An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Pingzhou ketan 萍洲可談

Sep 2, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Pingzhou ketan 萍洲可談 "Matters Worth Discussing from Pingzhou" is a biji 筆記 "brush notes" style book book written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Zhu Yu 朱彧, courtesy name Zhu Wuhuo 朱無惑 (also written 朱無或), style Pingzhou laopu 萍州老圃. He came from Wucheng 烏程 (modern Wuxing 吳興, Zhejiang). His father had been prefect of Lairun 萊潤 and was once entrusted with a diplomatic mission to the court of the Liao empire 遼 (907-1125). Later on he was appointed commander (shuai 帥) of Guangzhou 廣州.
The Pingzhou ketan narrates the story of Zhu Yu's father. It is very critical towars the brothers Su Shi 蘇軾 and Su Zhe 蘇轍 because the former had managed his father's dismissal. Very characteristically for a biji text, the Pingzhou ketan also includes very heterogenous material about popular tales, stories about customs and habits, information on court rituals and administrative rules. The language is simple and clear and does not show the often-seen character of fiction or humorous literature. The original text was soon lost. The bibliographic chapter in the encyclopedia Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考 says the book was 3 juan "scrolls "long, but the version included in the reprint series Baichuan xuehai 百川學海 and Baoyantang miji 寶顏堂秘笈 is only fifty-odd paragraphs long, and that in the Shuofu 說郛 even shorter. A 3-juan version could be reconstructed from fragments quoted in the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) encyclopedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典.
The Pingzhou ketan is also to be found in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Shoushange congshu 守山閣叢書, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 (with a critical apparatus by Qian Xizuo 錢熙祚), Gujin shuobu congshu 古今說部叢書 and Shuoku 說庫. In 1989 the Shanghai guji chubanshe 上海古籍出版社 published a modern print in a joint version with the Houshan tancong 後山談叢, with annotations by Li Weiguo 李偉國.

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. 2148.