The Lüshi chunqiu 呂氏春秋 "Spring and Autumn of Master Lü" is a collection of treatises on cosmological matters from the late Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE). It is said to have been compiled by the numerous retainers of Lü Buwei 呂不韋, counselor-in-chief of the state of Qin 秦. Retainers of nobles during that time were often men of higher education who represented a philosophical school or school of thinkers. They were used not only to entertain their master but also to provide him with useful knowledge or advice in daily politics. There is also the title of Lülan 呂覽 "Lü's examinations".
The Lüshi chunqiu consists of 8 chapters of examinations (lan 覽), 6 chapters of discourses (lun 論), and 16 chapters of almanachs (ji 紀), in 160 parts. In ancient bibliographies it is normally listed among the miscellaneous masters (zajia 雜家), although it contains also Confucian and Daoist thought as well as theories of the nominalists (mingjia 名家), legalists, Mohists, agronomists and the Yin-Yang thinkers. Although the Lüshi chunqiu has been compiled by the hands of many authors the final redaction must have been in the hands of an excellent team, as the whole composition is very consistent and integrative. It covers a vast range of topics, beginning with the seasons, the corresponding phenology and the integrative correlation of all appearances in the universe, and treating all different matters in state and society, economy, military, and behaviour. It thus serves as a handbook for a person in a high position to better understand the correlations of all things on earth. The language of the Lüshi chunqiu is very vivid, especially by the use of parables and allegories and the many semi-historical stories reported.
There is a commentary by the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) scholar Gao You 高誘. Because of its categorization as a "miscellaneous book" it lost attraction for long centuries. Only during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholars again became interested in this comprehensive manual, like Bi Yuan 畢沅 who wrote the commentary Lüshi chunqiu xin jiaozheng 呂氏春秋新校正. The two most important modern commentaries are Xu Weiyu’s 許維遹 Lüshi chunqiu jizhi 呂氏春秋集釋 and Chen Qiyou’s 陳奇猷 Lüshi chunqiu jiaoshi 呂氏春秋校釋.
There is a complete translation into English by John Knoblock (2000). The Annals of Lü Buwei. Stanford: Stanford University Press. A translation into French by Ivan P. Kamenarovic (1998). Printemps et Automnes de Lü Buwei. Paris: Éditions du Cerf. And a partial translation into German by Richard Wilhelm (1928). Frühling und Herbst des Lü Bu We. Jena: Diederichs.
Hong Zhanhou 洪湛侯 (1986). "Lüshi chunqiu 呂氏春秋", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學, vol. 1, pp. 491-492. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
Mou Zhongjian 牟鍾鋻 (1992). "Lüshi chunqiu 呂氏春秋", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 2, p. 629. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
紀 Ji The Almanacs
1. 孟春紀 Mengchun The first month of spring
2. 仲春紀 Zhongchun The second month of spring
3. 季春紀 Jichun The third month of spring
4. 孟夏紀 Mengxia The first month of summer
5. 仲夏紀 Zhongxia The second month of summer
6. 季夏紀 Jixia The third month of summer
7. 孟秋紀 Mengqiu The first month of autumn
8. 仲秋紀 Zhongqiu The second month of autumn
9. 季秋紀 Jiqiu The third month of autumn
10. 孟冬紀 Mengdong The first month of winter
11. 仲冬紀 Zhongdong The second month of winter
12. 季冬紀 Jidong The third month of winter
覽 Lan The Examinations
1.(13.) 有始覽 Youshi The beginning
2.(14.) 孝行覽 Xiaoxing Filial conduct
3.(15.) 慎大覽 Shenda Being careful when [the state] is large
4.(16.) 先識覽 Xianshi Foreknowledge
5.(17.) 審分覽 Shenfen On examining divisions [of responsibility]
6.(18.) 審應覽 Shenying Examining responses
7.(19.) 離俗覽 Lisu Departing from conventional [conduct]
8.(20.) 恃君覽 Shijun Relying on rulers
論 Lun The Discourses
1.(21.) 開春論 Kaichun The opening of spring
2.(22.) 慎行論 Shenxing Being cautious in one's conduct
3.(23.) 貴直論 Guizhi Valuing straight [talk]
4.(24.) 不苟論 Bugou Nothing indecorous
5.(25.) 似順論 Sishun Apparent accord
6.(26.) 士容論 Shirong The comportment of the scholar-knight