Humming of an Insect


Printed during the reign of Tianqi (1621–27) of the Ming dynasty, this literary work lists the names of the author and editors. It was written by Li Tingxun, a native of Sanyuan Xian, Shaanxi Province, and edited by two fellow-members of a scholarly society, Xiong Jiarui and Shi Dingyu; three of his disciples, Kong Shengzhen, Ma Yiyuan, and Wei Jizheng; and Li Tingxun’s son, Li Menghe. Li Tingxun achieved his jin shi (doctoral degree) in 1595 and became prefect of Ningling Xian, Henan Province. The work is arranged chronologically, beginning with the 36th year of the Wanli reign (1608) and ending in the third year of the Tianqi reign (1623). No biographical information about Li Tingxun is found in the local gazetteer (entitled Sanyuan Xian zhi) of his hometown, Sanyuan, nor was this work listed. The first two Chinese characters, xi ji, in the title literally mean “small animal” or “insect marinated in vinegar,” a metaphor that describes a person of meager knowledge, and that was probably used here to emphasize the modesty of the author and to mark him as a humble man presenting his literary work. The author’s preface at the beginning of the first volume is dated 1623.

Last updated: September 29, 2014