An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Shitong pingshi 史通評釋

Feb 10, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Shitong pingshi 史通評釋 is a critical commentary to Liu Zhiji's 劉知幾 book Shitong 史通, a theory of historiography from the Tang period 唐 (618-907).

The 20-juan long Shitong pingshi was written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Li Weizhen 李維楨 (1547-1626), courtesy name Benning 本寧, from Jingshan 京山 (today in Hubei province). He was bachelor (shujishi 庶吉士) of the Hanlin Academy 翰林院, later junior compiler (bianxiu 編修) and then rose to the office of *Vice Education Intendant (tixue fushi 提學副使), then provincial administration commissioner (buzhengshi 布政使). An imperial order called him to participate in the compilation of the veritable records Shenzong shilu 神宗實錄. His last post was that of Minister of Rites (libu shangshu 禮部尚書) in the southern capital Nanjing.

Li Weizhen was an important writer and poet of the Ming period. His collected writings are called Dami shanfang ji 大泌山房集. One of his most famous texts is Huangdi ci e jie 黃帝詞額解.

The Shitong pingshi was written on the occasion that during the Wanli reign 萬曆 (1573-1619) an ancient print of Master Zhang 張氏 was discovered. This edition had 730 words more than the received version, while 60 words in other places were missing. Master Zhang's version had also additions in the chapters Qubi 曲筆 and Yinxi 因習. Yet this version was not sufficiently equipped with references, and nevertheless, had served for ages as the basic text. For this reason Li Weizhen critically studied the Zhang version, commented on erroneous facts and added reference information. Later on Guo Kongyan 郭孔延 (dates unknown) added further commentaries and references. These are initiated by the words ping yue 評曰 "[Li's] commentary says" and fu ping 附評 "additional commentary [by Guo]". Li's commentaries were mainly based on discussions of Ming period scholars on the book Shitong, and was therefore not highly regarded, while the additions by Guo Kongyan were the results of Guo's own research, and therefore of greater value. Unfortunately, the references of Guo are not sufficiently proved as to their sources.

The book survived in the private possessions of Li Shouqian 勵守謙 (jinshi degree 1745).

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, 1517.
Wang Jiachuan 王嘉川 (2017). "Guo Kongyan Shitong pingshi bianzuan kao 郭孔延《史通評釋》編纂考", Yangzhou Daxue xuebao (Renwen shehui kexue ban) 揚州大學學報(人文社會科學版), 2017 (1)