An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Liuchao wenxie 六朝文絜

Aug 18, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Liuchao wenxie 六朝文絜 is a collection of couplet-style (pianwen 駢文) prose literature from the Six Dynasties period 六朝 (222~589). The anthology of 12 juan length was compiled by Xu Lian 許櫣 (fl. 1825), courtesy name Shuxia 叔夏, style Shanlin 珊林, from Haining 海寧, Zhejiang. He lived in the early and mid-19th century and was tax grain intendant (liangchudao 糧儲道) of Jiangsu. Xu was fond of paleography and ancient literature, and rhymed prose in particular.

He started with his anthology in 1806 and finished the book on 1825. The title is derived from a word of the literary critic Liu Xie 劉勰 (c. 460 or 480-c. 522 or 538), author of the literary theory Wenxin diaolong 文心雕龍, who had maintained that the language used to analyse the world must be brief and logical.

The anthology includes 72 writings of 35 persons. It is divided according to genres.

Xu’s selection criteria were to present short texts relatively easy to read, so that his anthology was able to be used as a kind of textbook. It therefore includes famous writings of notable persons in order to show the styles of literature and topics of discussion between 300 and 600 CE. Of the whole Jin period 晉 (265-420), only one text of Lu Ji 陸機 (261-303) is included – the title of the book is therefore somewhat misleading. For many texts, Xu Lian added commentaries.

The original arrangement of the book was 4 juan, but the most common edition (1888) includes commentaries by Li Jinggao 黎經誥 (Liuchao wenxue jianzhu 六朝文絜箋注), and therefore has a length of 12 juan. A modern edition was published in 1962 by the Zhonghua Shuju 中華書局, and in 1982 by the Shanghai Guji Chubanshe 上海古籍出版社. The anthology is also included in the series Saoye shanfang congchao 掃葉山房叢抄 and Sibu beiyao 四部備要.

Table 1. Contents of the Liuchao wenxie 六朝文絜
1. Rhapsodies
2. 詔 敕 Edicts, ordinances
3. 令 教 Commands, instructions
4. 策問 Questions for use in the official examinations
5. 表,疏 Memorials, reports
6. 啓,牋 Communications, memoranda
7. Letters
8. 移文,序 Letters of dispatch, prefaces
9. Discussions
10. Inscriptions
11. Stone inscriptions
12. 誄,祭文 Dirges, sacrificial texts
Chen Weipeng 陳未鵬 (2007). "Liuchao wenxie yu Xu Lian de wenxue pipingguan 《六朝文絜》與許櫣的文學批評觀", Fuyang Shifan Xueyuan xuebao (Shehui kexue ban) 阜陽師範學院學報(社會科學版), 2007 (1): 29-31.
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, 2889.
Lin Fei 林非, ed. (1997). Zhongguo sanwen da cidian 中國散文大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), 141.
Meng Wei 孟偉 (2014). "Liuchao wenxie de biankan ji qi wenxue sichao de guanxi 《六朝文絜》的編刊及其與文學思潮的關係", Gudai wenxue lilun fawei 古代文學理論發微, 2014 (6): 78-82.
Ni Qixin 倪其心 (1986). "Liuchao wenxie 六朝文絜”, in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 467.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 148.
Yang Fenglan 楊鳳蘭 (2018). "Liuchao wenxie fulei zuopin lunxi 《六朝文絜》賦類作品論析", Huanggang Shifan Xueyuan xuebao 黃岡師範學院學報, 2018 (2): 50-53.
Zhang Lanlan 張蘭蘭 (2021). "Pianwen de shudui: Yi Liuchao wenxie wei li 駢文的屬對——以《六朝文絜》為例", Liaoning Gongye Daxue xuebao (Shehui kexue ban) 遼寧工業大學學報(社會科學版), 2021 (5): 63-66.