Yu Yue (Chinese: 俞樾; December 1821 – 5 February 1907), courtesy name Yinfu, hao Quyuan,[1] was a prominent scholar and official of Qing dynasty China. An expert in philology and textual studies, he taught and wrote prolifically on the classics and histories.[4] Yu Pingbo was his great-grandson;[5] one of his most important disciples was Zhang Taiyan.[1]

Yu Yue
Yu Yue in the Portraits of Chinese Scholars of the Qing Period
BornDecember 1821 (202 years ago) (1821-12)[3]
Died5 February 1907(1907-02-05) (aged 85)[3]
Other names
Academic background
Academic work
EraQing dynasty
Main interestsPhilology, textual studies
Notable worksList of Yu's works
Notable ideas
  • Non-political environment
  • Research-based classics studies
  • Phonology and textual studies
  • more
InfluencedZhang Taiyan
Yu Yue

Scholarly career edit

Yu Yue hailed from Deqing, Zhejiang, and later moved to Renhe, now a subdistrict of Hangzhou.[1]

In 1850, Yu passed the imperial examination as metropolitan graduate, and was appointed junior compiler[6] in the Hanlin Academy. He then served successively in a variety of academic posts in the imperial bureaucracy, and was later promoted to educational instructor[7] of Henan, not long before his resigning from this position and withdrawing to Suzhou, where he became a private teacher and devoted himself full-time to classical studies.[8] From 1868 on, he was director of the Gujing Academy (詁經精舍), which he headed for more than 30 years. Yu's analyses of the classics are widely admired for their philological acumen, and he has had a large influence on both Chinese and foreign students of the Chinese classics, particularly in Japan.[8]

Notable thoughts edit

Yu's philosophy was inclined to the teachings of Wang Niansun and Wang Yinzhi, who interpreted Confucian classics in a practical way.[1] In the 1860s, Yu was intimately involved in restoring the Gujing Academy, a sishu (private academy[9]) established by Ruan Yuan in 1800 yet destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion. As opposed to the then dominant goal of education—namely education as pathway towards an official career—Yu aimed to provide a non-political environment for classics studies and stressed philology and historical research during his teaching, an intellectual tradition initiated by Gu Yanwu and Dai Zhen.[2]

Yu allowed considerable freedom in readings of texts, which to a great extent stimulated Zhang Taiyan's creative thinking and developments to classical writings. He believed that the most important techniques in rendering the classics readable for contemporary readers were restoring original word and sentence orders (sometimes altered in transmission), establishing the proper senses of individual words, and most importantly being more aware of the use of phonetic loan words.[10] Yu believed that many of the difficulties encountered in reading the classics were due to a failure to recognize the use of loan characters—an often quite challenging task, requiring an intimate knowledge of ancient Chinese phonology—and in his commentaries, he often raises the possibility of this phenomenon to suggest alternate readings.[8] He memorably remarked that "holding a book transmitted and printed today and treating it as the true version of the ancients is like hearing people say that bamboo shoots are good to eat, and going home and cooking one's bed mat" (執今日傳刻之書, 而以爲是古人之眞本, 譬猶聞人言筍可食, 歸而煮其簀也).[11].

Yu maintained links with both the traditional philological school and scholars of new thoughts—to name a few, Song Xiangfeng and Zhuang Cunyu from Changzhou, who explored political messages carried in classics including the Gongyang Commentary and the Spring and Autumn Annals.[1] He also exchanged ideas with late-Qing reformers like Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao. Liang referred to Yu as one of the few orthodox scholars that survived the academic downfall during this period,[12] yet Yu was actually not very much stuck into the so-called orthodox Confucianism: unlike Kang Youwei's speculative method in interpreting the Analects, Yu supported a more textual and factual approach; furthermore, instead of focusing merely on Confucian thoughts, Yu tended to put more emphasis on the Hundred Schools of Thought, which decentralised the Confucian hegemony in the pre-Qin period.[2]

Major works edit

  • Qunqing Pingyi (群經平議) — analysis and commentaries on Confucian classics, in which Yu followed the scholarly approach of Wang Yinzhi's work Jingyi Shuwen (經義述聞).[1]
  • Zhuzi Pingyi (諸子平議) — a collection of works of the pre-Qin masters and philosophers. It includes Yu's analysis and commentaries to the Daoist writings Baopuzi and Huainanzi, the legalist classics Hanfeizi and Gongsun Longzi, as well as to the histories Songshiyi (宋史翼) and Yizhoushu.[1]
  • Gushu Yiyi Juli (古書疑義舉例) — scholarly work on 88 systematic errors that were commonly seen in the interpretation of classical texts as a consequence of a different understanding of grammar or words. Point-by-point analyses to these errors were given by Yu. The book received great attention when it was published.[1]
  • The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants (Qixia Wuyi) — a high-class version of the popular romance Sanxia Wuyi, revised by Yu under the standards of written literature of his time. The revision was published in 1889.[4]
Youtaixianguan Biji (右台仙館筆記) — an important Classical Chinese novel of the late-Qing period that very much reflected Yu's modernity consciousness.[13]
  • Chunzaitang Quanshu (春在堂全書), an eight-volume collection of Yu's works,[14] which also compiled other notable publications of Yu, including:[15]
Chaxiangshi Congchao (茶香室叢鈔) — scholarly notes
Chunzaitang Suibi (春在堂随笔) — essays
Liangzhe Fengyongji (兩浙風詠集), vol. 4[16] — artistic essays
Quyuan Zishu Shi (曲園自述詩) — poems
Yu Quyuan Suibi (俞曲園隨筆) — essays
Yu Yue Zhaji Wuzhong (俞樾箚記五種) — essays

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Persons in Chinese History: Yu Yue". ChinaKnowledge.
  2. ^ a b c Murthy, V. 2011.
  3. ^ a b Yu Yue on Chinese Wikipedia ( this version)
  4. ^ a b Blader, S. 1998.
  5. ^ Bartke 1997.
  6. ^ Junior compiler, Chinese: 編修; pinyin: biānxiū
  7. ^ Educational instructor, Chinese: 提督學政; pinyin: tídū xuézhèng
  8. ^ a b c Slingerland, E. 2003.
  9. ^ Sishu, Chinese: 私塾, old-style private (Confucian) school. See Yang, Dongping (2013). Chinese Research Perspectives on Educational Development. p. 144. ISBN 978-9004249240.
  10. ^ Phonetic loan words, Chinese characters that are used with the intended sense of another word with a different graphic form but similar pronunciation; especially in pre-Qin texts, before the Chinese written language was standardized, this phenomenon was quite common.
  11. ^ William H. Baxter (1992), Handbook of Old Chinese Phonology, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, p. 366
  12. ^ 「清學之蛻分期,同時即其衰落期也。……然在此期 中,猶有一二大師焉,為正統派死守最後之壁壘,曰俞樾,曰孫詒讓,皆得流於高郵王氏。」, cited in Qingdai Xueshu Gailun [Introduction to the Academics of the Qing Period].
  13. ^ Han, Hongju & Wei, Wenyan (2012). "Yu Yue's Modernity Consciousness as in His You Tai Xian Guan Bi Ji". Journal of Zhejiang Normal University: Social Sciences. 37 (2). doi:10.3969/j.issn.1001-5035.2012.02.011.
  14. ^ Chunzaitang Quanshu, Cambridge University Library.
  15. ^ Author List for Yu Yue, USF Ricci Institute Library Online Catalog
  16. ^ Liangzhe Fengyongji, Cambridge University Library.

External links edit