An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Chuyan 芻言

Aug 23, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Chuyan 芻言 "Rustic talks" is a moral treatise written during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Cui Dunli 崔敦禮 (c. 1133-1181), courtesy name Zhongyou 仲由. He hailed from Jinghai 靜海 in the prefecture of Tongzhou 通州 (modern Nantong 南通, Jiangsu 南通). After the re-foundation of the Song dynasty in the south, he purchased a tract of land with a country house close to Liyang 溧陽. Together with his brother Cui Dunshi 崔敦詩 (1139—1182) he passed the state examination during the Shaoxing reign-period 紹興 (1131-1162) and was appointed instructor in the School for the Princes (zhu wanggong daxiaoxue jiaoshou 諸王宮大小學教授).

The 3-juan-long Chuyan is a collection of thoughts on the vast amount of books that Cui Dunli studied in his leisure time. He was widely knowledgeable, but preferred a very simple style of writing, for which reason he gave his book the title "Rustic talks". The first chapter of the book focuses on rules for government and administration (zheng 政), the second on behaviour and conduct (xing 行), and the third on learning (xue 學). The book is divided into 305 small chapters. The author is clearly inclined to the Confucian view of state and society, but sometimes also shows the influence of Daoist thought, so that the book cannot be called a Confucian treatise. There is a preface written by Li Diaoyuan 李調元 (1734-1803), who recommends the book to all who wanted to learn how to make notes of instructions or cautions.

The Chuyan is to be found in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Hanhai 函海 and Congshu jicheng 叢書集成初編.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1887.