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Chinese Literature
Zizhi tongjian waiji 資治通鑒外紀 "Outer Records of the Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government"


The Zizhi tongjian waiji 資治通鑒外紀, shortly called Tongjian waiji 通鑒外紀, is a continuation to Sima Guang's 司馬光 history Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑒 to be posed chronologically before the latter. The Waiji was compiled by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) historian Liu Shu 劉恕 (1032-1078). Liu Shu has also written the Shiguo jinian 十國紀年, a history of the Ten States 十國 (902-979), and some critical times lists, the Yinianpu 疑年譜 and the Nianlüepu 年略譜. His 10 juan "scrolls" long Tongjian waiji narrates the history before the year 403 BCE, the 23rd year of the reign of King Weilie 周威烈王 (r. 425-402 BCE) of the Zhou dynasty 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) and the year in which the Zizhi tongjian begins. The Waiji begins in the mythical age of the Three Emperors 三皇 and ends in the year 404. The mythical time is dealt with in one juan, that of the Xia 夏 (17th-5th cent. BCE) and Shang 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE) dynasties in one juan, and the Zhou period 周 (11th. cent.-221 BCE) in 8 juan. The book could not really be finished because Liu Shu fell ill. It was therefore in a quite raw state when it was declared finished in 1078.
The primary sources for Liu's book were abundant, and it is all the more a pity that he was never able to bring it into a good state. Liu Shu had worked with the same diligence as had been used for the compilation of the Zizhi tongjian, and used text-critical methods to solve contradictions and to emend errors. Because there is no established chronology before the year 841 BCE, the "annals" in the proper sense only begin in this year. All years before are designated as "years of doubt" (yinian 疑年). Liu Shu has also added discussions about the events described in hic chapters. Except the main text, there is a lengthy index of 5 juan. This index includes valuable astronomical informations which help confirming the Chinese chronology. The Qing period 清 (1644-1911) historian Hu Kejia 胡克家 has written a commentary, the Tongjian waiji zhubu 通鑒外紀注補. His commentary has been printed with the main text. There is also a Ming period 明 (1368-1644) print (the Nanjianben edition 南監本), a print from 1811 by Master Wu from Huangchuan 璜川吳氏, a print by Chen Renxi 陳仁錫, a print by the Shudun shushu Studio 石礅書塾, and that of the Shanyuan Studio 山淵堂. It is included in the collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Sibu congkan 四部叢刊, as well as in the collectaneum Zizhi tongjian huike 資治通鑒彙刻 which includes a lot of Zizhi tongjian continuations.


Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 1, p. 892. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.

Chinese literature according to the four-category system

April 29, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail