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Yi Yin shuo 伊尹說

Mar 12, 2024 © Ulrich Theobald

Yi Yin shuo 伊尹說 "Talks of Yi Yin" was a collection of brief stories compiled during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE). Yu Jiaxi 余嘉錫 (1884-1955) assumed that it was a heterogenous assembly of different fragment to which the name of the highly venerated minister of high antiquity, Yi Yin 伊尹, was lent. The book is mentioned in the bibliographical chapter Yiwen zhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 with a size of 27 chapters. It was lost soon thereafter.

Wang Yinglin 王應麟 (1223-1296), doing research on the Hanshu bibliography, assumed that the Yi Yin shuo was quoted in one chapter (ch. Benwei 本味) of the book Lüshi chunqiu 呂氏春秋, in the shape of a story of Yi Yin's birth in a hollow trunk of a mulberry tree, and Yi Yin's serving King Tang the Perfect 成湯 of the Shang dynasty 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE).

This shows that the Yi Yin shuo was a book of fiction, and not of historical facts. Another fragment of the texts is quoted as Yi Yin shu 伊尹書 in a commentary on the biography of Sima Xiangru 司馬相如 (179-117 BCE) in the history book Shiji 史記.

Li Shuibing 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), 106.
Wang Qizhou 王齊洲 (2006). "Hanzhi zhulu zhi xiaoshuojia Yi Yin shuo, Yuzi shuo kaobian 《漢志》著錄之小說家《伊尹說》《鬻子說》考辨", Wuhan Daxue xuebao (Renwen kexue ban) 武漢大學學報(人文科學版), 2006 (5): 561-565.
Sun Zhentian 孫振田 (2020). "Hanshu yiwen zhi xiaoshuojia Yi Yin shuo deng qi zhong yituo kaolun 《漢書·藝文志》小說家《伊尹說》等七種依托考論", Xibei Minzu Daxue xuebao (Zhexue shehui kexue ban) 西北民族大學學報(哲學社會科學版), 2020 (1): 147-154.