An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Huanyuanzhi 還冤志

Sep 29, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Huanyuanzhi 還冤志 "Stories of retribution", also called Huanyuanji 還冤記 or Huanhunzhi 冤魂志, is an early collection of novels compiled by the Northern Qi period 北齊 (550-577) writer and philosopher Yan Zhitui 顏之推, author of the Yanshi jiaxun 顏氏家訓. The 3 juan "scrolls" long book is recorded in the Song period 宋 (960-1279) bibliography Chongwen zongmu 崇文總目 and the bibliography of the statecraft encylopedia Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考. The commented catalogue Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題 gives it the title Beiqi huanyuan zhi 北齊還冤志. The encyclopedic collection Taiping guangji 太平廣記 calls it Huanyuanji. The received versions of this text have all a length of 1 juan. It belongs to the genre of novellas on strange events (zhiguai xiaoshuo 志怪小說) and includes 35 stories from the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE) to the Liang period 梁 (502-557). All stories deal with the return of a soul to take revenge for suffered unjustice. The stories are very illumination concerning the living conditions of the common people in ancient China. They are both influenced by Confucian thought as well as by the religion of Buddhism.
The Huanyuanzhi is included in the reprint series Xu baichuan xuehai 續百川學海, Tang-Song congshu 唐宋叢書, Shuofu 說郛, Wuchao xiaoshuo 五朝小說, Zengding Han-Wei congshu 增訂漢魏叢書, Gujin shuobu congshu 古今說部叢書, Baoyantang miji 宝顏堂秘笈, Yijingtang cangshu 詒經堂藏書 and Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2172. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.