An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xinyu 新語

Nov 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Xinyu 新語 "New talks" is a short political treatise written during the early Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) by Lu Jia 陸賈 (d. 170). Lu was of follower of the dynastic founder Liu Bang 劉邦 (Emperor Han Gaozu 漢高祖, r. 206-195 BCE), who ordered the former to compile a book covering the most important aspects of practical government. Lu Jia did this mainly in the shape of examples from former times through which the reason for success and failure could be explained. The book has 12 chapters.

One of the core contents of the Xinyu is an explanation why the Qin dynasty 秦 (221-206 BCE) had failed. Lu Jia says, because of its cruelty and intrigues the Qin could not survive. The new Han dynasty should learn from these errors and set up a broad-minded and benevolent government, using the Confucian virtues of kindness (ren 仁) and righteousness (yi 義).

The most important prints of the Xinyu were that of Li Tingwu 李庭梧, Jiang Sifu 姜思復, Hu Weixin 胡維新 and Fan Dachong 范大衝 from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), as well as the edition of the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Yan Kejun 嚴可均 (1762—1843).

There is a complete English translation by Mei-kao Ku (1988), A Chinese Mirror for Magistrates: the Hsin-yü of Lu Chia (Canberra: University of Hawai'i Press).

Table 1. Contents of the Xinyu 新語
1. 道基 Daoji On the foundation of the Way
2. 術事 Shushi On the narrating of past events
3. 輔政 Fuzheng On aiding in administration
4. 無為 Wuwei On non-action
5. 辨惑 Bianhuo On settling doubts
6. 慎微 Shenwei On being aware of small things
7. 資質 Zizhi On employing worthy men
8. 至德 Zhide On emphasising virtue
9. 懷慮 Huailü On laying plans
10. 本行 Benxing On primary and elementary actions
11. 明誡 Mingjie On a clear warning
12. 思務 Siwu On giving priority to important matters
Ge Rongjin 葛榮晉 (1987). "Xinshu 新書", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhexue 哲學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1025.
Loewe, Michael (1993). "Hsin yü", in Michael Loewe, ed. Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide (Berkeley: Society for the Study of Early China/Institute of East Asian Studies), 171-177.