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Nü lunyu 女論語

Jun 20, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Nü lunyu 女論語 "The analects for girls" is a book on female conduct. It was written by the Tang-period 唐 (618-907) female writer Song Ruoxin 宋若莘 (d. 820?) in imitation of the Confucian Classic Lunyu 論語 "Confucian Analects".

The Nü lunyu therefore also belongs to the so-called Nü sishu 女四書, the "Four Books for Girls", like the ("Male") Lunyu belongs to the Canon of the Four Books (sishu 四書). Similar to the Lunyu, the Nü lunyu is constructed in a question-and-answer style in which Song Ruoxin answers the questions of her daughters. The book was revised by her sister Song Ruozhao 宋若昭 (761-828).

There are two versions of the book. One includes 10 chapters and a preface written by Song Ruoxin. The other version is that included in the Nü sishu. It has 12 chapters, the two additional parts written in four-syllable verses in a quite crude language.

According to the Nü lunyu, a wife must not only be inferior and subservient, but she has to be wise, intelligent and educated. The has to do female work and to manage the household. It is therefore necessary that, with such a great responsibility, a woman first has to establish herself in life and to become a real personality. She must be pure, sincere, trustful, quiet, discrete and honest.

Table 1. Contents of the Nü lunyu 女論語
立身 Lishen Establishing oneself
學作 Xuezuo Learning conduct
學禮 Xueli Learning etiquette
早起 Zaoqi Getting up early
事父母 Shi fumu Serving the partens
事舅姑 Shi jiugu Serving the parents-in-law
事夫 Shifu Serving the husband
訓男女 Xun nannü Instrucing men and women
營家 Yingjia Managing the household
待客 Daike Treating guests
Supplement:
守節 Shoujie Reservation and sparingness
和柔 Herou Harmony and tenderness
Sources:
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Guo Shuxin 郭淑新 (2011). "Nü lunyu tedian ji yingxiang tanze 《女論語》特點及影響探賾", Lilun yu xiandaihua 理論與現代化, 2011 (5).
Liu Yanfei 劉燕飛 (2008). "Song Ruoxin jiemei yu Nü lunyu yanjiu 宋若莘姐妹與《女論語》研究", Hebei Daxue xuebao (Zhexue shehui kexue ban ) 河北大學學報(哲學社會科學版), 2008 (4).
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