An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Qidong yeyu 齊東野語

Aug 16, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Qidong yeyu 齊東野語 "Rustic talks from the east of Qi" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the late Song period 宋 (960-1279) by Zhou Mi 周密 (1232-1298), courtesy name Gongqin 公謹, style Caochuang 草窗, Pingzhou 蘋洲, Sishui qianfu 四水潛夫 or Bianyang laoren 弁陽老人. His family hailed from Jinan 濟南, Shandong, but had moved to Wuxing 吳興, Zhejiang, when the Jurchens conquered northern China. In his young years, Zhou Mi accompanied his father in official affairs in the southeastern regions and later became supervisor of a local pharmacy service (jian hejiju 監和劑局), then that of a district reserve granary (fengzhucang 豐儲倉, and then magistrate (ling 令) of Yiwu 義烏. When the Song empire was conquered by the Mongols, Zhou Mi refused to serve their new Yuan dynasty 元 (1279-1368) and began to write books. Of his many writings the following have survived: Wulin jiushi 武林舊事, Guixin zashi 癸辛雜識, Haoranzhai zatan 浩然齋雜談, Yunyan guoyan lu 雲煙過眼錄, Zhiyatang zachao 志雅堂雜鈔, Chenghuailu 澄懷錄, Haoranzhai yatan 浩然齋雅談, Haorantang yichao 浩然齋意鈔, Haorantang shiting chao 浩然齋視聽鈔, Pingzhou yudi pu 蘋洲漁笛譜, Caochuang yunyu 草窗韻語, Caochuang ci 草窗詞, and the 20-juan-long Qidong yeyu.

It is a collection of information about the history of the Song dynasty, but in an unofficial way. The material was partially transmitted to him as notes by his father and his maternal grandfather. On the base of these notes Zhou Mi collected a lot of further stories and compiled these to a book. His father had told him that although they lived in Wu 吳 (Zhejiang), their heart was still in Qi 齊 (Shandong), for which reason Zhou Mi gave his book its title. The 277 chapters of the book speak about the history of the Southern Song 南宋 (1127-1279) court, but in an unofficial (ye 野 "rustic", i.e., outside the state archives) way, and also about prose writings and poetry of that time. The historiographic parts of the book tell important facts about the political history of the Song that can be used as additional information to the more official histories. The stories are narrated in a complete way covering a whole topic "from its beginnings to the end" (benmo 本末), and therefore resemble a new kind of historiography (jishi benmo 紀事本末 "historical events in their entirety") that had been invented during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126). A lot of facts told by Zhou Mi are not to be found in other histories. Besides event history, Zhou Mi talks also about painting, calligraphy, poetry and other leisure-time activities of the literati class, and also about scientific and technical themes like medicine, particularly acupuncture and moxibustion, silk and paper production, various astronomical and seismographical instruments, and problems of calendric calculation (see calendar). Where Zhou Mi made use of other sources, he diligently indicated this.

The earliest print of the Qidong yeyu was published during the Yuan period, but this and a print from 1515 by Hu Wenbi 胡文璧 (1460-1523) have not survived. The earliest surviving print is to be found in the series Baihai 稗海, but only in an abbreviated form, and mixed up with the text of the book Guixin zashi. The Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) collector Mao Jin 毛晉 (1599-1659) was the first scholar who published a complete edition of the Qidong yeyu. It is to be found in the series Song-Yuan ren shubu shu 宋元人說部書, Baihai, Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 with a length of 20 juan, and in the Lidai xiaoshi 歷代小史, Shuofu 說郛, Songren baijia xiaoshuo 宋人百家小說, Wuyishizhai congchao 無一是齋叢鈔 and Jiuxiaoshuo 舊小說 as a very short extract. In 1983, Zhang Maopeng 張茂鵬 published a revised edition in the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局 in which he compared the transmitted text with identical passages in the histories Songshi 宋史, Jianyan yilai xinian yaolu 建炎以來系年要錄, Songshi jishi benmo 宋史紀事本末 and Xu zizhi tongjian 續資治通鑒. In 1987, the Huadong Shifan Daxue Chubanshe 華東師範大學出版社 published a modern edition with annotations by Zhu Juru 朱菊如.

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, 1960.