Zilüe 子略 is a concise treatise on the bibliographical category of the "Masters and philosophers" written by Gao Sisun 高似孫 (1158-1231), courtesy name Xugu 續古, style Shuliao 蔬寮, during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279).
Although his character seems to have not very excellent in the eyes of "Confucian" historians, he was great collector of books and wrote four treatises on bibliography, namely Zilüe (on the "Masters", length 4 juan), Shilüe 史略 (on historiography, 6 juan), Weilüe 緯略 (on apocryphal classics, 1 juan), and Saolüe 騷略 (on elegiac rhapsody, 3 juan). He also wrote a local gazetteer on the district of Shengxian 嵊縣, Zhejiang, called Yanlu 剡錄; a book on crabs, Xielüe 蟹略, a treatise on inkstones, Yanjian 硯箋, and many more literary studies.
The Zilüe includes the bibliographic descriptions of 37 books, all of them dating from antiquity. It begins with a preliminary fascicle (Zilüe mu 子略目) quoting the masters sections of the catalogues in the official dynastic histories (Hanshu 漢書, Suishu 隋書, Tangshu [actually neither the original wording from the Jiutangshu 舊唐書 nor from the Xintangshu 新唐書]), Zheng Qiao's 鄭樵 (1104-1162) Tongzhi yiwen lüe 通志藝文略, and Yu Zhongrong's 庾仲容 (475-548) Zichao 子鈔.
The commentaries on the books give detailed information about the names and histories of the texts, and the identity of authors.
The texts are arranged more or less chronologically, beginning with the books believed to have been written in remote antiquity, like Huangdi Yinfujing 黃帝陰符經, Feng Hou Wojijing 風后握奇經, Yuzi 鬻子 or Taigong jinkui liutao 太公金匱六韜. Directly after the texts themselves, Gao attached commentaries or related texts, like Lu Guimeng's 陸龜蒙 (d. 881) Du Yinfujing shi 讀陰符經詩 or Pi Rixiu's 皮日休 (834-883) poem collection with the same title.
In a very rough order, Confucian texts are following suit, then the Daoist philosophers and commentaries on them, then the Zhanguoce 戰國策 (actually a collection of historiographical character), the legalists, Mohists, dialecticians, and finally various books written during the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE), as Huainanzi 淮南子, Jia Yi's 賈誼 (200-168 BCE) Xinshu 新書, the Yantielun 鹽鐵論, Lunheng 論衡 and Taixuanjing 太玄經.
The last books described in the Zilüe are the Daoist texts Baopuzi 抱朴子, Wenzhongzi 文中子 (i.e. Wang Tong's 王通 Zhongshuo 中說), Yuanzi 元子 by Yuan Jie 元結 (today lost), and Pizi Yinshu 皮子隱書 (i.e. Lumen yinshu 鹿門隱書 by Pi Rixiu), all written after the end of the Han.
The earliest print of the Zilüe dates from the Xianchun reign-period 咸淳 (1265 – 1274), but the last fascicle is missing.
It was reprinted in the series Baichuan xuehai 百川學海, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討源, Siming congshu 四明叢書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編. In 1929 the Pushe Press 樸社 in Beiping (Beijing) published an edition annotated by Gu Jiegang 顧頡剛 (1892-1980).
Shilüe 史略 is less well structured than Gao Sisun's Zilüe 子略, if not to say, chaotic. Nonetheless, the 6 juan include important tools for bibliographical research. The first fascicle records information on the Shiji 史記 and relevant studies and commentaries, and the second one such on the official dynastic histories from the Hanshu 漢書 to the two histories of the Five Dynasties period, Jiu Wudaishi 舊五代史 and Xin Wudaishi 新五代史.
Juan 3 is dedicated to the book Dongguan hanji 東現漢記, and the genres veritable records (shilu 實錄), imperial diaries (qijuzhu 起居注), institutional history (huiyao 會要) and the imperial genealogy (yudie 玉牒), juan 4 to statues (shidian 史典), historical tables (shibiao 史表), concise history (shilüe 史略), excerpts of history books (shichao 史鈔), historical critique (shiping 史評), historical evaluation (shizan 史贊), drafts (shicao 史草), precedents in history (shili 史例), lists (shimu 史目), comprehensive history (tongshi 通史), and "comprehensive mirrors" (tongjian 通鑒).
The last part, fascicle 5 and 6, present information on regional histories (or "independent rulers" bashi 霸史), miscellaneous histories (zashi 雜史), ancient books listed in the bibliography Qilüe 七略, studies since the Eastern Han period (Donghan yilai shukao 東漢以來書考), lists of historiographical officials through the ages (Lidai shiguan mu 歷代史官目), and Liu Xie's 劉勰 (c. 465-521) discussion on historiography (lun shi 論史, from his book Wenxian diaolong 文心雕龍), furthermore studies of the books Shanhaijing 山海經, Shiben 世本, Sancang 三蒼, Hanguan 漢官, Shuijing 水經, and Zhushu jinian 竹書(紀年).
While Gao compiled a commentary on some books or even evaluates studies on them or provides more details on their context, other titles are simply listed with further comment.
The book was printed in 1883 in the series Hou Zhibuzhuzhai congshu 後后知不足齋叢書, 1884 in the series Guyi congshu 古逸叢書, and 1932 in the series Siming congshu 四明叢書. A modern edition was published in 1987 by the Shumu Wenxian Press 書目文獻出版社.