An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Bintuilu 賓退錄

Aug 28, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Bintuilu 賓退錄 "Records made after my guests have left" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Zhao Yushi 趙與時 (1172-1228), courtesy name Xingzhi 行之 or Dexing 德行. He hailed from Daliang 大樑 (modern Kaifeng 開封, Henan) and was a seventh-generation descendant of the dynastic founder, Emperor Taizu 宋太祖 (r. 960-975). Zhao Yushi has no official biography and is only mentioned in Zhao Mengjian's 趙孟堅 (1199-1264) book Yizhai wenbian 彝齋文編, where it is said that he started his career from a very low position and finally became Director of the Section of Imperial Armament (juan yuqian junqi suo 監御前軍器所), a post that he filled for more than thirty years, during which he several times failed to pass the state examination. In 1226 he finally succeeded and was made assistant magistrate in Lishui 麗水.

The 10-juan-long Bintuilu is headed by a preface in which he says that the book was written during a long period of sickness, in which Zhao Yushi was regularly visited by friends. Each time they came they conversed on various themes, and after the had left he made notes on the themes they had talked about. This was how the book had come into being. Its themes mainly cover critical statements about the Confucian Classics and the historiographical writings, ancient stories, and literary critique, particularly of poetry. The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 praised the Bintuilu as a kind of continuation of the famous collection Mengxi bitan 夢溪筆談 and the Rongzhai suibi 容齋隨筆. Zhao Yushi's analysis is so exact that he even corrects his own statements in earlier paragraphs, as can be seen, for instance, in his paragraph about the palace songs (gongci 宮詞) of Wang Jian 王建 (i.e. Emperor Gaozu of Shu 蜀高祖, r. 907-918) and Lady Huarui 花蕊夫人 (c. 940-976). The scholarly quality of the Bintuilu is therefore very high, and it must be used as a valuable source on literatry critique.

The Bintuilu is included in the series Siku quanshu, Xuehai leibian 學海類編, Duiyulou congshu 對雨樓叢書, Gushi congkan 古書叢刊, Zeshiju congshu 擇是居叢書, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 and Shuofu 說郛. In 1983 the Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社 published a modern edition with annotations by Liu Zhiping 劉治平.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1922.