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Yu Chu zhi 虞初志

Sep 29, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Yu Chu zhi 虞初志 "Stories of Yu Chu", also called Lushi Yu Chu zhi 陸氏虞初志, is a series of collectanea (congshu 叢書) specialized on popular stories. It was compiled by a certain Master Lu 陸氏, probably Lu Cai 陸采 (1497-1537, courtesy name Ziyuan 子元), who lived during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), hailed from Changzhou 長洲 (near modern Suzhou 蘇州, Jiangsu), and was a play-writer. His theatre play Mingzhuji 明珠記 is stage version of the Tang-period 唐 (618-907) story Wushuangzhuan 無雙傳. He also wrote the plays Nanxixiang 南西廂 and Huaixiangji 懷香記. The statement about Lu Cai's authorship can be found in the postface (ba 跋) to the collection Xu jiqieji 續齊諧記.

The title of the series is derived from a Han-period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) story collection called Yu Chu Zhoushuo 虞初周說, which included 943 stories, but has not survived. It is listed in the imperial bibliography Yiwen zhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書. Yu Chu 虞初 was the compiler or author of this collection.

The original version of the series was 7 juan-long, but there are also editions divided into 8 juan. The collection includes 29 chapters of ghost stories or narratives about supernatural events, of which 17 are taken from Liang-period 梁 (502-557) writer Wu Jun 吳均 (469-520), author of the Xu qixieji, and the eight other books from the Tang period, with 16 stories from Xue Yongruo's 薛用弱 Jiyiji 集異記, and 7 individual stories.

The Yu Chu zhi is especially noteworthy because none of the stories included are to be found in the vast Song-period 宋 (960-1279) encyclopaedia Taiping yulan 太平廣記. The stories had been selected with great care, according to their literary quality and after a critical review of the text. It was highly praised by the writers Tu Long 屠隆 (1543-1605), Tang Xianzu 湯顯祖 (1550-1616) and Yuan Hongdao 袁宏道 (1568-1610). One shortcoming of the Yu Chu zhi is that the compiler, as was custom during the Ming period, invented authors for texts that were written by unknown persons. The story Lihunji 離魂記, for instance, was attributed to Wei Zhuang 韋莊, Zhenzhongji 枕中記 to Li Mi 李泌, and the Wushuangzhuan 無雙傳 to Pei Yue 裴說.

The Yu Chu zhi itself is included in Zhou Zhongfu's 周中孚 (1768-1821) series Zhengtang dushu ji 鄭堂讀書記, published in 1937 by the Commercial Press 商務印書館.

A book with the same title is attributed to the play-writer Tang Xianzu 湯顯祖, author of the play Mudanting 牧丹停. His Yu Chu zhi includes 31 chapters and selects stories from Wu Jun's Xu qijieji, Wang Du's 王度 (fl. 612) Gujingji 古鏡記, and quotes Zhang Mi's 張泌 (10th cent.) stories Jiang Chen zhuan 蔣琛傳 and Wei Andao zhuan 韋安道傳, Li Chaowei's 李朝威 (c. 766-c. 820) Liu Yi zhuan 柳毅傳, Chen Hong's 陳鴻 (jinshi degree 805) Changhenzhuan 長恨傳, the Zhenzhongji 枕中記 by Li Bi 李泌 (722-789, or Shen Jiji 沈既濟, c. 750—c. 797) and the story Yingying zhuan 鶯鶯傳, attributed to Yuan Zhen 元稹 (779-831).

The last few stories were rewritten by Ming-period authors and adapted to modern taste and the usefulness for the theatre stage. The collection is therefore helpful to investigate the history of playwriting during the Yuan 元 (1279-1368) and Ming periods, and their adaptation of older stories. Tang Xianzu's Yu Chu zhi was published in 1917 by the Saoye Shanfang Studio 掃葉山房 in Shanghai.

