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Tang caizi zhuan 唐才子傳

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Tang caizi zhuan 唐才子傳 "Biographies of eminent Tang poets" is a collection of biographies of poets from the Tang 唐 (618-907) and Five Dynasties 五代 (907-960) periods. It was written by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) scholar Xin Wenfang 辛文房, who climbed up the ladder of official career up to vice minister. Together with Wang Zhiqian 王執謙 and Yang Zai 楊載, he is counted among the most famous Yuan period poets. He has compiled a collection of poems, the Pisha shiji 披沙詩集, which is unfortunately lost.
The Tang caizi zhuan is a very important source for the life of a lot of poets from the Tang and especially the Five Dynasties periods. The writers are arranged according to their assessed quality. Xin provides very detalied informations about their lives and careers and the process of state examinations. At the end of each biography the poems of each persons are rated and criticized. In these paragraphs Xin Wenfang also quotes from older sources of literary critique. Inspite of this value, the biographical information of the Tang caizi zhuan is often not correct and contradicts better historiographical sources.
The book was finished in 1304 and originally comprised 10 juan "scrolls". At the beginning of the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) it was still fully available and was included in total in the encylopedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典 under the lemma zhuan 傳 "biography". Unfortunately this part of the Yongle dadian was destroyed, but the compilers of the collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書 extracted quotations from other, surviving parts of the Yongle dadian. The biographies of 287 persons (243 in the main text, plus 44 in a supplement) have thus survived and are arranged in 8 juan. A 10 juan long version preserved in Hayashi Jussai's 林述齊 Japanese collectanea Isson sōsho (Chinese reading Yicun congshu) 佚存叢書 includes the biographies of 278 persons in the main text and 120 in a supplement. The Japanese version was reprinted during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Lu Zhirong 陸芝榮 and later reproduced in the collectanea Zhihai 指海, which is a text-critical edition comparing this version with that in the Siku quanshu. In 1957 the Gudian wenxue press 古典文學出版社 reprinted this edition as a modern version. The Isson sōsho version was reprinted in 1992 by the Jiangsu guangling guji press 江蘇廣陵古籍刻印社, and in 2003 by the Beijing tushuguan press 北京圖書館出版社.


Source: Wang Shuizhao 王水照 (1986), "Tang caizi zhuan", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, p. 831.

December 10, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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