An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zhushi 麈史

Aug 19, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhushi 麈史 "History narrated at ease" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by Wang Dechen 王得臣 (1036-1116), courtesy name Yanfu 彥輔, style Fengtaizi 鳳檯子. He hailed from Anlu 安陸 in the prefecture of Anzhou 安州 (modern Anzhou, Hubei) and was a disciple of Zheng Xie 鄭獬 (1022-1072). He obtained the jinshi degree in 1059 and had a career as supervisor of the stabilization fund in the environment of the capital Kaifeng (tiju changping 提舉常平), prefectural assistant (panguan 判官) of Kaifeng, prefect (zhizhou 知州) of Tangzhou 唐州, Vice Director of the Armaments Office (junqi shaojian 軍器少監) and finally Vice Chamberlain of the National Treasury (sinong shaoqing 司農少卿).

Wang Decheng was widely interested in politics and history and therefore compiled his 3-juan-long book Zhushi. The title means that he collected historiographical material, but in an unofficial way from the "dust" of the street. The book was finished when he was already an old man and was compiled over a time of twenty years, after Wang Dechen had retired from office.

The book Zhushi is divided into 44 chapters (men 門) that cover 284 different themes and stories from all aspects of government and administration. The names of the chapters partially reflect the systematic of administrative handbooks. Such are Guozheng 國政 "The government of a country", Chaozhi 朝制 "The management of the court", Guanzhi 官制 "The system of state officials", Guoying 國用 "Government expenditure", Renren 任人 "The use of personnel", Liyi 禮儀 "Rituals and etiquette", Yinyue 音樂 "Music", Zhongdang 忠讜 "Parties of loyal officials", Huizheng 惠政 "Benevolent government", Xiande 賢德 "Worthy and virtuous persons", Zhiren 知人 "How to known man" or Zhijia 治家 "Ordering one's family".

Others chapters are dedicated to scholarship like Xueshu 學術 "The art of learning", Jingyi 經義 "The meaning of the scriptures", Shihua 詩話 "Poetry critique", Lunwen 論文 "Discussion of literature", Bianwu 辨誤 "Analysis of errors", or Mingyi 明義 "Clarification of meanings".

A third group of chapters deals with the hobbies of literati and questions of honesty and virtue, like Beijie 碑碣 "Stone inscriptions", or Shuhua 書畫 "Calligraphy and painting", Xingshi 姓氏 "Family names", Guqi 古器 "Antiques", Fengsu 風俗 "Customs and habits", Zhushi 盛事 "Fulfilment of duties", Jiesha 戒殺 "No killing", Zhenwei 真偽 "True and false", Zhanyan 占驗 "Divination", Boyi 博弈 "Chess" or Xiexue 諧謔 "Jokes and fun".

The Zhushi has been praised for its wide scope of themes that is rarely to be found in another book of this size and genre. The book is nevertheless defective in some places and includes some factual errors, and was therefore not widely circulating.

It is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書, Hubei xianzheng yishu 湖北先正遺書, Songren xiaoshuo 宋人小說, Congchu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 and Shuofu 說郛. In 1986 the Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社 published a modern edition with annotations by Yu Zongxian 俞宗憲.

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Qi Chaoli 祁朝麗 (2007). "Zhushi banben zhi shanben kaozheng 《麈史》版本之善本考證", Wenjiao ziliaoy 文教資料, 2007 (10): 115-119.
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Yuan Xingpei 袁行霈, Hou Zhongyi 侯忠義, eds. (1981). Zhongguo wenxue xiaoshuo shumu 中國文言小說書目 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe), 123.
Zheng Yunbo 鄭雲波, ed. (1992). Zhongguo gudai xiaoshu cidian 中國古代小說辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 399.