Random Notes from the Xiaoxin Pavilion


The author of this work was Gu Xiancheng (1550–1612), a late-Ming grand secretary and renowned educator. In 1604, together with his brother and a friend Gao Panlong, Gu revived a defunct Song institution named Donglin Academy at his native Wuxi, which became a locally based educational institution that held lectures attended by thousands. Later it extended to loosely associated groups in other cities. The Donglin’s opposition to the powerful eunuch Wei Zhongxian resulted in the closure of the academy in 1622, but it reopened during the early Qing dynasty. The academy was a place for teaching Confucian moral traditions and in the late Ming and early Qing periods it became a center of dissent in public affairs. Insisting that education must relate to reality, Gu Xiancheng advocated practical education as opposed to the traditional schools. A follower of Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucianism, Gu recommended the Confucian classics and moral traditions, li xue (idealism), and provided a summary of the nine merits of a classical education. This work is an original printed version with 12 juan of notes by Gu dating from 1594 to 1605. The Qing Si ku cun mu (Catalog of books not included in the general catalog of the Si ku Collection) lists an expanded edition with 16 juan, including Gu’s notes of four more years, apparently added by Gu’s son, Gu Yuting, The preface and postscript, dated 1608, were written by Cai Xianchen, a director of the Bureau of Rites and Lin Zai, a magistrate and supporter of Gu.

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12 juan in 4 volumes

Last updated: January 3, 2018