An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Chuogenglu 輟耕錄

Jul 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Chuogenglu 輟耕錄 "Retirement to the countryside", full title Nancun chuogeng lu 南村輟耕錄, is a privately written history of the late Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). It is written in the style of a "brush notes" essay (biji 筆記, zhaji 札記). Because of its missing focus on political history it is traditionally not categorized as history but as novel. The author is Tao Zongyi 陶宗儀, an eminent scholar of the late Yuan period. With the disintegration of the Yuan central government he retired to the countryside and dedicated himself to studies and writing, "ceasing farm labours" (chuo geng 輟耕). The 30 juan "scrolls" long book, result of ten years compilation, gives an overview in a loose style of what he had seen and heard in the regions of southern China in the previous decades. His book also renders accounts on the government style in the capital and the provinces. Of particular interest are his informations about daily urban life during his times. He narrates the activities of his contemporarians, like painting, poetry - including popular songs (yao 謠), and operas and theatre plays. Tao Zongyi even left notes about the physicians of his time and their medical knowledge. The Chuogenglu is a very rich source for the political, social and cultural life under the Yuan dynasty.
There were many different editions of the Chuogenglu, the oldest being is a print from the end of the Yuan period, and several from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). In 1958 the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 published a modern version, based on the Yuan print. The Chuogenglu is included in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Sibu congkan sanbian 四部叢刊三編.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 2152.
Qiu Shusen 邱樹森 (1992). "Chuogenglu 輟耕錄", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 1, p. 126. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.