Yu Chu xinzhi 虞初新志

Zhang Chao 張潮 (150-1707) compiled a sequel called Yu Chu xinzhi 虞初新志. Zhang Chao, courtesy name Shanlai 山來, style Xinzhai 心齋, from Xin'an 新安, Anhui, was a writer and publisher of the early Qing period 清 (1644-1911). He also edited the series Zhaodai congshu 昭代叢書 and Tanji congshu 檀几叢書 and compiled the collections Huaying ci 花影詞, Xinzhai liaofu ji 心齋聊復集 and wrote the book Youmengying 幽夢影.

In his preface to the collection Yu Chu xinzhi, Zhang Chao explains that Tang Xianzu had focused on Tang-period novellas and neglected those from later times. Moreover, the range of themes was quite narrow in Tang's collection. After a year of work, Zhang Chao presented a collection of late Ming- and early Qing-period stories – mostly of historical persons - , together with annotations. It includes Wang Xi's 魏禧 (1624-1681) Jiang Zhenyi Xiansheng zhuan 姜貞毅先生傳, Chen Ding's 陳鼎 Liehuzhuan 烈狐傳, Xu Xiefeng's 徐喈鳳 Huixianji 會仙記, Wang Siren's 王思任 (1575-1646) Xu Xiake zhuan 徐霞客傳, Wu Weiye's 吳偉業 (1609-1672) Liao Jingting zhuan 柳敬亭傳, Hou Fangyu's 侯方域 (1618-1655) Guo Laopu muzhi ming 郭老仆墓志銘, Wang Shizhen's 王士禛 (1634-1711) Jianxiazhuan 劍俠傳 or Peng Shiwang's 彭士望 (1610-1683) Jiunian baguan dixi ji 九牛壩觀觝戲記.

There are many editions of the Yu Chi xinzhi, the oldest one dating from 1700. A pocket-size edition was printed in the late 18th century by the Huaqingtang Studio 話清堂. In 1803 the Ji'ou Xianfang 寄鷗閑舫 edition appeared on the market.There is furthermore the 1859 edition by the Langhuan Shanguan Studio 瑯環山館, the Shanghai Liangxi Tushuguan 上海梁溪圖書館 edition, the 1932 moveable print by the Kaiming Shudian 開明書店, the Wenxue Guji Kexinshe 文學古籍刊行社 print from 1954, the 1985 edition by the Hebei Renmin Press 河北人民出版社, and the Shanghai Shudian 上海書店 edition from 1986, together with Tang Xianzu's Yu Chu zhi, and a further sequel, Yu Chu xuzhi 虞初續志. The text is also found in the series Biji xiaoshuo deguan 筆記小說大觀 and Qingdai biji congkan 清代筆記叢刊.

Yu Chu xuzhi 虞初續志

A further sequel to the series with the name Yu Chu xuzhi 虞初續志 was compiled by Zheng Shuruo 鄭澍若 (early 19th cent.), courtesy name Xingyu 醒愚. It has a length of 12 juan and includes stories of persons found in various types of romances, novellas and other types of prose literature written by Wang Wan 汪琬 (1624-1691), Hou Fangyu, Wei Xi, Xu Qianxue 徐乾學 (1631-1694), Mao Qiling 毛奇齡 (1623-1716) or Fang Bao 方苞 (1668-1749), and also from the famous story collection Liaozhai zhiyi 聊齋志異 by Pu Songling 蒲松齡 (1640-1715).

The Yu Chu xuzhi was first printed in 1802 by the Yanghua Caotang Studio 養花草堂 in pocket-book form. A further edition was published in 1859 by the Langhuan Shanguan Studio 瑯環山館, and the moveable letter edition by the Shanghai Guangzhi Shuju 上海廣智書局 from 1851. In 1986, the Shanghai Shudian 上海書店 included this version in the facsimile edition of the three books, Yu Chu zhi heji 初志合集 (reprint 1986 by Beijing Zhonguo Shudian 北京中國書店). The text is also included in the series Biji xiaoshuo daguan and Qing biji xiaoshuo congkan.

