An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Quanhanfu 全漢賦

Feb 28, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Quanhanfu 全漢賦 is a collection of all surviving rhapsodies (fu 賦) of the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE). It was compiled by Fei Zhengang 費振剛 and was first published in 1989 by the Peking University Press 北京大學出版社.

Fei argues that even if rhapsodies originated in the poems ascribed to Qu Yuan 屈原 (d. 278 BCE), the so-called poetry of the south (Chuci 楚辭), there was a difference between ci 辭 and fu. The former used to imitate the elegiac, sad style of Qu Yuan's poems, leading to a particular sub-genre of rhapsodies during the Han period, namely those of elegiac style (saoti fu 騷體賦), with the difference that their title included the term fu, and that they are attributed to specific authors. Others, not bearing the title fu, were by Liu Xiang 劉向 (79-8 or 77-6 BCE) included in the collection Chuci, like Jia Yi's 賈誼 (200-168 BCE) Xishi 惜誓. The most detailed characterization of different sub-genres of rhapsodies was created in Xiao Tong's 蕭統 (501-531) anthology Wenxuan 文選, but Fei Zhangang feels that the classification of the Wenxuan was too detailed, and added the genre of "sevens" (qi 七), which was actually a type of rhapsodies. The same is true for some Han-period rhapsodies that are classified as military proclamations (xi 檄) or hypothetical discourses (shelun 設論).

The main sources for Han-period rhapsodies were the anthology Wenxuan, the poems included in personal biographies in the history books Shiji 史記, Hanshu 漢書 and Houhanshu 後漢書, the story collection Xijing zaji 西京雜記, the anthology Guwenyuan 古文苑, the encyclopaedias Beitang shuchao 北堂書鈔, Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚, Chuxueji 初學記 and Taiping yulan 太平御覽, and other anthologies. However, not all of the poems found in these books are preserved in complete form. Many of them are just quoted in a few sentences, or just the title is mentioned.

The earliest complete collections of Han-period rhapsodies was Chen Yuanlong's 陳元龍 (1652-1736) Lidai fuhui 歷代賦彙, and Yan Kejun's 嚴可均 (1762-1843) large collection Quan shanggu Sandai Qin Han Sanguo Liuchao wen 全上古三代秦漢三國六朝文, which assembles 250 rhapsodies of 70 authors. Fei added to these critical remarks and texts not included, and comes to a total number of 293 rhapsodies (or titles of them) written by 83 authors. About 100 rhapsodies are complete, and of 24 pieces, only the titles are known. The collection is arranged chronologically, and below the level of authors, first presents rhapsodies whose titles includes the word fu. Complete texts range before fragments.

A new edition was published in 2005 by the Guangdong Jiaoyu Chubanshe 廣東教育出版社.

Fei Zhengang 費振剛 (1989). "Qianyan 前言", in Quanhanfu 全漢賦 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe), 1-7.