Collected Works of Kang Duishan


Kang Hai (1475‒1540), style name Duishan, a native of Wugong, Shaanxi Province, was a poet, dramatist, and prose writer. In the Chinese literary world he was known as one of the Seven Early Masters of Chinese Literature. After achieving his jin shi degree in 1502, Kang Hai entered the Hanlin Academy as a first-class compiler. His poems and essays were published during the Jiajing and Wanli reigns (1522‒66 and 1673‒1620), and he was particularly famed for his san qu (song poetry). He retired in 1508, officially at the death of his mother, but the main reason behind his retirement was that his outspokenness had made him a foe of the powerful grand secretaries at the time. In 1510 he was removed from the Hanlin Academy because of his connection with Liu Jin (1451‒1510), a high official at the court who lost favor. Kang Hai’s play Zhongshan lang (The Zhongshan wolf) is based on an early novel and tells the story of a wounded wolf at the Zhongshan Mountain rescued by Master Dongguo, who afterwards is almost eaten by the wolf. The work is a criticism aimed at the selfishness of high political leaders of the time, without naming specific persons. Kang Hai remained secluded at home as a nonconformist hermit, as well as a playwright for the Shaanxi Chinese opera, called Qin qiang. A collection of his writings was first printed in 1545 by his friend Wu Mengqi (1498‒1568). The work was included in Si ku quan shu (Complete Library of the Four Treasuries) in 1739 during the Qianlong reign, in an edition of 10 juan, edited by Sun Jinglie. This later collection is a Wanli edition. It has six prefaces written by fellow officials or contemporary authors, such as Zhu Mengzhen, a governor of Shanxi Province, Wang Shimao (1536‒88), Wang Jiusi (1468‒1551), Liu Chuxiu, minister of the ministries of Personnel and of War, Wang Xuemo (1529‒1609), and Yanggu Shanren. There is a postscript written by the author himself.

Last updated: January 10, 2018