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Nanshi 南史

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The Nanshi 南史 is a one-book parallel to the the official dynastic histories (zhengshi 正史) of the Southern Dynasties 南朝 (420~589): the Liu-Song dynasty 宋 (420-479, the Songshu 宋書), the Southern Qi dynasty 南齊 (479-502, the Nanqishu 南齊書), the Liang dynasty 梁 (502-557, Liangshu 梁書), and the Chen dynasty 陳 (557-589, Chenshu 陳書). The Nanshi was written by the Tang period 唐 (618-907) scholar Li Yanshou 李延壽 and is a history written in a biographic-thematic style (jizhuanti 紀傳體). The part covering the Song comprises 3 juan "scrolls" of imperial biographies (benji 本紀), that of the Qi 2 juan, that of the Liang 3 juan, and that of the Chen 2 juan. There are 70 normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳).
Li Yanshou's father Li Taishi 李太師 had already recognized that each dynastic history, especially in a time when several dynasties claimed the right to rule the territory of China, focused on its own government and state and neglected the history of the other state(s). He planned therefore to compile annals of the Southern and the Northern Dynasties 北朝 (386~581), which were never completed. Only his son continued to realize his father's project and compiled the history of the Southern Dynasties, from 420 to 589, in a book called Nanshi, which was completed in 659. Parallel to this history he wrote a history of the Northern Dynasties, the Beishi 北史. Li Yanshou also took part in the compilation of the offical histories of the Jin dynasty (265-420), the Jinshu 晉書, and the Sui dynasty 隋 (581-618), the Suishu 隋書.
Contarily to what his father had planned, the Nanshi and Beishi were not year-by-year chronicles (biannianti 編年體) but histories written in a biographic-thematic style. It is therefore very easy to study the genealogies of the large family clans (haozu 豪族, menfa 門閥) of that period. Although it is a parallel history the content of the Nanshi is not identical to that of the Songshu, Nanqishu, etc. so that a diligent scholar has to read both variants.

Source: Zhou Yiliang 周一良 (1992), "Nanshi 南史", 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. 2, pp. 727-728.

July 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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