An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Bishu luhua 避暑錄話

Aug 28, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Bishu luhua 避暑錄話 "Conversations recorded while escaping the heat" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by Ye Mengde 葉夢得 (1077-1148), who also compiled the books Shilin yanyu 石林燕語, and Yanxia fangyan 巖下放言.

Ye Mengde was known as a collector and was among of literati probably the one who owned the largest library in the early Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279). The reasons for the downfall of the Northern Song were a theme that was hotly debated among the scholars of that time. Most of saw the reforms of Wang Anshi 王安石 (1021-1086) and the abouse of power by Cai Jing 蔡京 (1047-1126) as the main causes for the weakness of the Song foreign politics and the destitute state of the army. Ye Mengde had been a retainer of Cai Jing, and therefore refrained from charging him guilty.

The Bishu luhua with a length of 2 juan includes a lot of information on court history and the study of literature, and is therefore and important source on these topics. In a rather objective way he explained why Cai Jing prohibited the study of history, or changed the title of princess from gongzhu 公主 to diji 帝姬; he narrates why Wang Anshi ceased to write poems and rhapsodies, and what the intention of Su Xun 蘇洵 (1009-1066) was when he wrote the article Bianjianlun 辨奸論 "Criticism of corrupt (officials)".

It is included in the series Baihai 稗海, Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Shilin yishu 石林遺書, Xiyuan xiansheng congshu 郋園先生叢書, Congchu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, and – in excerpts – the Wuchao xiaoshuo 五朝小說, Wuchao xiaoshuo daguan 五朝小說大觀, Shuofu 說郛, Songren xiaoshuo 宋人小說 (with the title Shilin bushu luhua 石林避暑錄話, and a length of 4 juan), the Shangwu Yinshuguan 商務印書館 edition of the Shuofu (under the title Yimao bishu luhua 乙卯避暑錄話) and Jiuxiaoshuo 舊小說.

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, 1951.