An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Youhuan jiwen 游宦紀聞

Aug 21, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Youhuan jiwen 游宦紀聞 "Hearsay of a travelling official" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Zhang Shinan 張世南 (fl. 1225), courtesy name Guangshu 光叔, from Fanyang 鄱陽 (modern Boyang 波陽, Jiangxi). He lived during the reigns of the emperors Ningzong 宋甯宗 (1195-1224) and Lizong 宋理宗 (1225-1264). He first followed his father to a post in Sichuan but later returned to the east, where he traveled through Zhejiang and Fujian. After 1228 he settled down and began to write down his experiences.

His book of 10 juan length includes 108 short chapters that discuss a vast amount of themes, ranging from stories of history to customs and habits, stories of personal affection, antiques and collectibles, literature, lexicography and etymology, archaeology, calendar, mathematics, medicine, or the art of the garden. On his travels Zhang Shinan had spent a lot of time with the scholars Liu Guo 劉過 (1154-1206), Gao Jiuwan 高九萬 (Gao Zhu 高翥, 1170-1241), Zhao Fan 趙蕃 (1143-1229) and Han Hu 韓淲 (1159-1224), but he mainly talks about his journey homewards. The reason his that his older brother was the son-in-law of Dong Wei 董煟 (jinshi degree 1193) who accompanied him on the way back home. The stories narrate in the Youhuan jiwen are very reliable because they reflect a person experience. Many of them give interesting insights into the social life of southern China, and about the life and hobbies of the literati. The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 praised Zhang Shinan's book as one of the best biji-style texts of the Southern Song.

There are several transmitted versions of the Youhuan jiwen. The series Baihai 稗海, Siku quanshu, Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書, Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀, Baojinglou congkan 抱經樓叢刊 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 include a 10-juan version, the Shuofu 說郛 (Wanwei Shantang 宛委山堂 edition), Wuchao xiaoshuo 五朝小說 and Wuchao xiaoshuo daguan 五朝小說大觀 a short extract of 1 juan, the Shangwu Yinshuguan 商務印書館 edition of the Shuofu a non-sized extract, and the series Jiuxiaoshuo 舊小說 only six paragaphs. In 1981, the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局 published a critical modern edition with annotations by Zhang Maopeng 張茂鵬, in a joint edition with Li Xinchuan's 李心傳 (1167-1244) book Jiuwen zhengwu 舊聞證誤 as part of the collection Tang-Song shiliao biji congkan 唐宋史料筆記叢刊.

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, 1955.