Preliminary Edition of Works from the Dreamless Garden


Chen Renxi (1581–1636) was a late Ming official and scholar, who achieved his jin shi degree in 1622 and became a member of the imperial Hanlin Academy. His brother Chen Lixi had this work, Wu meng yuan chu ji (Preliminary edition of works from the Dreamless Garden), printed in 1637. It includes 35 juan of Chen’s main work, eight juan of his previously unpublished writing, two juan of short essays, and one juan on his family genealogy, in 16 volumes. As the main part of the work contains detailed information on the borders near Liao (also known as the Khitan Empire), the work was listed in both Jin shu zong mu (The general catalog of banned books) and Wei ai shu mu (Catalog of works against custom or law) during the Qing dynasty. Attached to the text is his hand-drawn illustration entitled Shan hai guan nei wai bian tu (Illustrated inner and outer frontier of the Shanhai Pass). The chapters include details on the geography of the frontiers, land tilled by the military, the sea, and other topics, based mostly on the author’s own experience and observations. The work also contains important records of the history of the late Ming and early Qing. An interesting feature of this work is that the 35 juan of the main work are arranged into 14 chapters, adding 14 characters, one character for each chapter. The 14 characters form a verse couplet. There are a number of names of printers and engravers, and prefaces and postscripts. The author’s own preface is dated 1633. Only a few copies of this work have survived, making this one of great value.

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46 juan in 16 volumes

Last updated: January 3, 2018