An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Chenshu 陳書

Jul 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Chenshu 陳書 "Book of the Chen" is the official dynastic history (zhengshi 正史) of the short-lived Chen dynasty 陳 (557-589) . It was written during the early Tang period 唐 (618-907) by Yao Silian 姚思廉 (557-637). The Chenshu is 36-juan long, of which 6 are imperial annals-biographies (benji 本紀) and 30 normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳). Treatises or tables are not included, but such on the Chen empire can be found in a compound collection of treatises in the history Suishu 隋書.

The first draft to a history of the Chen dynasty was compiled by Gu Yewang 顧野王 (518–581, courtesy name Xifeng 希馮) and Fu Zai 傅縡 (died c. 583, courtesy name Yishi 宜事), but was never finished. Lu Qiong 陸瓊 (537–586, courtesy name Boyu 伯玉) continued to edit this draft, but the result was not satisfactory. Yao Cha 姚察, father of Yao Silian, revised the Lu version but was not able to finish more than a few chapters before he died. Yao Silian, after his father's death, finished the greatest part of the Chenshu. The shortness of the book has surely to do with the lacking distance of time that made it not necessary to loose a lot of words about a dynasty that was soon destroyed. Yao Silian finished his first draft of the Chenshu in 622 but only submitted it to the throne in 629 after revision.

The collective biographies are such for imperial consorts and their relatives (7 Huanghou liezhuan 皇后列傳), the imperial house (14, 15 Zongshi liezhuan 宗室列傳, 28, 36), persons of filial conduct (32 Xiaoxing liezhuan 孝行列傳), Confucian scholars (33 Rulin liezhuan 儒林列傳) and writers (34 Wenxue liezhuan 文學列傳). The book closes with biographies of rebels (35-36).

In the bibliographic chapter of the Jiutangshu 舊唐書 the chapters by Gu Yewang and Fu Zai are listed as separate titles, with a length of 3 juan each.

Zhou Yiliang 周一良 (1992). "Chenshu 陳書", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 94.