An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Tangyulin 唐語林

Aug 15, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Tangyulin 唐語林 "Forest of discussions about the Tang period" is a biji 筆記 "brush notes" style book written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Wang Dang 王讜, courtesy name Wang Fu 王甫. He came from Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi) and was a nephew of Counsellor-in-chief Lü Dafang 呂大防. In 1089 he was appointed Vice Director (jiancheng 監丞) of the Directorate of Education (guozijian 國子監) and later Vice Director of the Imperial Manufacturies (shaofujian 少府監). The 8 juan "scrolls" long Tangyulu imitates the famous book Shishuo xinyu 世說新語 from the Liang period 梁 (502-557) in the intention to narrates stories and discussions of fifty famous scholars of the Tang period 唐 (618-907). The book is arranged in 52 chapters and quotes extensively from the writings of these scholars. This method is different from the Shishuo xinyu, where the text was newly written. The Tangyulu covers a vast ranges of themes, from court politics, historical events to stories in the imperial city, the activities and discourses of scholars and officials, stories about writers and information about customs and habits of the common people. It is therefore an important source on the political and social history of the Tang period, all the more as the original books from which Wang Dang has quoted, are often lost. The Tangyulu itself was lost as an individual text in the beginning of the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), but fortunately enough, large fragments could be reconstructed from the encyclopedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典. The received text is therefore not identical to the original book, but it was brought into an acceptable form by the compilers of the imperial reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書. The Tangyulu is also to be found in the reprint series Wuyingdian juzhen ban congshu 武英殿聚珍板, Minfu juzhen congshu 閩覆聚珍, Guangya chuju chongke 廣雅書局重刻 (with an additional juan of fragments, and critically revised by Sun Xinghua 孫星華), Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Xiyinxuan congshu 惜陰軒叢書, Shuoku 說庫 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編. In 1957 the Shanghai guji wenxue press 上海古典文學出版 published a modern edition, a year later the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局.

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.