Collected Literary Works of Ouyang Xingzhou


Ouyang Zhan (758−801), courtesy name Xingzhou, was a native of Jinjiang, Quanzhou (in present-day Fujian). He received his jin shi rank, the highest degree in civil examinations, in the eighth year (792) of the Dezong reign (779−805) of the Tang dynasty, together with Han Yu (768−824), Li Guan (766−94), and others known as “Candidates on the Dragon and Tiger List.” He was the first jin shi candidate from Fujian, became a teaching assistant at the School of the Four Gates, Directorate of Education, and died when he was in his forties. At the front of this copy is a preface by Li Yisun of the Dezong era, in which he writes that Ouyang Zhan was different from other children. Born in a village of Min, he was a solitary youngster who took pleasure in the beauties of nature and in books; he sometimes forgot to return home and stayed out late to enjoy the clear sky and bright moon. He felt dejected, but could not explain why. Even before he learned to read, he would ask about words and sentences and, if he liked a sentence, would recite it loudly while walking, forgetting where he was going. His parents did not understand his aspirations, and often told others that they did not know what the boy was thinking. They worried that he would become a starving vagrant. Those villagers who were more experienced and familiar with the world, however, congratulated them and said that the boy was their treasure and that they should not worry about him. Ouyang Zhan studied, learning the teachings of the sages, to appreciate and cultivate friendliness and amiability, and to strive for the virtues of loyalty to the emperor and filial piety to the father. His writings displayed linguistic elegance and thoughtfulness, particularly his prose. Most of the topics addressed in his works had not been pursued by other writers. These characteristics enhanced his standing in Min. During the Jianzhong (780−84) and Zhenyuan (785−805) eras, ci and fu poetry and essay writing emerged and became celebrated, reaching its peak in this mid-Tang period. Ouyang Zhan was the only participant in this activity known to the people of Fujian. With the encouragement and promotion of Chancellor Chang Gun (729−83), Ouyang’s fame spread all over the Yangtze and Huai regions, even to the capital. The style, engraving, avoidance of taboo words, and the collectors’ seals all indicate that this copy is a work from the series Tang ren wen ji (Literary works of the Tang authors), printed in Sichuan during the Southern Song (1127−1279). The contents of the book are: Juan 1, Fu poetry; Juan 2−3, miscellaneous writings; Juan 4, inscriptions; Juan 5, records; Juan 6, songs of praise; Juan 7, miscellany; Juan 8, letters; Juan 9−10, prefaces. There are two juan of the table of contents, with the bulk of Juan 2 missing. The preface, table of contents, and Juan 1−5 are presented here.

Last updated: April 14, 2016