An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Cizong 詞綜

Sep 8, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Cizong 詞綜 is a critical collection of lyric-metre-style poetry (ci 詞) from the late Tang 唐 (618-907) to the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). It was compiled by Zhu Yizun 朱彝尊 (1629-1709) and enlarged by Wang Sen 汪森 (1653-1723).

The first draft of the book was finished around 1672. Zhu Yizun thereafter enlarged it to a size of 26 juan, but Wang Sen added a further 4 fascicles which resulted in the "original" edition of 30 juan. It was printed by Wang Sen. When Zhu Yizun went to Beijing to take office, the duty was left to Wang Sen to continue the compilation with the support of Zhou Yun 周篔 (1623-1687) and Shen Jin 沈進. The three men added a further 6 fascicles and finished the book in its 36-juan version that was printed in 1691.

There existed an earlier critical compilations of poetry, namely Wu Ne's 吳訥 Song-Yuan baijia ci 宋元百家詞, but this book only existed as a manuscript and Zhu Yizun perhaps never consulted it. Other collections like Huajian ji 花間集, Caotang shiyu 草堂詩餘 or Hua'an juemiao ci 花庵絶妙詞 were better available, but dealt with only small numbers of poems or had an insufficient scholarly value.

Zhu therefore decided to initiate fundamental research on the theory and quality of ci poetry. For this purpose, he wrote principles of compilation (fafan 發凡). The book is arranged chronologically and presents ci poetry from the Tang period (1-2), the Five Dynasties period (3), the Song period (4-25), the Jin empire (26), and the Yuan period (27-30). Inside these chapters, the poems are arranged according to the author, and below this level, according to the musical modes (cidiao 詞調). For each author, Zhu provided a short biography, and added his critical commentaries and information on the context after each poem. Fascicles 31-33 include supplements of further writers (Bu ren 補人) from the Song, Jin, and Yuan empires. The last three fascicles present additional poems (Bu ci 補詞) of writers already included in the main body of the book. The collection presents a total of 2,252 poems of 659 writers (plus anonymous persons).

The aim of the book is not just to be present a collection, but also to give an overview of the development of the genre of ci poetry. For this purpose, Zhu Zunyi made a selection of certain authors and their works, and laid emphasis on the achievements of Wen Tingyun 溫庭筠 (801-866), Zhang Xian 張先 (990-1078), Zhou Bangyan 周邦彦 (1056-1121), Xin Qiji 辛棄疾 (1140-1207), Jiang Kui 姜夔 (1155-1209), Zhou Mi 周密 (1232—1298 or 1308), Wu Wenying 吳文英 (c. 1200-c. 1260), Wang Yisun 王沂孫 (c. 1230-c. 1291) and Zhang Yan 張炎 (1248-c. 1320). He demonstrated that the Southern Song period was the highlight of ci poetry (Nansong shi ji qi gong 南宋始極其工), and not the Northern Song, as many contemporaries held. Zhu attempts to present a well-balanced overview of the history of ci poetry, and thus comments on poems of the elegant style (wanyue ci 婉約詞) as well as of the "heroic" style (haofang ci 豪放詞).

The book was first printed in 1678 by Wang's Qiushu Studio 裘抒樓 in a 30-juan version. His enlarged version, which was to become the usual edition, was published in 1691. A modern, critical edition was published in 1978 by the Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社. The version in the series Sibu beiyao 四部備要 includes two further fascicles that had been added by Wang Chang 王昶 (1724-1806). The imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 reproduces Zhu Yizun’s original, short version of 30 juan.

Chen Zhenghong 陳正宏 (1999). "Cizong 詞綜", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 71.