An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Danqian yulu 丹鉛餘錄

Aug 28, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Danqian yulu 丹鉛餘錄 "Records of an exiled man" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Yang Shen 楊慎 (1488-1559), courtesy name Yongxiu 用修, style Sheng'an 升庵. He hailed from Xindu 新都, Sichuan, obtained his jinshi degre in 1511, and was appointed senior compiler (xiuzhuan 修撰) in the Hanlin Academy 翰林院 and then, during the Jiajing reign-period 嘉靖 (1522-1566), lecturer in the Classics Colloquium (jingyan jiangguan 經筵講官). His father Yang Tinghe 楊廷和 was at that time Senior Grand Secretary (shoufu 首輔) in the Grand Secretariat (neige 内閣) but was then dismissed because of differences with Emperor Shizong 明世宗 (r. 1521-1566).

Yang Shen remonstrated against this decision, and both were punished with the stick and exiled to Yongchang 永昌 in Yunnan. Yang Shen lived there fore more than thirty years, until his death. He was a very knowledgeable person and used this time for his studies of all kinds of writings, and for his own books. He is probably the Ming-period scholar who produced the largest amount of writings. Of his more than 200 books, the most important are Sheng'an ji 升庵集 (his collected writings, including Waiji 外集 and Yiji 遺集), Zhejiang jinfu 哲匠金桴, Junzao 均藻, Xiehua qixiu 謝華啟秀, Tanyuan tihu 譚苑醍醐, Yilin fashan 秇林伐山 (also written 萟林伐山 or 藝林伐山), Suyan 俗言, Mochi suolu 墨池瑣錄, Yiyu tuzan 異魚圖贊, the phonological studies Guyin pianzi 古音駢字, Guyin fuzi 古音複字, Guyin lieyao 古音獵要, Guyin lüeli 古音略例 and Guwen yunyu 古文韻語, the studies on ancient inscriptions Shiguwen yinshi 石鼓文音釋 and Jinshi guwen 金石古文, the books on paintings and calligraphy Minghua shenpin mu 名畫神品目, Fatie shenpin mu 法帖神品目 and Shupin 書品, Yuminggu 玉名詁 (a book on collectible jade), and the commentaries Tangong congxun 檀弓叢訓, Tangong pidian 檀弓批點 (to the chapter Tangong 檀弓 of the Confucian Classic Liji 禮記), Fengya yipian 風雅逸篇 (a commentary to the Classic Shijing 詩經), and the Shishuo jiuzhu 世說舊注, collected commentaries to the Shishuo xinyu. In his discussion on Neo-Confucianism he critically spoke a lot about Lu Jiuyuan 陸九淵 (1139-1193), in the field of exegesis of the Classics he disputed about Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 (127-200), but concerning prose literature and poetry he had the tendency to admire the past.

The book Qianchuanlu 丹鉛錄 originally consisted of three parts, namely Yulu 餘錄 with a length of 17 juan, Xulu 續錄 (12 juan), and Zhailu 摘錄 (13 juan, originally called Runlu 閏錄 and with a length of 9 juan), with a total length of 42 juan. The title of the book is derived from the ancient custom to signify convicts in the household registers by writing their names with red (dan 丹) ink, or in separate registers written on red paper and bound in lead (qian 鉛). He so pointed at his situation as an exiled person. The book was first printed in 1547 but later revised by his disciple Liang Zuo 梁佐 who shortened the book and divided it into 28 thematic chapters (lei 類) and gave it the title Danqian zonglu 丹鉛總錄, with a length of 27 juan. This was also the first printed edition, which was republished in 1765 by Yang Chang 楊昶. During the Wanli reign-period 萬曆 (1573-1619) the governor (xunfu 巡撫) of Sichuan, Zhang Shipei 張士佩 (1531-1609), reedited the book a second time, after revision, and in a joint version with the Tanyuan tihu. This edition was 41-juan-long and was appended at the end of Yang Shen's collected writings. In many editions this version is appended to the Danqian zonglu.

The main purpose of the Danqianlu is textual critique by comparing the differences between various texts. Yet unfortunately the scope of the book is too large, so that it has a rather miscellaneous appearance without a clear structure and aim. Another shortcoming is that Yang Shen was very interested in apocryphal texts and quoted a lot from forged books, partially even intentionally. Wang Shizhen 王世貞 (1526-1590) therefore said that Yang Shen's book was strong in testifying the Classics and weak in explaining their meaning; detailed in the use of popular history but sparingly used the dynastic histories; and good in quoting poetry, but mediocre in understanding their meaning.

Chen Yaowen 陳耀文 (c. 1524-c. 1605) admired Yang Shen himself, but he especially compiled a book called Zheng Yang 正楊 "Rectification of Yang's (book)" to correct Yang Shen's errors. Hu Yinglin's 胡應麟 (1551—1602) series Shaoshi shanfang bicong 少室山房筆叢 includes the writings Danqian xinlun 丹鉛新錄 and Yilin fashan, in which Hu comments on the mistakes and shortcomings in Yang Shen's writings.

The Danqian yulu is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, the Danqian xulu in the Baoyantang miji 寶顏堂秘笈 and the Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, the Danqian zalu 丹鉛雜錄 in the Hanhai 函海 and the Congshu jicheng.

Li Cheng 李成, Chen Anzhe 陳諳哲 (2017). "Lun Yang Shen wenxianxue sixiang he fangfa: Yi Danqian zonglu wei li 論楊慎文獻學思想和方法——以《丹鉛總錄》為例", Mianyang Shifan Xueyuan xuebao 綿陽師範學院學報, 36 (1): 59-62.
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, 1925.
Zhang Huadong 張東華 (2018). "Guankui Yang Shen shulun: Yi Danqian zonglu wei li 管窺楊慎書論——以《丹鉛總錄》為例", Shufa shangping 書法賞評, 2018 (5): 2-15.
Yuan Xingpei 袁行霈, Hou Zhongyi 侯忠義, eds. (1981). Zhongguo wenyan xiaoshuo shumu 中國文言小說書目 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe), 246.
Zheng Yunbo 鄭雲波, ed. (1992). Zhongguo gudai xiaoshuo cidian 中國古代小說辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 390.
Zhu Taiyan 朱太巖 (1988). "Danqian zonglu 丹鉛總錄", in Zhao Jihui 趙吉惠, Guo Hou'an 郭厚安, eds. Zhongguo ruxue cidian 中國儒學辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 457.