Writings of the Orthodox School


Wen zhang zheng zong (Writings of the orthodox school) is an incomplete work of the Song dynasty, consisting of juan 4, 10, 13, and 15, the surviving parts of a compilation originally in 24 juan. It is an anthology of practical writings and official records. The articles were selected based on the authors’ literary, philosophical, and political standards, such as emphasis on rationalism, the use of correct notations, the pursuit of elegance, and respect for the ancients, moral ethics, and the like. The author, Zhen Dexiu (1178–1235), a native of Pucheng, Fujian Province, changed his family name from Shen to Zhen to avoid using the same name as Emperor Xiaozong (reigned 1163–89). Zhen Dexiu was a famous politician and renowned writer who, together with Wei Liaoweng, was one of the two promoters of Neo-Confucianism of the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279). A descendant of Zhu Xi, the founder of Neo-Confucianism, Zhen further developed Neo-Confucianism and expanded its influence. By combining doctrines of Buddhism and Daoism with Neo-Confucianism and expressing his thoughts on the improvement of the personality and administration of the country, he adapted Neo-Confucianism to the times and succeeded in making it the mainstream philosophy of the Song dynasty. This book embodied the literary conception of Neo-Confucianism and reflected the main literary thought of its day, and it deeply influenced Chinese literature in subsequent generations. For this work, Zhen selected a large number of official documents dating from the Spring–Autumn period (770–476 BC), which he annotated as guides for posterity. These official documents were important tools in politics, which evolved over time, with increasingly varied types and formats. Zhen considered the documents from the Spring–Autumn period as simple, direct, and rich in content, and regarded the imperial edicts of the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) as brief, simple, and imbued with sympathy for the common people.

Last updated: January 13, 2012