16. This is probably my 4th or 5th time rereading this story. I want to say ‘Thank you’ for translating this and also convey my appreciation for maintaining certain Chinese terms and names. A lot of the expression in the story would have been lost if you had translated it to English as there sometimes are approximates but no actual real word or term in English to describe it accurately. The fact that you took the time put in notes to explain them is very well done and reflective of your care towards readers. So thank you again!

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