A last sequel called Guang Yu Chu xinzhi 廣虞初新志 with a length of 40 juan was created by Huang Chengzeng 黃承增 (early 19th cent.) from Shexian 歙縣, Anhui. He hailed thus from the same district as Zhang Chao, compiler of the Yu Chu xinzhi. The collection was published in 1803.

Table 1. The series Yu Chu zhi 虞初志
(Ming) 陸采 Lu Cai (comp.)
Ming edition; 1917 lithographic edition by Shanghai Saoye Shanfang 上海掃葉山房
書名, length in juan Title Author(s)
續齊諧記 一卷 Xu qixie ji (Liang) 吳均 Wu Jun
集異記 一卷 Jiyiji (Tang) 薛用弱 Xue Yongruo
離魂記 一卷 Lihunji (Tang) 韋莊 Wei Zhuang (or 陳玄祐 Chen Xuanyou)
虬髯客傳 一卷 Jiu Ranke zhuan (Tang) 張説 Zhang Yue (or [Former Shu] 杜光庭 Du Guangting)
柳毅傳 一卷 Liu Yi zhuan (Tang) 李朝威 Li Chengwei
紅線傳 一卷 Hongxianzhuan (Tang) 楊巨源 Yang Juyuan
長恨傳 一卷 Chenghenzhuan (Tang) 陳鴻 Chen Hong
韋安道傳 一卷 Wei Andao zhuan (Southern Tang) 張泌 Zhang Bi
周秦行紀 一卷 Zhou-Qin xingji (Tang) 牛僧孺 Niu Sengru
枕中記 一卷 Zhenzhongji (Tang) 李泌 Li Bi (or 沈既濟 Shen Jiji)
南柯記 一卷 Nankeji (Tang) 李公佐 Li Gongzuo
嵩岳嫁女記 一卷 Songyue jianü ji (Tang) 施肩吾 Shi Jianwu
廣陵妖亂志 一卷 Guangling yaoluan zhi (Tang) 羅隱 Luo Yin
崔少玄傳 一卷 Cui Shaoxuan zhuan (Tang) 王建 Wang Jian
南岳魏夫人傳 一卷 Nanyue Wei furen zhuan (Tang) 顏眞卿 Yan Zhenqing
無雙傳 一卷 Wushuangzhuan (Tang) 裴説 Pei Yue (or 薛調 Xue Diao)
謝小娥傳 一卷 Xie Xiao'e zhuan (Tang) 李公佐 Li Gongzuo
楊娼傳 一卷 Yang Chang zhuan (Tang) 李羣玉 Li Qunyu (or 房千里 Fang Qianli)
李娃傳 一卷 Li Wa zhuan (Tang) 白行簡 Bai Xingjian
鸎鸎傳 一卷 Yingying zhuan (Tang) 元稹 Yuan Zhen
霍小玉傳 一卷 Huo Xiaoyu zhuan (Tang) 蔣防 Jiang Fang
柳氏傳 一卷 Liushi zhuan (Tang) 許堯佐 Xu Yaozuo
非煙傳 一卷 Feiyanzhuan (Tang) 皇甫枚 Huangfu Mei
高力士外傳 一卷 Gao lishi waizhuan (Tang) 郭湜 Guo Ti
東城老父傳 一卷 Dongcheng laofu zhuan (Tang) 陳鴻 Chen Hong
古鏡記 一卷 Gujingji (Sui) 王度 Wang Du
冥音錄 一卷 Mingyinlu (Tang) 朱慶餘 Zhu Qingyu
任氏傳 一卷 Renshi zhuan (Tang) 沈旣濟 Shen Jiji
蔣氏傳 (蔣琛傳) 一卷 Jiangshi zhuan (Jiang Chen zhuan) (Tang) 張泌 Zhang Bi
東陽夜怪錄 一卷 Dongyang yeguai lu (Tang) 王洙 Wang Zhu
白猿傳 一卷 Baiyuanzhuan (Tang) 江揔 Jiang Cong
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