An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Guitianlu 歸田錄

Dec 10, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Guitianlu 歸田錄 "Records after my retirement to the fields" is a "brush notes" style (biji 筆記) essay with historical background written by the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) scholar Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修. It was written after Ouyang had retired to his manor in Yingzhou 潁州, where he allegedly lived the life of a peasant in the fields – hence the title. The oldest bibliography in which the Guitianlu appears, in the official dynastic history Songshi 宋史, speaks of a length of 8 juan "scrolls", although the received version has only 2 juan.
The book includes 115 stories from high officials at the court, as well as discussions among them, often with a humorous character, as the story of an old man selling oil (Mai you weng 賣油翁). During the compilation, Ouyang took Li Zhao's 李肇 Tang guoshi bu 唐國史補 as a model, except that he did not write badly about the persons mentioned. Ouyang Xiu has included a lot of things he personally had experienced as member of the court officialdom. For this reason his book has also a historiographical value. It was often quoted by later scholars like Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) and Jiang Shaoyu 江少虞. Ouyang Xiu also quotes from a lot of poems and prose writings of his protagonists.
The earliest print was produced during the Yuan dynasty 元朝 (1279-1368), as part of the collected writings of Ouyang Xiu, the Ouyang Wenzhong gong ji 歐陽文忠公集. A very good print with text-critial apparatus was made by Xia Jingguan's 夏敬觀 Hanfenlou Studio 涵芬樓 (see Hanfenlou miji 涵芬樓秘笈). In 1981 the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 published a modern edition in the series Tang-Song shiliao biji congkan 唐宋史料筆記叢刊, with annotations by Li Weiguo 李偉國. The Guitianlu is also to be found as a facsimile of a Ming period 明 (1368-1644) print in the reprint series Baihai 稗海, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原 and Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀.

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. 2144.
Zhang Zhongmou 張仲謀 (1991). "Guitianlu 歸田錄", in: Zhongguo wenxue da cidian 中國文學大辭典, vol. 3, p. 1444. Ed. Ma Liangchun 馬良春, Li Futian 李福田. Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe.