An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Xu Le 徐樂

Jan 24, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Xu Le 徐樂 was an official of the mid-Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE).

He hailed from Wuzhong 無終 (modern Jixian 薊縣, Hebei) and once submitted a memorial to Emperor Wu 漢武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE) admonishing him to exert a benevolent, wise and civilized government. Xu Le was appointed gentleman of the interior (langzhong 郎中). He is credited with the authorship of a book called Xu Le shu 徐樂書 that is in fact the text of the memorial he submitted. The text summarized reasons for success and failure of rulers of the past and is said to have been similar to Jia Yi's 賈誼 Guoqinlun 過秦論 "The faults of the Qin". The book was perhaps a common compilation of Yue Le, Yan An 嚴安, and Zhufu Yan 主父偃 (d. 126 BCE). For his helpful suggestions, Xu was granted the title of gentleman of the interior (langzhong 郎中). Later on he was given the rank of ordinary grand master /(zhong dafu 中大夫).

It was already lost during the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE), but there are some fragments of it preserved in the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Ma Guohan's 馬國翰 collection Yuhan shanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書.

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Huang Huixian 黃惠賢, ed. (1997). Ershiwushi renming da cidian 二十五史人名大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), Vol. 1, 51.
Sheng Guangzhi 盛廣智 (1996). "Xu Le 徐樂", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, eds. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 44.
Zhang Huizhi 張撝之, Shen Qiwei 沈起煒, Liu Dezhong 劉德重, ed. (1999). Zhongguo lidai renming da cidian 中國歷代人名大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1926.
Zhang Ke 張克, Huang Kangai 黃康白, Huang Fangdong 黃方東, eds. (1991). Shiji renwu cidian 史記人物辭典 (Nanning: Guangxi renmin chubanshe), 375.