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Chinese Literature
Hanshi 函史


The Four Categories of Literature
Hanshi 函史 "History in a case" is a universal history written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Deng Yuanxi 鄧元錫 (1529-1593), courtesy name Ruji 汝極, style Qiangu 潛谷. The book imitates Zheng Qiao's 鄭樵 Tongzhi 通志 from the Song period 宋 (960-1279) and is divided into two parts, the first (shangbian 上編) having a length of 81 juan and including imperial annals and individual biographies (jizhuan 紀傳), the second (xiabian 下編) of 21 juan, with twenty-one treatises (lüeTongzhi had been based on the official biographies, while the treatises were a real novelty. Deng changed this concept and put much energy in the arrangement of the biographies, callign those of highest antiquity "tables" (biao 表) because they were quite brief, the royal annals ji 紀, those of the feudal states zhi 志, the biographies of queens and royal consorts neiji 內紀, that of "counsellors", i.e. high ministers mo 謨, that of scholars shu 述, and that of outstanding Confucian masters xun 訓 (while that of Confucius was a biao). From imperial times on all biographies are called liezhuan 列傳. Collective biographies of experts on the Classics, writers, persons of outstanding virtues, and so on, were attached to the end of each dynasty. To this group, a chapter on strange phenomena (wuxing 物性) was added. Most disappointing is that Deng Yuanxi totally ignored the Sui period 隋 (581-618) and the Liao 遼 (907-1125) and Jin 金 (1115-1234) empires. A further shortcoming is the terminology for the treatises in the second part of the book. Some of them are called shu 書, others kao 考, zhi 志 or ji 記, without a meaningful system or explanation to this use. The book was therefore not acceptey by historians.

Source: 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, p. 928.

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February 15, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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