An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xinshi 心史

Jan 20, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Xinshi 心史 "History written from the heart" is a collection of miscellaneous writings compiled by the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) writer Zheng Sixiao 鄭思肖 (1241-1318), courtesy name Yiweng 憶翁, style Suonan 所南, Muxue guoren 木穴國人 or Sanwai yeren 三外野人. He hailed from Lianjiang 連江 (today in Fujian) and was a student XXX 鴻詞試 in the National University (taixue 太學), when the Song dynasty fell. After the foundation of the Yuan dynasty 元 (1279-1368) he retired and lived in Suzhou 蘇州 (today in Jiangsu). He was good in painting orchids and plums, yet with the peculiar custom not to paint the ground in which these plants were growing. This was allegedly an allegory for the late dynasty.
His collected writings have a length of 7 juan and consist of several sub-collections, namely the poetry collections Xianchun ji 咸淳集, Dayi ji 大義集 and Zhongxing ji 中興集 (with 251 poems), and the prose writings Jiujiushu 久久書, miscellaneous writings (zawen 雜文) and short essays (lüexu 略敘), which are all concerned with the downfall of the Song. The collection is supplemented by a preface (zixu 自序), a postface (ziba 自跋), an "oath" (mengyan 盟言), and a kind of "incantation", Liaobingzhou 療病咒. Zhao's writings were inspired by patriotic feelings for officials with "sincere hearts hard as stone" (zhen xin tie shi jian 貞心鐵石堅) sacrificing their lives to the Song dynasty, and by critique towards "traitorous" officials. He hoped that once the Song dynasty might be restored. The language is sad, and high thoughts are expressed by deep words. The alternative title is derived from Zhao's decision to preserve his manuscript in a water-tight iron case (tiehan 鐵函) that he threw into a well of Chengtian Monastery 承天寺 in Suzhou. The case was salvaged as late as 1638 and the well-preserved text was published for the first time by Master Zhang 張 from Jinhua 金華, and somewhat later by Lu Dan 陸坦 and Xiu Ningwang 休寧汪 from Wuxian 吳縣. A new print was published by the Guangyi shuju 廣益書局 studio in Shanghai. The text is included in the collectanea Mingbianzhai congshu 明辨齋叢書 (published by Yu Zhaojun 余肇鈞), yet arranged in 2 juan. A manuscript edition published by the Zhongzhu shuwu 種竹書屋 studio in 1894 and called Zheng Suonan xiansheng Xinshi 鄭所南先生心史 includes a supplement (buyi 補遺).

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996), Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 2422.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 161.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 112.