A Survey of the Famous Classics of the Four Books, “Si shu”


Ming wu kao was a subtitle in the 100-juan work entitled  Jing yan zhi zhi (Interpretations of the classics), written by Chen Yumo (1548‒1618), which was listed in the catalog of Si shu cun mu (Catalog of books not included in the Four Books). The work presented here is a separate publication, also compiled by Chen and edited by his friend Chen Yijing, a Ming official, and five others. It was published by Zhang Zhihou (jin shi 1601). Chen Yumo received the provincial ju ren degree during the Wanli reign (1573‒1620) and took posts as an instructor at the Directorate of Education in Nanjing, as an official at the Surveillance Commission in Sichuan, and as a provincial administration commissioner in Guizhou. Shown here is a Wanli edition. The length of entries varies in this encyclopedic work on the Four Books. It begins with the first book, Da xue (Great learning), the main text of which was attributed to Confucius, and then come nine commentary chapters by Zengzi, one of Confucius's disciples. They are followed by Zhong yong (Doctrine of the mean), demonstrating the usefulness of a golden way to gain perfect virtue and focusing on dao (the way). The following eight juan, in two parts, discuss Lun yu (The analects), a compilation of speeches and discussions by Confucius and his disciples, and the last eight juan, also in two parts, are on Mengzi (Mencius), a collection of lengthy conversations of the scholar Mencius with kings of his time. The preface was written by Feng Fujing (1573‒1622), a scholar and bibliophile.

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20 juan, 10 volumes

Last updated: January 10, 2018