Gu wenci leizuan 古文辭類纂 is a "classified compilation of ancient prose writings" compiled by Yao Nai 姚鼐 (1731-1815), courtesy name Jichuan 姬傳 or Menggu 夢谷.
The book of 74 juan length assembles more than 700 prose writings from the Warring States 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE) to the high Qing period 清 (1644-1911). The selection does not include texts from the Classics or from the so-called "Masters and philosophers", but was inspired by the works of great writers of literature. Yao Nao belonged to the Tongcheng School 桐城派 of literature that saw the classical writings in simple prose language from the Tang 唐 (618-907) and Song 宋 (960-1279) periods as models for contemporary literature.
The collection is divided onto 13 sections of different types of literature. Yao did not follow the traditional pattern of sequence as developed in the anthology Wenxuan 文選, but followed an own scheme. The preface describes the particular characters of each genre and their historic development. Each chapter and each texts is introduced and critically commented (see collation).
Yao’s anthology was finished in 1779 and first printed in the early 19th century by Kang Shaoyong 康紹鏞 (1770-1834), with reading marks (quandian 圈點). In 1825, Wu Qichang 吳啟昌 reprinted this edition, but without the reading marks. These were reintroduced in Li Chengyuan’s 李承淵 edition from 1901. In 1923, the Guangyi Shuju 廣益書局 in Shanghai published a commented edition. The Shijie Shuju 世界書局 published in 1935 another commented edition. A modern edition was published in 1986 by the Zhongguo Shujian 中國書店 in Beijing.
A continuation to Yao’s anthology was compiled by Wang Xianqian 王先謙 (1842-1918). His Xu gu wenci leizuan 續古文辭類纂 with a length of 34 juan imitates the structure of Yao’s book by selecting 455 writings of 39 persons from the high Qing period. This anthology does not include imperial edicts (zhaoling 詔令), memorials (zouyi 奏議) and rhapsodies or prose-poetry (cifu 辭賦). It was finished in 1882 and printed by Wang Xianqian’s Xushou Hall 虛受堂.
Another continuation with the same title was compiled by Li Shuchang 黎庶昌 (1837－1987). It was inspired by Zeng Guofan’s 曾國藩 (1811-1872) anthology Jingshi baijia zachao 經史百家雜鈔 and thus includes also texts from historiographical books. It has a length of 28 juan and is divided into 11 literary genres and includes 449 texts. It was printed in 1889.
A third continuation called Xin gu wenci leizuan 新古文辭類纂 was compiled by Jiang Ruizao 蔣瑞藻 (1891—1929). It includes 1,015 texts of 90 writers from the late Qing to the early Republican period. It was finished in 1922 and edited as a lithographical print.
Zeng Guofan’s Jingshi baijia zachao is also sometimes considered as a continuation of Yao Nai’s anthology.
|1-5||論辯類||Discussions and discourses|
|5-10||序跋類||Prefaces and afterwords|
|25-31||書說類||Letters and explanations|
|32-34||贈序類||Compositions presented at parting|
|38-39||傳狀類||Biographies and descriptions of conduct|
|40-51||碑志類||Stone slab inscriptions|
|60||箴銘類||Admonitions and inscriptions|
|61||頌贊類||Eulogies and encomia|
|73-75||哀祭類||Laments and sacrificial texts|