- An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art
About [Location: HOME > Literature > Confucian Classics > Commentaries on the Classics > Wujing yiyi]

Chinese Literature
Wujing yiyi

The Four Categories of Literature
The Wujing yiyi 五經異義 "Different Interpretions of the Meaning of the Five Classics" was a commentary to the Five Confucian Classics (Wujing 五經) written by the Eastern Han period 東漢 (25-220 CE) scholar Xu Shen 許慎, who is better known as the author of the character dictionary Shuowen jiezi 說文解字. The original book was 10 juan "scrolls" long, as the imperial bibliography Jingjizhi 經籍志 in the official dynastic history Suishu 隋書 says. The field of Confucian philosophy was during the whole Han period determined by the difference between the old-text and the new-text schools. Both had different interpretations of the Classics. Xu Shen was a representative of the Old-Text School, but in his commentary he pointed at the differences in the various interpretations of the Classics. The original book was lost at the end of the Tang period 唐 (618-907), but fragments of it have survived in a critical commentary to it, the Bo wujing yiyi 駁五經異義 that was written by the very late Han period scholar Zheng Xuan 鄭玄, who was the last and ultimate authority of Han period Confucianism. The commentary of Zheng Xuan is not mentioned in the Suishu jingji zhi, but only in the bibliographies of the histories Jiutangshu 舊唐書 and Xintangshu 新唐書.
The Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Yuan Jun 袁鈞 was the first who collected fragments of the Wujing yiyi. These are to be found in his publication Zhengshi yishu 鄭氏佚書 "Fragments of Zheng Xuan's writings". The two scholars Chen Shouqi 陳壽祺 (1771-1834) and Pi Xirui 皮錫瑞 wrote commentaries to these and further fragments of the Wujing yiyi found in the encyclopedias Chuxueji 初學記, Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚, Tongdian 通典 and Taiping yulan 太平御覽. These were Chen Shouqi's Wujing yiyi shuzheng 五經異義疏正 and Pi Xirui's Bo wujing yiyi shuzheng 駁五經異義疏證. An early collection of fragments allegedly compiled by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) publisher Wang Yingling 王應麟 was printed as a palace edition (Wuyingdian juzhen banben 武英殿聚珍版本) at the time when the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 was compiled, with the title Bo wujing yiyi and a length of 10 juan. Additional fragments collected by Zhu Yizun 朱彝尊 and Hui Dong 惠棟 were assembled in a supplement (Buyi 補遺). The search for other remains of the book continued, undertaken by scholars as Wang Fu 王復, Zhuang Shuzu 莊述祖, Qian Daxin 錢大昕 and Kong Guangsen 孔廣森. Chen Shouqi finally decided to do newly publish and comment all these fragments. He arranged them thematically and added his own commentaries to these sentences. It was printed in the collection of Chen's writings, Chen Zuohai quanji 陳左海全集 and is included in the reprint series Huang-Qing jingjie 皇清經解. Other editions are Zhengxue sizhong 鄭學四種, Zhengxue wuzhong 鄭學五種, Zhengxue shibazhong 鄭學十八種 and Gaomi yishu 高密遺書.

Sources: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (ed. 1996), Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, pp. 460, 508. ● Sheng Guangzhi 盛廣智 (1996), "Wujing yiyi 五經異義", "Bo wujing yiyi 駁五經異義", and "Wujing yiyi shuzheng 五經異義疏證",in Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), p. 296.

September 13, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
Chinese Literature over time