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Chinese Literature
Yijianzhi 夷堅志 "The Records of Yi Jian"


The Yijianzhi 夷堅志 "Records of Yi Jian" is a collection of phantastic stories compiled by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) writer Hong Mai 洪邁 (1123-1202). Another book by Hong Mai is his "brush notes" style (biji 筆記) essay collection Rongzhai suibi 容齋隨筆. Hong Mai had always been interested in popular stories and once started to write them down, according to a sentence in the book Liezi 列子, in which a certain Yi Jian (Yijian) 夷堅 wrote down stories he heard. This is the origin of the book's title. The original size of the Yijianzhi was 420 juan "scrolls". It is divided into four parts (Jiazhi 甲志, Yizhi 乙志, Bingzhi 丙志, and Dingzhi 丁志 "Records I-IV"), of which each is divided into ten collections (ji 集).
Although Hong Mai's technique was to write down interesting stories he heard told among the people, he virtually noted down all stories he was provided with, and therefore a lot of them can be seen in other books, were his "suppliers" had read them, some of the stories were even altered in the course of transmission from mouth to mouth. The content and category of the stories he recorded are of very miscellaneous character, some are phantastic stories, some stories of a revenge for unjust judgments, there are stories of immortals and ghosts, of wonderful healers or sorceres, of loyal and filial ministers, of lecherous monks, traitors, corrupt officals, stories of customs and habits, and so on. The Yijianzhi is therefore of a very heterogenous character, and the stories are not arranged according to any category. For this reason the Yijianzhi was also criticized by scholars like Zhou Mi 周密 as literary meaningless.
The Yijianzhi is an important source of the literary world of Song period China. But the stories are also valuable sources that provide information about everyday life during that period.
There is a supplement, the Xu yijian zhi 續夷堅志, in 4 juan, compiled by the Jin period 金 (1115-1234) writer Yuan Haowen 元好問, who is better known as author of the collection Zhongzhouji 中州集.
The Yijianzhi is included in the collectanea Shiwanjuanlou congshu 十萬卷樓叢書, Wanwei biecang 宛委別藏, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 (only partially), Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編. It was printed several times during Hong Mai's lifetime, and there were many manuscripts in circulation. It was the popularity of the book which made a regular transmission impossible and which is a reason for the loss of a part of the book. The standard edition is the print of the Hanfenlou Studio 涵芬樓 (see Hanfenlou miji 涵芬樓秘笈), which has been reprinted half in the edition by the Zhonghua shuju 中華書局 press in 1981, with annotations by He Zhuo 何卓.


Sources:
Lao Hong 勞洪 (1986). "Yijianzhi 夷堅志", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學, vol. 2, p. 1165. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
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. 2144.



The Xu yijian zhi 續夷堅志 is a collection of various stories compiled by the Jin period 金 (1115-1234) writer Yuan Haowen 元好問 (1190-1257) who is knowns as the author of the poetry collection Yishan shiji 遺山詩集 and the essay collections Renchen zabian 壬辰雜編 and Zhongzhouji 中州集. The Xu yijianzhi was written as a supplement to the Song period 宋 (960-1279) collection Yijianzhi 夷堅志 by Hong Mai 洪邁. Yuan Haowen's book includes stories that originate in the Jin empire. They were written by the author himself and were not, as in the Yijianzhi, products of oral or written accounts. The 4 juan "scrolls" long Xu yijian zhi was published in the collection Shilian'an huike jiu Jin ren ji 石蓮庵匯刻九金人集 and is included in the collectanea Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

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. 2151.


The Guang yijian zhi 廣夷堅志 is a collection of stories that is attributed to the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) collector and publisher Yang Shen 楊慎 (1488-1559). The 20 juan "scrolls" long collection includes a lot of strange stories. It is largely identical to the stories recorded in the collection Guang zhuoyi ji 廣卓異記 by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Yue Shi 樂史. The title is derived from the Song period collection Yijianzhi 夷堅志 by Hong Mai 洪邁. Its literary quality is only very mediocre, and the text includes many errors. The preface was written by Xia Lin 夏林, a retainer of Yang Shen, and dates from 1541. The collection was presented to the compilation team of the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書 by the governor-general of Liang-Jiang 兩江 (Jiangsu and Jiangxi) but was not included in the collectaneum.

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. 2155.
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

November 28, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail