A New Account of the Tales of the World
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A New Account of the Tales of the World
Part of the oldest extant transcription of A New Account of the Tales of the World, 7th-8th century, now located in the Tokyo National Museum.

A New Account of the Tales of the World, also known as Shishuo Xinyu or Shih-shuo Hsin-yu (Chinese: ?), was compiled and edited by Liu Yiqing (Liu I-ching; ; 403-444) during the Liu Song dynasty (420-479) of the Northern and Southern dynasties (420-589). The book contains some 1,130 historical anecdotes and character sketches of some 600 literati, musicians and painters who lived in the Han and Wei-Jin periods, that is, the second through fourth centuries. Chapter 19, for instance, has 32 stories about outstanding women. It is thus both a biographical source and a record of colloquial language. The original text of the book was divided into eight volumes of juan ("scroll"), though current editions generally span ten volumes.[1][2]

Although most of the anecdotes and personalities are attested in other sources, traditional Chinese bibliographers did not classify Shishuo Xinyu as history but as "minor talk" (xiao shuo), a term that was later used to refer to fiction. Literary historian Victor Mair comments that the "bias against Tales of the World as legitimate work of history undoubtedly stemmed from its failure to subscribe to the sanctioned conventions of history enshrined in the dynastic histories and its use of lively and sometimes colloquial language."[3] The mixture of literary and vernacular styles set the scene for the later tradition of informal Chinese literature.[4] The 20th-century Chinese novelist Lu Xun also spoke highly of the book's aesthetic merits.

The text has been translated in full into English, with the Liang dynasty (502-557) commentary by Liu Xiaobiao (), in Richard B. Mather, Shih-shuo Hsin-yü: A New Account of Tales of the World.[5]

Extant versions


Woodblock prints:

  • Dong Fen edition, 1138 (8th year of the Shaoxing reign of the Southern Song); original kept in Japan (?,)
  • Edition by Lu You, 1188 (15th year of the Chunxi reign of the Southern Song) ()
  • Edition from Hunan, 1189 (16th year of Chunxi) ()[6]


  1. Virtuous Conduct ?
  2. Speech and Conversation ?
  3. Affairs of State ?
  4. Letters and Scholarship ?
  5. The Square and the Proper ?
  6. Cultivated Tolerance ?
  7. Insight and Judgment ?
  8. Appreciation and Praise ?
  9. Grading Excellence ?
  10. Admonitions and Warnings ?
  11. Quick Perception
  12. Precocious Intelligence
  13. Virility and Boldness
  14. Appearance and Manner
  15. Self-renewal
  16. Admiration and Emulation
  17. Grieving for the Departed
  18. Reclusion and Disengagement
  19. Worthy Beauties
  20. Technical Understanding
  21. Skill and Art
  22. Favor and Veneration
  23. The Free and Unrestrained
  24. Rudeness and Arrogance
  25. Taunting and Teasing
  26. Contempt and Insults
  27. Guile and Chicanery
  28. Dismissal from Office
  29. Stinginess and Meanness
  30. Extravagance and Ostentation
  31. Anger and Irascibility
  32. Slander and Treachery
  33. Blameworthiness and Remorse
  34. Crudities and Slips of the Tongue
  35. Delusion and Infatuation
  36. Hostility and Alienation

References and notes

  1. ^ Endymion Wilkinson. Chinese History: A New Manual. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series New Edition; Second, Revised printing March 2013, ISBN 9780674067158), p. 732.
  2. ^ NJ Museum Archived October 9, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Victor H. Mair. The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature. (New York: Columbia University Press, Translation from the Asian Classics, 1994. ISBN 023107428X), p. 768.
  4. ^ Victor H. Mair (ed.), The Columbia History of Chinese Literature. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. ISBN 9780231109840), pp. 580, 688, 888.
  5. ^ Yiqing Liu, Jun Liu and Richard B. Mather. A New Account of Tales of the World (Shih-Shuo Hsin-Yü). (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies, 2002). ISBN 089264155X.
  6. ^ more

Further reading

  • Nanxiu Qian. Spirit and Self in Medieval China : The Shih-Shuo Hsin-Yü and Its Legacy. (Honolulu: University of Hawai*i Press, 2001). ISBN 0824823095.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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