An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xianjulu 閑居錄

Aug 28, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Xianjulu 閑居錄 (also written 閒居錄) "Records while dwelling in idleness" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) by Wuqiu Yan 吾丘衍 (1268-1311), who is also known as the author of the books Sanshiwu ju 三十五舉 and Xuegubian 學古篇.

The book was not finished when Wuqiu passed away, and was only published – without altering the still unpolished text – when the manuscript fell into the hands of Lu Youren 陸友仁 (early 14th cent.). Some statements in the manuscripts are even identical to Wuqiu Yuan's Xuegubian, as for instance, his critique towards Dai Tong's 戴侗 (1200-1285) Liushugu 六書故 or Xu Xuan's 徐鉉 (916-991) studies of the seal script.

It seems that the Xianjulu was actually a kind of notebook used to draft texts for book projects. Nonetheless, some valuable parts in the draft bring forward critique to venerated books or point specifically at errors found in texts like Yanshi jiaxun 顏氏家訓 or Cantongqi 參同契 or pointing specifically at errors, or the authorship of Du Fu 杜甫 (712-770) of a disputed poem (the title Haitang 海棠 was avoided because it was the tabooed personal name of his deceased mother). There are, however also some misinterpretations found in the book, like the connex between astronomical constellations and daily hours mentioned in the chapter Yaodian 堯典 of the Classic Shangshu 尚書 "Book of Documents", or the interpretation of the word chi 瓻 "jar" as a holder of book scrolls, the wrong comprehension of the words aozao 奧灶, or the author's negligence to identify correctly the "Five Earls" (wu bo 五伯).

The Xianjulu is remarkable for its many statements on poetry and music.

The text is included in the series Wu Zixing er zhong 吾子行二種 (with the Xuegubian), Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Baqianjuanlou congkan 八千卷樓叢刊 and Wulin wangzhe yizhu 武林往哲遺箸, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Chang Chunlian 唱春蓮 (1996). "Wu Yan Xianjulu yu Xianzhong manbian kaoyi 吾衍《閑居錄》與《閑中漫編》考異", Wenxian 文獻, 1996 (3): 219-223.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1965.
Liu Ruiling 劉瑞玲 (1996). "Xianjulu 閑居錄", in Jiang Zuyi 蔣祖怡, Chen Zhichun 陳志椿, eds. Zhongguo shihua cidian 中國詩話辭典 (Beijing: Beijing chubanshe), 391.
Zheng Yunbo 鄭雲波, ed. (1992). Zhongguo gudai xiaoshuo cidian 中國古代小說辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 440.