Occasional Notes by Lü Wancun Printed at the Tian Gai Lou Workshop
The commentator of this collection, Lü Liuliang (formal name of Lü Wancun, 1629–83), was a native of Chongde, Zhejiang Province, who lived at the end of the Ming and the beginning of the Qing dynasty. His grandmother was a member of the Ming imperial family. At the age of eight he already wrote essays in the approved style. He achieved the ju ren degree but withdrew because of his opposition to the Manchu regime. He became a teacher, and often added his comments to his students’ essays. His works of eight-legged essays (a style of essay writing that had to be mastered to pass the imperial examinations during the Ming and Qing dynasties) became popular among the literati in the early Qing. He was also a follower of Neo-Confucianism. He expressed views in his works about the official rankings given by the examiners, adding disparaging comments on barbarian rules in China. In one of his essays he charged that official corruption was the real reason for the failure of the civil examinations to accurately measure a person’s talent. After his death his anti-Manchu sentiments were revealed, which resulted in the exhumation and dismemberment of his and his son’s remains, and the banishment of his grandson to the frontier of northern Manchuria. His writings were burned and 46 of his works were included in the official list of banned books. However, some of them survived and were reprinted in the later Qing dynasty. The Library of Congress has two different editions with this same title, but with different contents. This collection of examination essays has 17 volumes, selected from 926 civil examination papers between 1646 and 1673, and supplied with Lü Liuliang’s commentaries, first jointly with Lu Wenruo, a friend from the same town, and after Lu’s death by himself. The material is grouped under Si shu (Four books), but in the order of Great Learning, Confucian Analects, Doctrine of the Means, and Mencius. The records selected include both those of provincial and metropolitan civil examinations. The two prefaces, both dated 1678, were written by Cao Du and Lü Liuliang’s son Lü Gongzhong, who was instrumental in having the book printed in 1678.
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Last updated: January 3, 2018