Research Project


Sima Guang’s commentary to Yang Xiong’s Fayan

Nicolae Christian Statu

One of the most important intellectuals of the Song dynasty and of Chinese history more generally, Sima Guang (1019-1086) is usually remembered for and studied in relation to his conservative opposition to Wang Anshi’s reforms and his monumental history, the Zizhi tongjian. Without denying the importance of either aspect, I propose to approach Sima Guang’s thought from two other, somewhat neglected, perspectives: his exegetical work and his interest in divination – as they intersect in his Taixuan jizhu (“Collected commentaries to the Taixuan”) of 1082. The present project aims to provide a detailed analysis of this commentary as understood against the background of Sima’s work and within the context of Northern Song intellectual history. Sima’s exegetical activity and his interest in Yang Xiong in particular will be considered as part of the contemporary efforts to redefine and restructure the canon, contrasted with other accepted commentatorial strategies, and examined as a source of some of the major ideas informing his historiographical work and political activity.

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