An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Tongjian gangmu qianbian 通鑑綱目前編

Sep 28, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Tongjian gangmu qianbian 通鑑綱目前編 "Backward-continuation to the Outlines and Details of the Comprehensive Mirror" is a continuation of Zhu Xi's 朱熹 (1130-1200) Tongjian gangmu 通鑑綱目. There are two books of this title, one written by Nan Xuan 南軒 (1518-1602, courtesy name Shuhou 叔後), and one by his contemporarian Xu Gao 許誥 (1471-1534, courtesy name Tinglun 廷綸).

Nan Xuan also wrote a history of literature in the ancient metropolitan region of Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi (former Chang'an 長安) Guanzhong wenxian zhi 關中文獻志. His 25-juan long Tongjian gangmu qianbian is a restructuring of Jin Lüxiang's 金履祥 (1232–1303) Zizhi tongjian qianbian 資治通鑑前編 and Chen Sheng's 陳檉 (late 13th cent.) Zizhi tongjian xubian 資治通鑑續編 according to the principles of gangmu 綱目, providing a general outline of history (gang 綱 "ropes") that is critically commented (mu 目 "meshes").

His history begins in mythological times and reaches down to the time or King Weilie 威烈王 (r. 425-402 BCE) of the Zhou dynasty 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE). Yet Nan Yuan did not strictly follow the gangmu principle so that the text of his book is not very well structured. His sources are sometimes also not correctly indicated, like quotations from the Erya 爾雅 or Zuozhuan 左傳 that are in fact taken from various encyclopaedias. He also quotes Jin Lüxiang's teacher Wang Bo 王柏 with the title of Zi Bozi 子王子 "My master Bo", which should not have been done by a third person. His book is therefore not included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, but in the Siku quanshu cunmu congshu 四庫全書存目叢書.

Xu Hao's 3-juan long book was written as a better alternative to Jin Lüxiang's Zizhi tongjian qianbian that included lots of factual errors. Yet instead of adhering to Zhu Xi's principle of the guidelines and commentaries, he imitated the style of the Confucian Classic Chunqiu 春秋 and produced a book that laid too much stress on literary quality and the wording instead of the content. It is likewise not included in the Siku quanshu.

Feng Wu 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Jilin: Changchun wenshi chubanshe), 766.
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. 1, 902.