An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Songshiyi 宋史翼

Jan 7, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Songshiyi 宋史翼 "Wings to the History of the Song Dynasty" was written by the late Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) historian Lu Xinyuan 陸心源 (1834-1894), courtesy name Gangfu 剛父, style Cunzhai 存齋 or Qianyuan laoren 潛園老人. He hailed from Gui'an 歸安 (modern Wuxing 吳興, Zhejiang) and occupied several military and civilian posts in Guangdong and Fujian. His highest post was grain and salt intendant (liangyandao 糧鹽道) of Fujian. All his life, Lu Xinyuan was fond of books and was famous as one of the four collectors of his time. In 1888 he submitted to the Directorate of Education (guozijian 國子監) more than 150 old manuscripts. He was also a writer greatly interested in history. Lu Xinyuan wrote books like Yigutang ji 儀顧堂集, Bisonglou cangshu zhi 皕宋樓藏書志, Jinshi cuibian xu 金石粹編續, Songshi jishi buyi 宋詩紀事補遺, Sanshi yinian lu 三史疑年録, Beizhuanji bu 碑傳集補 and Qianyuan zongji 潛園總集.

The 40-juan long Songshiyi was written as a kind of complement to the voluminous official dynastic history of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279), the Songshi 宋史. Lu Xinyuan was of the opinion that a lot was missing in this book, and made use of additional sources to supplement missing biographies and information. His sources were books like Xu zizhi tongjian changbian 續資治通鑒長編, Jianyan yilai xinian yaolu 建炎以來繫年要録, Lidai mingchen zouyi 歷代名臣奏議, Sanchao beimeng huibian 三朝北盟會編 and Dongdu shilüe 東都事略, as well as local gazetters, archival documents, collected writings of Song period authors, tomb inscriptions and eulogies, etc., making up a total of more than 400 different books.

The Songshiyi is written in a biographical style of history (jizhuanti 紀傳體). It includes 17 juan of biographies of high ministers (Zhuchen 諸臣), 5 juan of benevolent officials (Xunli 循吏), 3 juan of Confucian scholars (Rulin 儒林), 4 juan of literati (Wenyuan 文苑), 3 juan of persons of loyal conduct (Zhongyi 忠義), 1 juan of persons of filial conduct (Xiaoyi 孝義), 2 juan of "lost contributors" (Yixian 遺獻), 1 juan of so-called hidden scholars (Yinyi 隱逸, i.e. persons not occupying a state office), 2 juan of magicians (Fangji 方技), 1 juan of eunuchs (Huanzhe 宦者), and 1 juan of traitors (Jianchen 姦臣). The whole book includes the biographies of more than 800 persons.

There is a preface written by Yu Yue 俞樾 (1821-1907) and one written by Miao Quansun 繆荃孫 (1844-1919). Most of the biographies provided by Lu Xinyuan are missing in the Songshi. When this book was compiled at the beginning of the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368), many documents, especially such from the Southern Song 南宋 (1127-1279) court, were not available to the compilers. The Songshiyi is an important source to fill this gap. For each biography, Lu Xinyuan indicated his sources that in many cases were more as ten different books. The Songshiyi is a very reliable tool for the study of the Song period, even if some errors crept into the book.

Chen Mo 陳墨 (1994). "Songshiyi 宋史翼", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城 (ed.) Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Lishi 歷史 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), p. 397.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 435.