An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Tang-Song badajia wenchao 唐宋八大家文鈔

Jun 9, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Tang-Song badajia wenchao 唐宋八大家文鈔 is an anthology of eight outstanding writers from the Tang 唐 (618-907) and the Song 宋 (960-1279) periods. There exist two versions of the collection, with different content. One version was compiled by Mao Kun 茅坤 (1512-1601), and the second one by Zhang Boxing 張伯行 (1651-1725).

The earliest book assembling writings of the eight literary stars Han Yu 韓愈 (768-824), Liu Zongyuan 柳宗元 (773-819), Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 (1007-1072), Wang Anshi 王安石 (1021-1086), Zeng Gong 曾鞏 (1019-1083), Su Xun 蘇洵 (1009-1066), Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037-1101), and Su Zhe 蘇轍 (1039-1112) was Zhu You’s 朱右 (1314-1376) Ba xiansheng wenji 八先生文集 from the very early Ming period 明 (1368-1644). The original is lost, but it was reconstructed by Mao Kun, and published with the title Tang-Song badajia wenchao. Mao made use of Tang Shunzhi’s 唐順之 (1507-1560) critical anthology Wenbian 文編. His collection has a length of 164 juan and is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書. The sequence of authors is an expression of Mao Kun’s qualitative rating of the eight writers. His anthology contributed much to the fame of the eight persons as masters of refined and excellent literature. Mao also attempted to draw a picture of classical literature as a counterpoint of the contemporary "Earlier Seven Masters" (qian qi zi 前七子) and "Later Seven Masters" (houqizi 後七子) who wrote in a void, embellished style called ministerial style (taigeti 臺閣體). Mao Kun argued that prose literature had to use the ancient style of the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE), and poetry should be written like it was during the high Tang period (wen bi Qin-Han, shi bi sheng Tang 文必秦漢,詩必盛唐).

Table 1. Contents of Mao Kun's 茅坤 Tang-Song badajia wenchao 唐宋八大家文鈔
1-16 昌黎 Changli (Tang) 韓愈 Han Yu
17-28 柳州 Liuzhou (Tang) 柳宗元 Liu Zongyuan
29-80 廬陵 Luling (Song) 歐陽修 Ouyang Xiu
81-96 臨川 Linchuan (Song) 王安石 Wang Anshi
97-106 南豐 Nanfeng (Song) 曾鞏 Zeng Gong
107-116 老泉 Laoquan (Song) 蘇洵 Su Xun
117-144 東坡 Dongpo (Song) 蘇軾 Su Shi
145-164 潁濱 Yingbin (Song) 蘇轍 Su Zhe

Zhang Boxing 張伯行 (1651-1725), courtesy name Xiaoxian 孝先, style Jing’an 敬庵 or Shuzhai 恕齋, hailed from Yifeng 儀封 (today’s Lankao 蘭考, Henan) and crowned his career with the office of Minister of Rites (libu shangshu 禮部尚書). Even the Kangxi Emperor 康熙帝 (r. 1661-1722) acknowledged Zhang’s expertise in Neo-Confucian scholarship. Zhang compiled the series Zhengyitang congshu 正誼堂叢書, and wrote the treatises Kunxuelu 困學錄 and Xu kunxuelu 續困學錄. His collected writings are called Zhengyitang shiwen ji 正誼堂詩文集.

For his anthology of 19 juan length, Zhang Boxing imitated Mao Kun’s anthology, but selected texts of higher quality, and commented on each of them. Zhang’s anthology includes 322 texts in total. The collection was first printed in 1709. It is included in the series Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Table 2. Contents of Zhang Boxing 張伯行 Tang-Song badajia wenchao 唐宋八大家文鈔
juan 1-3 韓愈文 Han Yu wen 65 titles
4 柳宗元文 Liu Zongyuan wen 18
5-6 歐陽修文 Ouyang Xiu wen 38
7 蘇洵文 Su Xun wen 2
8 蘇軾文 Su Shi wen 27
9-10 蘇轍文 Su Zhe wen 27
11-17 曾鞏文 Zeng Gong wen 128
18-19 王安石文 Wang Anshi wen 17
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