An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xinxu 新序

Nov 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Xinxu 新序 "New arrangements" is a collection of stories, mostly of historical content, compiled during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) by the imperial librarian Liu Xiang 劉向 (79-8 or 77-6 BCE). The original book was 30-juan long and was in ancient bibliographies categorized as a Confucian treatise.

During the Song period 宋 (960-1279) a great part was lost, but the scholar Zeng Gong 曾鞏 (1019-1083) was able to reconstruct 10 juan, which are identical to the received version. The preserved Xinxu includes 165 stories, arranged under various headlines referring to the moral focus of the protagonists. Only a few stories originate from the Han period. Most are of older date and belong to the stories circulating during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE), such as those found in the historical collection Zhanguoce 戰國策. The stories were selected by Liu Xiang according to the moral behaviour and performance of the actors, mainly in the Confucian sense.

The Xinxu is included in the series Han-Wei congshu 漢魏叢書 and Congshu jicheng 叢書集成. The Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Lu Wenchao 盧文弨 (1717-1795) wrote a commentary on it, called Xinxu jiaobu 新序校補. It is preserved in the series Baojingtang congshu 抱經堂叢書.

Wang Renjun 王仁俊 (1866-1913) collected fragments of the Xinxu quoted in other books, and compiled the supplement Xinxu yiwen 新序佚文, which is part of the series Jingji yiwen 經籍佚文. A modern publication with commentary and translation into modern Chinese was published by Ma Da 馬達 in 1986.

Table 1. Contents of the Xinxu 新序
1-5. 雜事 Zashi Miscellaneous affairs
6. 刺奢 Cishe Indulgent and intrigant persons
7. 節士 Jieshi Modest and sincere persons
8. 義勇 Yiyong Upright and brave persons
9-10. 善謀 1-2 Shanmou Excellent tacticians
Knechtges, David R. (1993). "Hsin hsü", in Michael Loewe, ed. Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide (Berkeley: Society for the Study of Early China/Institute of East Asian Studies), 154-157.
Liu Zhaoyun 劉兆雲 (1991). "Xinxu 新序", in Ma Liangchun 馬良春, Li Futian 李福田, eds. Zhongguo wenxue da cidian 中國文學大辭典 (Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe), Vol. 8, 6048.