Recent Works of Xu Bidong


The author of this work was Xu Fenpeng (1560–1642), also known by his literary name, Bidong. The work was printed by Yu Zhixiao during the Wanli reign (1572–1620) and contains 200 or so entries, in four juan, in four volumes. The title originally given to the work was Si shu jin jian lu (Recent commentaries on the Four Books), reflecting the fact that it consists mainly of the author’s comments on the Confucian Four Books: Da xue (The great learning), Lun yu (Confucian analects), Zhong yong (Doctrine of the mean), and Mengzi (Mencius). Three prefaces accompanied the commentaries, one by the author himself, one by Yu Zhixiao (dated 1612), and a third by Yu Jiquan (also dated 1612). Xu Fenpeng was known to have been a brilliant scholar and historian. At a young age he took first place in the examinations at county and prefectural level, but he refused to serve in the government. To earn his living, he established a school, located at the foot of Bijia Shan (Brush Holder Mountain) in Guangdong Province, and wrote. He used his own revised texts of the classics to teach his students. A prolific writer and publisher, Xu left behind many works. His histories were particularly well known and enjoyed fame even in Japan. He also compiled, edited, and wrote commentaries on the classics, drama, fiction, and even almanacs. In the 1590s–1620s, his reputation was such that commercial publishers in Fujian and Nanjing published his writings, although occasionally he financed the printing of his own books. His works completed by 1602 were published that year by the Nanjing publishing house Guangqi Tang. Xu criticized the common practice of including prefaces written by renowned authors to increase the value of a book and thus wrote the prefaces for most of his own books, which in part may explain the short duration of his fame and his later obscurity. This book has a seal impression with the name Fujinami, a Japanese collector.

Last updated: July 31, 2012