An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋 "Spring and Autumn of Master Yan" is a collection of stories around Yan Ying 晏嬰 (578-500 BCE), a minister of the dukes of the regional state of Qi 齊 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE).

The book, although ascribed to himself, is of later date and was compiled during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BC). The book Yanzi chunqiu consists of 215 stories arranged in 8 chapters. In the stories Yan Ying acts as advisor to Duke Jing of Qi 齊景公 (r. 547-490), and therefore the greatest part of the book consists of direct speech. Although the Yanzi chunqiu is a vivid description of a concerted action between a ruler and his dauntless and level-headed chief counsellor the book has never attracted greater attention among literati. Not even the Confucian comments added by the compiler(s) at the end of some of the stories were able to attract attention. For this reason no ancient commentary has been written.

The language of the Yanzi is short and concise, with a lot of aphorisms. The stories around Master Yan have been collected by the Former Han-period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) scholar Liu Xiang 劉向 (79-8 or 77-6 BCE), in 8 so-called "inner" and "outer" chapters and 215 stories.

The earliest commentaries were written by the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholars Su Yu 蘇輿 (1874-1914, Yanzi chunqiu jiaozhu 晏子春秋校注) and Zhang Chunyi 張純一 (1871–1955, same title). The first modern commentary was compiled by Wu Zeyu 吳則虞 (1913-1977, Yanzi chunqiu jishi 晏子春秋集釋).

There is an English translation by Olivia Milburn (2016), The Spring and Autumn Annals of Master Yan (Leiden/Boston: Brill).

Table 1. Contents of the Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋
內篇 Neipian Inner Chapters
1.-2. Jian A-B Remonstrances
3.-4. Wen A-B Questions
5.-6. Za A-B Miscellaneous tales
外篇 Waipian Outer Chapters
7. 重而異者 Zhong er yi zhe Stories that are similar to others told of Master Yan
8. 不合經術者 Bu he jing shu zhe Stories that do not accord with classical accounts
Chen Tao 陳濤 (1993). "Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋", in Shi Quanchang 石泉長, ed. Zhonghua baike yaolan 中華百科要覽 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 428.
Chen Ying 陳瑛, Xu Qixian 許啟賢, ed. (1989). Zhongguo lunli da cidian 中國倫理大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 554.
Dai Hongcai 戴洪才 (1992). "Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Zhexue 哲學卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 20.
Guo Jian 郭建 (1996). "Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋", , in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Zhengzhi falü 政治法律卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 91.
Jia Chongji 賈崇吉, Yang Zhiwu 楊致武, ed. (1992). Zhonghua lunli daode cidian 中華倫理道德辭典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 395.
Li Shen 李申 (1992). "Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu, Vol. Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 3, 1368.
Li Shuihai 李水海, ed. (1994). Zhongguo xiaoshuo da cidian 中國小說大辭典, Vol. Xian-Qin zhi Nanbeichao 先秦至南北朝卷 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 88.
Lin Fei 林非, ed. (1997). Zhongguo sanwen da cidian 中國散文大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), 9.
Wang Yuguang 王余光, Xu Yan 徐雁, ed. (1997). Zhongguo dushu da cidian 中國讀書大辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 1148.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 707.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 545.
Wu Shuchen 武樹臣, ed. (1999). Zhongguo chuantong falü wenhua cidian 中國傳統法律文化辭典 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe), 440.
Yang Tiantang 楊天堂 (1986). "Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Vol. Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chuanshe), Vol. 2, 1138.