An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Lengzhai yehua 冷齋夜話

Aug 15, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Lengzhai yehua 冷齋夜話 "Nocturnal talks in the Cold Study" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by the Buddhist monk Huihong 惠洪 (1071-1128, sometimes erroneously written 慧洪), later called Dehong 德洪, style Juefan 覺範 or Jiyin Zunzhe 寂音尊者.

Huihong's worldly family name was Peng 彭. He hailed from Xinchang 新昌 in the prefecture of Yunzhou 筠州 (modern Yifeng 宜豐, Jiangxi). After passing the ordination in 1089 he became a monk in the Tianwang Monastery 天王寺 in the Song capital Bianjing 汴京 (modern Kaifeng, Henan). Four years later he returned to the south and settled down on Mt. Lushan 廬山 as a disciple of the Chan master Zhenjing 真淨禪師. His next station was the Stone Gate 石門 in Hongzhou 洪州, then Qingliang Monastery 清涼寺. Hui Hong then became a secretary of Counsellor-in-chief Zhang Shangyin 張商英 (1043-1121), but when the latter was charged with a crime and dismissed, he was exiled to Zhuya 朱崖 (modern Zhuxian 崖縣, Guangdong). Three years later he returned home and sought again a monastic life in Hetang Monastery 荷塘寺. He was then again charged with conspiracy as a member of the faction of Zhang Huaisu 張懷素 (d. 1107), but was soon released from prison. Huihong was an excellent painter specializing on plum trees, plum flowers, and bamboo, and was also an excellent poet. He has also written the books Shimen wenzi chan 石門文字禪, Sengbao zhuan 僧寶傳 and Linjianlu 林間錄.

The 10-juan-long Lengzhai yehua covers a wide range of themes, but far the largest part is dedicated to poetry and poetry critique. It quotes from a lot of poets freshly written during the Yuanyou reign-period 元祐 (1086-1093), when Huihong was a young man. Among these the poems of Huang Tingjian 黃庭堅 (1045-1105) played a great role with whom Huihong was befriended. Chen Shan's 陳善 (d. 1169) book Menshi xinhua 捫虱新話 says that the Lengzhai yehua included a poem by Hong Yan 洪贗, but this poem can not be found in the transmitted version, probably because it was rated as of minor quality or a forgery and therefore eliminated from the text at some time. Each chapter of the Lengzhai yehua has a title, but these have often nothing to do with the content. This might be the result of later revisions and changes, yet in the end, it diminished the value of the Lengzhai yehua as a source on Song-period poetry and its contents only slightly.

The Lengzhai yehua is included in the series Baihai 稗海, Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀, Yinlizaisitang congshu 殷禮在斯堂叢書, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 (with a length of 10 juan), Shuofu 說郛 (Wanwei Shantang 宛委山堂 edition), Gujin shuobu congshu 古今說部叢書 (with the length of 1 juan), the Shangwu Yinshuguan 商務印書館 edition of the Shuofu (not counted in juan), and, with only seven paragraphs, in the Jiuxiaoshuo 舊小說. In 1988 the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局 has published a modern edition in a joint version with the books Fengyuetang shihua 風月堂詩話 and Huanxi shihua 環溪詩話, annotated by Chen Xi 陳新.

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, 1949.