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biannianti 編年體, annalistic type (of historiography)

Apr 26, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

The biannianti 編年體 "annalistic type" is a literary type in Chinese historiography in which history is dealt with strictly chronologically. The prototypes of this style of historiography are the Chunqiu 春秋 "Spring and Autumn Annals" of the state of Lu 魯 and the Zhushu jinian 竹書紀年 "Bamboo Annals". The style was revived in Sima Guang's 司馬光 Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑒.

Generally speaking, the chronicle style is the more natural method to record historical events, and therefore, the veritable records (shilu 實錄), the court annals, were written in this style. Quite contrary to that, the official dynastic histories (zhengshi 正史) are written in a very different style called the jizhuanti 紀傳體 "biographic-thematic type", in which history is narrated from the viewpoint of personal biographies.

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