An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yuanshixuan 元詩選

Jul 22, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Yuanshixuan 元詩選 is an anthology of regular shi 詩-style poetry from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) compiled by Gu Sili 顧嗣立 (1665-1722), courtesy name Xiajun 俠君, from Changzhou 長洲 (today's Wuxian 吳縣), Jiangsu. 翰林院庶吉士. Gu took part in the compilation of several collections of poetry and also the geographical book Huangyu quanlan 皇輿全覽. His own writings are Lüqiu Xiansheng ziding nianpu 閭邱先生自訂年譜 (an annalistical auto-biography), Changli Xiansheng shi jizhu 昌黎先生詩集注 (collected comments on poems of Han YU 韓愈, 768-824), Hanwan shihua 寒萬詩話 and Chunshu xianchao 春樹閑鈔.

The Yuan-poetry collection has a length of 110 juan. It is divided into three parts, each of which includes 100 poems (and some more in appendixes). The first collection (Chuji 初集), finished in 1694, includes a prefaces and the principles for the compilation (Fanli 凡例), and is dedicated to poetry whose authors can be identified. The second collection (Erji 二集) was finished in 1702, and the third one (Sanji 三集) was published in 1720. Each of the collections is divided into sections named like the Heavenly Stems (tiangan 天干, see calendar). The sections jia 甲 to xin 辛 include native poets, the sections ren 壬 foreigners and females, and the sections gui 癸 poems whose authors are unidentifiable. To all known authors, small biographies (xiaozhuan 小傳) are added, and wherever necessary, brief comments (pingyu 評語) were inserted. The number of identified authors is 340, while the total number of shi poems in question is about 2,600.

The concept thus followes Yuan Haowen's 元好問 (1190-1257) collection Zhongzhouji 中州集. The Yuanshixuan is the largest collection of regular poems from the Yuan period and therefore attracted wide attention. The anthology was used by Xi Shichen 席世臣 (juren degree 1788) for his supplementary anthology Yuanshixuan guiji 元詩選癸集, consisting of ten collections. Most outstanding are the poems of the "four great poets of the Yuan" (Yuanshi si da jia 元詩四大家), Yu Ji 虞集 (1272-1348), Yang Zai 楊載 (1271-1323), Fan Peng 范梈 (1272-1330), and Jie Xisi 揭傒斯 (1274-1344), as well as Liu Yin 劉因 (1249-1293), Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322) and Sa Dula 薩都剌 (1300-1355).

The oldest complete edition of the three collections was published in 1798 by the Xiuye Caotang Hall 秀野草堂. The oldest surviving edition of the third collection was owned by the Saoye Shanfang Studio 掃葉山房 and was republished in facsimile form in 1888 by Xi Wei 席威, Xi Shichen's grandson. A modern, commented edition was published in 1985 by the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局. Another supplement is Gu Kuiguang's 顧奎光 (d. 1764) edition with a length of 7 juan.

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