An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Quesaobian 卻掃編

Aug 21, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Quesaobian 卻掃編 "Withdrawing with the broom" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the early Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Xu Du 徐度 (mid-12th cent.), courtesy name Dunli 敦立. He hailed from Gure 穀熟 in the prefecture of Yingtian 應天 (modern Shangqiu 商丘, Henan) and was the youngest son of Counsellor-in-chief Xu Churen 徐處仁 (d. 1127). After the consolidation of the Southern Song dynasty, the family settled down in Wuxing 吳興, Zhejiang. In 1138 Xu Du was made editor in the Palace Library (jiaoshulang 校書郎) and then rose to the post of Vice Director in the Criminal Administration Bureau (duguan yuanwailang 都官員外郎) and finally became Vice Minister of Personnel (libu shilang 吏部侍郎). He says that during his days in Wuxing, he had no one to converse with, and therefore dug himself in the family library and began to write down what he had seen and heard in younger years.

The title of the book of 3 juan length points at this time, during which he "closed the outer gate and cleaned the courtyard with the broom". The book includes stories about the life, activities and discourses of court officials in the time between the late years of the Northern Song 北宋 (960-1126) and the Shaoxing reign-period 紹興 (1131-1162) of the Southern Song. A small amount of stories is related to pre-Song times. All of these stories were recorded from hearsay, and are not based on written sources, but they are nevertheless quite reliable, except a few errors and stories that must be fables. The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu compare the Quesaobian with Wang Mingqing's 王明清 (1127-c. 1214) Huichenlu 揮麈錄 or Ye Mengde's 葉夢得 (1077-1148) Shilin yanyu 石林燕語.

The Quesaobian is also included in the series Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Fanyuebian 反約篇, Rongyuan congshu 榕園叢書, Gushu congkan 古書叢刊, Zeshizhai congshu 擇是居叢書, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 and Shuofu 說郛.

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, 1952.
Wu Ming 吳明 (1996). "Quesaobian 卻掃編", in Jiang Zuyi 蔣祖怡, Chen Zhichun 陳志椿, eds. Zhongguo shihua cidian 中國詩話辭典 (Beijing: Beijing chubanshe), 304.
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), 156.
Zheng Yunbo 鄭雲波, ed. (1992). Zhongguo gudai xiaoshuo cidian 中國古代小說辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 409.