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Songshi xinbian 宋史新編

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Songshi xinbian 宋史新編 "New history of the Song dynasty" is a history of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279) written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) historian Ke Weiqi 柯維騏. The 200 juan "scrolls" long book was first printed in 1557 in an edition of 42 volumes. A later, Japanese edition dates from 1835.
Ke Weiqi (1497-1574), courtesy name Ke Qichun 柯奇純, studio name Xizhai xiansheng 希齋先生, came from Putian 莆田, Fujian, and was appointed scribe in the Ministry of Revenue (hubu 戶部) in Nanjing but never accepted this post nor any other state office. Instead, he dedicated himself to the study of history and literature. He was a famous teacher and had more than 400 disciples. He was especially interested in the history of the Song period and lamented about the deficits of the official dynastic history of that period, the Songshi 宋史. Half of this book, he said, was compiled by Non-Chinese, with the result that many passages were not correct and biased. He therefore rearranged the material of the Songshi, added missing information and compiled a new history of the Song, which took him more than 20 years of work. He was very praised for this book by his contemporarians Huang Zuo 黃佐 (who wrote the preface) and Shen Defu 沈德符.
Ke Qichun has also written some historical studies like the Shiji kaoyao 史記考要 or Du Puyang wenxian zhi 續莆陽文獻志, as well as a lot of poems and essays.
The Songshi xinbian unites the histories of the Song, Liao 遼 (907-1125) and Jin 金 (1115-1234) empires to one coherent corpus. It is arranged by the same method as the official dynastic histories, the biographic-thematic style (jizhuanti 紀傳體) with 14 juan of imperial biographies (benji 本紀), 40 juan of treatises on statecraft (zhi 志), 4 juan of tables (biao 表) and 142 juan of normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳). The common editions also include a poem of praise by Zheng Yingqin 鄭應旂 as well as the preface by Huang Zuo and the postface by Kang Dahe 康大和. Ke Weiqi looked at the paradigm of the history of the Three Kingdoms 三國 (220-280) and defined the Song empire as the righteous one, so that the princes Zhao Shi 趙昰 (r. 1276-1277) and Zhao Bing 趙昺 (r. 1277-1279) at the very end of the Song period, who never adopted the title of emperor, were granted imperial biographies instead of such for common persons. The empires of Liao and Jin where treated as foreign countries and not as Chinese states. They are therefore to be found side by side with the Western Xia empire 西夏 (1038-1227) and the state of Koryŏ (Korea) 高麗. The imperial biographies are the core part of the book and in detail present important events at the court and throughout the empire, as well as the essential imperial edicts. The tables and treatises are concise and clear. For the normal biographies, the compiler has especially stressed the national spirit of the many officials of the Song empire. His own discussions and poems of assessment are particularly worth mentioning. The Songshi xinbian rectifies a lot of errors of the Songshi. Most of them are identical to the errors identified by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Zhao Yi 趙翼 in his critical notes to the dynastic histories, the Nianershi zhaji 廿二史劄記. The Qing scholar Zhu Yizun 朱彝尊 compared Ke Weiqi's book favourably with other alternative histories of the Song, like Wang Ang's 王昂 Songshi bu 宋史補, or Wang Zhu's 王洙 Song-Yuan shizhi 宋元史質. Yet the compilers of the Siku quanshu zongmu 四庫全書總目also criticised Ke Weiqi for his attempt to enforce a qualitative prevalence of the Song empire over the two others and the somewhat enforced acceptance of the two last princes as emperors. The modern scholar Wang Zhongmin 王重民 again reproached this criticism as too Manchuist. It should not be justifiable to raise foreign countries like the Liao and Jin to "Chinese" dynasties just for the sake of pleasing the Manchu emperors of the Qing dynasty, Wang said. Although the book of Ke Weiqi is important for the history of the Song period, he has also inherited some errors of the Songshi, like double biographies or missing biographies. The Qing scholar Qian Daxin 錢大昕 also criticized that Ke had not used more additional sources instead of simply rearranging the text of the Songshi.

Source: Chen Mo 陳墨 (1994), "Songshi xinbian 宋史新編", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城 (ed.), Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Lishi 歷史 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), p. 230.

January 7, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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