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Chinese Literature
Xuanzhongji 玄中記 "Stories from the Mid of Mystery"


The Xuanzhongji 玄中記 "Stories from the mid of mystery" is an early collection of stories compiled by the famous Jin period 晉 (265-420) Daoist master Guo Pu 郭璞. The Xuanzhongji is also called Guoshi xuanzhong ji 郭氏玄中記, or, during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) Yuanzhongji 元中記, in order to avoid the personal name of the Kangxi emperor 康熙 (r. 1661-1722), Xuanye 玄燁. The earliest catalogues mentioning the Xuanzhongji are the bibliographic chapter Yiwen lüe 藝文略 in the encyclopedia Tongzhi 通志 and the Chongwen zongmu 崇文總目, both dating from the Song period 宋 (960-1279). These books do not name an author, but from quotations in many other books it can be seen that the Xuanzhongji was often attributed to Guo Pu, yet the Republican scholar Lu Xun 魯迅 doubts whether "Master Guo" 郭氏 was indeed Guo Pu. The Xuanzhongji included stories about strange events, extraordinary matters and persons with supernatural skills and magic powers. It can be compared with another early collection of this literary genre (zhiguai 志怪 "recording weird matters"), the Bowuzhi 博物志, yet the whole composition of the Xuanzhongji was better than that of the Bowuzhi. Unfortunately the text is not preserved in its entirety. The Qing period scholar Ma Guohan 馬國翰 has collected surviving fragments that are included in his collectaneum Yuhan shanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書. The Xuanzhongji is also to be found in Mao Panlin's 茆泮林 Shi zhong guyi shu 十種古逸書, Huang Shi's 黄奭 collectaneum Hanxuetang congshu 漢學堂叢書, Ye Dehui's 葉德輝 Guangutang suozhu shu 觀古堂所著書 and in Lu Xun's collection Gu xiaoshuo gouchen 古小說鉤沉.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2168. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.

Chinese literature according to the four-category system

October 3, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail