An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Nenggaizhai manlu 能改齋漫錄

Oct 6, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Nenggaizhai manlu 能改齋漫錄 "Loose records from the Studio of Possible Change" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Wu Zeng 吳曾 (early 12th cent.), courtesy name Huchen 虎臣. He hailed from Chongren 崇仁 in the prefecture of Fuzhou 撫州 (modern Fuzhou, Jiangxi) and failed in the state examinations, but in 1141 presented his book to the throne, and was rewarded with the title of right gentleman for meritorious achievements (you digonglang 右迪功郎). From this position he rose to the position of right gentleman for attendance (you fengchenglang 右承奉郎), then recorder (zhubu 主簿) in the Court of the Imperial Clan (zongzhengsi 宗正寺), and was then made a career as aide of the Chamberlain for Ceremonials (taichang cheng 太常丞), ministerial director in the Ministry of Personnel (libu langzhong 吏部郎中), then that of Works (gongbu langzhong 工部郎中), and finally prefect of Yanzhou 嚴州.

His book of 18 juan length is divided into 13 chapters that each cover one aspect of literature, from scholarly treatises and textual critique to geography, historiography, poetry, prose literature, poems of the music-bureau style (yuefu 樂府) and bizarre stories. For most of these literary fields, Wu Zeng has worked in a very scholarly way, with many quotations from ancient writings, to support his arguments. Because Wu Zeng was an adherent of the court faction of Qin Hui 秦檜 (1091-1155), he was criticized by many historians, like Liu Changshi 劉昌詩 (fl. 1216; author of Lupu biji 蘆浦筆記) or Zhao Yanwei 趙彥衛 (jinshi degree 1161; author of Yunlu manchao 雲麓漫鈔). On the other hand, Wu Zeng mentions many aspects of Qin Hui's administration that are not to be found in other sources, like the powerful counsellor's opinion of literature. Scholars of later decades again estimated the high value of his book and often quoted it. The Nenggaizhai manlu was as useful as the more famous Rongzhai suibi 容齋隨筆 by Hong Mai 洪邁 (1123-1202).

It is now known when the book was first printed. Zhou Hui 周輝 (b. 1127), author of Qingbo zazhi 清波雜志, has observed that Wu Zeng mentions the critique of a play by the Prince of Jing 荊 and some matters about problems in the imperial clan, and that the earliest prints might therefore have been proscribed by imperial order. Sheng Ruxin's 盛如梓 (early 14th cent.) book Shuzhai congtan 恕齋叢談 says that there was a certain Zheng Xianwen 鄭顯文, who sent his son Zheng Zhihan 鄭之翰 to the Censorate (yushitai 御史臺) to denounce Wu Zeng, so that, in the end, Wu Zeng and Zheng Xianwen were dismissed, yet some officials pledged for his innocence. From then on his book was given free for print. Regardless the question which of these texts tells the truth, it was a fact that Wu Zeng's book ceased to be in print at least from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) on.

During the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), several manuscripts of the Nenggaizhai manlu were discovered, for instance, by the collector Jiao Hong 焦竑 (1540-1620), and brought into circulation. These editions differ in the arrangement of juan, some are only 15-juan-long, others 17. The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 arranged it into 18 juan. The Nenggaizhai manlu is also included in the series Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Shoushange congshu 守山閣叢書, Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀 (with a length of 18 juan), Cihua congbian 詞話叢編 (2 juan), Shuofu 說郛 (Wanwei Shantang 宛委山堂 edition, 1 juan), Wuyingdian juzhenban shu 武英殿聚珍版 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編. In the last edition, an appendix of fragments (Shiyi 拾遺) collected by Sun Xinghua 孫星華 is added. Modern editions were published in 1960 by the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局, 1980 by the Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社, and 1987 by the Zhongguo Shangye Press 中國商業出版社 (with annotations by Wang Renxiang 王仁湘).

Cheng Yanhai 程艷梅 (2006). "Nenggaizhai manlu zhong de yuyanxue shiliao shuping 《能改齋漫錄》中的語言學史料述評", Dezhou Xueyuan xuebao 德州學院學報, 2006 (5): 25-27.
Dong Naibin 董乃斌 (1986). "Nenggaizhai manlu 能改齋漫錄", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 594.
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, 1917.
Lin Fei 林非, ed. (1997). Zhongguo sanwen da cidian 中國散文大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), 190.
Wang Zhongyu 王中宇, Wang Hu 王虎 (2016). "Nenggaizhai keju cihui kaoshi 《能改齋漫錄》科舉詞彙考釋", Liaodong Xueyuan xuebao (Shehui kexue ban) 遼東學院學報(社會科學版), 18 (3): 69-74.
Wu Feng 吳楓, eds. (1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 592.
Yuang 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), 170.
Zhang Diyun 張滌雲 (1996). "Nenggaizhai manlu 能改齋漫錄", in Jiang Zuyi 蔣祖怡, Chen Zhichun 陳志椿, eds. Zhongguo shihua cidian 中國詩話辭典 (beijing: Beijing chubanshe), 318.
Zhang Ruijun 張瑞君 (2014). "Nenggaizhai manlu zhong de wenxue sixiang 《能改齋漫錄》中的文學思想", Chongqing Shifan Daxue xuebao (Zhexue shehui kexue ban) 重慶師範大學學報(哲學社會科學版), 2014 (1): 50-55.
Zhao Zecheng 趙則誠, Zhang Liandi 張連弟, Bi Wanchen 畢萬忱, eds. (1985). Zhongguo gudai wenxue lilun cidian 中國古代文學理論辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 235.
Zheng Yunbo 鄭雲波, ed. (1992). Zhongguo gudai xiaoshuo cidian 中國古代小說辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 421.
Zhu Taiyan 朱太巖 (1988). "Nenggaizhai manlu 能改齋漫錄", 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), 455.