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Chinese Literature
Shilin yanyu 石林燕語 "Supper Discussions of the Stone Forest"


Shilin yanyu 石林燕語 "Supper discussions of the Stone Forest" is a biji 筆記 "brush notes" style book written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) writer Ye Mengde 葉夢得 (1077-1148), courtesy name Ye Shaowen 葉少蘊, style Shilin jushi 石林居士. The "Stone Forest Valley", where he lived for a while, is located in the region of Mt. Bian 卞山 near Wuxing 吳興, Zhejiang. The 10 juan "scrolls" long book is the result of the discussions Ye Mengde had with his visitors. They discussed history, comportment and etiquette, matters of the imperial court and the life of the peasant people. In many points the discussants were very critical towards their contemporaries and blamed them for the downfall of the Northern Song empire 北宋 (960-1126). The Shilin yanyu is of a certain historiographical value because it provides information on administrative institutions and procedures, high officials and palace buildings that are not found in other sources. The compilers of the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書 therefore compared it with more regular historical sources like Song Minqiu's 宋敏求 Chunming tuichao lu 春明退朝錄 or Xu Du's 徐度 Quesaobian 卻掃編. There were so many editions of the Shilin yanyu that a lot of them included critical errors. Therefore several scholars wrote commentaries to the text to correct wrong passages. The comments by Wang Yingchen 汪應辰 and Yuwen Shaoyi 宇文紹奕 have therefore become integral parts of te text itself. The transmitted versions of the text differ from each other. The version in the collectanea Baihai 稗海 and Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀 has a length of 10 juan, that in the Siku quanshu includes Yuwen Shaoyi's 宇文紹 text-critical commentaries (Kaoyi 考異), the version in the Ruxue jingwu 儒學警悟, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, Shilin yishu 石林遺書 (Ye Mengde's posthumous writings), Xiyuan xiansheng quanshu 郋園先生全書 (compiled by Ye Dehui 葉德輝) include Wang Yingchen's 汪應辰 commentary Shilin yanyu bian 石林燕語辨, and the Shuofu 說郛, Wuchao xiaoshuo 五朝小說, Wuchao xiaoshuo daguan 五朝小說大觀 and Jingxiutang congshu 敬修堂叢書 include only 1 juan of text, the collection Jiuxiaoshuo 舊小說 even no more than 14 paragraphs. In 1984 the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 has published a modern edition with annotations by Hou Zhongyi 侯忠義.

Source: 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. 1951.
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

August 15, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail